Anyone who even remotely follows the atheist movement will most likely have seen the issues that have popped up regarding sexual harassment — mostly at the conventions and overall on-line misogyny. My goal today isn’t to rehash the issue as there are plenty of better writers who have done that. (And if you want to get a more detailed background on the situation, read this and this. And this and this one, too.)
My point today is that there is a silver lining in this mess. As a community, we are addressing it head-on. Women who have been attacked, verbally or physically, are speaking up. They are getting support from all quarters, even from lurkers like me. And we will prevail. The misogynists, the harassers, the rapists, the trolls that support this crap either through active endorsement, deflection, or silence will lose. Why? Several reasons but the two biggest I see are that we are addressing it, not sweeping it under the rug like so many religious organizations have. Second, as a society we are addressing it and atheism is part of our larger society. Yes, sometimes the trolls win, and rape is a worldwide epidemic, but you can see societal attitudes towards misogyny changing. We are learning to not teach women how to not be victims, but rather teaching men how not to be rapists. Women and their male supporters are getting louder, are calling out the abusers and holding them accountable, even if it is just in the court of opinion.
And at the end of the day, the abusers will be marginalized while the atheist community will be stronger and more inclusive. Which is what you would expect from a group of people who generally pride themselves on using evidence-based logic as part of their life. (Seriously, when is sexual harassment/abuse or rape in any form logical?) The abuse is painful, it’s ugly, it never should have happened in the first place. Fortunately, those of us who know better are taking care of it and we will succeed. That is the silver lining. I, for one, look forward to it and thank everyone who has the courage to speak out.