This past weekend saw lovely weather grace our gardens and my mum, brother and yours truly got out into the garden to sort out an overflowing shed and the odd bits of rubbish laying around the garden. It looks decent out there now but the downside was that my hayfever was playing up something awful. When this happens I tend to get all soppy and emotional and Saturday was particularly bad for this.
As I sat in my bedroom with my eyes streaming, my face itching, wheezing and sneezing editing down a piece of the latest Righteous Indignation podcast I stumbled upon a piece of the listener feedback section in which somebody commented on how I had a nice voice and my already irritated mind went into overdrive and I over reacted.
I went marching downstairs and moaned about it to my mother. Told her how people seeing me as a "cute, adorable female skeptic" had been bugging me for a long, long time and I'd had enough of it. MY already irritated mind was saying "quit! quit!" but the sane part of my brain was going "pfft. As if."
It's hard to explain to people who have never experienced social anxiety personally, but when it gets bad you can't even control the way you feel or the way you think. You know that what you are saying or what you are doing is wrong or not like you but you still do it. It's self destructive and it's difficult to stop (but it is possible.)
Instead of doing something completely irrational I spoke to people whose opinions I respect who gave me some great advice and when I had calmed down and reflected on the whole thing the next day I realised that although I had been overeacting with my initial reaction; there was an issue and it had to be sorted.
I can appreciate that female skeptics are a minority compared to their male counterparts and it's wrong. The Greater Manchester Skeptics recently held an event geared specifically for female skeptics to try and encourage more women to participate in their events which I think is hugely brilliant.
I might be alone in the following thoughts, if I am then so be it, however since I first became involved in Righteous Indignation and became vocal about skepticism I have watched as a pattern emerged that makes my skin crawl slightly. No offence.
Numerous comments have been made in the past year about myself being cute, adorable, sweet and lovely and although it's really nice to be complimented it gets a bit weird when it's me being female that gets peoples attention rather than what I have to say.
I've rarely heard any feedback about the stories I cover on Righteous Indignation (apart from that I recieve from my cohosts.) I put so much time and effort into researching my stories and yet what gets peoples attention seems to be the fact that I'm well spoken and "cute."
This is so upsetting that I can't actually put it into words. It's also quite creepy that people say things online to me or about me that they wouldn't dare say to my face. I am, afterall, a stranger and sometimes the comments are foul, rude and disrespectful. Being online and a vocal female skeptic doesn't mean that it's open game for being a jack ass.
I can appreciate how female voices in skepticism are rare, but if others are treated the same way (I don't know if they are, I'm just speculating...) then is it any wonder that women are turned off from becoming involved?
I'm not claiming that every man that I've spoken to or communicated with in the past year has acted this way; but some have and it's so demoralising that it's often made me question whether I should bother or not. Luckily though I feel very strongly about the things I cover, research and talk about so I do continue.
What's the point of this blog?
Well, I hope that it could serve as a polite request to back the hell off and understand that I am a good skeptic because I know bullshit when I see it; not because you think I sound cute, look adorable or am female. Have some respect please.
If it turns out I'm not a good skeptic for what I do or say then so be it; but I'd rather be classed as a good skeptic because of what I do rather than my gender.
That is all.