November 12, 2012

Creepy Atheist Men and Women

socially awkwardYou know what tongue-in-cheek refers to, right? Okay, good. That is the "spirit" in which I am writing this. However, if you are absolutely determined to get offended by what you are about to read, I hope you enjoy yourself.

One of the things I've noticed in each of the few atheist group meetings I've attended is that a disproportionate number of "freaks" are present. I am using "freak" here as shorthand for non-conventional persons who draw attention to themselves in various ways so as to be separate from the crowd (e.g., lots of visible tattoos, piercings, dyed hair, t-shirts with unpopular messages, assorted hipster attire). They think they are being true individuals, but a skilled observer will recognize their uniforms a mile away. They are non-conventional, non-conformist, proud of who they are, and while I do not look anything like them, I love them dearly.

One needs to have moderately thick skin to go through life as a "freak," and I suspect that this has something to do with how many I see at atheist gatherings. Atheists, at least those who are open about their atheism in the U.S., need to have moderately thick skin too. Atheists are extreme outliers, a true example of a non-conformist (at least when it comes to religion) if there ever was one. It makes sense that many would be non-conventional in other ways too.

But here's the thing - when you go through life with thicker skin and learn to tune out the negative reactions you get from others for being yourself, you may be a bit…well…socially insensitive. Your social skills may atrophy a bit. You may be louder and more argumentative than you need to be. You may come across as somewhat abrasive or strange. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it can make you a wee bit "creepy" around strangers.

Being Creepy at Atheist GatheringsPZ Myers

Placed in a sexually charged context, which apparently applies to atheist conferences for some reason, creepiness may be a liability. And I'm talking about more than your chances of hooking up with someone. Creepiness could be the sort of liability that makes others afraid of you or gets you escorted out of the conference. You might even get yourself uninvited from the FtB party.

If you are male, horny, have poor social skills, and find yourself in an environment where many people have been thinking and talking about the sort of language to include in their sexual harassment policy, you need to exercise caution. Your awkwardness is likely to be misinterpreted, and you'll be thought of as a creepy rape-apologizing misogynistic MRA before you know what hit you. Guys, don't be creepy!

What about the creepy women? That depends on which brand of feminism you subscribe to and your willingness to grovel. If you are a gender feminist willing to worship at the feet of certain feminist bloggers no matter how irrational they might be, you get to be as creepy as you want to be. You'll probably even receive a free piece of clay to wear around your neck. But what if you are an equity feminist? You might as well go home now, you damn gender traitor. No ceramics for you!

H/T to Justin Vacula's Blog

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