Hey guys, remember that giant list I made of awesome female atheists? And how I talked about the importance of promoting this minority within the atheist community? Yeah, this is not the way to do it:

Dude: @jennifurret Is there going to be a bikini beauty contest in Skepchicamp?
Me:
This is the kind of sexist BS I’m talking about. Not funny RT @Dude: Is there going to be a bikini beauty contest in Skepchicamp?
Dude: @jennifurret How’s that sexist? Nothing wrong with a bikini contest. As a matter of fact, it would be a great way to promote Skepchicamp.
Me:
@Dude Because it’s a conference focusing on skepticism, intelligence, and empowering women, yet you reduced us to our boobs
Dude: @jennifurret Are you implying a bikini contest is all about boobs, no intelligence?
Me:
Uh, yes? RT @Dude: Are you implying a bikini contest is all amount boobs, no intelligence?
Dude: @jennifurret Why? I don’t think boobs and intelligence is mutually exclusive, ie we can get only one but not both.
Me:
@Dude I think you should stop while you’re ahead
Dude: @jennifurret To compete with Christianity, we need to package boobs and intelligence together as a killer product.
Me: Keep digging that hole RT @Dude: To compete with Christianity, we need to package boobs and intelligence together as a killer product.
Dude:
@jennifurret You are so evil!
Me:
I am merely repeating the things you are saying. You produce the consequences RT @Dude: You are so evil!

Okay, I’ll admit I’m kind of on a short fuse about this topic at the moment. Usually the first tweet (which came out of the blue) would illicit nothing more than an eye roll, but last night I watched the PZ vs the Preacher blogtv fundraiser. I was getting pissed how whenever Ashley or ZOMGitsCriss were on screen, the chat room devolved into “Show us your tits!” and creepy sexual comments. I hate how on one hand you have men talking about how we need more outspoken female atheists, and then on the other hand you have completely socially inept sexist creepers making us want to go back into hiding. Yes, it’s the internet, and people will say things they usually wouldn’t dare say in real life – but those thoughts are still there, and that’s distasteful enough.

Good looks and intelligence are not mutually exclusive, but good looks shouldn’t matter when judging based on intelligence. Is it a coincidence that when I think of the female bloggers and YouTubers I follow, a high percentage range from moderately attractive to smoking hot? I’d love to think that someone who would be judged as “unattractive” who was also smarter and wittier would be just as successful, but that seems like the exception rather than the rule. Males don’t have to stand up to that sort of scrutiny.

Boobs should not be the marketing scheme for atheism, nor should we have to put up with subtle sexism in a movement promoting skepticism. I don’t want to ban sexual discussion or humor – hell, I’d be the last person to suggest that. However, there is a difference between me talking about my sexuality and someone yelling “Show me your titties!!!”; between posing for a sexy Skepchick calendar and having someone suggest you should have a bikini contest during a conference; between us all trading juvenile boob jokes after I initiate it and someone making an irrelevant comment about my chest whenever I post a photo.

Think of it in terms of consent.

When I’m initiating a conversation or a joke, I’m giving you permission to join in. Bringing it up out of the blue, often in a crass way, is jarring because sexuality is so private. Some women will open up more than others – but just because I open up frequently doesn’t mean it’s a free for all. Off topic boob comments, marriage proposals, and sexy costume suggestions (I wish I wasn’t making this up, folks) get old after a while, even for an avowed pervert like myself.

I don’t think that most of the time there is ill will. I do think that most guys are oblivious at how such comments can make women feel like they’re being reduced to their breasts. Especially in a community that cherishes intelligence, logic, reasoning, and wit, being judged on looks is just plain annoying.

So do me a favor guys: Think before you speak. And if your fellow man forgets this simple rule, please remind him.