Women in Secularism

August 4, 2011

Are men over-represented at humanist, atheist, and skeptic conferences and in the leadership of humanist, atheist, and skeptic organizations? Does the work of female writers and scholars tend to be overlooked? Does our movement need to become more diverse? Should we give careful consideration to the relationship between feminism and secularism?

I think the answer to the foregoing questions is obvious.  What is not obvious is why these questions have not received, in my opinion, appropriate attention in our movement. 

Here at CFI we think it’s high time—it’s past time—for these and related issues to receive serious consideration.  This is why we are proud to announce a special (dare I say historic?) conference on Women in Secularism, which will take place in Washington, DC on May 18-20 of 2012.  To my knowledge, this is the first major conference sponsored by a national secular or skeptic organization to focus exclusively on the role and importance of women in our movement.

This is a hugely significant event. The contributions of women to our cause will finally receive some recognition.  Speakers will include (in alphabetical order) Ophelia Benson, Jamila Bey, Greta Christina, Elisabeth Cornwell, Margaret Downey, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Jennifer Michael Hecht, Sikivu Hutchinson, Susan Jacoby, Jennifer McCreight, Wafa Sultan, and Rebecca Watson. 

Holding this conference was such an inspired idea, I would like to credit for it.  But honesty compels me to say that it was a woman, our own Melody Hensley, CFI-DC Executive Director, who recommended we hold this conference and who has taken the lead in organizing it. But I did have the good sense to recognize a great idea when it was presented to me.

Put this conference on your calendar now. It’s a must event for anyone—male or female— who cares about the future of our movement.

Comments:

#1 Ophelia Benson on Thursday August 04, 2011 at 11:39am

It’s on my calendar!

#2 Random Excess (Guest) on Thursday August 04, 2011 at 2:30pm

Kudos for Melody for pushing this event. I do have a nit, the sentence “The contributions of women to our cause will finally receive some recognition.” is really disrespectful to everyone who have been working hard to present and recognise female speakers for the last several years. Let’s keep fighting and Cheers.

#3 omniomi on Thursday August 04, 2011 at 2:31pm

Are men over-represented at Computer, Technology, Gadget,  and Development conferences and in the leadership of technology and development organizations? Does the work of female developers and IT professionals tend to be overlooked? Does the IT field need to become more diverse? Should we give careful consideration to the relationship between feminism and technologism?

I am all for this conference, but can we give this whole “women are not respected / welcome in the secular/atheist community” thing a rest. Just because women do not gravitate to a field or community does not necessaries mean that field or community is hostile to women.

#4 omniomi on Thursday August 04, 2011 at 2:46pm

Let me expand slightly, the issue is this: feminism and secularism are only related in cases where religion is the driving force behind the oppression of women.

When it comes to women’s right in Saudi Arabia… Heck yes religion has a lot to do with it… Secularism and Feminism would have common goal.

When it comes to women’s rights in the west like wage parity… Not so much…

But anyway, as I said… Good luck with the conference - would be happy to see more women in the community.

#5 Elizabeth K on Thursday August 04, 2011 at 3:14pm

I’ve never experienced discrimination based on my gender (I think) while a visitor to, friend of and volunteer for CFI-LA. I can’t speak for the experiences of all branches of CFI, and I’ve only attended three TAM conventions, and none of CFI’s or other secularist organizations. I agree with omniomi, above, who points out that religion in some countries come with built-in bias against women; but the same could be said for the religious foundation of some fundamentalist Christian apologists, I’m thinking of Phyllis Schlafly although the wikipedia article about her doesn’t state that her anti-feminism was based on her religion.
What I wonder about, though, is short of trying to educate male skeptics about what is acceptable and what isn’t, which has a potential to blow up, what could make that better? Not to say that I wouldn’t go to a fun conference if one was going to be near me, and affordable, etc etc, and the usual concerns. Now that I think of it, it is my role as the responsible person in my family that keeps me from doing more of my atheist “hobby” activities…

#6 Robert E. Richter (Guest) on Thursday August 04, 2011 at 3:48pm

@omniomi, #3: The answer to all of those questions is also “Yes!” So what was your point?

