To the “Intersectional” Feminists of Skepchick

Earlier this week, the atheist feminist blog site Skepchick put up a post that was ostensibly to/complaining about the people responsible for a recent DDOS attack, titled “A Love Letter to our DDOS Hackers”. However, they used multiple instances of unnecessary ableist language. When called out on it, they doubled down and insisted that none of the language they used is ableist. So, for the sake of argument, let’s pretend they really don’t get it and make it easy to understand.
The Skepchick post contained a text segment and an image with words. The text on the image on the Skepchick site is as follows:

FUUUUUUUUUCK THOSE GUYS.

I got shit to say

and you’re a fucking idiot if you think I can be shut up.

For real.

You are the stupidest mother fucker on earth.

Like, I’m literally impressed you remember to breathe every day

if you think taking down a few blogs

for a couple of days 

is going to do anything

other than prove us right. 

 This is ableist. “Idiot” has a history mirroring that of the term “retard”. It became so pervasive a slur it could no longer be used as a diagnostic label. The word “stupid” is likewise ableist, though so accepted that most people fail to recognize it. But the truly astonishing phrase is “I’m literally impressed you remember to breathe every day.” I have friends with a variety of conditions that cause difficulty breathing, including difficulty “remembering” to breathe. These are life threatening impairments, not a joke, and they have NOTHING to do with a DDOS attack or anti-feminists or whatever the hell these people did that was actually egregious (a point not actually established amongst all the ableism.)

 Above the image there is a block of text trumpeting the social justice creds of Skepchick, which I have to seriously call into question now. Here is that text:

This time of year, like every time of year, we draw a lot of attention to ourselves at the Skepchick Network for being a fierce and outspoken, lady-run blog. We bring up controversial topics like, vaccine awareness and the need for harassment policies at conventions. We talk about the lack of women in STEM and we organize events like the Science Track at Convergence (a.k.a. SkepchickCon) to encourage more women to get involved in those fields. We have the brazen nerve to discuss things like equality for women and minority groups and the highly controversial topic of simply wanting to be treated like a human both online and away from the keyboard. We say hey, you don’t need a god or even a spirit guide to be a great person and to love this one, precious life you have found yourself in. We think life is worth living and learning about without superstition. We support a science based perspective that helps us make decisions on medicine and social science and economics. We think women are funny and valuable. With hot-button topics like the need for safe abortions (a.k.a. reproductive healthcare for women) and the idea that religion is simply unnecessary, we expect and even welcome vocal criticism from people who disagree with us. It’s one reason why we have a blog with a comment section.

But we have set standards. You have to be able to hold a conversation with us. You have to be able to argue your point rationally. You have to be able stand up to us with intelligence and a quality argument. You have to actually add to the conversations being had instead of derailing or just shouting in SUPERCAPSLOCK teenage angst.

And over the years, what we have noticed is that a few of you simply can not do this. These few resort to harassing us on twitter and other social media, they make fake blogs in an attempt to mock us, they email us death and rape threats or tell us to “kill ourselves” or they produce poorly photoshopped images of us doing things they want us to do. We have become their obsession.

Some of our self-proclaimed “critics” have launched multiple year, ongoing harassment campaigns. These people go so far as to make up complete lies about us and contact our employers and patrons with these lies. We have seen these same people post our home addresses online in an attempt to frighten us and hobble our ability to communicate- or sleep well, or to peacefully exist. And every so often, when the photoshopped photos of us and the rape and death threats don’t get our attention to their liking, this same quality of “critic” takes the route of frustrated-cyber-silencer and we see our blog network start to load slow or in the case of last weekend, it goes offline all together in yet another successful Denial of Service attack.

It happens. We expect it.

The thing is this, we actually have feelings about our relationship with these cyber warriors fighting to maintain the status quo. They have a hard time understanding the issues we bring up and their place in the future seems uncertain. We know they are upset and they disagree with us and they want to be heard. We want them to feel special and acknowledged.

And it’s ok.

Really.

In an effort to put what’s wrong with this in words Skepchick editors can hopefully understand, here are their own words, edited to omit ableist (and ageist!) bigotry and suit the topic. You may notice a striking similarity between the above and below, and that is my point. The silencing tactics used against feminists are used against disability advocates. The threats and violence and abuse are too.

This time of year, like every time of year, we draw a lot of attention to ourselves as disabled self-advocates for being fierce and outspoken, and unapologetically disabled. We bring up controversial topics like, Social Security standards that make it financially impossible for many disabled people to marry the person they love and the need for accommodations at conventions. We talk about the lack of disability representation in media and we organize events like Boycott Autism Speaks to encourage more disabled people to get involved in self advocacy. We have the brazen nerve to discuss things like equality for disabled people and the highly controversial topic of simply wanting to be treated like a human both online and away from the keyboard. We say hey, you don’t need a body or mind that functions in the most typical ways to be a great person and to love this one, precious life you have found yourself in. We think life is worth living and learning about without bigotry and ableism. We support a science based perspective that helps us make decisions on medicine and social science and economics. We think disabled people are funny and valuable. With hot-button topics like the the dangers of adult guardianship (a.k.a. healthcare and other life decisions for disabled people) and the idea that ableist language is simply unnecessary, we expect and dread the inevitable endless vocal criticism from people who disagree with us. It’s one reason why we most of us who have a blog with a comment section heavily moderate it.

But we have set standards. You have to be able to hold a conversation with us. You have to be able to argue your point without resorting to ableist slurs. You have to be able stand up to us with integrity and a quality argument. You have to actually add to the conversations being had instead of derailing or just shouting in SUPERCAPSLOCK ageist angst.

And over the years, what we have noticed is that a few of you simply can not do this. These few resort to harassing us on twitter and other social media, they make fake blogs in an attempt to mock us, they email us death and rape threats or tell us to “kill ourselves” or they produce poorly photoshopped images of us doing things they want us to do. We have become their obsession.

Some of our self-proclaimed “critics” have launched multiple year, ongoing harassment campaigns. These people go so far as to make up complete lies about us and contact our employers and patrons with these lies. We have seen these same people post our home addresses online in an attempt to frighten us and hobble our ability to communicate- or sleep well, or to peacefully exist. And every so often, when the photoshopped photos of us and the rape and death threats don’t get our attention to their liking, this same quality of “critic” take other routes to discredit and silence us.

It happens. We expect it.

The thing is this, we actually have feelings about our relationship with these cyber warriors fighting to maintain the status quo. They have a hard time understanding the issues we bring up and their place in the future seems uncertain. We know they are upset and they disagree with us and they want to be heard. They want to feel special and acknowledged.

And it’s not ok.

Really.

 

Are you listening Elyse, Amy and Rebecca?

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