Watsonism: Its Origin And Definition

Alishba Zarmeen, blogger at Secularly Yours and @SecularlyYours on Twitter, recently had this to say about the TAM 2012 crowd:

This led to a brusque but relatively mature exchange between her and Skepchick’s Surly Amy, with this pair of tweets a good summary of the issue:

But is Amy right? Is there REALLY no such thing as a “Watsonist”?

To answer this question, the term “Watsonism” needs to be defined. This reporter can find no better definition than is contained in the article referenced by this tweet:

That article is called “Atheism, Feminism and Ego” and contains the following quotes:

In our quiet little corner of the internet, we’ve been happily posting about the world around us without much anger or ire for our fellow atheists, agnostics or skeptics… But, this week something happened that may change this.

[Some members of our community] questioned or commented in a way that didn’t make Rebecca Watson, et al. happy. Instead of opening a dialogue and discussing their questions or concerns, or even ignoring them completely, she decides that since they did question, they must be gender traitors, not real feminists or, for the men, misogynists.

And this became the theme for every encounter regarding this incident. You either joined the Watson camp or you were immediately persona non grata on their blogs. One whiff of opposition and you’re a branded by the horde. And an ugly horde it was.

It was a really disgusting display for so-called freethinkers and skeptics.

This, then, is the basis for Watsonism. It is the combination of two beliefs:

  • Rebecca Watson’s stances on feminism and skepticism are correct.
  • Any party who questions those stances are gender traitors and/or misogynists, to be treated not with discussion but with scorn.

That Watsonism exists is clearly true and well documented. But are there Watsonists besides Rebecca herself? Is the answer to that question not also clearly true and in the affirmative?

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