3:30 Susan says that atheists were also hidden from the feminist movement. The audience asks why women try to rewrite the bible and koran?
Wafa: Because the Koran doesn’t serve us. She asks why atheist groups and liberals are not responsive to her message
Susan says it is a confusion of multiculturalist liberals with atheists.
Wafa wants to know why she hasn’t been invited to important things like this before. And Susan says because they don’t have women generally.
Greta advises everyone to continue call out misogyny. As frustrating as every internet blowup over reasonable. It’s blowing up differently now than a year ago, there are more men on our side. It used to be more divided. Bloggers get emails all the time from people saying you changed my mind about feminism. As frustrating as the fights are, every time they happen we move forward and hang in there.
How do you respond to feminists who say that reaching to women in muslim countries is cultural imperialism?
Lady next to me: This is bullshit, I don’t know feminists who say that
Jamila in the back: This doesn’t happen to men
Liz: You hear it in sociology and anthropology all the time. We don’t want to have Western influence on them. Fair enough if they don’t want it, but most of these countries often wanted to have the tennis shoes and the watches and learn things and I don’t think it’s our right to say no. And I think this idea, I think it’s great to embrace the beauty of various cultures, the artwork, the writing, the poetry, it’s lovely, but lets not deny people education and the right to choose their life. To me it is incredibly arrogant to make the assumption that these women that are oppressed horribly if given the opportunity would not want it. I’m going to stop before I get outraged.
Greta: It’s so intolerant to impose our view, tell that to the girl who had their clitoris cut off, who are being stoned to death for the crime of being raped, who had acid thrown in their face. Tell that to them and then FUCK YOU
Wafa: Nothing left for me to say. 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 schools no more army bases!
Susan: We are out of time, we’ve been told this has to end on time.
3:18 Susan says she doesn’t understand pushing we can be good without god because she wants the religious to prove that they can be good with god.
Why do the religious get more credit when we’re at the forefront of social movements? How do we work with them?
Greta: The queer movement has aligned itself with religion and is distancing themselves from the secular. They see atheists as toxics. Feminists as well. If we make ourselves a powerhouse movement so they want to be with us. We can organize online in a heartbeat. It’s going to be a long game. The more that we overcome the stigma and do visibility, and that’s what happened with the LGBT movement. Initially other social change movements didn’t want to be associated with them, but they overcame the stigma, and others wanted to be allied with them
Liz: Rising from the Rails. In this book, about the rise about the black middle class. The atheist movement has always been in the black community and yet there was a conscious decision that was made as unions were being built up and blacks were rising into the middle class and finding a place in society, there was a conscious decision not to align with atheist. At the time there was also communism and socialism. I’m wondering, and I really recommend this book, do you think that has something to do with being an ostracized group that you don’t need to add one more bit of ostracism. Being gay, black, and an atheist is the triple threat. Sorry, nobody likes you.
Greta: I think that’s a lot of it, unwillingness to be doubley or tripley stigmatized. And in the US religion is mainstream and patriotic, as the LGBT became more mainstream, it allied with the mainstream and religion. Not wanting the double stigma, wanting to be mainstream. The solution is visibility, we are also part of America, we are also patriotic, and we are globally patriotic. and we’re a powerhouse and you want to get 20k people writing angry emails to somebody, get the atheists on your side.
3:10 Susan had to lie about getting married so she could get birth control when it came on the market when she was 18. Young people take this stuff for granted. Also assumptions that Islam is one way but *our* religions are different. It shows you how fragile these gains can be. Islam is younger than Christianity and Judaism, it hasn’t gone through reform yet.
Lady next to me: We need the ERA!
Wafa makes a point that the US is massively better.
Greta: Contraceptive rights are huge, I also think a great way to reach them is gay rights. Straight young people are very passionate about. And the religious right is too. That’s a real hook.
(This is how I came to the atheist movement myself)
Here’s a statement from the audience: secularism does not provide clear guidance on moral principals, women rely on religion to provide morality.
