A Time for Tears

Hey, did you know that registration for Women in Secularism is open?

Okay, I haven’t exactly been subtle on that point. What can I say? I’m excited about it.

Last year’s conference wasn’t just transformative for this movement in the ways that anyone can look around and see. It also put a large group of women in touch with each other and united them in common causes (from making change to providing support) in ways you don’t see but with effects you almost certainly feel. The conference created a network that extends far beyond the people who attended.

Most of that happened outside the talks. The talks, however, were just as important. They informed, and they reminded us why we’re activists, even when we’re almost too tired to move. This talk by Wafa Sultan was delivered to a weeping audience.

We didn’t walk away from this talk feeling hopeless, no matter the size of the problem. We left determined. That’s what a conference should do.

Drama Is Not Disagreement

Justin Vacula has done a new YouTube video, at the request of the slime pit. He calls it a “dramatic* reading” of a comment here at FreethoughtBlogs. Specifically, it is a comment posted at Butterflies and Wheels, on a post that mentions that Vacula is trying to raise enough money to attend Women in Secularism**. EEB, who comments here as well, is upset about the idea.

Vacula’s delivery in the video is more melodramatic than dramatic, and as he mentions in the notes on the video, there’s a long stretch where he can’t stop himself from laughing. Video tucked below the fold to make sure it doesn’t autoplay for anyone who doesn’t want to watch it.
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Hanging On

Today, I spend a bunch of time that could be productive on my harassers and on making the people who don’t want to spend time looking at harassment see what my last several months have looked like. Maybe you’ll see it. Maybe you won’t have to. I don’t know. I’m tired. I’m not entirely in a position to make a smart decision on that right now.

Either way, this comment is what’s keeping me functioning right now.

I know a girl who did just about everything wrong according to those people. She’d been kicked out of the house and went home with a nice guy she’d only known for a week. The guy offered her Marvel vs Capcom to cheer her up and vodka mixed with cran-rasberry to drown her sorrows. Her drink was mixed a lot stronger than his because he hated the taste of alcohol and besides, drunk girls are fun. They fool around for a while and the guy asks if she wants to go to bed, she says not yet. So they watch a movie and the guy mixes more drinks and they fool around more. Now when he asks, she say ok but the guy isn’t sure she’s all there since she can’t even stand without support. So the guy carries her into the bedroom and she’s too drunk to even take off her shoes so the guy has to do it for her.
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Then a memory stirs in the guy’s head and it occurs to him that he’s about to do something awful. So he stops undressing her and climbs into bed fully dressed and she almost instantly falls asleep in his arms.
The guy hadn’t thought a lot about feminism or what rape was, but he did have a lot of spare time at work to read blogs and something had managed to work through the drunken haze and replace “drunk girls are fun” with “consent is important”. The guy still feels like an asshole, but being an asshole is a lot better than being a rapist.
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Thank you Stephanie, for being part of the reason why I’m just an asshole.

One of these days, I might even have enough energy left over after this sort of thing is dealt with to be proud of that.

Presumptive

At the Minnesota Atheists meeting today, I was nominated for the position of Associate President for the coming year. Since I was the only person nominated for the position, I’ll be starting in March, even though the elections aren’t for a month.

I wasn’t expecting this, even as recently as a month or so ago. I volunteer, particularly with the radio show, and I talk shop with board members. Still, I didn’t see myself becoming one. Then, “Would you consider running for the board?”

…and I discovered I had things I wanted to do and resources that could help. After the last year, I know a lot of people in the broader atheist community, and I’ve had a lot of discussions about where people and organizations have set their priorities. I think those kinds of talks (and these people) are interesting, but they also turn out to constitute networking. In an situation where we have lots of organizations with overlapping goals and constituencies, this turns out to be useful.

I also want to work on membership. Minnesota Atheists has plenty of participants in our various events, but our paid membership is much smaller. This isn’t surprising, as we’ve rarely told people about the value of membership–or offered one. We can fix this, and we can do it without adding cost for people who aren’t members because they can’t afford to be.

Then there’s the conference. It’s ambitious to put on our own conference just a year after hosting one with American Atheists. We can do it, though. We’ve already started talking about how to open it to new audiences…and how to keep from competing with SkepTech, which will be only four months before. Save the date: August 10 for the conference, August 9 for the baseball game. Both will be fun. Both have something new to offer this year.

Finally, as far as my current priorities go, there is always the radio show. We’re working on ways to create steadier funding, so both we and the station can plan for the future.

So expect to see more Minnesota Atheists business here on the blog. Not only am I excited for the next year, but this is going to take free time I don’t really have. If I’m going to keep up the blog, there will have to be some multitasking. :)

Rape Goggles

This one involves MRAs, Wooly Bumblebee, and the details of sexual assault. It’s not pretty.

Earlier this month, I wrote about being very cautious about alcohol after being sexually assaulted by someone who had used alcohol to incapacitate me. I’ve written about the assault before. I usually link the story when I talk about it. I didn’t this time because I knew what was coming and didn’t feel like having the details hauled out and mocked.

That choice has resulted in some…interesting criticisms. We have Reap Paden trying to tell me that I was writing about being an alcoholic. (Uh, no.) And then there’s Wooly Bumblebee: [Read more…]

Saturday Storytime: Casualties

Alec Austin brings us a story of prices paid.

The press around the bar of the Unstable Alembic was as thick as ever, but sharp elbows and my coldest stare let me wedge myself between Jorge Hoestler and Gretchen Temple so I could vie for the bartender’s attention.

“Simon!” Jorge said, sounding genuinely delighted to see me. “Ye gods, man. I haven’t seen you for ages! You need to get out of that decaying old pile you call a manor more often.”

