Category Archives: feminism

Aren’t you making it up? – Why women don’t report harassment

There has been a lot of discussion about why women don’t report sexual harassment (Ophelia Benson, Greta Christina) and what they’re up against when they do, including hyper-skepticism over claims that are routine, mundane, and unsurprising.

I would like to present to you a comment I got today, which you can go find if you want, but I have no intention of linking to it or encouraging people to respond to it.  I want you to read it and keep in mind a few things:

  1. Unlike most cases of sexual harassment, I had several witnesses
  2. Many witnesses were willing to make public statements
  3. Although the report was incomplete, it was made as the harassment was ongoing, not afterwards
  4. It was not a complaint about a named person, no one is on the defensive
  5. It was not a complaint about a well-known speaker
  6. Many people in the community know and respect me, I am not unknown
  7. I have a public platform from which to speak

These things are not always true for a woman who is being or has been harassed and the following is a response I got with all of those things on my side.  Take away one or two or all of these and tell me what kind of response the average woman might expect to get.  And then tell me whether you’d find it worth it to make a report when you can expect this treatment from many other people.

Miss Miller, is there any actual evidence that the alleged harassment took place? Is there any actual evidence that “some other women” were harassed? Did you submit a written report of the alleged harassment to the conference organizers? Did the alleged “other women” submit written reports? Did any of you report the alleged harassment directly to “DJ”?

If the guy was so obnoxious for so long, why didn’t you ask someone for help? Why didn’t you ask for help right away if you were so repulsed by and uncomfortable with the guy’s alleged behavior? You say that someone from TAM’s staff eventually (but “so quickly”) intervened but you don’t say whether you asked for help or if someone just happened to come along and deal with the alleged situation.

You say that someone from TAM “made it stop” and that someone kicked the guy out but you don’t say exactly who it was who first intervened and how they knew you were being harassed. You say that you were told that “DJ himself” kicked the guy out but you don’t say who told you that.

You obviously think that TAM should consider what you did as a “report of harassment” but you don’t actually say what you did, exactly who intervened, whether you asked for help, who you talked to (either to ask for help or otherwise), and there are a lot of other missing, important details.

Another thing you said is that you were ultimately impressed with and proud of TAM’s staff for so quickly intervening. If they intervened so quickly, how could the guy have harassed you from room to room for so long?

You also make it sound as though “DJ” must have known about the alleged situation at the time but you don’t actually know that he did because you didn’t actually talk to him about it at the time, did you?

Exactly how would it make TAM “look bad” if you had gone “into explicit detail of exactly how gross the guy had been to” you? Who exactly would you have gone into explicit detail to about how gross the guy was to you that would have made TAM look bad? If you had gone into explicit detail with TAM’s staff, how would that make TAM look bad? If you didn’t go into explicit detail with someone on TAM’s staff at the time, then why did they intervene and kick the guy out? How would they know for sure what they were intervening with?

And another question: Do you expect the TAM staff or “DJ” to be psychic and to know what’s happening to you and/or other people at the conferences at all times, and to know what has allegedly happened to you or other people even though you and/or those other people don’t properly report it to the people in charge?

According to your own words TAM’s staff  took care of the alleged situation “so quickly” and effectively. That speaks well of TAM’s staff, which should demonstrate to you and all others that TAM’s staff deals with problems quickly and effectively as soon as they know about them. TAM’s staff can’t reasonably be expected to be psychic or to personally babysit every woman (or man) at their conferences. It’s unreasonable for you to blame TAM or “DJ” for something that you could have ended a lot faster if you had asked for help quickly and had properly reported it to the people in charge.

Is it wrong for ‘skeptics’ to be skeptical of non-evidential claims that don’t add up, and that weren’t properly reported to the people in charge of the conference?

Are you making up the whole thing?

On its own, it might just seem like a bad apple not worthy of notice, but I’ve gotten dozens of other comments here, on other blogs, on Facebook, and in e-mails that reflect the same sentiment.  And I knew I would get them.  Every woman knows she will get them.  Every time she speaks up.  Every time.  And sometimes it’s just exhausting.  It hurts a little, having to relive it and be called names and a liar, but ultimately it just makes you tired, completely bone-weary, and a little heartbroken.

DJ Fact Correction

I generally don’t take the time to fact correct every random person who misrepresents what I say, because it’s a herculean task, but I’m surprised to find, after all the positive back and forth between us, that DJ went and said this:

All we knew about was that someone was removed from the speaker reception because he wasn’t permitted to be there, and was apparently drunk. In her blog post and in further comments, Ashley says she didn’t feel like the harassment was worth reporting to JREF staff or hotel staff at the time, nor did she nor anyone else mention it in one of the TAM attendee surveys.

No, absolutely not true, and an abhorrent misrepresentation of what happened.

From the man who reported the incident:

…he was rude and talking to several ladies with inappropriate language. I told you [DJ] about him and you took immediate action and talked to the gentleman and you took him from the room.

At that time, DJ only knew what I told him and he acted immediately and did the right thing. There is a chance that DJ does not remember this because he only knew that the guy was rude, drunk and needed to leave. DJ did not stop to think about it – he just took action.

I had been told it was already reported, because it was reported and dealt with by DJ, I didn’t know a second report was necessary. Had DJ himself not been the one who handled the issue initially, if I had thought that he’d totally forget, if I thought he would think that being alerted to a man bothering women translated to just a guy who wasn’t invited, or if I knew that he had not gotten complete information, I would have immediately made an additional report.

Because the issue was very much worth reporting to the JREF staff — which is why it was, it just turned out that the report was incomplete.

To say that I did not think it was worth reporting is a lie and an egregious one at that.

Furthermore, I did not think that DJ would ever be going around saying that no harassment was ever documented at TAM. I didn’t think DJ would be saying that the low attendance problems at TAM were from women talking about sexism they experience. I didn’t think that DJ would ever be saying that the only problem that TAM needs to correct is that victims just don’t officially report enough.

I am extremely lucky that there were other witnesses, I hate to think what other women who’ve been harassed are thinking right now. What would people be saying about me right now if I hadn’t had half a dozen other people there? I mean, considering what they’re already saying.

I hate posting about this stuff. I absolutely despise it, because it’s hard to deal with the comments and it’s hard to relive all the harassment — and not just that one incident, but the lifetime of cultural shame and guilt and horror and anger that comes with every incident. I think what some people are missing is how much that can hurt and how difficult it is to expose yourself like that. Should women report it?  Absolutely, but it’s really difficult to do so because it is painful and when people act the way DJ is acting right now, it makes it even harder.