OH SHIT IS ABOUT TO GET REAL
Wafa: I have never found a trace of morality in my own religion
Greta: Religion tends to be behind the curve on moral development. Secular ideas come first and then religion catches up and tries to catch up. Human beings have morality, we’re social animals, we evolved with moral instincts. Largely secular societies they’re doing better
Annie: The idea that morality comes from supernatural realm is I think immoral. Morality is based on consequences, do they harm, religion is about whether you offend god. How is that morality? Maybe it’s about women being brainwashed.
Liz wants the person to wrote it to stand up. Promises to be human. Steven Pinker’s book The Better Angels of Our Nature is recommended.
Liz: One of the reasons I didn’t believe because I read the children’s bible and was very confused by it and would ask if it was satan that drowned everybody, that was god. That worried me. A similar story was told when my dog died, and I was told that animals didn’t go to heaven because they didn’t have a soul. Why would I want to go to heaven if there weren’t animals that I loved? Why would I want to go there? My brother’s suffering as a hemophiliac, who died of AIDS having contracted it through a transfusion, someone told me that people like my brother are put here to remind others how lucky they are.
3:02 Susan says even in secular Scandinavia, there’s still a gap between men and women. Mentions what she said earlier about Ayn Randians saying that there wasn’t any need for social support. I will mention what I said earlier and say oh Ron Paul People.
What do you think we can do? How do we reach out to the young?
Wafa: My situation is a little different, we need to educate women in the Islamic culture. Their situation is very dire, and I believe Western women need to reach out to those women. I have a liberal friend in Syria whose daughter wears a hijab because she decided she’d have a better chance of finding a husband. A woman in Cairo with a master’s degree and she is covered from head to toe. she said “I consider myself a whore because they forced me to sleep with a man not of my choice and for three years I didn’t have children and so I hope this reason will be enough for him to divorce me.” Reach out for those women.
Greta: Support the SSA. There’s a perception of the atheist movement as fuddy duddys. The student group is amazing and it’s growing and it’s much more gender balanced and they are much less stupid about feminism. When I give talks about diversity, they are already onboard. Local groups make bridges with the SSA groups. There is a problem when students graduate, they leave the movement. Students who are already working in cooperation with their local groups are more likely to stay in the movement.
Annie: It’s very vibrant and SSA. Also one of the things FFRF has done is very modest student essay competition. High schools seniors, college, and grad students. It’s not that much but consider how many religious scholarships are out there. We need to do more.
Jen makes a good point on twitter that Liz is presenting hypotheses as known facts when it comes to evolutionary psychology and such.
Liz: Support the CFI on campus and Debbie Goddard is fantastic. Or best allies are the religious wingnuts trying to take away rights, and this is a men’s issue as well, we’re talking about jumping into a couple’s bedroom. That issue strikes a chord with almost everybody and there’s nothing like a good movement, a good something to fight for that will galvanize people. You have to be passionate to devote time and energy and give up your weekends to come to conferences and give talks. We have to ignite this passion in young people and remind them what is at risk. For women in particular, taking away bodily rights takes away the ability to have a full role in society. We have to remind young women what’s happening.
Liz cont’d: young women didn’t have the experience of knowing that you’ll never succeed beyond secretary. That’s what’s happening.
2:50 How much does the realization that everything is very fragile when you reproduce have to do with mothers becoming more religious
Greta: My question is the breakdown of society. I’d like to see how the stats break down in other countries, here it’s male 70:30 on religion, I wonder in Scandinavia if there is still a tendency to a gender difference. Is it culture or is there some legitimate tendency for women?
Liz: I have a paper! Jessica Collette and Lazardo study. Power control theory of gender and religiosity. One of the things they found was that when women were raised in patriarchal families, those women tended to be much more likely to become religious as adults. In egalitarian households, women’s difference from men in religiosity is gone. It’s difficult to get published academically if you’re critical of religion. We’re starting to find those answers, and there’s a large environmental factor
(it seems to me that this is a long way of saying it’s strongly if not exclusively cultural)
Greta: If that’s the case, one of the things we can do is work towards a more egalitarian society! I think the social services and networks are important for secularist to provide, but it’s not enough for us to provide a side network, we need to be advocating for the country to change.
