Liveblogging the Women in Secularism Conference II

10:57Jen was asked how she would ever find a husband if she was an atheist. I’ve gotten the response of don’t you want a family. I know that feel.

Ophelia wants to add pop culture and it has eliminated women in the past few decades. The absence of women here is about absence of women in movies and television. FUCKING AMEN

Jen wants us to be more enthusiastic about calling people out. When women talk out there are people who try to silence those of use who speak out. People make angry phone calls and death threats and rape threats. If you criticize a famous person in the movement they will fuck you from making progress in the movement.

10:53 The place to begin with helping communities of colors is providing social help from humanist organizations. Engage with young women who are coming out of the prison system and need reentry services because that is not something that is provided. Education, housing, living wages. African Americans aren’t getting education because of cutting funding and because the high schools are so shitty. College prep just doesn’t exist in a reasonable way for minorities. She’s talking about CA in particular, even more of a problem in the rural south. There’s a school to prison pipeline countrywide for minorities.

Provide greenspace, parks, community centers. Speak to the devastation of the social welfare safety net in the US. There needs to be a radical redress of that. Without that humanism is frankly irrelevant for these communities.

Annie is asking if the government is failing and the churches are saviors. She suggests that it shouldn’t be charity, it should be policy.

Sikivu has another doc suggestion on black reproductive rights and how people reach out to pastors of colors to support their points. Not sure the name of this documentary, from an Atlantan group. I will try to get the name.

Jen points out that not only do we not do enough, there are people who don’t think we SHOULD do anything. And back to the diversity panel at TAM last year and DJ Grothe’s insensitivity to this issue.

10:46 Stereotype threat is a real problem. But you can compensate for it by reminding them that stereotypes are inaccurate and that actually changes performance. The main thing to do is to educate children and adults about stereotypes in order to compensate for them.

Cordelia Fine’s Delusions of Gender is recommended from Ophelia with nods from others. You can’t fix it by spotting the priming and saying I don’t believe it actually causes worse performance because you’re thinking about that not just what you’re doing.

Sikivu thinks it’s important to raise feminist young women. Beyond Beats and Rhymes, documentary about hypermasculine beliefs of young men. Done a lot of frontal anti-violence prevention work with young men. That kind of activist outreach where there is an attempt to unpack the patterns of violence in communities of color. They connect to this “coolness” this “masculine” thing that young people are connected to. This is also connected to STIs and HIV rates in young people.

Jen adding to role model. Girly needs to not be associated with being bad. Jen refused to do feminine things because they were inferior. That is sexism, that is treating femaleness as lesser is bad. It’s about choice and what you’re interested, not just reactionary to female things

10:35 Rebecca: men don’t always bring up circumcision when FGM is . Atheist said to her that “FGM might be worse on a case by case basis, but it doesn’t matter because it’s being done to black women in Africa. Men who want to focus on circumcision because women of color, impoverished, and in Africa are not human in a very real sense. It’s disturbing.

Jen: Science is male biased. Because skeptics draw from science based groups, they are drawing from a white male group. A lot of organizers and attendees are not proactive about including women, I’m not being outwardly sexist, so women should just come, I’m not stopping them. You have to be proactive, you get a spiral of doom (spiral of silence). The fewer women you have, the fewer women you will have.

The thing is, they are being outwardly sexist. When Jen announced she was going to a big atheist conference, she got emails from a bunch of different women telling her to avoid these certain male speakers who are sexist or gross to women. And for some reason this isn’t public knowledge. Oh so true, so many names thrown around behind closed doors. I got apologized to after going to an event because no one warned me ahead of time about people reputed to hit on, creep on, and be sexist to women.

Rebecca: putting women on stage makes women more comfortable in the audience, just straight up scientifically.

10:28 Rebecca: When the topic is women, we explain that attendance is low because of lack of interest in the subject. When the topic is bigfoot, we explain that attendance is low because people aren’t skeptical or rational.