11 Thoughts on TAMpocalypse 2012

I’ve been asked by a few different people to respond to Rebecca Watson’s post, so I’m going to be brief with my thoughts.  I think the first three are the very most important things that everyone who is writing about this needs to understand and, in their anger, some people seem to be forgetting.

1. Rebecca Watson is not a bad person, cares deeply about making TAM the best it can be, and has contributed greatly to making that happen.

2. DJ Grothe is not a bad person, cares deeply about making TAM the best it can be, and has contributed greatly to making that happen.

3. I care deeply about JREF and TAM and have been honored to speak there in the past. I owe TAM a great deal, and want it to be the best it can be.  I do not hate nor am I mad at DJ.  I continue to owe DJ a debt of gratitude for helping me last year and he’s always been nice to me, even through this.  I do not consider anyone in the skeptic movement my enemy.  I can’t say they all feel that way about me, but that’s OK too.

4. DJ has a habit of saying things poorly in comments and getting himself into trouble.  Telling Rebecca that it is partially her fault that women are not coming to TAM was a major misstep.  If I was told that I was the problem by the president of an organization that I had devoted that much time and support to, I would feel unwelcome and not want to participate.

5. Rebecca boycotting the event is likely to hurt TAM in the short run.  It’s possible that this will lead to the organization doing a better job of communicating in the future, it’s possible that it will weaken the organization longterm.  It is her choice and I understand it and I hope that even the Rebecca haters could put themselves in her shoes.

6. TAM is a safe event for women, but it is not a safe space.  These are two different concepts.  DJ has policies in place to protect women.  They are enforced.  There are problems with how TAM keeps tabs on what happens, but that does not mean women are in danger.

7. I believe DJ and his explanation of his recollection of events.  I also believe he had initially forgotten the event entirely, though I am surprised that he did not try to find the answer before publicly accusing me of making it up.  However, after seeing several other people verify the story, he did the research and confirmed the event.  The initial misstep was rectified and we worked through it amicably.

8.  I would not have used the term gaslighting to describe DJ’s immediate response, but I don’t know that Rebecca’s use of it was incorrect.  He was intentionally trying to make me doubt my own memory, but because his memory disagreed with mine.  I was very fortunate to have so many other witnesses that corroborated my story, many women do not.

9. I am surprised that when being alerted to bad behavior of a man towards women the only thing he remembered about the event, once he figured out what we were talking about, is that the guy wasn’t on the invite list.  The invite had nothing to do with why it was pointed out to DJ.  I can’t personally imagine being alerted to bad behavior of a man towards women and not thinking harassment immediately and not writing the incident down.  But I also am a woman who has been harassed by men, so my perspective is different from DJ’s.

10. DJ did the right thing when (re)alerted to this problem and located the guy to whom I was referring and asked me for a written report, which is now on file.  He has been very vigilant and polite to me — even when he thought I had no idea what I was talking about, he did it in the politest way possible and in an attempt to reach a conciliatory conclusion, not to create a fight.  He handled this with more grace than I would have.

11. The question DJ refers to on the survey is whether you felt welcome at the event or not, not whether you were sexually harassed by attendees.  These are massively different questions.

Women in Secularism: The Good, The Bad, The Awesome

Earlier this year I had to make a financial choice — I could either afford to go to DC for the Women in Secularism conference or I could afford to go to Vegas for The Amazing Meeting.  I say this not to denigrate TAM, but I could not have made a better decision.  The Women in Secularism conference is far and away the best atheist/skeptic conference that I’ve ever been to.  If you missed it, and you probably did, you need to not miss it again.

One of the things that I have trouble with in this movement is the lack of focus on issues that “matter”.  I came to the secular movement from the LGBT movement, fresh off of the Prop 8 loss, I discovered that out-and-proud atheists also had a movement, and I was eager to join a fight that I thought impacted everything, including LGBT and women’s issues.  So I went to the OCFA conference, to local skeptic and atheist meetups, I went to TAM, to Dragon*Con’s Skeptrack, to the SCA lobbying training, I wrote about it here, I wrote about it for secular.org, I gave speeches.  In short, I got involved.

Photo by Brian Engler

This month is my two year anniversary of being involved with this movement and, as someone who cares deeply about social justice, it has very often been a very difficult movement to be a part of.  For me the great appeal of secularism, the great tragedy of religion, and my own personal passion for this cause is all centered around the fact that religion is the source of many evils or used to justify those evils perpetrated against humanity.  As was said several times over the weekend, UFOs and Bigfoot aren’t that important to me, skepticism is much more interesting when applied to issues that impact people’s lives in serious ways.  Children, minorities, people of color, women, poor people, the disabled, the elderly, LGBT, and other marginalized groups would benefit so much from having the tragic consequences of religious bigotry removed from their lives.

So when people in charge of important organizations speak on a panel at TAM to say that social justice isn’t and shouldn’t be within the purview of skepticism, or people in my local atheist group leave because they think it is inappropriate that someone posted a link to a story about the Rally Against the War on Women because who cares about that feminist bullshit, or important people in the movement tell me not to bother submitting something to TAM if it has anything to do, even tangentially, with women’s issues, I start to doubt why I am even involved.

This conference was the antidote to that.  If you are someone in this movement who wants it to be about creating change in the world, this is the conference you should have been at.  If you are someone who thinks all that atheists and skeptics should do is talk about is why the bible is stupid and why UFOs aren’t real, then it really wasn’t for you.  I think that UFOs and critiquing the Bible and all of that are important discussions, but I think they are a reflection of an old, traditional, white male scientist way of thinking, and it’s not why I want to be involved.

I know why I am involved, and this conference was it.  In reality, it wasn’t the “Women in Secularism” conference, it was the “Secularism for Social Justice” conference.  I am proud to have been a part of it.