Annie: It’s a public problem, we should each have to be little individual charities. It’s a band-aid solution. We shouldn’t have to be doing these charities. People who are told they must be subservient are going to be more religious.
2:42 And Susan steps in with my complaint, saying that churches are the primary provider of services that people need. Community and usefulness and support is not a negligible benefit. How can secular communities provide more of this, we could, but we are not right now! Big applause.
Liz: the one thing the secular community can’t replace is family and when people come out they often lose their families and their friends. Back to the difference between men and women, in the cost of reproduction. Women have a huge cost in raising a child that men do not have necessarily. When a woman loses her family, loses her social support, the risk of her child dying goes up. And there’s data behind this and it’s always been true. Women will sacrifice everything for their children, the secular community can’t replace their family and that cost. We can educate and address that. When a woman has a child, even if they don’t go to church, they will go back to religion once they have children.
Annie: The black church may be its own creature. I don’t think most churches offer free daycare. I think we’re overstating what churches are doing.
(the only daycare I know of in Columbia, SC is in churches. All of it. Some of which charges, I don’t think they’re generally free.) She doesn’t think women go to church to get stuff but to give to it.
Wafa: Hamas was elected by the majority of Palestinians to rule the west bank. The main reason was because they had money to provide social services. As long as Islamists control food and social services they will take over. I am afraid for Syria because I believe if the dictator leaves, Islam will take over because they are more ready to play the game with survival.
2:35 Susan asks about the differences in extremes of women in Afghanistan versus moderate Judaism. What are the benefits that women get from the most repressive religion?
Annie: they don’t get killed
Liz: Hunter gatherer tribes are very egalitarian. Agriculture led to property, and men through physical strength could control property and this is when women and children became property. The benefit was to eat and survive and have children. Their men then protected them from other men.
Wafa: the benefit of being raised in Islamic culture was that she was able to sense the difference between the two sides of the world. She doesn’t take her freedom for granted. She was taught that she was a crooked creature like the rib she was created from. Being here without her husband by her side is a big adventure.
Greta: Why is society religious at all? Once you grant society is religious, the answer to what women get out of it is easy, women get to participate in society. Why are men leaving faster than women it’s easier. Men have privilege, it’s easier to take on stigma and put yourself out on the edges, you still have a lot of other privilege going for you. If you already have the stigma of being poor, a person of color, a woman, gay, it’s difficult.
Annie: I wasn’t being totally facetious when I said don’t get killed, because that is the threat that hangs over the head of the apostate, especially if they’re a woman. 1 million women killed for being a witch, I don’t know if that’s in our genetic memory. Women have certainly been socialized into thinking this is what it is too be good, but women have more power than they think if they would get rid of religion. The benefits of religion to women, in my mind, are very negligible. There are social outlets elsewhere.
Religion is used to keep people inline, but I think she’s missing the fact that churches provide things that maybe “religion” itself doesn’t.
2:25 Wafa asks us to excuse any difficulties in understanding her as not her heavy accent but on jetlag. She tells the story of telling and an imam to shut up and crowd loves it.
The woman to my left keeps talking back to the people talking on the panel. It’s weird. Lots of “no ways” or “that’s horribles”. To my right is elbows.
The more religious people are, the less creative they can be. This explains the stagnant situation in the Islamic world. This is why it’s crucial for women to break through from religion so they can be more creative and productive. A few people stood to clap. Including talky lady to my left.
2:21 The crowd is filling up. There are a lot more people sitting up front now. I’m actually sitting next filled seats on all sides. Scary.
Elizabeth is still talking about providing social safety nets. Enthusiastic applause and to Greta.
Why are women so religious? This is an important question. Women are more likely to be religious than men. One of the things we need to look at is that religious in the US is seen as women’s work. The leaders are men, but on a day to day basis, that’s women’s job. Women are supposed to be the civilizing force. And bringing up children and teaching them morals.
