But then you go on to say that they're correct in their criticism, since we aren't being inclusive enough. And I use "enough" markedly.
I wouldn't go so far as to say, "they're correct" with this latest round of criticism. Especially the part where we tolerate (meaning "accept") misogyny. I emphatically disagreed with that point in another thread.
But the points that are much more regularly made, over longer periods than just this last flare-up? Those I take fairly seriously. When it comes to harassment at conventions, or persistent complaints that we know are well-documented and have been around for a while, or that we have gotten complaints about repeatedly, those are worth addressing seriously. I don't think we profit from saying that they're made up or insignificant.
And when we use the word "enough," we have to ask, "enough for what?" We'll likely never be inclusive enough for every critic who has a bone to pick with us. But are we inclusive enough that there aren't a lot of women out there who want to join, but don't because of the way our atmosphere or the atmosphere of the skeptical movement feels to them? Because recent criticism aside, quite a lot of the movement has to contend with these older complaints.
What have we identified, specifically, that we can do to help attract women? A few bullet points of things that any decent human already does doesn't count.
Unless, of course, we don't do those things. In which case those things would help us include more women, and we ignore them at our own peril. Making sure women don't feel objectified, demeaned, or disproportionately targeted are two big things that may help that it's easy to do and not even realize that it's being done. The real bastard of a good cognitive bias is that it operates on you, and then hides. Not only can you not see what it did to your thought process, but you never even know it's there.
"Oh, I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings with this idea." "I'd better not suggest this, I don't want to be a ______ist." Instead of worrying after other people's feelings, lets concentrate on being open to all ideas, and being very critical of all ideas, and fostering a community that welcomes any and all ideas, even if they are offensive. And if some people can't handle that they can fuck off.
Absolutely right. Again, I'm not saying we should just refuse some topics or ideas because some people might be offended. We should absolutely not do that. I'm not talking about topics and ideas that should be okay and not okay, and I'm not sure where you're getting that. I'm talking more about the atmosphere we create, which exists even when we're off-topic and is less a byproduct of us talking about ideas, and more a byproduct of how we interact with each other. We have to at least ask if that might be a problem.
I asked a girl for her opinion as to why women don't play as many video games as men. She suggested it might be because many video games are combative and violent. Read the paragraph above. I want a combative, free marketplace of ideas. A survival-of-the-fittest, no holds barred beatdown of every idea under the sun. I want my opinions challenged and I want to call people on their bullshit. Could it be that, either due to genetics or culture*, women in general (obviously not all women, just statistically more than men**) are turned off by that sort of environment?
Statistically, that certainly could be. But how much difference can we assign to that statistical difference, if it exists? It's still possible that we come up short, and after all the prior statistical distributions are stacked up, we still have a gender gap that we can't explain any other way. And if either result is possible, it's still a good idea to think about what we ought to do in both cases.
If that were the case, would we be willing to sacrifice that, in this specific corner of the tent?
Even if that were the case, we could still potentially sacrifice some of the tone, and have the exact same discussions in a much more diplomatic way. We can absolutely talk about ideas in depth while still being less of an aggressive, fighty place. Whether we'd be willing to do that - conduct ourselves with more diplomacy in our own interest - is another question. I don't think we would. I expect people would see that as a) unwarranted censorship, b) caving to politically correct pressures, and c) a first step toward censoring ideas.
Can we have communities that are more combative and argumentative than others within this tent, even if the demographics differ?
We can, and more importantly we must, because the movement has to have more than one strategy at its disposal if it's going to succeed. But which type we'd like to be isn't a settled question.
All of this gets a long damn way ahead of what I'm really suggesting, which is nothing more than us taking seriously that we may be able to make changes to our behavior that do not affect significantly the intellectual content or common discourse of this forum and by doing so, we could become more of a friendly place for women.
if some feminists can't stand this place because there are breasts to be seen here, then so be it.
I'm not trying to make this place more "feminist" friendly. That would be an accomodation of a set of beliefs (which vary widely among different types of feminists) and I'm not arguing that we should accomodate sets of beliefs. I'm arguing that we can be more friendly to women.
I'd think we'd lose more than we gain by toning down the skepticism, though.
I don't think we should tone down the skepticism.