Over the weekend, I talked to two professional activists in the secular movement. One had just left a job and didn’t intend to get another in the movement. The other is strongly considering getting out of the movement. Both are people whose work we are going to miss. Badly. Both are female.
This isn’t a coincidence. It’s a symptom of a movement that has let inequalities, injustices, and unprofessionalism fester too long and hasn’t been proactive about the steps needed to clean it up. This has gotten septic. We’re losing good people because of it.
I was reminded of that today when I read Sarah Jones’ post about the threats she received on Facebook and the pile-on she received on Twitter. It’s titled, “Opting Out“.
This isn’t reason in action, it’s fundamentalism. If your response to the suggestion that you take rape seriously is threaten and abuse me, then you are not rational. If your response to anyone making these allegations is to blame them for their own trauma, you are not rational. If you immediately assume that a woman who says she’s been raped, assaulted or harassed is lying, you are not rational. If you refuse to believe even the possibility that someone you admire is capable of assault, then not only are you irrational, you are actively protecting a toxic subculture.
I grew up with this bullshit. I went to school with this bullshit. I got over this bullshit years ago. My patience for it is buried right alongside my faith in God.
I will not participate in any movement that attacks survivors. I will not swear allegiance to a set of leaders at the cost of my ability to think critically. I will not do either of these things because these are the trappings of fundamentalism and I rejected fundamentalism years ago at no small personal cost.
In Sarah’s case, we’re lucky. She works for Americans United for Separation of Church and State. She doesn’t have to work directly with movement atheists. Her boss isn’t even an atheist. She can do what she needs to do for her job while staying away from the rest of us. If she hadn’t, after the reception she received as a vocal feminist? Yeah.
So it’s time for us to think long and hard about this. How many good, professional activists do we let be driven away before we put an end to this? How long does this go on as the good ones realize they can make better money and have far better working conditions somewhere else? How many do we lose?