HIGHLIGHTS (all quotes paraphrased)

  • Typing 13000 words while liveblogging
  • I place as much value on anonymous comments made on blogs as I do on statements of eternal love made after a late night drinking at a bar. – Susan Jacoby
  • This conference is a good start, the first of its kind, but these panels BELONG in regular conferences. There are places for these issues at every conference we hold. Especially on science and education. Things have not changed enough, and women are the primary educators and caregivers. Secular organizations, if they want more women, are going to have to address this. The reason men aren’t here isn’t because the conference isn’t welcome, but because men in the movement don’t give a shit about this. – Susan Jacoby
  • 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. – Jen McCreight
  • Sikivu and Ophelia disagreeing strongly, and talking about it rationally and pleasantly.
  • Recognition of the underground acknowledgement of the bad guys in the movement and how women are afraid to speak up about it because it will hurt them instead of the well-known man.
  • Panel arguments that were over details of implementation and how to fight, not over whether there was a problem in the first place
  • I have never found a trace of morality in my own religion – Wafa Sultan
  • The complete rejection of the Prime Directive and everyone agreeing that helping women in other cultures is a moral duty, not cultural imperialism.
  • It’s cultural imperialism to help these women? Tell the to the girl who had her clitoris cut off, tell that to the girls who had acid thrown on their faces for going to school, tell that to the women being stoned to death for the crime of being raped. Tell that to them and then FUCK YOU.  – Greta Christina
  • Having a military base in Saudi Arabia isn’t imperialism but opening a school is? If you can invade a country how can you not open schools? We need more secular schools, not more army bases! – Wafa Sultan
  • Wafa Motherfucking Sultan.  For many personal reasons, it was a very difficult and traumatic talk to sit through and I was nearly sobbing by the end of it, if I hadn’t been transcribing, I’m sure I would have been.  I hope that this talk goes up first, it needs to be seen.
  • A lot of people are talking about issues that apparently have nothing to do with secularism, should Catholic hospitals get public funding and refuse to give the morning after pill, should black boys be frisked without probable cause in NYC, we are skeptics, we’re good with numbers, we should care about it. These stories, we who are skeptical, we who believe that morality does not come down from on high, we who understand that it is our obligation as humans to first do no harm and make sure that others are not harmed, have to — HAVE TO — tell our stories. – Jamila Bey
  • We’re so foundational. If I can convince people to spend more time thinking about things, using critical thinking, it’ll fix a lot of these other problems I’m fighting for. Because our message is so basic and foundational, I think that it is a part of everything else. – Debbie Goddard

NITPICKS

  • Some of the talks were either too broad and not focused enough.  I say this with absolute love, because there was not woman who spoke that I didn’t want to hear more from, but many of the talks were so detail rich on such a broad topic that they were very difficult to follow.  Annie Laurie Gaylor was particularly guilty of this, I’m afraid I didn’t retain very much of what she talked about because it was basically just a list of names.  Her argument, which was that women have historically been freethinkers, could have been made in a way that wasn’t as hard to follow.  I just didn’t know any of the names or have any point of reference.  Susan Jacoby did a lot of the using names without explaining who they are thing as well.
  • Using cards to take questions was great, but I didn’t have access to any and would have had to interrupt the session or leave to get cards to be able to ask questions.  I think there needs to be a stack under each chair.  Especially since my neighbors all grabbed all of the cards immediately when they sat down so I had none!
  • The talks were too long, I’d rather have heard shorter talks from more people and some of them felt a little stretched out, I’m thinking of Bernice Sandler’s in particular, but just generally I think hour long talks are excessive when you’ve got so many other people who didn’t get to speak.  The panels were the perfect length.
  • Attendance.  I would have liked to see a lot more men and people of color in the audience.  I said it was the Social Justice in Secularism conference, and I think that’s how it should be advertised, because it wasn’t just about women and it wasn’t just for women and women’s issues are human rights issues.  So much of what we covered this year was new territory for these conferences, I hope that the conference continues and continues to expand into covering topics like prison reform and drug policy — things that impact women even though they aren’t traditionally thought of as “women’s issues” and were brought up several times over the weekend.
  • I admit that, because I work in media and I study media, I am unusually focused on this, but I wish that there had been more time spent on addressing the representation of women in the media.  And if you need someone to rant about that next year, I’m sure I’m only one of a whole lot of women in the movement who could go on and on for hours.

Readin’ a list; Photo by Brian Engler

And my final complaint, which is not a nitpick and not the fault of the conference, is the tragic performance of Edwina Rogers, who literally read a list from an old power point presentation over the course of 15 minutes and then left the conference entirely without taking any questions.  She had been there before the speech, available to be approached, so she wasn’t hiding entirely and I wouldn’t accuse her of that, she was just avoiding having to publicly answer questions.  And she clearly was not hired to be a charismatic public speaker and I never missed the overly enthusiastic rabble rousing of Sean Faircloth more.  This wasn’t just my response, I heard this from several people who didn’t know anything about her background.

I also had the opportunity to meet her and I was disappointed in that as well.  She just threw talking points at me about opening state chapters, and she and Woody, her handler from the SCA, both acted like they didn’t know who I was.  This despite the fact that I was recruited by the SCA to be one of the the first bloggers for their organization’s website, I spent hours and hours last year with Woody, led a panel discussion for the SCA last year, and have sent them much feedback and, admittedly unsolicited, advice about Edwina.  If they don’t know who I am, it’s insulting, and if they do know and they acted like they don’t, that’s even more insulting.

That said, Melody Hensley did an amazing job with this and deserves all of the credit in the world.  Conferences, especially first ones, are incredibly difficult to pull off.  This was so much better than I had hoped for, I have come away impressed by everyone involved.  Well, almost.

I will be adding a list of resources mentioned while I was taking notes over the weekend, for people who want to read more or watch videos that were recommended.

Liveblogging the Women in Secularism Conference VI

10:34 Any way to push women’s rights in politics?

Jamila: Until there are more women in office they will have to compromise everything to get anything. Run. Pay to play. Organize on the internet. Women do not right op eds, letters to the editors. Op Ed Project, google them, get in your local paper, pitch your stories, tell them it’s going on, tell them they need to know. It’s great to rant on reddit, you’ve got to get in front of people who can do something, those are journalism. Run for office if you don’t like it.

Many are apathetic even if they agree with us, how do we get them to care?

Jen: Visit the midwest or south. I use scare tactics. Lifelong secular person, I didn’t care at all until I moved to a conservative community in college and it scared the crap about me and they were trying to convert me. Many don’t realize because it’s not immediately impacting them. I moved to Seattle now it’s like atheist paradise. I try to bring up what’s actually happening in other parts of the country. If you’re not active you’re going to get screwed over eventually too.

What are the strategic advantages for our movement?

Greta: We rule the internet. We can mobilize the internet at a moment’s notice. Do you remember that we made the american cancer society’s life miserable for weeks? Anyone paying attention in the non-profit world knows don’t piss of the atheists. The Foundation Beyond Belief wanted to participate as a team member, initially they said yes, and then said no and lied about it and changed the story and lied. It got out, the atheists made their lives a misery for weeks. A lot of theists were also upset. They wanted to give you half a million dollars, my aunt died of cancer, what the fuck were you doing you don’t want their money. We run the internet and we should run with that. FBB found another cancer organization that was like we want your money and people and mobilizing and creating visibility.

Debbie: It’s called Light the Night, so keep an eye out. Doing it in Sep and Oct.

The role of pop culture?