#7 Rebekah on Friday August 05, 2011 at 12:54am

I hope to make it out to the conference! Happy to see CFI getting on board with this.

#8 Matt K (Guest) on Friday August 05, 2011 at 5:23am

@ omniomni: Religion is a driving force behind the oppression of women in the west. Have you seen all of the anti abortion bills that have been passed in various states across the country?

And no, we shouldn’t give this whole “women in the community” thing a rest. We should be actively making this community more inviting and appealing to women. We shouldn’t be making up excuses about why we shouldn’t care about women’s rights. Is it that bad if our secular movement aligns itself with progressive feminist values?

#9 John D on Friday August 05, 2011 at 5:54am

A conference just for women featuring several very vocal self described “Liberal/Progressive Feminists”...  I have a feeling that trouble is brewing.  I suspect I will enjoy the free flowing man bashing that will come from this event.  I also look forward to the blog explosion which will result.

#10 INTP on Friday August 05, 2011 at 7:20am

Sounds likes an interesting conference, but I think there are major concerns. Judging by some names in the list of speakers, I fear that the conference will be over-represented by a narrow perspective on feminism and gender (i.e. radical feminism as opposed to liberal feminism).

It’s kind of like of having a CFI conference on “Economics and Secularism” and inviting only libertarians and laissez-faire capitalists.

There are many women in the secular community who strongly disagree with the values, ideologies and assumptions of radical feminism (e.g. Miranda Celeste Hale, Abbie Smith, Paula Kirby, Jennifer Keane, Christina Rad, etc…). If you exclude these voices, the conference will only succeed in alienating a lot of people.

#11 Melody Hensley (Guest) on Friday August 05, 2011 at 8:45am

” Judging by some names in the list of speakers…”

I suggest you look at the list in it’s entirety and familiarize yourself with all of the women speaking.

#12 John D on Friday August 05, 2011 at 8:53am

I will listen if only because I have respect for Susan Jacoby.  Inclusion of Watcon, McCreight, and Christina insure that the pot will be stirred with great vigor and that the misandry will be served up rare!

#13 Melody Hensley (Guest) on Friday August 05, 2011 at 9:29am

The focus of the conference is celebrating women in secularism and why secular thought is better for women. I’m sure controversial topics will come up, but we shouldn’t shy away from those.

#14 MyaR (Guest) on Friday August 05, 2011 at 9:43am

Melody, thanks for making this happen. I’m looking forward to it!

“Just because women do not gravitate to a field or community does not necessaries mean that field or community is hostile to women.”

Sure. Except for the all evidence for the exact opposite—when barriers are removed, women enter those fields and communities where they were previously underrepresented. What are those barriers? Hint: you. I do not want to hang around where your voice is one of the loudest, because y’all are tedious. And a lot of places in the atheist and skeptical community are like that right now. Fortunately, not all of them, by a long shot. Again, I’m really pleased to see efforts being made to remedy the situation.

#15 John D on Friday August 05, 2011 at 9:44am

The last time Rebecca Watson was asked on a panel to discuss how to better communicate to the atheist community she babbled for 30 minutes about sexism and misogyny with atheist men.  Richard Dawkins had to patiently sit and listen to her till it was his turn when he made two specific recommendations ON THE TOPIC.  Watson is a loose cannon and is not helping the cause of equal rights or freethought.

Of course, I cannot predict the future and I will do my best to keep an open mind even though I am feeling a bit butt-hurt…  :^)

#16 John D on Friday August 05, 2011 at 9:50am

okay MyaR - as I would hate to misunderstand you would you please specify which “you” is the problem?  Cause if someone is causing a big problem I want to make sure they get their proper share of abuse.

