The Course of Reason

Opposing Views: Sexism in the Secular Community

June 22, 2011

University of Waterloo's Chris Burke and The College of William and Mary's Rose St Clair share their thoughts on a Rebecca Watson video.

This article was originally posted on the Atheists, Agnostics, and Freethinkers of Waterloo blog. Following his post is a YouTube response from Rose St Clair of the William and Mary Freethought Alliance.

Guys, listen. That? Stop Doing That.

Rebecca Watson speaks about her experience at an atheist conference in the UK (among other things):

I have written a few rants about religion’s bias towards women. Sadly, the atheist movement isn’t entirely free of this attitude. Watson tells the story of a man who wanted to go back to his hotel room with her after a night of drinking with other atheists from the conference.

If you don’t understand what’s wrong with that after watching the video, read her responses to some of the comments on the video. I’ll repeat what Watson said, asking a woman to go back to your room. Don’t do that.

Whoever it was that asked Watson if she wanted to go back to the hotel room probably failed to realize why this would make her uncomfortable. He may have also been unable to comprehend that women do in fact attend atheist conferences to discuss matters of atheism. Not, as some may have it in their head, to engage in one night stands. Even if that wasn’t his intent, the question demonstrates poor judgement. It also doesn’t help our case when the men in the movement are made to look like the Forever Alone, socially awkward male who doesn’t understand how to behave respectfully around women.

Now there is no shortage of atheist women. Though I can’t help but notice an unbalanced gender ratio in AAFW. Granted, I haven’t been to any meetings this term, but I’d be surprised if the ratio has balanced itself. The club has tended to tilt towards being male heavy since my joining.

This is not to fault the club or anyone in it. As for what we can do to create more diversity. My only suggestions would be to continue promoting the club thus reaching a wider option. The second, is to recognize any biased behaviour that may crop up from time to time. There hasn’t been anything serious, at least to my knowledge, in recent times. Let’s keep it that way.

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About the Author: Chris Burke

Chris Burke's photo
Chris Burke holds a Bachelors in Environmental Studies: Honours Environment and Business from the University of Waterloo. Next he will be working towards a Masters of Environmental Studies in Sustainability Management. He's an active member of the Atheists, Agnostics, and Freethinkers of Waterloo student group. In his spare time he enjoys reading and playing music.

Comments:

#1 skeptical (Guest) on Saturday June 25, 2011 at 4:32am

I suggest people read the following hypocrisy

#2 skeptical (Guest) on Saturday June 25, 2011 at 4:33am

By Rebecca Watson at

#3 http://skepchick.org/2006/04/a-very-heretical-east (Guest) on Saturday June 25, 2011 at 4:34am

By Rebecca Watson on April 2006

"While others around the world were spending their weekend commemorating the miraculous resurrection of Jeeeezus by wearing big straw hats, painting chicken eggs, and eating the special pastel-colored M&Ms;, I was drinking too much, dancing‚ suggestively with strangers, and celebrating my lack of godliness at the American Atheists’ annual conference, held in San Antonio, Texas. All in all it was a good time. Though I disagreed with quite a bit of what was said by the presenters, the panel discussion, and the “Is There a God” debate, I think American Atheists is a very good organization and quite necessary in that it helps provide support and a voice to the nonreligious. Highlight of the weekend: watching two hot college girls on a panel fight over the use of humor and controversy to spread the atheistic word. I kept hoping the moderator would suggest we all head upstairs to a hotel room and settle this with a tickle fight.

If you thought that last sentence was condescending, you didn’t hear the girls in question going back and forth over who failed to invite whom to a party/meeting/whatever.

If you want to hear more about what I thought of the weekend (and not just the random sexual fantasies I entertained), you’ll have to wait to read the article I’m going to write about it for Skeptic."

#4 http://is.gd/2sTrUk (Guest) on Saturday June 25, 2011 at 4:36am

The blog post Rebecca Watson wrote is on Skepchick blog, April 17th 2006 and is called 'A Very Heretical Easter'.

"While others around the world were spending their weekend commemorating the miraculous resurrection of Jeeeezus by wearing big straw hats, painting chicken eggs, and eating the special pastel-colored M&Ms;, I was drinking too much, dancing‚ suggestively with strangers, and celebrating my lack of godliness at the American Atheists’ annual conference, held in San Antonio, Texas. All in all it was a good time. Though I disagreed with quite a bit of what was said by the presenters, the panel discussion, and the “Is There a God” debate, I think American Atheists is a very good organization and quite necessary in that it helps provide support and a voice to the nonreligious. Highlight of the weekend: watching two hot college girls on a panel fight over the use of humor and controversy to spread the atheistic word. I kept hoping the moderator would suggest we all head upstairs to a hotel room and settle this with a tickle fight.

If you thought that last sentence was condescending, you didn’t hear the girls in question going back and forth over who failed to invite whom to a party/meeting/whatever.

If you want to hear more about what I thought of the weekend (and not just the random sexual fantasies I entertained), you’ll have to wait to read the article I’m going to write about it for Skeptic."

#5 Dren Asselmeier on Monday June 27, 2011 at 12:57pm

Hey person commenting. What argument are you making? I am trying to guess at what hypocrisy you are hinting at, but I would like to know of what you think we should get from the text you quoted.

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