Jamila: Tell our stories. Put an atheist in your movement, make them sympathetic. Come out. When people see you it’s really hard to hate you and oppress you.

Jen: That works. My favorite movie when I was 8 was Contact. The main character is a female strong willed scientist who is also an atheist. The more I watched it the more I thought she thinks like me and that’s OK. I read a study a week ago that looked at the top 100 films last year, 11 female leads, they were almost all stereotypes. It works when you have role models.

Greta: I would love an atheist equivalent of a media watchdog that points to bad depictions and patterns. And there are these patterns of depictions of atheists in the media. Put out a press release.

Today is the 15 year anniversary of Contact!

What is the future of secular interaction with the parties and politics?

Jamila: That’s a book. That I wish I could write right now.

Greta: I think it’s a long game. Traditional pols see us as toxic. And that was true of the gay movement in the 1970s. And they became powerhouse that the democrats couldnt ignore. But the republicans are screwing themselves because young people aren’t hostile. Doesn’t mean we should give up, to play the long game, we need to start now, but we shouldn’t expect huge payoff right away but in 5 years we can become.

Debbie: A lot of what we do is defined by what our enemies do. Right now it seems to be the religious right and they’re closely allied with the republican party. It forces most of us to side with democrats. If the religious right continues, I think default wise, we will be allied with democrats. However I think we will see a shift in that, the religious right will become less popular because young people aren’t interested. We’ll be into liberal progressives on social issues.

Is the secular movement trying to become all encompassing?

Debbie: We’re so foundational. If I can convince people to spend more time thinking about things, using critical thinking, it’ll fix a lot of these other problems I’m fighting for. Because our message is so basic and foundational, I think that it is a part of everything else.

APPLAUSE

Debbie: We see same sex issues, we have positions, you should look at science and data. You’re coming to the wrong conclusion because of bias. Let’s look at facts and history.

Greta: Anti-Discrimination Support System watch. That thing I talked about exists. Margaret Downey (sp)

JMH: Atheists have been traditionally progressive in a lot of fields. Elizabeth Cady Stanton knew she was risking her position in the women’s movement, but she thought religion caused the problems and so she spoke out. Black atheists working on socialism and civil rights. Hubert Harrison (?)

10:19 JMH: we don’t know our history, writing Doubt made me more hopeful for the future of our movement, there’s always been people questioning. The one suggestion I have is the Cold War seemed to shut down questioning, but we’re not there anymore and now our most murderous enemies are often on the fundamentalist side. Specifically, this history gives us reassurance about who we are, not just the facts but they addressed different things, what can do about forgetting our history? Annie Laurie Gaylor’s talk was amazing and showed us how much we forgot and these women addressed questions that we don’t always address now? Anyone want to take it.

Debbie: We spoke together about what we might discuss on this panel and also wanting to make sure we had interesting new things. Is there enough to talk about? There’s too much. I am going to try to have a contrary opinion even though I’m going first. Most people who get involved don’t need the history because it’s not why they’re getting involved. Why do people get involved in church? We make fun of people who are religious because they haven’t read the bible and don’t know their history. Because the purpose is to provide community. And then we kind of do that to, we might not know our history of freethought, that’s not why they’re coming to groups or arguing on the internet. Those in leadership should absolutely know, and about other social movements too, we should absolutely know the history. Things feel very new, maybe this is because the internet makes my attention span think everything is new. Pre-Youtube I don’t even know what was going on in the world. The whole world would benefit from learning knowing more history. Yes we would benefit, no it’s not why we’re coming to groups, maybe add more to venues and educate.

Jamila: Quickest answer: Yes, we should know more about our history. I’m a big fan of gifting biographies. We need to let it be know that there were always people who doubted. We need to make sure that those who are in league with the way we think that they’re aware of it. I’m going to go back to February, I love talking about, did you know they were atheists. That kind of thing. Letting people know. We can always share our wishlist on certain big internet retailers that oppress local bookstores. I wish we did more reading as a society, especially since I make my living as a journalist. But I’m a journalist on radio, so maybe there will be a Youtube meme.

Debbie: I just jotted down, if you’ve been in the bookstore, you’ve seen the banner we made for african american for humanism, we had banners with african american famous figures who were freethinkers. It is so important to people to know that there are people who look like them who think this way. To know that atheism is something that’s been present in black history, again, so important to people. In the black community people would say that atheism and freethinking is a eurocentric perspective and it’s an outside group telling them how to be, when we show the history and we’ve been part of it. Like in feminism, did you know all these people were freethinkers too? This is our history, it represents me and my history too.

Greta: What they said. Diversity work, this is nuts and bolts work, if you want to do events with black sororities or feminists, do a history of women and african american freethinkers. How diverse we’ve always been. I think there’s a divide between the old guard and the young who want to do everything differently. I think our history is important, especially learning other social change movements, but I also think that there’s a tendency that because we’ve always done something this way we must always do it that way. Like the skeptic movt has always been about ufos and bigfoot and can’t now be about the drug war and prison reform because that’s how it’s always been done. We’re changing quickly, we need to be nimble. I wouldn’t want a focus on history to become we have to always do things the way people in the movement are already comfortable with. One of the lessons from history is we can’t always keep doing things the way we always to do.

Jen: You made the one point I was clinging onto so I’ll say yes.

10:07 Greta: People who came out earlier tend to be people who are very independently minded and don’t care as much about social things. When it’s hard to come out the people who come out are people who don’t care so much about other people and don’t care as much about being social. But that’s changing because it’s becoming easier and we’ll be a community of people who are more social. We’re going to have more diversity of interests. The local groups that are strongest are the ones with most diverse range of activities. A lot of times what religious groups offer is a lot of different things, support, child care, guidance, food bank, charity, social justice, picnics. A huge variety of things. If you just activism or just skeptics in the pub or just service, there’s people you’re not reaching who might be interested. That makes a big difference.

Jen: It is hard going last! Sorry Debbie. I don’t have kids, I’ve never been religious, and I like to rage on the activities. I don’t want to sing or be social, I do like eating food and so there’s just basic things that your group can do to get a social network. It’s important to have some traditions in the group. Not rituals. Like my group at Purdue came up with this, they went out to dinner every Sunday night. Once they started doing this, the group became tight knit, they are closer, they feel like part of a group. Regular scheduled meals. Food is universal, they have to eat.

10:03 JMH: What do people, women and men and parents, get from religion? Music, singing, the quietness of periods of it, quietness with other people, and silly things like at the megachurch I once visited, they had parking for people who were coming the first time, welcoming. What do you think? How could we do some of that?