“Hello, Jorge,” I said, shaking his thick-fingered paw. “I would, but I fear I’ve become a bit of a recluse.”

“Ah,” Jorge said, his ebullience draining away. “Still too soon, then?” He paused, then said, “I’m so sorry about Ellen, old chap. I don’t know if I ever said.”

He had, in fact—every time I’d seen him since it happened—but it didn’t pay to be ungracious. “I appreciate that,” I said, giving him a crooked smile. “Buy you a drink?”

“Oh, no, my man. I couldn’t, just couldn’t. Here, let me buy a round of drinks for you.” Jorge paused to gesture at my table, where James and Annie were greeting some of their fellow Hernes. “The lot of you saved Verdenwald from Morcanis. Heaven knows, that’s more than any number of drinks can repay.”

I nodded, not trusting myself to speak. For an instant, I remembered Jorge as I’d seen him on the Day of Glass, clad in the crimson robe of a Bloodsworn initiate and clutching a vitrifying rod like a sword, and fury stirred in me, sending bile up the back of my throat. I forced myself to take a deep breath as Jorge waved and hallooed to get the bartender’s attention. That had been a different life—a different world—and besides, that Jorge was dead.

I’d killed him myself, tearing the rod from his hands and turning him into a pillar of carmine glass.

Keep reading.

Pat Robertson? I Don’t Even….

I really try not to be judgmental about other people’s consensual sex lives, but

But you didn’t come here for a geography lesson, you came here for some good, old-fashioned Craigslist pervertedness and boy do we have a doozie for you today. Normally, I’d expect this kind of post in the Casual Encounters section, but I just assume that this couple’s request was meant to be offered out to the more open-minded people of the “Activity Partners” community. Especially those who love to dress up and watch people get it on.

Middle aged bored couple (Kempsville)

Both male and female late 40′s seek adventurous couple for fun times. We seek another couple for a night of fun so we can check off another on our bucket list. We would like the man to dress up and play the part of Pat Robertson and the female to wear a tight blue dress and act like she is a sales spokesperson on Home Shopping channel. My husband I would be naked and making love in our bed all the while Pat Robertson will be constantly attempting to save our souls and the female to have ongoing dialogue trying to sell us an Ab Rocket in 3 easy payments.

I don’t actually know that I fail at being judgmental about this one either, because I simply don’t get it. I can’t even wrap my brain around this long enough to be squicked out.

Atheists Talk: Seth Andrews on “Deconverted”

Seth Andrews is the founder of The Thinking Atheist, one of the most popular atheist communities on the internet. The Thinking Atheist produces a podcast of the same name, YouTube videos, hosts a thriving forum, and offers resources for those who are questioning religion or seeking information to refute religious apologist arguments.

Seth Andrews joins Atheists Talk this Sunday to discuss his new book, Deconverted: A Journey from Religion to Reason. This autobiography describes Seth’s upbringing in a Christian family and predominantly Christian community and takes us through the questions and doubts that he found himself asking as adult who eventually left his religion.

Related Links:

Listen to AM 950 KTNF this Sunday at 9 a.m. Central to hear Atheists Talk, produced by Minnesota Atheists. Stream live online. Call in to the studio at 952-946-6205, or send an e-mail to radio@mnatheists.org during the live show. If you miss the live show, listen to the podcast later.

Follow Atheists Talk on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates. If you like the show, consider supporting us with a one-time or sustaining donation.

The Role of Feminism in Secular Organizations

Ron Lindsay has asked for input going into a meeting of national secular organizations.

Specifically, I’d like your input on these two questions: 1. What specific steps do you think secular groups should take to increase diversity within our movement, in particular with respect to the participation of minority groups? 2. As you are aware, there are some stark differences of opinion within the movement about the appropriate understanding of feminism and how feminism (however defined) should influence the practices and mission of secular organizations. How do you think these differences can best be narrowed or resolved?

I answered the first question already, but the second required some more thought. After all, if I knew how to resolve those differences, I would do something about them.

Then I realized that there is one thing I do fairly regularly in this respect because I think it’s important. I try to make sure that the apparent starkness of those differences of opinion isn’t due to misrepresentation of my position. So here is my position on feminism and its role within secular organizations.

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Portrait of Deceit

A long time ago, James Randi did something rather important for me. He lied. He didn’t lie to me, but he made it clear he would if it would help me sort out the truth. I’ve written before about how important this was to me.

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, I was young and somewhat naive. Libraries had always been very good to me, sometimes when no one else was, and I trusted them. See, they had these sections labeled “nonfiction,” where I found confirmation that the world was a weird and wonderful place. Parapsychology, ghost stories–all of them had to be true because the library told me they weren’t made up stories. They weren’t fiction.

A high school psychology class reinforced that belief, talking about J. B. Rhine’s experiments. Experiments! Science confirmed what the library had told me. And as I went through college and learned more about science and experimental design, parapsychology garnered more legitimacy.

Then a friend gave me Flim Flam.

The experience was formative, but it isn’t something I share with enough other people. Get someone to read a book telling them that this sort of faked wonder is a business and that we’re all very good at fooling ourselves? Well, it’s hard enough getting people to simply read any book these days.

However, a small group of documentary filmmakers are working to bring Randi’s story to a broader medium–the big screen. They’ve set up a Kickstarter for the funds to help them complete their film An Honest Liar, which is already in progress. After just two days, they’re more than a quarter of the way to their goal.

I’m not the only person Randi’s lies have reached or helped. If you’re one of them, or if you just want to help them reach a broader audience, you may want to help out.