For women to not be religious, it doesn’t just mean defying religious expectations it means you are a gender outlaw. While this room is comfortable with that (hand up) it’s difficult or impossible for women to do that. It isn’t always safe. Many have to stay within social norms, both in terms of religion and gender expectations. Greta thinks we need to liberate women from the equation of being religious means being female.
2:16 Elizabeth says she comes at this from an evolutionary point of view. We should be asking what religion provides minorities and women that outweighs the oppression. This isn’t a cabal of men to oppress women, or whites to oppress minorities, this is something that’s happened over human evolution, some is genetics, some is environment. Genetics don’t happen in a vacuum, social environments do not fall from the sky, the two interact in complex ways. It’s not nature vs nurture it’s nature AND nurture.
When we offer those benefits, they won’t need religion anymore. You see it in countries with strong social nets, like in Scandinavia. They aren’t better because they’re atheists, they’re atheists because they are better. AMEN.
2:11 Annie is talking about funding abortions through charity.
Ophelia Benson is also liveblogging.
2:02 Left to right Susan Jacoby, Wafa Sultan, Greta Christina, Annie Laurie Gaylor, and Elizabeth Cornwell.
In other news, I’m having a horrific allergic reaction to some sort of perfume or air freshener or something in this room.
1:57 Lunch is over, people are trickling in, the room is still surprisingly empty. Afternoon is starting with a panel.
12:30 How can incorrect data at congressional hearings?
One of the most important things we can do is correct the record.
How do you answer the comments that Stanton and Anthony were anti abortion?
Abortion was illegal and women died when they were done. They would not be anti abortion today. Medical science is just so different now than then.
Any reason why people lose authority when speaking on feminism and atheism?
I’m beginning to think we should read the comments in the internet. If people can only talk about I’m an atheist, what is the point of the movement? Social progress has come from people willing to criticize religion. It was about promoting reason and science and condemning bad practices. Slavery, Capital Punishment. We mean nothing if we don’t stand for progress in civilization. What do we build.
When did special treatment for religious organizations start?
1820s? Lobbying congress. Used to get mail on Sunday, but they stopped that. Didn’t know that. Theocrats knew the constitution was secular and pushed against.
Is it possible to be a religious feminist?
There’s a bifurcation there, they haven’t applied feminist critical thinking to religion. UUC and UU are creedless and easier to understand that overlap. Have they read the bible?
Should we promote these events as promiscuous assemblies? lulz
How did we get here?
Religion sanctified sexism. Religion is the greatest threat because it reaches beyond the grave.
The language in the bible about women is pornographic in the worst way, the sexual reviling of women in the bible, that’s where it comes from. That women are owned by men and they can tell us what to wear and rate us sexually and control our worth.
The bible rules permit promiscuity for men. Double standard is throughout the bible, including the NT.
Do you think the War on Women is the last big gasp for the religious right with the growth of secularism?
I’m not that optimistic, but they are desperate to keep us in control and go back to theocracy.
Lilith, first wife and feminist, do you know a history?
She’s apocryphal and a lot of fun.
These questions are delightfully short and to the point and not arguments.
Suggestions on getting hispanic women to get involved?
The most radical thing a freethinker can do is to come out. Let people know. Imagine the ripple effects. Atheists are at the bottom of the social pole, they haven’t changed in 50 years. Why? Many people have never knowingly met an atheist. Not enough to come out of the closet, you have to leave the house.
12:16 Anne Nicol Gaylor nothing fails like prayer
Sherry Matulis abortion advocate nearly died from a botched illegal abortion. poet.
Sonia Johnson From housewife to heretic. Mormon woman who called them to task for defeated the era. Her fantasy that no woman would go to church.
Barbara Enrenreich Think for yourself
Katha Pollitt writes for the Nation, wrote Reasonable Creature.
Taslima Nasrin Religion is the great oppressor and should be abolished.
Alice Walker essay about the bible
Ursula K LeGuin
Wendy Kaminer NPR
Ann Dryuan Sagan’s widow
Natalie Angier NYTimes
Sara Paretsky mystery writer
Ayaan Hirsi Ali writer of Infidel
Julia Sweeney Letting Go of God
Then people here.