Debbie: Historically we’ve brought in people who are in science and philosophy, and not so much young parents. People who had time and had disposable incomes. There were a lot of people who didn’t like religion and we had humanists who liked to sing and the atheists wanted to talk about the bible and skeptics were hands off religion and let’s talk about the brain and ufos. They all seem to like to drink a lot. Sometimes we’re quiet together cuz we’re drinking so much. And what do people get from that, and religion cover a lot of important things. Social bonding and networks. African americans say when you move to a new city and you want to meet and get connected with new people and the black community, you immediately go to a church. Maybe those venues don’t exist for people to meet new people. The social aspects, we’re seeing that our movement is able to provide more of that, there are groups everywhere now because we are exploding. we’ll see more of that. It becomes a problem when we think we know what everyone wants. I think the debates between confrontationalists and accomodationists argue claim they know what everyone wants, some people like singing and holding hands but not everyone. The internet arguments people realize we’re diverse and have different needs. We have people on the autism spectrum, me too probably, which is cool, I’m good at math, but are less interested in community and hold handing.

Jamila: Black church and children. FINALLY. Here is my experience. I saw a speech at a center not too far from me, Debbie, talking about diversity. In February, the month when all black people events happen. Joke. Based in reality. I show up and there’s a center that’s headed by a woman and she goes I’m a hugger and me too and we hug, and I listen and look around. And there are people who look like me, and many people in this crowd, and I was told I should come to this parent thing. And I show up with my kid, no one’s saying don’t vaccinate and no one saying well, mine is an indigo child. But, I was literally embraced, my kid got playmates, we were sort of likeminded. There will be people who are like Jamila is loud and obnoxious and we will never hang out, and that’s fine, but others have gone to the zoo together, and just hung out when we were bored. I really think that when we allow people to organically seek each other out and say this is what I need and group up under the understanding that our birthday you will be proselytized or we will permit slut shaming. We see the world through a particular lens, so when we go to the movies about a God with a hammer and we go yeah that’s awesome. We don’t have to pray, we do not believe that Jesus is lord, we don’t have to assure people we don’t believe Thor is god. When I go to the hairdresser with my skeptical girlfriends our convos are much different from choir choir how’s your mama choir. It allows me to me and not on guard. And the community is stronger. Is Reba here? She rocks! When I visited I got to see her family group, I was blown away. Dads were leading activities. Whole families showed up, kids showed up alone. This community is there and available and they’re talking about science. Be who you are, be out, let people find you, because I genuinely have experienced that I know I will go to a thing where God ain’t gonna come up and I can find someone to get my hair done with and kids to babysit mine. We need to do more where the whole family is invited and kids can meet.

9:50 Debbie: A lot of times with activism you need to first define goals and then decide tactics. Like the election in Nov, you realize some goal is important, some group that is a competitor might be a group you need to work with right now to vote a certain way, that’s why coalitions exist. As we broaden and get new people, we realize that we have shared goals with some groups, but they don’t want is in there feminist group or LGBT group and that is tricky. And sometimes we overlap in goals, and these groups might be filled with woo. We have more people who are interested in working within groups to bring skepticism and atheists can be good feminists. It’s a kind of coalition building, but more overarching. I do outreach to coalitions of black sciences. Most black groups they love them some jesus, and they love science too, but let’s start with a prayer. So we ask why don’t you want us and don’t you want to help us advance science. We come in conflict with that religion, we still have goals of advancing critical thinking we need to communicate in those groups.

Greta: I think it’s assumed that if you’re confrontational and vocally opposed to religion, it’s going to be difficult, and I don’t think this is not necessarily true. They had a group that did everybody draw mohammed and it was controversial and will it be impossible after to do coalitions, they did and the muslim student group was unhappy and had a lot of conversations, and that was the beginning, and now they are doing alliance work together. It opened up a conversations and they explained why they were doing it, and discovered they had some things in common. We should not assume that if we criticize religion it shuts the door to alliances.

9:44 JMH: I want to ask about coalitions, with the religious, is it a good idea or should we keep it “pure”?

Jennifer: I thought it was very interesting when Greta said that when movements become mainstream they ally with religion and as we become mainstream we become more involved in interfaith. I don’t think working with religious groups is bad, even though I hate the term and a lot about interfaith. When I was in college, we were involved with the Episcopalians a lot because the only thing we disagreed with was the God question. Those sort of relationships work, you have a common set of values and you’re willing to set God aside to work on LGBT rights or separation issues. I do not like when atheist groups are asked to set aside their values and shouldn’t be offensive and should be more polite. The offensive thing is that we don’t believe, we can’t compromise those values. I don’t have faith, based on evidence and reason and faith is bad, I don’t want to be inter. It’s fine working with religious groups, they can’t tell us to shut up about things that make us uncomfortable.

Greta: What she said. The nature of alliance work is that you don’t agree on everything, you temporarily you set aside the things you disagree about — if you didn’t disagree, you would be in the same group. The question is are there people who we disagree with on so much that we shouldn’t work with them at all.

Jamila: It’s hard on the panel cuz I gotta follow that. Rule 1 of debate is that you define your terms. That’s also the rule I like to follow in all relationships. What do we want? Want to give a public shout out to the childcare upstairs that helps us mommies show up and bring our kids. Mine is going to have such wonderful memories of his first Surlyramics and the secularist women conference. He’s at a school in DC, 13% score at grade level in science. These are first graders. These are fifth graders. If those people who love science and maybe some who love Jesus and Allah and FSM wish to come together and go to that school and the parents who don’t have the luxury of showing up and helping, if they want to come together and do some experiments and talk about photosynthesis and talk about the world we all agree we live in actually does, I am willing to do that. I am willing to do that while wearing my FSM pendant, my evolve earrings. I will probably not wear the “show me on the doll where jesus touched you” shirt. When there is a goal, a task, an outcome we can see, I am willing to say OK, well, showing up, got your flair, pins on, go! But, there are times when the price is too high, there are times when you being there is going to be a problem. There are times where you’re going to be told if you don’t sign our declaration of faith, you can’t. You have to cover. I believe that every individual who wishes to do something, should, and bring all of themselves. If you feel I too suffer from OCD and I gotta come and do my thing or else the earthcore will cool with these people and then we’ll tap together and whatever we do. I am against a policy one way or another. Define your terms figure out the cost/benefit and go yes or no. Where a button, sing some John Lennon.

