There is a pattern that frequently appears among skeptics, which I will paraphrase as briefly as possible to get to my point:
WOMAN: It’s creepy. Please stop.
SKEPTIC: What are you afraid of?
WOMAN: <Statistics about violence by men against women>
SKEPTIC: <Statistics about violence by men against men> More men are killed by men than women are. It is irrational for women to fear violence from men.
Let’s just say for the purposes of this post that more men are killed by men than women are killed by men. I don’t necessarily think that is true, and there’s a lot of how you frame the argument to find the data, and I’m not going to contest any link someone posts here about the number of men who are killed annually compared to women and I’m not going to provide any statistics of my own. I just want to address this notion that women are wrong/irrational/hysterical to fear being approached by strange men when they are alone in elevators because out in the big bad world, more men are killed by men than women are. This argument is trotted out to prove that women’s feelings about being safe are unfounded and easily undermined by science and evidence and logic.
There is a problem with this stance: If men and women alike are victims of violence at the hands of men, and men are more often the targets of male violence, then men should also be afraid. In fact, it is irrational/illogical/unscientific for men to not be more afraid of encountering potentially malevolent strangers than they already are, if the dangers that men face at the hands of men are so much worse than the dangers faced by women. Women aren’t the ones in denial of the evidence–men are. Women concerned for their safety are actually facing up to the dangers that these statistics portend, and taking action by speaking out against them. Men, on the other hand, go on the record saying they don’t live in fear and don’t take any extra steps to protect themselves, even though it is far more likely they’ll be killed. Does that sound reasonable to you? No. So why do they bring it up?
These male-on-male violence statistics aren’t thrown into a discussion because men are trying to explain to women how moving through the world makes them feel, and how the behaviors of other men impact their sense of well-being in a public or private space, and how they want to raise awareness of this common concern. No. It’s a silencing strategy. Women express their thoughts, and people attempt to silence them by pointing out simultaneously that women are foolish to fear violent men and how rampantly violent men run through society. It’s a ludicrous argument from a logic point of view, and it is unbecoming to the skeptical mindset to resort to it in order to have the last word. The only purpose of even voicing such a poorly designed argument is to make women’s objections to the creepy things people do to them seem silly, so that people can keep doing those creepy things to women that they want to do without fear of criticism. You know, because of logic and evidence.
Crap like that turns away skeptical women from active participation because it is offensive, and because it shows poor thinking. If the skeptical community wants to attract those skeptical women, it’s going to have to do better on both accounts.