12:10 Harriet Martineau first sociologist. Put her own name on her books.
Lydia Maria Child wrote Over the hills and through the woods.
Margaret Fuller transcendentalist. Died at age 40. Woman in the 19th century. Give me truth, cheat me by no illusion
George Eliot (Marion Evans) Very religious as young woman and lost her faith and stopped going to church as a teenager and her father kicked her out of the house. Human relationships are more important than dogma.
Elmina Slenker quaker.
Ouida Marie Lousie de la Ramee was as popular as Eliot. The dog of flanders. “The Failure of Christianity”
Ella Wheeler Wilcox poet
Charlotte Perkins Gilman “The Yellow Wallpaper”. Wrote “His religion and hers” 1923. What glory is there for an omnipotent being to torture and subjugate a lesser being, like humans torturing ants
Lucy N Coleman abolitionist. Always mobbed by ringleaders of ministers
Etta Semple and Laura Knox Kansas used to be the hotbed of Freethought. Town radical and then opened a hospital and never turned away tramps or fallen women. Controversial, against blue laws and capital punishment.
Susan Wixon freethought has always been the best friend that women have
Marilla M Ricker worked with Ingersoll, was an attorney.
Annie Besant. Shaw called her the greatest orator in England, possibly Europe. Had a bizarre conversion to theosophy.
Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner running secular movements, working for many progressive causes. heresy makes for progress
Voltarine de Cleyre. Father converted to Catholicism and sent her to convent. She became a teenage freethought speaker. Talked about sex slavery and women owning their own bodies. Converted to Anarchism after bombings. God is deaf and his church is our worst enemy.
Emma Goldman. Crusader for birth control.
Lucy Parsons anarchist, may have been a former slave married Alan Parson after Hay Market Killings and he was then killed.
Margaret Sanger No Gods, No masters. Persecuted, jailed, censored, shunned. Introduced diaphrams. Helped create pill.
Marian Sherman MD missionary in India. A believer is not a thinker and a thinker is not a believer.
Dora Russell, married to Bertrand
Meridel Le Sueur
Queen Silver magazine. child lecturer challenged William Jennings Bryan to a debate, he did not accept.
Margaret Knight lectures on BBC about why kids shouldnt be raised with religion
Butterfly McQueen aka Prissy in GWTW, an atheist from early years
Vashti Cromwell McCollum took first case against religious instruction in schools and won it in 1948. “One woman’s fight”
Ruth Hermence Green skeptic guide to bible. “The christian torture symbol” to describe cross. There was a time when religion ruled the world it was called the dark ages.
11:50 Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Wrote Women’s Bible, which made her a pariah. She pointed to the church as the fountain of all anti-woman policies.
Susan B Anthony believed only in the creed of perfect equality.
Matilda Joslyn Gage part of the triumvirate of these. She founded a separation of church and state group, the first and short-lived. Wrote Woman, State and Church, which covered the history of the church hurting women. (1893)
11:45 The women’s movement was founded by women freethinkers. The churches opposed freedoms for women. Unsurprisingly. Women without Superstition is the book. It’s out of print and will be back next week. It’s limited to English speaking women who left writing, so it’s quite limited. British and American women mostly.
She has a power point. Woe to the Women, that’s a book. Eve was framed.
Anne Hutchinson first up. First heretic in North America, if you exclude Native Americans, but first out and out intentional heretic. She had meetings for women in her home, and some men came as well. And she got in a lot of trouble. Banished for sedition and heresy. Excommunicated and cast out as an American Jezebel. She had a settlement in Rhode Island briefly with a secular constitution.
Mary Wollstonecraft wrote about rationalist and into reason. Treat women as rational creatures. Died at 38 after giving birth to her daughter who wrote Frankenstein.
Frances Wright. Scottish heiress. First woman to address promiscuous assembles aka men and women. Abolitionist, women rights, edited “Free Inquirer” magazine, and atheist. Red harlot of infidelity. Awesome name, I think I should change my name. “Fill the vacuum of your mind!” turn your churches into halls of science.
