Women are humans – Chapter 12,807

An image from the Reddit thread in question.

There’s a tendency among some egalitarian minded folks to blame the state of women — around the globe and in their own backyard — on religion.

It’s my opinion, however, that “religion,” as a discreet entity, doesn’t exist. Religions (as opposed to faith, and/or the existence of the Divine) are human social constructs, and thus cannot help but reflect the human societies they serve. In fact, it’s my opinion that the frequency with which religions serve as a vehicle through which we reveal our worst proclivities isn’t the impressive thing — the impressive thing is how frequently religion has inspired us to reach beyond our worst proclivities for our better angels.

And just as you don’t need religion to be a good person, you don’t need religion to be an asshole.

Witness the experience of a 15 year old young lady attempting to participate in an atheist group (or “subreddit”) on Reddit. She posted a thread named “What my super religious mother gave me for Christmas,” featuring a picture of herself holding a copy of Carl Sagan’s The Demon Haunted World — I discovered her story on Skepchick last night, and my hair still hasn’t come back down from where it got stood on end.

As writer and Ms. Skepchik herself Rebecca Watson says in the post:

What a cool thing to happen! A touching tale of religious tolerance. I’m sure the comments will be appropriately celebratory and, seeing as she’s 15, nonsexual. LOL.

Because yes. That is not, to put it mildly, what happened.

It took fewer than ten responses for an audience of grown men to start referring to the young lady’s bodily orifices, and from there the distance to suggestions of abduction and rape was very short indeed — liberally sprinkled, of course, with such bon mots as “relax your anus, it hurts less that way” and “blood is mother nature’s lubricant.” Not to mention “BITE THE PILLOW, IM GOIN’ IN DRY!” and “tears, natures [sic] lubricant.” And, just to add horrible to disgusting, these comments were roundly supported by the majority of the readers on the thread — as were the many insults hurled at this 15 year old girl for having the temerity to put her own face in the picture of the gift she wanted to tell people about (because — it was claimed — males don’t do that. Which, I suppose, makes it the better way to do things). (Aside from that claim being demonstrably false – a fact demonstrated amply in the Skepchik post).

Is hurling stomach-churning rape japery at a high school student as bad as sexual abuse, rape, or organized repression? No. Is it on the same continuum? You betcha.

Until we come to fully understand that women and girls are as fully human as men and boys, 50% of the world’s population will find itself at the mercy of those who would deny them their humanity. Religious creed optional.





  1. dmf

     /  December 29, 2011

    this is nightmarish behavior but I find increasingly dubious the idea that what will keep people from committing such offenses is some categorical recognition of the “humanity” of other people, as if it is not an all-too-human characteristic to use other people for our own purposes. there are good legal/political reasons for talking in terms of ‘full’ humanity but in terms of changing legal behavior we have to teach young people manners and compassion which is primarily about changing how they see/understand themselves.

  2. True, but religion is one of the many tools used by oppressor in CONTROLLING women. If presented with what they wrote, I’m fairly certain most of those commenters would apologize and not defend the content of what they wrote. With religion, they don’t blink or back down, instead they insist on their being correct.
    Take the views of the current GOP field on a woman’s right to choose & marriage equality: Marcus Bachmann and his wife/proxy Michelle believe that homosexuality can be cured. Santorum, (and now, Perry) believe that a girl raped by her own father should be forced by the state to bear the child. In Beit Shemesh, women are spat upon for sitting at the front of the bus. Even those in the Haredi community who say that these men are in the wrong, they still lay blame at the feet of these women claiming they were “provoking”.
    None of this is to excuse or diminish what these boys wrote, of course.
    Dickishness is universal, but to have institutionalized dickishness? For that, my friend, you need religion.

    • I believe you’ve forgotten a little place called the Soviet Union….

      • Darth Thulhu

         /  December 30, 2011

        And the (officially atheist, secular, non-superstitionist) Communist Party in China. Free-thinking tolerance at it’s finest …

        • I forgot China!

          That’s a rather big thing to forget.

          • Darth Thulhu

             /  December 30, 2011

            Yep! There’s also the committed free-thinkers of the Khmer Rouge, who refused to accept any ridiculous Buddhist or Christian faith in their citizenry. Likewise the committed atheist regime of North Korea.

            More historically, there’s also the firm anti-clerical fervor of the French Revolution, so boldly committed to Reason and Liberty that it’s adherents lined up priests and nuns in their dozens to feed them to Madame Guillotine.

            Anti-theists don’t have a particularly inspiring record in this area, when they get their hands on actual levers of State power.

  3. Reddit is a den of iniquity, plain and simple. The denizens that haunt it are not, to a man, horrible, but the fraction that are is much too large. I feel for this poor girl, and further for a modern humanity so bereft of compassion and empathy, that it feels loosing a torrent of sexual suggestion on a minor is somehow acceptable.

  4. shams_al_nahar

     /  December 30, 2011

    that was a stellar post.
    Are you becoming?

  5. 4jkb4ia

     /  December 30, 2011

    the impressive thing is how frequently religion has inspired us to reach beyond our worst proclivities for our better angels.


    Assholes is a perfect description of these people even given what they were literally talking about.

  6. shams_al_nahar

     /  December 30, 2011


    “the impressive thing is how frequently religion has inspired us to reach beyond our worst proclivities for our better angels.”

    that simply isnt true.
    religion is only good for the in-group, and nevah for the out-group.
    missionariaiism is the curse of the world.

    • You may note that I went to an enormous amount of trouble to couch this entire thing in terms of “it is my opinion that…”

      Clearly, your opinion is different.

      • shams_al_nahar

         /  December 30, 2011


        • I don’t allow people to be rude to me, or to anyone in my home. This is my home. You are being manifestly rude to me, and to a fellow commenter. You’re banned.

          • Darth Thulhu

             /  December 30, 2011

            That’s a wonderful moderation policy you have there! For some reason, it seems familiar to me … 🙂

  7. I don’t have any qualms with religion unless someone is pushing their outlook/philosophy on me. Then I roll out the Atheist red-carpet, otherwise I leave people alone.

    But that what happened to that girl on Reddit, that’s screwed up. There is definitely something wrong when men are threatening a girl with rape in a discussion/forum, even though it was all for “fun.” It wasn’t fun for her-it just goes to show that women especially young women are being told that they can’t be skeptics or atheists or anything.

  8. yeesh, douchebaggery cuts across all creeds or lack of! And I just want to give this poor girl a hug because that kind of thing, even in the digital realm is SO violating.

    and what’s scary is that I used to know someone who would say these kinds of things in anonymous forums (he’d consider himself a very politically progressive, intelligent skeptic), but he’d throw around rape jokes and use the ‘c-word’ to describe women he disdained (and they were many, as they were not as smart as him).


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