I have specified Rebecca Watson as the problem.  Now it is your chance to pick someone…

#17 MyaR (Guest) on Friday August 05, 2011 at 9:55am

You = all the people who don’t recognize that when, in the course of disagreeing with a woman on whether something is sexist and misogynist, she is called a cunt, bitch, smelly snatch, and her sexual humiliation is contemplated, there is a problem with misogyny. So if you think it’s fine to call Rebecca Watson any of those things, YOU are part of the problem.

#18 John D on Friday August 05, 2011 at 10:05am

So your concern is about name calling?  Is name calling a big problem at atheist and freethought meetings?  I have only met very polite people at the meetings I go to.

You are not thinking that people are free from abuse on youtube are you?  Heck, everyone is called names on youtube.  I don’t comment in places like youtube anymore after someone threatened to kill me becasue I agreed with Barney Frank.  (PS - I love Barney Frank!).

Furthermore, Watson is no wilting flower.  She can dish out as much verbal abuse as anyone on the internet.  Is it okay for her to tell men they should buy blowup sex toys?  I don’t really care if she does this, but she can expect someone to be pretty nasty in return.  Hypocracy at its best.

#19 Ophelia Benson on Friday August 05, 2011 at 10:55am

Name calling *is* a big problem right now on some atheist and freethought blogs; some of it comes from people who sometimes speak at atheist and freethought meetings, as does much of the resistance to it. I think the pro-namecalling faction is much smaller than the anti-namecalling faction, but I haven’t done a systematic count, so I can’t be sure.

For the record: I’m an anti-namecaller. I gather that by the standards of “INTP” that makes me a radical feminist. I think that’s a crazy place to draw the boundary between radical feminists and liberal feminists.

#20 John D on Friday August 05, 2011 at 11:24am

Glad to hear it Ophelia - Maybe you could give Rebecca some advice (she will not listen to me).  She will receive far fewer threatening and abusive comments if she stops trying to give men dating advice and telling them to have sex with blow-up toys.  Just sayin.

Personally, I try to match my speech with the audience.  I am as crude as anyone on some blogs and I am as polite as a nun on others.  Context is important.  For example: making ANY comment on youtube might result in a death threat.  Anyone posting on youtube should expect the worst.  Don’t feel special if someone on youtube wants to kill you.  We have all been there.  This CFI blog is very tame (humanists value politeness).  Newspapers and magazine blogs are somewhere in the middle.

I don’t worry to much about rudeness.  I can get along with anyone from the rudest raging curmudgeon to the most polite little shut in.

But then… this discussion is not about me.  It is about how people use language.  My take is that women can make obscene references to sex with blow-up toys, but they claim use of the word “bitch” is not fair game.  I think this is a double standard. Phil Plait can use the word “dick” and is praised by the humanist community for his insightfulness.  I guess it is okay to use a curse word as long as it is directed at men… hypocracy… ahhhh… a beautiful thing.

#21 omniomi on Friday August 05, 2011 at 11:32am

@MyaR: since you were addressing my comment when you said “you” I shall respond… Even though I didn’t mention any of the speakers directly…

I do not resort to name calling, although I would agree that some of the panellists are shall we say… over zealous in their feminism I don’t think name calling would ever be appropriate.

It should be noted however that the constant labelling of men as “misogynists” IS name calling as labelling someone as a “hater of women” is pretty strong stuff and it is often an incorrect descriptor.

I think you get the wrong impression about me here, as a gay man I generally feel more comfortable around women then heterosexual men. That oft unintentional awkwardness you feel in a room of men is often intentional when directed at homos. Ever been told “I don’t mind women, but they better not hit on me”? I think not.

As I said, no issues with feminism or women in the community ( would be happy to see more ). My problem is being labelled a misogynist because I have a penis and I am part of the skeptic community.

I also think it’s wrong to suggest that we should align the skepticism movement with the feminism movement on the whole as the feminism movement of today is often anti-male, trying to rally men to push legislation that is detrimental to men is rather backward.