Audience : Not Cee Lo’s version

9:34 Jamila: I am a journalist, I’m going to talk about that perspective. I began writing for a black newspaper, minority media covers small things that happen in their communities and then it gets picked up by larger media and that’s how we got the civil rights movements. I was inspired by that history. I’ve always been inspired by getting stories that other people don’t have — that’s called a scoop. There’s a separation between activism and journalism, but when I find something that’s wrong, when people start to see, then people start to act. Now, am I an activist, that’s a whole other talk I give. Now the future should be informed by the past and other movements and now that we have the internet information fast. This is a return to an ideal of the founders, separation of church and state. You don’t want to use birth control, be quiverfull and get a show on the Discovery Channel. 2012 we have a bunch of elections that matter. A lot of people are talking about issues that apparently have nothing to do with secularism, should Catholic hospitals get public funding and refuse to give the morning after pill, should black boys be frisked without probable cause in NYC, we are skeptics, we’re good with numbers, we should care about it. These stories, we who are skeptical, we who believe that morality does not come down from on high, we who understand that it is our obligation as humans to first do no harm and make sure that others are not harmed, have to — HAVE TO — tell our stories. Preferable to a journalist who will listen and get it right. The future of this movement is the future of the world, it is younger, it is browner, it is a beautiful sight to behold, it is more similar than it is dissimilar and all it needs is a little care and feeding and kumbayah.

Debbie: I’m one of the people who’ve gotten involved because I did student groups and went to a CFI student leadership conference… 12 years ago. As I became an activist, I met people who had attended leadership conferences like Hemant, DJ Grothe, August, Stephanie LeRoy. Investing in the student movement is crucial. We didn’t have as many women 10 years ago who came out of the student movements who became the loudest and brash voices. Seculebrities are changing, we’re seeing shifts in what the movement is interested. The scope of the movement is changing and it’s a movement that’s hard to categorize. CFI has a broader mission, atheism, skepticism, philosophy. We call it the movement, but they are different sides. The humanist side we see a lot more young women involved, I’d like to see more of that in skepticism. Our interests are broadening. Historically it dealt with UFOs and Chubacabras, but there are a lot of people getting involved who care about vaccinations and mothers and children and things that people involved 20 years ago didn’t care about because it reflected who was involved, white scientist men. We see more women, people of color, and one of the core shifts we see is in class. A lot of these things are class issues, as the scope broadens, we’ll see more people involved. Instead of chupacabras we might focus on prison reform. Problems in education system, keep creationism out, but do we know what education is like in the south and in detroit? Most of the people in the movement don”t think about that. More people involved in social justice and service. It’ll be a hard shift because there are a lot of people who don’t think about that, there’s a focus on atheism that thinks we should focus only on why we don’t believe or what’s wrong with the bible. And we wonder why people with 3 kids and 2 jobs don’t come to these things?

9:21 This is on the future of secularism. The panel looks tired. Except Jamila, she looks totally awake. I’m guessing wrangling kids does that to you.

Jen: As a student I feel obligated to point out that I think students are the future of secularism. The one thing I have to point out is that I also think the students are the present. The SSA has been exploding recently, we have 350 groups, only a few years ago it was 100. When I founded the SSA at Purdue, that’s what got me involved in the movement was being involved on the campus. CCC is dropping in the opposite direction and they have millions of more dollars in their budget that we do, like 100 times, we have a staff member per 70 campuses, they have three per campus. Students are putting on conferences.

Greta: What she said. Want to shift gears, want to talk about the internet. The fact that we have the internet gives me tremendous hope for the future. I talk a lot about our similarity to the LGBT movement, one of the things I think about is damn if the LGBT had the internet in 1969. I want to talk about the big blowups that happen online. The fact that we’re having these fights gives me tremendous hope and optimism. I’m glad we’re having these fights now, looking at the history of other movements, in the early stages they did not deal with their stuff about race and sex, it took them a long time to get around to it. Even though it’s ugly, I’m given hope that whenever it blows up now, the conversation is different from what it was a year ago, 2-5 years ago. It was a lot more divided, split on gender lines, and that’s changing. There’s a lot more men calling them feminists and making feminist arguments. There’s more of a general assumption that sexism exists and matters. Gee is it really sexism if a 15 year old girl puts a picture of herself with a book on reddit and she gets rape jokes and comments about her appearance? More men are saying YES. Bloggers get emails all the time about you changed my mind about atheism, but I also get emails, you changed my mind about feminism. Everytime we have one of these frustrating I can’t believe atheists think this stupid shit, the fact that we’re having these arguments now, it’s going to be so much better in 5, 10, 20 years.

9:07 I will probably not be here all morning, but I will liveblog however long I’m here

From left to right: Jennifer Michael Hecht, Jennifer McCreight, Greta Christina, Jamila Bey, Debbie Goddard. This is the panel of all of my favorite people.

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Liveblogging the Women in Secularism Conference I

10:00 Minority outnumber white babies panic. Rebecca would like to defend skeptics from the charge of being more male and more conservative, but she cannot. Rebecca talks about feminism and skepticism, NH would have forced doctors to give pseudoscience to women before abortions, angry emails were sent in that misinformation given to women seeking abortion are not a science issue. Contraception is not science. This happens every time she mentions an issue involving women.

Atheists are a little better than skeptics. They seem to leave issues that involve women to the feminists even when they are appropriate, like killing witches in Africa, or female genital mutilation. Of course, every time FGM is brought up, the first thing brought up is BUT MY PENIS WAS CIRCUMCISED. Rape threats in response to her talking about it.

Secularists get that religion is dangerous for women and generally want to protect women, but it’s somewhere below crossing out In God We Trust from their dollar bill. But they more or less get it.

In Australia there were Muslim protesters and the atheists started chanting “Where are the Women?” in protest. Apparently unaware that none of the protesting atheists were women.

9:51 Talking about the horrific billboards that said that “The most dangerous place for a black/latino child was in the womb”. This propaganda informs legislation.

Portrays women of color as dangerous breeders. Hispanic women drop anchor babies and are a threat. The horrific edit of the Violence Against Women Act which disenfranchise undocumented and lgbt women. We need to have an awareness of women of color. There are almost none in the room. I say almost none, but that’s generous in that I’m pretty sure the only women of color here are speakers. :/

Women of color are disproportionately sent to prison and disenfranchised and denied the ability to make minimum wage because of felony laws.

9:48 I love Sikivu’s voice. Not really not important, but true. She’ s from South LA, police terrorism was and is a fact of life. Darryl Gates (sp) was the white supremacist in charge of the LAPD. Eula Love was killed by two officers after allegedly wielding a knife, the first protest she remembers to go to. It was hard for her to believe at the time that a mother was murdered in her own home, home was supposed to be safe space and private sanctuary. For black women, home has not traditionally been safe space because they are less than human, less than female, sexualized, racially other bodies for public control.