Ernestine L Rose daughter of a polish rabbi. Canvasser for women’s rights. Also an outspoken atheist, probably the most in the 19th century. I was a rebel by the time I was 5. She kept her hair in ringlets. Her dad told her not to comb her hair on the sabbath and she said she would ask god. She did and said he didn’t say anything. Lollercoasters. In 1848 the married women’s property rights passed. Major speaker. Very famous and committed, the Gloria Steinem of her day. All children are atheists and would remain so without indoctrination.
11:38 Annie Laurie Gaylor and her mother had their eyes opened to atheism and anti-dogma POV by working on feminist issues and seen how their Wisconsin government was controlled by the Catholics. Freethought is a new concept, historically.
Voltaire was his own ACLU. He couldn’t save the life of a boy who failed to tip his hat to a religious procession. The consequence for women in this atmosphere.
11:30 By the end of this year, all of the states will have a state chapter. Starting in June. There are only two chapters right now. They will be doing local lobbying and conference calls. They all have websites already. I wish this was exciting.
Federal action that impacts women negatively
Violence against women act
There’s a photo of a sign from the reason rally with get religion out of my underwear sign and the woman holding it is the audience, she gets an applause
Preventative health service mandate
Big backlash against contraception mandate despite there are bazillions of reasons they are good for women
(I learned this week that hormonal contraception increases bone density, YES. Hurray annual exams? Good news, my ladybits are all good. Not TMI because it’s a women’s conference, deal/)
Educate, Influence and Share are her main goals.
Now onto State actions
6 states allow pharmacists to refuse to fill (YEAH SC)
21 states offer exemptions from contraceptive covverage
Only 18 states require sex ed to be medically accurate
Weekly Call every Thursday at Noon starting June
559 726 1300 code 199568
Promoting online stuff. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Cell: 202 674 7800
Office: 202 299 1091 ext207
And she exits quickly to catch a train to leave.
11:21 Edwina is up. She has the first Power Point. She is just going to talk about what the SCA is, as far as I can tell. She is definitely not Sean Faircloth in terms of exciting people. Reading hardcore from the power point. *deep breath* OK.
I talked to her a bit earlier, she is very talking pointy on setting up state affiliates. Gets a clap for saying we need many more allies and supporting groups. There aren’t many.
They are involved in several coalitions in DC. CARD, NCPE, SIECUS, National Advisory Board, IFPC, LCCR..
Key issues: Health and safety, education, military, tax policy, discrimination.
No denying care based on personal belief
No denying coverage
Religious child abuse
Religious substance abuse programs
Public funding of religious schools
Religion in public school curricula
Religious coercion of students
Military Chaplains (this is what we lobbied at the SCA thing last year)
Religious tax exemptions
Day of prayer
So help me God
Yes, this is just a list.
11:11 We’re in the middle of a break. Edwina is our first talk up after it. So. Yeppers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Tomorrow 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!
- Lauren Becker, educator and organizer, vice president & director ofCFI Outreach
- Ophelia Benson, author, editor, and commentator,Butterflies & Wheels
- Jamila Bey, author, editor, and journalist
- Greta Christina, writer and blogger,Greta Christina’s Blog
- Elisabeth Cornwell, evolutionary psychologist, executive director of Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science US
- Margaret Downey, activist and author, founder and president of The Freethought Society
- Annie Laurie Gaylor, author, radio host, and co-founder ofFreedom From Religion Foundation
- Debbie Goddard, activist and organizer, director ofCFI On CampusandAfrican Americans for Humanism
- Jennifer Michael Hecht, teacher, poet, and author of Doubt: A History
- Melody Hensley, executive director of CFI–Washington, DC
- Sikivu Hutchinson, author, teacher, and editor ofblackfemlens.org
- Susan Jacoby, journalist and author of Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism
- Jennifer McCreight, blogger atBlagHag
- Edwina Rogers, executive director of theSecular Coalition for America
- Bernice Sandler, author and nationally known expert on women’s issues
- Wafa Sultan, author and human rights activist
- Rebecca Watson, co-host ofSkeptics Guide to the Universeand creator ofskepchick.org
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
Yes, I’ve written an imaginary PR e-mail from Edwina Rogers, the controversial new Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America, based on conjectures and false hopes and a little bit of AbFab. It seemed the thing to do.