To join forces on specific issues is fine, to join forces over all - no thanks. I want no part in trying to force male business owners to hire a certain number of women without forcing female owners to hire a certain number of men, I want no part in making the family court system even more female centric, I want no part in continuing the “guilty until proven innocent” mentality of sexual assault cases, and I want no part in tarring and feathering socially awkward men who make dumb mistakes in elevators.

I WILL however help you fight for oppressed women in theocracies, help you fight for reproductive rights, and help you fight for job EQUALITY(key word). I am with you when your position is equality not when your position is to place women above men.

#22 Ophelia Benson on Friday August 05, 2011 at 11:35am

Well Rebecca will also receive far fewer threatening and abusive comments if she just stops talking altogether. Women who say nothing naturally don’t attract sexist epithets on blogs and online discussions. The drawback there however is the part about women saying nothing.

#23 Ophelia Benson on Friday August 05, 2011 at 11:35am

# 22 was addressed to John D’s # 20.

#24 Melody Hensley (Guest) on Friday August 05, 2011 at 11:39am

I would really love to see the focus of this blog to be about this historic conference for women rather than someone’s distaste for one of the speakers.

#25 Ophelia Benson on Friday August 05, 2011 at 11:43am

“I want no part in tarring and feathering socially awkward men who make dumb mistakes in elevators.”

How do you know he was socially awkward? You don’t. Rebecca has said in fact he was confident. The assumption seems to be “guy does rude intrusive entitled thing to woman therefore he must be socially awkward as opposed to rude and entitled.” That’s a strange assumption. Does it work with everything? “Guy just called me faggot and punched me in the face, therefore he must be socially awkward.” Like that? I doubt it.

There was no tarring and feathering.

It wasn’t just a “dumb mistake” - it wasn’t that trivial. It wasn’t earth-shaking, but it wasn’t that trivial.

#26 Ophelia Benson on Friday August 05, 2011 at 11:44am

Sorry Melody; I’ll stop feeding.

#27 omniomi on Friday August 05, 2011 at 11:46am

@Ophelia: That’s the problem, you think the sentiment is “so-an-so needs to shut up because she’s a women” when in fact it is “so-an-so needs to shut up be they like to make inflammatory statements”

Has nothing to do with the speaker or the gender of the speaker, has everything to do with the content of the message.

That is the over all problem, there is this assumption that if men do not like a female speaker it is because she’s a female…

I don’t mind Rebecca, obviously I don’t agree with some of her positions but over all she is very intelligent and articulate.

#28 omniomi on Friday August 05, 2011 at 11:49am

@Ophelia: Please tell me you didn’t just compare an awkward and admittedly inappropriate situation to a hate crime…

#29 omniomi on Friday August 05, 2011 at 11:52am

@#26 & @24 - I shall bow out as well. This discussion is pointless and this is not the correct forum.

#30 John D on Friday August 05, 2011 at 11:54am

Wow Ophelia - nice way to run off hyperbolic.  Rebecca can say anything she wants in my opinion.  The more speech the better.  I am just claiming that she is crying about the angry speech she receives while she simultaneously dishing out just as much.  Just stop playing the victim and using crude and sexist language yourself RW.  It’s called hypocrisy.  That’s all I’m sayin.  Someone complained here about language and it’s use.  Looks to me like there is plenty of abuse going both ways (and please don’t ask me for proof… videos about blow-up sex toys should be enough proof).

and Melody - Ronald reached a conclusion about the reason for fewer women in secular groups in his opening paragraph.  “Why are their fewer women… the reason is obvious!” he claims.  This is not very condusive to open discussion now is it?  I do not find that the reason is so obvious… but I guess I am just stupid that way (stupid enough to ask for evidence)

#31 John D on Friday August 05, 2011 at 12:02pm

Ronald states in the opening… 

“Are men over-represented at humanist, atheist, and skeptic conferences and in the leadership of humanist, atheist, and skeptic organizations? Does the work of female writers and scholars tend to be overlooked? Does our movement need to become more diverse? Should we give careful consideration to the relationship between feminism and secularism?