Sikivu on the importance of the church to women of color. Churches give things to the community that is under siege. Churches help people of color to get education, jobs, food. Where are the radical secular institutions to fulfill that role in black and brown communities? They don’t exist. New atheism has been fixated on scientism, which has excluded radical voices. The academy is dominated by European Americans, especially with tenure, publication, and recognition. Atheist scholarship has a canon, superstar white male atheism, who have a white supremacist patriarchal version of atheism.

I’m not sure I agree. Oh. And neither does Ophelia. So that’s convenient. She doesn’t think that they are scientistic, that this is a slur. Using reason shouldn’t be a negative. That’s not really scientistic, and it shouldn’t and doesn’t exclude women or people of color. It’s reinforcing the idea that these people are somehow enemies of reason and evidence based thinking.

Sikivu wants to respond. Scientism is a critique to the degree to which science has been presented as totally objective knowledge. The regime is a problem, it forecloses an examination of where the tradition has come from, including imperialism and whiteness. Positivism is problematic.

She recommends the Race Myth. Missed the author’s name. He pushes back against that reason and critical thinking exist outside of a specific context. Not against science as a discipline or science literacy. It’s important to understand that the bodies of people of color have been situated in a context of being the racialized and sexualized in the body of science.

10:20 Rebecca Watson had the best tweet, she wishes that in response to the question of why men are not here, Susan should have said “Maybe they don’t have the capacity for rational thought.” If you’re following on twitter, the hashtag is #wiscfi

10:15 Jen is up now. Sexism and religion are very similar in that they are both irrational and untrue. Skeptic atheists should be against sexism for the same reasons that they are against all irrational things.

Prioritizing is important, but small things matter. Microaggression adds up to a bigger issue. Things like “throw like a girl” or “this atheist woman is awesome because she’s pretty” matter even though they seem small.

Both religion and sexism are hard to give up. They’re ingrained and it’s tough to overcome, especially because it’s not conscious. Giving up religion feels freeing, but giving up sexist beliefs as a man isn’t necessarily freeing because it means examining, acknowledging, and confronting privilege. It feels like reentering a place where you’re made to feel guilty. But sexism impacts men too, and men don’t seem to realize it. Men get called girly as an insult and are driven away from being themselves if they’re not “man enough”. They don’t care about reproductive rights. As though they don’t have to deal with getting a girl preggo.

10:05 I’ve started a new post, because it’s gotten unwieldy on my little tablet which doesn’t like to think hard.  Ophelia Benson up now.  Man, I’m hungry.  TAM was way more on the making sure people were fed.  Just saying.

Ophelia says that the women are better at being nice.  Warm, approachable, family oriented, cuddly.  Victorian angel in the parlor, in atheism, this seems like the wrong person to do battle against god.  New atheism is a kind of battle with god, that doesn’t seem to be a job for people who make a big deal out of being empathetic and nice.  Feminists have themselves to blame for difference feminism.  Which is I think an old thing where feminist think women are fundamentally different and separate (and I guess better?) than men.  This is not something I’m familiar with, I don’t think it’s an under 30 popular thingy.  But it’s apparently a big deal in Women’s Studies.

Women are not the default sex when it comes to thinking of fighting battles.  The good news is that no one needs to be strong or testosteroney to fight God because it’s a battle of words and plenty of women are better than the average man.  You know, cuz statistics.

Progressives are just as bad at saying horribly anti-women things.

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About ashleyfmiller

I write, give occasional speeches, and am currently getting my PhD in Mass Communications from South Carolina. Before going back to school, I worked in Los Angeles in reality tv, web series, and film.

Posted on May 19, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Sikivu is right IMO

    • ashleyfmiller

      I struggle with the use of “white supremacist” in this context. I think this has a lot to do with the culture of the south and that means something very specific to me that I would not say was the same thing as white privilege. It is a synonym for lynching to me, and I don’t think that’s what she’s saying, but it scans that way to me and I find it problematic.

  1. Pingback: The Women in Secularism conference ROCKED | Blag Hag

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