We can not frame the so called war on women strictly in terms of a christian backlash if we are not looking at the degree to which women have been institutionally denied reproductive freedom through mass incarceration. Black and hispanics are presented as dangerous breeding. Calling out South Carolina for locking up poor women that the rights of the fetus supersede the rights of the mother who uses dangerous substances. Fetal homicide, where women are not only worth less than fetuses, but should be put in jail for not taking appropriate care of themselves.

9:40 Panel on intersection of atheism and feminism. Annie Laurie Gaylor introducing, from left to right, Sikivu Hutchinson, Rebecca Watson, Ophelia Benson, Jennifer McCreight. I do not know Annie or Ophelia, so it’s exciting to see them. And always exciting to see those I do know.

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9:37 I just met Edwina Rogers. Yep. I will talk about that later.

9:26 Why is atheist community building considered girly?

It’s intellectual, and we all know that’s gay and nerdy, but she doesn’t think that the perception of men is the reason that there’s difficulty building communities. The more they are a minority, the more vibrant. It’s not the same draw in secular places like NY or DC because it’s not hard to find people who think like you. Churches sponsor lots of things, but secular orgs are not as deeply involved in volunteer works, not involved in dating mechanisms. Meeting a secular guy it’s not so easy. What’s primarily needed is for local secular groups to be more involved in local education. Defeat of intelligent design curriculum like in Dover Pennsylvania, women were deeply involved, because they care about things that impact their families and offer outreach on activities they’d be involved with anyway.

9:21 Fundamentalist problem: I think I have the absolute truth, how is that not a gift rather than an imposition on a non-believer?

Do you think women who are secular are seen as immoral because are perceived as being a hedonist?

The idea that religion is the only thing that keeps women from uncontrolled sexuality is very old and very strong. Feminists were not cute enough and couldn’t get men, but also they wanted to throw everything out and have all of the sex that they wanted. These issues are easier for men.

Why aren’t there men, why isn’t there a panel for how men can help, why didn’t we try to get more men here?

She doesn’t think the gender balance would be any different with a new panel, even if that’s a good subject, but that’s not why there aren’t men here. They aren’t here because they see these issues as not important and not a primary issue. This conference is a good start, the first of its kind, but these panels BELONG in regular conferences. There are places for these issues at every conference we hold. Especially on science and education. Things have not changed enough, and women are the primary educators and caregivers. Secular organizations, if they want more women, are going to have to address this. The reason men aren’t here isn’t because the conference isn’t welcome, but because men in the movement don’t give a shit about this. Paul Kurtz was a philosopher and hired philosophers, which was a field that has always been hostile to women.

Her full speech will be cleaned up and made available eventually. This is being recorded and will be available.

9:12 Q&A

What are the symptoms of anti-religious dementia?

A craving for chocolate when you would otherwise be at church. Disagreeing with everything the vatican says. Wearing clothes that show the shape of your body.

Why are so many secularists dogmatic to the point of rudeness?

There are dogmatic atheists and secularist, who treat the religious as stupid. And that isn’t true and a bad tact, not because i am kind and gentle, but because no one responds to being told they are stupid.

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9:08 Separation of church and state should be non-partisan, but unfortunately the Republican and Libertarian parties are dominated by the religious. This means that economic conservatives.

There are not many men here. I would say that the ratio is maybe ten to one. Women’s Rights is not a position taken for granted in the movement, for some unfathomable reason.

Topic switch to Muslim women rights. She argued with Dinesh D’Souza (sp) last week. He says the left is responsible for 9/11 and is trying to undermine the family and promote secular values. You know, like not cutting off genitalia or murder women in retaliation for her dishonor. Yep.

Am I allowed to call him a douchebag? Cuz that’s what he is. Just saying.

This crowd doesn’t know about the event last week of the catholic baseball team refusing to play against a team with a girl on it because it would not teach boys proper “respect” for women. I will try to find a link to it during the break.

9:03 Talking about Ingersoll and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and how she was written out of the suffragette movement because she was not religious. Ingersoll felt that the vote was necessary but insufficient for equality.

Men thought that religion was a sort of policeman that prevented wives from fucking around and daughters from being slutty. She used words like chastity, but I like my words better.

Stanton wasn’t really rediscovered until the 1980s and the second wave which focused on similar issues.

Women downplay the importance of secular women in the feminist movement, it’s not talked about or written about, because the religious right accuses them of being Godless. Secular women are more likely to be feminist than anyone though there are exceptions. Ayn Rand. UGH.

There’s a real division between secular humanism and secular conservatism. Humanist and skeptic seems to be the labels there. Skeptics are more male oriented. Yeah. Skeptics are dudeified.

8:55 People are embarrassed by Madalyn Murray O’Hair and they avoid acknowledging her importance in the movement. Unlike Gloria Steinem, she was not traditionally feminine. There was nothing soft about her, nothing that made her “acceptable” to the public.

When Jacoby was given the FFRF award a secular man said that they’d “done a lot for the movement for showing that an atheist woman doesn’t have to be a shrill bitch.”

Many deny the secular nature of the feminist movement, probably because the religious tries to take credit for civil rights movements. You know, cuz the church in the south didn’t fight bitterly against civil rights in the 60s and the KKK isn’t a Christian organization. King’s religion was important, of course, but it was not the only position of religion. Unlike this, women’s rights was never assisted by the religious.

There’s so much history in this, it’s a dense and a little hard to follow. No slides to help. I mean, I hate powerpoint, but there are so many names being thrown out that, unless you are very familiar with the women and the history, it’s a lot.

8:48 Being called soft and the general misogyny isn’t going to deter her, but it does make younger women less interested in participating, not least because the movement in general seems “quaint” and of the 1960s. Being an “atheist” is something she simply was, it wasn’t her concern, she wanted and is primarily a writer.

Madalyn Murray O’Hair is now being discussed. Because she was a woman, it was easier to dismiss her and atheism as nutcase. McCullen called herself a humanist which was less confrontational.

I am going to misspell names before the day is out and probably many times. I am liveblogging and googling takes too long. Forgive me.

8:40 She wants to know why there aren’t as many women in the movement. Even taking into account race and education, being a woman makes you more likely to be an atheist. African American women are better educated than African American men, and they remain the most religious demographic.

Men occasionally assert that women are more religious simply because they are stupider. This got a laugh, not even a rueful one. Laughing at 8:40, these people are definitely more awake that me. Oh, Angry White Guys. Lol, they called her “Suzie”, which is better than “Ugly Old Atheist”. Man, shades of Ron Paulites.

“I place as much value on anonymous comments made on blogs as I do on statements of eternal love made after a late night drinking at a bar.”