I think the answer to the foregoing questions is obvious.”

Okay.  If the answer is so obvious I would like to know what it is.  This is called “Center For Inquiry” right?  (just making sure.

#32 Melody Hensley on Friday August 05, 2011 at 5:01pm

John D has either never attended a secular conference in the US or not seen the speaker rosters. If he had, he’d notice that male speakers are almost without exception in the majority. This is a fact that is undeniable.

I happen to be very very excited about the speaker line-up as well as the conference and hope we have the resources to hold bigger similar conferences in the future.

To omniomi I say: no we will not give it a rest. We (I am helping organize) are getting overwhelmingly postive feedback from participants and attendees alike. If it’s not to your taste, so be it-don’t assume the same goes for everyone else.

I also say that omniomi has absolutely no basis to say that “women do not gravitate” to our community. Women buy secular books, they read secular blogs, and they attend secular events. Even if his statement was correct (which IMO it isn’t) it doesn’t mean a national organization shouldn’t take steps to improve this. Last I checked we were here to change society in a positive way, not leave everything as it is.

Speaking for myself, I think more women in the movement at ALL levels and roles is undoubtedly a good thing. If others agree with that statement (not everyone might), then I see no reason why they’d be against CFI having this conference.

#33 SimonSays on Friday August 05, 2011 at 5:08pm

Apologies, the above comment #32 is mine. I was logged in as my wife Melody on this computer.

-Simon Davis
CFI DC Event Coordinator

#34 John D on Friday August 05, 2011 at 7:27pm

Simon/Melody - Of course, I know that there are usually more male speakers as well as more male attendees at atheist/secular/freethought meetings and conferences.  I claim that this is not due to sexism and the patriarchy.

Are you claiming that different attendance rates for men and women proves their must be widespread sexism?  Is this your claim?  Really?  I guess I still need more evidence.  But… I guess I don’t know what your claim is.  I laid it out to Ronald and everyone else to answer.  If the answer to the first questions in this post are obvious (as Ronald claims), then I would like someone to tell me this obvious answer.  Like I said… I am really stupid and I can’t see this very obvious thing.

#35 MyaR (Guest) on Friday August 05, 2011 at 8:27pm

John, the answers to Ron’s questions are clearly all the same—“yes”*. You seem to be looking for the answer to some other question(s), such as “Why is this so?” or “How would the most important person in skepticism, John D, be affected if women played more prominent roles in skeptic organizations?”

The first one is one that the skeptic community seems to be trying to come to grips with, to my delight, and I think this conference is one of the multitude of responses to it. The second is only important to John D, so I doubt you’ll get an answer.

*in context, you could theoretically argue the final two as not empirically obvious from a straight comparison of skeptic orgs vs general population demographics, and please feel free to make your case that all the women and non-white, people should go away, or not show up.

#36 SimonSays on Saturday August 06, 2011 at 2:00am

JohnD, there is no ‘claim’ per se being made on the question you ask. Does there need to be? It’s a conference, so I didn’t know there had to be. (In fact I’m quite sure there *doesn’t* have to be)

The answers to Ron’s questions are all ‘yes’.

I guess there does have to be agreement on that point for one to be interested in the subject.

#37 John D on Saturday August 06, 2011 at 6:51am

Very well all.  I will wait with anticipation.  I am sure the panel will be interesting at least.  Thanks for such a simple and elegant answer… “yes”.  I guess that the work of female authors and scholars must be overlooked since you say so.  Pardon me for my stupidity.

#38 Ophelia Benson on Saturday August 06, 2011 at 12:46pm

Good god. I wasn’t expecting this -

http://mirandaceleste.net/2011/07/28/i-love-you-barmaid/#comment-967

And I’d hate to know that I was invited to a conference simply because I have the appropriate genitalia. I want to be recognized for whatever merit there may be in the things I do/write, not how oppressed and/or under-represented I supposedly am.

