Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It's shit like this, r/atheism

I know this is just going to dig my hole even deeper, but I'm a blogger, so speaking my mind is what I do.

A couple of months ago I made a passing comment that I don't like the atheism subreddit that much because it comes off as very sexist. Sexist comments can pop up on reddit as a whole (sometimes heavily upvoted, to my dismay), but sexist comments on r/atheism affect me more. For one, I tend to hold atheists to a higher standard, so it saddens me when they act irrationally about gender.

But two, the comments are personal. Whenever I see that I got an uptick in traffic from reddit, I'm always afraid to go check the link. Because inevitably when someone links to my blog, many of the comments will be disparaging remarks about my gender or looks. Hell, even some of the positive comments are about my gender or looks, which are still annoying - can we please comment about the content, and not my boobs, please?

So I lurk around r/atheism, but I rarely comment and never post my own stuff because I don't want to deal with the flack. It's not worth the frustration usually. But today I did submit my post about atheism in high schools, because it's so important that I wanted to make sure a wide audience saw it. Young people are the future, blah blah.

But it also set up an accidental experiment. What happens when a female submitter links to her own post, and a male submitter links to his post featuring the same story? That happened when JT Eberhard linked to his post on Atheism Resource a couple hours after I linked to mine.

Let's compare! (at the time of writing this blog)

JT's Post:

121 upvotes
24 downvotes

1 comment with contact information (by JT) (5.5%)
4 jokes about the content of atheist clubs (22.2%)
5 jokes about high schoolers (27.7%)
8 relevant remarks about high school atheist groups (44.4%)

Jen's Post:

110 upvotes
44 downvotes

2 comments about the appearance of women/banging them (3.3%)
19 comments basically saying how much I suck (32.2%)
22 comments (a lot of them mine) defending me against said comments (37.2%)
16 relevant remarks about high school atheist groups (27.1%)

So JT gets mostly relative posts or light-hearted humor, while I get disparaging comments and thread derailing thanks to people trying to reply. At least there are people replying (and the bad comments are getting downvoted), but it's still frustrating. What woman would be encouraged to join this community or share posts when she has to deal with this shit all the time? And it is all the time - if you look at other Blag Hag posts people have submitted, there will always be at least some comments about my boobs, or how I have a deformed chipmunk face (I still don't quite understand that one).

It gets old, but I don't have a solution other than escaping to 2Xchromosomes (...which reddit mocks repeatedly). I just want to point out why r/atheism doesn't make me feel exactly comfortable, instead of people thinking I'm just another "crazy feminist" who's "hypersensitive" and "making up sexism that isn't there." I know the majority of people at r/atheism are fine, but the few rotten fruit are certainly ruining it for some of us.

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