“I want to start off with an apology for something I feel like I, and the SCA, have done a poor job of. We’ve done a poor job of introducing me and an incredibly poor job of reaching out to opinion leaders in the atheist movement. Undoubtedly, the behind-closed-doors decision to make what was bound to be a controversial hiring decision should have been tempered by a more comprehensive and immediate introduction and explanation of why I, of all people, was chosen for this position.
I have identified as a non-theist for a long time, but I am very new to this movement. This is not because I don’t care about the issues you care about, I very much do, but they have not been my focus and, because of that, I really didn’t realize how bad things were until recently. My career and my focus have been very issue centered, some of these issues overlapped with my own secular beliefs, but the fact is that issue-focused work tends to create a very insular worldview. So, in many ways, I am a recent convert, not to your beliefs, but to your cause.
Which is where I have made another mistake. This community is very engaged and very well-informed and I have done my best to educate myself quickly, but there are things I have missed on the way. My recollection of statistics about Republicans from 20 years ago, for example, is not really the best gauge of Republicans now. Sometimes I forget that that was an entire generation ago, it doesn’t seem that long to me. And I have to admit that my claims that the majority of Republicans are pro-choice, OK with gay rights, and for the separation of church and state were as much a result of wishful thinking as they were of ignorance. I have had statistics shown to me that do indeed prove I was dead wrong on this front.
And I need your help on this front. I am trying, but I just am not as well-educated about this as those people who have focused on this cause their whole lives. I know the goals of the coalition and am well-versed in those goals and don’t doubt my ability to execute them, but as for the wider culture of the secular movement and the less specific goals thereof, I will need more time to learn the nuances, and I hope you will help me rather than condemning me for my neophyte status.
My final big mistake is that I’ve been trying to focus exclusively on my positives without acknowledging my negatives and without engaging with them openly and honestly. This is a fault of being in politics, it makes you quite the bullshit artist. I should have known better in this community than to think I could dance around questions without being called on it. So let me say that you are right. You are right that I’ve worked for and support a party that disagrees, in majority but not in totality, with many of your goals. But I was working for causes that I cared very deeply about, and I will not apologize for doing that. And I will not abandon my party because other people have taken it in a direction I disagree with. It is better for all of us if we can bring the party back in line with the goals of the secular community and I really do think that is possible.
So, just to recap, I haven’t done a good enough job introducing myself, I haven’t had the time to educate myself as thoroughly as the community is educated, and I have not been clear on acknowledging that there were some negatives to my background. That said, I think I bring a lot to the table that I hope you can appreciate.
I am an experienced lobbyist and I know the workings of DC very well. I have led coalitions in the past and had great success. Although my work with Republicans is difficult for many of you to accept, it gives me an in to people who might not otherwise be as interested in hearing what we have to say. And I am legitimately, passionately interested in promoting this cause. I did not simply apply because I needed a job — I had a job, one that was a lot less contentious — I applied because I have become aware of some of the horrible inequities in this country for people who are secular. I am just as horrified as all of you at the degree of influence the Christian Right has on the government, and I want to change that. I have the credentials to do the job from a strictly political side, but I promise you that I am here because I want to be, because this cause is important to me, and because I think that I personally can make a difference through this position with the SCA.
The SCA chose me because I was, in their opinion, the best person for the job. I wouldn’t dream of asking you to take it on faith that theirs was the best choice, but I hope that you can give me a chance and the benefit of the doubt for a little while. I look forward to talking with you at conferences and through our local organizations. Together, I really do think we can change this country in meaningful ways on important issues.
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.
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.
(Speech given at the Unite Against the War on Women Rally in SC)