Really? You nice CFI people invited that list simply because they have the appropriate genitalia? I had no idea!

#39 Adam Lee on Saturday August 06, 2011 at 1:52pm

This looks like an awesome conference (as you can tell from both the fantastic speaker lineup as well as the agonized screams of the MRAs). Plus, it’s pretty close to me. I’ll definitely be there.

#40 PZ Myers (Guest) on Saturday August 06, 2011 at 3:15pm

I wish I could be there, but I’m already booked for another conference on the other side of the continent on that weekend. Good luck with it all, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing the talks on youtube!

#41 K SA (Guest) on Saturday August 06, 2011 at 6:27pm

John D already makes me not want to go anywhere he is; he’s combative and doesn’t seem to get the idea that people who stir shit are the problem, he just continues to stir it up.  Predicting problems with a type of online textual smirk “Just sayin’” - yeah.  I have absolutely no desire to attend any secularist events with that kind of person being allowed to drive the dialog, challenge speakers, cause trouble for the sake of taking center stage.
This is why “the movement” or whatever doesn’t have me.  I can point right at ONE PERSON, whom I’ve never met and never read anything by before JUST NOW, when I came to see the announcement.

#42 John D on Saturday August 06, 2011 at 6:43pm

KSA - sorry you don’t like me. Some people find me to be interesting and even insightful.  Perhaps I am a bit combative and I do really like to argue.  I don’t see this as a flaw but you do.  Okay… fine…just don’t go away all hurt.  Maybe CFI is a really good fit for you.  I have donated in the past but most of these folks find me just as annoying as you do.  I have a few good CFI friends but I think they have learned to not get all butt-hurt when I tell them what I think.

#43 SimonSays on Saturday August 06, 2011 at 7:32pm

KSA: If by “causing trouble” someone is found to be harassing another attendee or speaker, being abusive, threatening etc. they will be asked to leave the conference end of story. We take matters of safety quite seriously and to my knowledge the record of CFI Conferences is overwhelmingly positive in this regard.

As far as who is “driving the dialog”, that will really be the speaker and/or moderator for each segment.

As far as people being allowed to “challenge speakers”, typically this takes the form of audience questions (not statements!) during the Q&A (unless I misunderstood what you mean). With the exception of hoarding the microphone which is not allowed, we will absolutely not only allow but in fact encourage attendees to ask challenging and thought-provoking questions of our speakers. This will include attendees that perhaps not everyone personally agrees with. If somebody pays to attend a national conference of this size they should have the opportunity to ask a question during a talk. Often times attendee questions provide the most food for thought.

#44 Mara (Guest) on Saturday August 06, 2011 at 8:06pm

I’m going to ignore every single comment above mine and say how excited I am to hear about this conference

I think the speaker list looks great, I can’t wait to hear what folks are going to speak about, and I’ve just finished putting it on my calendar (so I don’t forget I’m attending) and my husband’s calendar (so *he* doesn’t forget I’m attending).

Is it next year yet?

#45 mae (Guest) on Saturday August 06, 2011 at 8:46pm

1. Underrepresentation of women (or other minorities) in the secular community (or other communities) doesn’t necessarily imply that white men have intentionally excluded them, so there’s no need to be defensive about how inclusive your group is and how respectful you are. It *does* imply that you’ve spent a lot of time, most likely your entire lives, listening to other white men.
2. No matter how well educated or well read you are, you do not understand the experiences of those who do not live with your particular set of privileges, and you definitely don’t understand marginalized experiences enough to speak for those populations.
3. If the organizers of this conference think it’s necessary to create a conference specifically for women in secularism, then it is necessary. Especially so, it seems, when there’s immediate resistance to this event because you disagree with one woman’s politics, and you’re prepared to dismiss her and everyone who agrees with her because she makes a point of challenging male hegemony.