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8:36 Susan Jacoby is now up. She wrote the book “Freethinkers” which is a lovely history of secularism in the US.

8:11 Good morning! I will be liveblogging here in reverse chronological order (newest first).  Conference starts in 20 minutes and I need to obtain caffeine.  See you soon.

Women in Secularism Conference 2012

ImageTomorrow I’m going to be getting up bright and early to do all of those things I haven’t finished doing tonight in order to only be woefully behind when I get back home on Sunday, because I’m driving up to Washington, DC to go to the Women in Secularism Conference.

I was going to just do a list of people who I am excited to hear speak, but then I realized that it was everyone whose name I recognized, which meant that basically everyone, so I’m just pasting the whole list here for you!

If you’re in the DC area at all, you should make an effort to come, it’s going to be AWESOME.  Also, I’m hoping that I will get to meet Edwina Rogers.  Really, really hoping that happens because I’d love to report what she’s like in real life.

I will be live-blogging, which will probably translate to Twitter: @ashleyfmiller

My Unite Against the War on Women Coverage

I am everywhere today, it seems.

I am quoted in the front page story of our local independent paper, the Free Times.

The couple watches as women’s advocate Ashley F. Miller, a doctoral candidate in mass communications at the University of South Carolina, stands at a podium on the State House steps and declares, “This is not just a war on women: This is a war on dignity … 88 percent of the jobs in the recovery have gone to men. Our poverty rate is 25 percent higher than men’s poverty rate. In South Carolina, we’re still only making 76 cents on the dollar.”

America, Miller says, could turn into a place where women in some states could be arrested for having a miscarriage, while the killing of abortion doctors in others could be considered justifiable homicide. (Indeed, lawmakers in Utah and South Dakota, respectively, have introduced legislation to such effect.)

I was interviewed for Voices of Russia Radio about the rally and why it is important.  I have actually managed to sit and listen to the whole thing.  I will try to get a transcript of this for you, I thought I acquitted myself quite well.

Finally! You can watch me give my speech from the rally.  Here is a livestream video of the entire event, my speech starts at around 57 minutes.

Unitewomen.org

This is not just a war on women

This isn’t just a war on women, it’s a war on dignity, it’s a war on common decency, it’s a war on the GOP’s own conservative principles.  When someone accuses liberals of being smug and turning our country into a “nanny state”, ask them which party thinks women are too stupid to make their own decisions about their body.

Ask them which party thinks a woman needs a sonogram, an intravaginal ultrasound, a lecture, and a 72-hour waiting period to be able to make a choice about their body.

This is not just a war on women, it’s a war against progress, it’s a war against economic recovery, it’s a war of obstructionism. It’s a war for gaining political points instead of actually helping people.

In 2011, there were 1100 bills about reproductive rights introduced at the state level; 135 passed.  So far this year, 45 states have considered 944 bills about reproductive rights.  Tell me, which of these bills created a job?  These jaded conservatives don’t think all of these bills will pass, they just want to prevent anyone else from actually governing.

Nikki Haley was almost right — women don’t care ONLY about contraception — so give us our rights so that you can get on with real legislation.

Women are not doing OK.  Our unemployment rate has stayed stagnate in the past three years.  88% of the jobs in the recovery have gone to men.  The rate of poverty for women is over 25% higher than that of men.  In South Carolina, we still make only 76 cents to the dollar.

This is not just a war on women, this is a war on the first amendment — on freedom of speech, on freedom of religion.

This is a war trying to force the Christian version of Sharia law into our secular constitution.

This is a war trying to make it so the 1960s never happened.  To take the US back to an imaginary time when women held “aspirin between their knees” and didn’t have sex.  Where it’s ok to repeal equal pay laws because QUOTE “men care more about money.”  In a country where 2/3 of women are the primary or co-breadwinners of their family.  It’s a war to make women’s only function to be married with children.

To create a world where we can arrest women for having a miscarriage and make killing abortion doctors Justifiable Homicide.  Where Maryland can justify cutting pre-school funding because women should be at home, NOT working.  Where Wisconsin can introduce a bill designating single parenting as child abuse.

Where Arizona can demand women prove they’re taking birth control for a REAL medical reason, as though NOT GETTING PREGNANT wasn’t a real medical concern.  This in a country where a woman is fourteen times more likely to die in childbirth than if she lived in Greece.  That sounds like a real medical concern to me.

They want to create a land where Arizona doctors can legally lie to women if they think it will prevent them from getting an abortion.  Where wife beating is LEGAL in Topeka, KS.  Where the ER can refuse to save a woman’s life if it might kill her unborn child.

Where democrats are so afraid of the religious right that the Obama administration ignored science and the advice of the medical community and prevented Plan B from being over-the-counter.  WHAT IS SCIENCE FOR?  Apparently just for Christian Conservatives to dismiss as a “liberal agenda”, the facts so rarely being on their side.

This is not just a war on women, it is a war on facts, it is a war on reality, it is a war on America.  Where women are worth less than fetuses, where Congress fights for horse contraception but not for women’s contraception.  Where conservatives are either ignorant or liars about how birth control works.  Where Susan Komen would rather cut funding to save women from breast cancer than be associated with Planned Parenthood.

This is not just a war on women.  It is not a war on women’s rights, it is a war on human rights.

But it is not hopeless.

Planned Parenthood raised over $400,000 when Susan Komen dropped them.  Republican women are starting to speak out for women, women like us.  Women like Senators Olympia Snowe and Lisa Murkowski. Women like Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Though it had opposition — far more opposition than I am comfortable with — the Violence Against Women Act passed the US Senate.  And there are things we can do.  We can vote this November for the president.

The Supreme Court has four justices over 70 and Mitt Romney’s chair of judiciary appointments is Robert Bork.

Robert Bork, the man Reagan failed to get on the Supreme Court 15 years ago.  Robert Bork who doesn’t believe in the right to contraception, much less abortion, who thinks discriminating against women is QUOTE “not possible”, who opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  I know who I don’t want putting people on our already too anti-woman court.

We can vote.  We can run.  We can refuse to shut up.  We can tell our friends, our lovers, our husbands, our brothers, our sons.

We can fight and we will fight.

We’ve been sitting still for too long, but now we’re standing up and we will not be silenced.  I can’t speak for you, but I have no intention of sitting back down.

Thank you.

(Speech given at the Unite Against the War on Women Rally in SC)

Ron Paul: Best of Comments as Interpreted by a Hippo

You may recall my post about why I think Ron Paul is a bad choice for secular voters and the horrific responses I got.  So did this hippo.  I could set it up more than that, but why?  Everyone should watch this.  It’s amazing.

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