John, the lack of women among the ranks of speakers and attendees is not an accusation of sexism against the men who hold every other conference. It is an indicator of a long history of sexism and patriarchy, of which I’m sure you’re aware, and for which I’m sure you take no responsibility. Most feminists, men included, don’t think that women can achieve equality by waiting to be invited to parties thrown by men. Again, you don’t get to determine who is marginalized and who isn’t, and this conference will function as a platform for women who would rather discuss their ideas in a context that isn’t determined by men. Unfortunately, those who would be most improved by listening to intelligent women discuss secularism and their relationships with the secular community have convinced themselves that they don’t need to include women’s perspectives. I would argue that such men, including yourself, are content to be insulated from conversations that deal with issues of feminism (and any number of other -isms) because you have little to contribute.

And that’s fine. These women have offered an opportunity for you to listen to their perspectives for two days, and in return, you should consider the possibility that it’s their turn.

#46 John D on Saturday August 06, 2011 at 9:06pm

mae - I very well written reply.  Of course, I disagree with your interpretation that this topic is not important to me.

You claim “I would argue that such men, including yourself, are content to be insulated from conversations that deal with issues of feminism (and any number of other -isms) because you have little to contribute. “

Do you claim I have nothing to contribute because I don’t buy into the argument that some feminists propose?  I have nothing to contribute because I disagree with much of what the invited guest claim?  Do you just want me to shut up because I disagree?

#47 mae (Guest) on Saturday August 06, 2011 at 11:26pm

I claim you have little (not nothing, exactly) to contribute to conversations about women’s relationships to secularism because your argument—that women either do not or should not need to have a conference that specifically addresses women in secularism—stems from a misinterpretation of the reasons why women are underrepresented in other conferences. The white male perspective is the default, and those with the most privilege tend to be best at ignoring their status; you have not found the demographics of other conferences problematic, and you don’t see why anyone else would. This conference is happening because other people—whose experiences and relations in the secular community are different from yours—take issue with the fact that women have been less present than men. Not noticing a problem makes you a poor authority to claim that the problem doesn’t need to be solved. As you said, “the more speech the better,” and if you haven’t heard enough discussion about why women, not men, think women are marginalized in the secular community, then you need to consider their perspective more closely before you’ll have much to contribute.

If you want to interpret that as “shut up because you disagree with me,” you may have a case. The real problem, though, is that I don’t think you’ve spent as much time considering the origins of your disagreement as you should. You’ve assumed an easy but untenable paradigm in which opportunities for expression are available to anyone and being polite is the same as being inclusive.

That said, I’m glad you consider this topic important. I just hope you’ll examine your privilege before you argue as if privilege shouldn’t be a factor in the conversations you want to have.

#48 kitz (Guest) on Sunday August 07, 2011 at 7:24am

I know why Rebecca Watson is going to be speaking and Harriet Hall ISN’T!  Hello, give me some scientists speakers please, without penis would be welcome.  But WATSON?  As more than a game show host?  Yeah, I enjoy Harriet Hall’s response to the email sent out by Watson’s cronies to talk about elevator gate at TAM (40% women and a high number of women speakers).  Yep real repression.  I think Dawkins (ass that he is) is making a far more meaningful contribution by actually getting child care to skeptic and atheist meetings (rather than saying “wow wish we had the money, oh well…”).

#49 kitz (Guest) on Sunday August 07, 2011 at 7:29am

Any chance you are offering child care for this event?  Cause heck I’d go if you did!  willing to give you guys a chance to change my mind.

#50 SimonSays on Sunday August 07, 2011 at 10:29am

kitz: Child care is indeed a concern for many attendees. At the last national conference held in the DC area in 2009 CFI did dedicate funds to ensuring childcare was made available. For 2012 we’re looking at many options and one of them will most likely be applying for a grant from RDFRS when details are made available.

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