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On being Mrs Ra (I get comments)

The first thing I need to get out of the way is for the most part it is great to be Mrs. Ra. I get to meet all sorts of interesting and intelligent freethinkers all over the country. And over time, I have come out of my introverted shell more. The cool thing lately, is that I meet people, who recognize me as well and thank me for projects I have done like Answers in Science. Although this article focuses on the big names, it actually started out because of my tiny webcast getting into it with Ken Ham. Really I don’t see myself as having the impact that Aron or the others at that seminar do on pseudoscience. But this is one instance where the roles were reversed and he was a part of something I started. That is one of the negatives about being “Mrs. Ra”, that people sometimes discredit or devalue my contributions. Even well meaning people some feminists themselves, who otherwise like me, have casually let it slip that people would not listen to me if it weren’t for Aron.

Others who know me personally and understand my contributions, as well, when they see anonymous comments along these lines, say ignore it they are horrible people, who lead horrible lives. In truth, that advice has made me stay silent about the friendly fire I’ve experienced inside the atheist community. I don’t want to validate people with attention, who are motivated to bully and harass people online. In their view I am “strong and independent” if I say nothing, and any response to their bullying is seen as “whining”. A  win-win situation for them right? Stay silent and they continue bullying, and it is bullying not trolling because people actually are that hateful in real life. Understand it is not unusual for people to call women bitches, cunts, stupid, emotional, irrational, feminazi, whore, slut, or  fat in real life. I have had people in real life call me most of those things when they are angry even total strangers. Many women have and even sometimes by other women.

If you do say something, you are seen as a complainer or a whiner. As a middle school teacher, I often see bullied children, who have had the onus of bullying flipped on them. One child actually said “snitches get stitches” when I was asking the class to tell me later if they knew who stole her phone. The school situations are different than online ones where drama gets magnified exponentially, and attracts rubber-neckers to the trainwreck. That one reason alone is a good reason to not say anything about it, especially if you want to accomplish positive things. It decreases the signal to noise ratio.

A good example of this is the science curriculum supplement videos I am working on with Aron. To be sure, Aron would do a kick ass job in articulating tough topics like evolution on his own. However, can he read broad state standards, and focus specifically on what students need to do well in school? An example, he could do this awesome, enriching  presentation on the development of the eye for teaching natural selection. However, if peppered moths are the tested example then it will be less effective. Does he have classroom experience with students, who don’t have a science background? Does he have training in pedagogy? Has he had the experiences of failing on a lesson he thought was great, and later revised it to make it better? Nope. As a teacher, I have had those experiences. I am helping to amplify his signal, and it is one of the greatest things about being Mrs. Ra. I know that the two of us would have a hard time replacing each other as a companion and partner. We make each other better people.

So, I go on the Magic Sandwich Show with Aron to explain the project to people, and I have an anonymous hater in the comments being up-voted that I am supposedly a “stupid whore”. Never-mind that although others like Concordance and Aron have more scientific gravitas, I am the only one on the panel, who is a certified science teacher with classroom experience. It doesn’t matter how true something I say is, or how qualified I am to speak on a subject. What matters in this case is that I disagreed in another show with Thunderf00t on feminist issues, and that I even identify as a feminist in other cases. Thunderf00t can’t be wrong to his fans, I have to be misunderstanding him because I am stupid, irrational, or emotional. And too, I am the emotional one when this commenter has used a discussion on science education to talk about how much he hates me. Hate is an emotion too and expressing inappropriate emotions is irrational too, right?

Even though it annoys me that the noise this person makes derails the discussion to an irrational discussion on whether I deserve to be hated or not, I still have to say this even against the very good reasons to leave it alone. I have to speak up in order to raise awareness of the strong influence of misogyny most virulently in the online atheist community. The things I have said, have been said by men like Aron in the same venue, and he is given a fair hearing and not subjected to irrational hatred. And this is why these people are not simply trolls, but bullies. Bullies are raised in the might makes right mentality. This puts men in unhealthy competition with one another and women at the bottom of the hierarchy, and their speech is viewed more negatively. Not just me all women.  Women are stereotyped as talking more to the extent that they believe this themselves. In truth, men dominate most mixed group interactions, including ones where decisions affect women too like legislatures.

Sometimes, it isn’t even a conscious effort on the part of men to dominate the conversation. Like the study I cited says, women themselves think they are talking more than they are because of societal norms that value taking turns and being polite in girls where men don’t have the same expectations. It happened here when I was discussing rape prevention on MSS with a panel of men, I am the only woman in the panel with life experiences on the topic, and still I wasn’t allowed to finish most of my points by some of the men.

The most important point I am getting at here is deciding whose speech is important in the atheist community is not like a competition in Game of Thrones where you win or you die. That world is so obsessed with dominance and being in power that it ignores the eminent threat of hordes of zombies.

game-of-thrones-new-poster

The most bad ass motherfucker gets to speak. Amirite?

 

I’d like to see a better world without the negative,regressive,domineeering effects of religious dogma.  Not a world without religion where the playground bully even if he isn’t the best leader wins. A world like this…

Not perfect, but light years ahead of the world we live in.

Not perfect, but light years ahead of the world we live in.

 

Anyhow to end on a more positive note, here are some comments of people that love me and get me. I meet these people in real life too, even in Bible Belt buckles like East Texas. A couple expressed to me there how puzzled they were, by some of the disagreements on women’s rights on my appearances on MSS. A lot of people don’t think it is cool to be hateful.

Here are the comments if you are a hater choke on it!

 

Mrs. Ra has an excellent point about creationists redefining words to suit there agenda. They use the same tactics while interpreting the Bible.
I bet Aron and Mrs Ra could come up with a damn good home schooling curriculum.Heck, Get Concordance and Ozzy on the team, too. Maybe they could come up with something to make kids woo-woo-proof.
Inspirational lady. I used to have bible studies and brought into the whole god story for a long time but they had too many pathetic answers to my valid questions. There are so many holes in the bible and christianity and religion in general that there is not enough space nor time to go into it all. I HAVE read the bible, cover to cover. I am not just an atheist. I am a guy that believed until I became old enough to grasp the inconsistencies in this nasty ass fairy story that has such a grasp on humanity.
You know what, screw it. I was anti-feminist for awhile, but fuck that. I agree with them on probably seventy percent of what they say. Just because I’m not big on the feminist culture doesn’t mean I’m not a feminist. I’ll still oppose censorship and misandry and racism when I see it in that community, but no movement is perfect. It’s better to try to fix the broken parts than to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Lilandra is right, feminism is a part of humanism.
Bravo Lilandra!Thank you for your take on humanism.. It is very much appreciated. I really love your views on contraception. You and your husband are a gift to rational people :)
(and hopefully to those non-rational people as well)

Beeker Bod

3 months ago

Finally some women on the panel…but wait!! Lilandra, thumbs up. The other two…urggh!! I guess they made things lively through their outrageous statements but I’d love to see more deep thinking women joining in on the show.

I think there’s nothing wrong with diverse ideas within secular communities. Opposing abortion for instance seems a fair stance to me, even if I disagree – if anything it highlights that the conservatives actually do not have biblical reasons for it. It’s a philosophy on the meaning of human life, nothing more. I think it can be easily exposed as false though through plenty of thought experiments (as can be the radical “unlimited abortion” idea).No doubt many of us still hold baggage from a religious upbringing. But the main point is broken. We cannot say “god says so” and stop thinking. No doubt some still do similar things, but it’s not as easy. We know we have to consider morality carefully, and if someone points out our errors we have little defense but to argue our position (and perhaps to find that it’s not as strong as we thought). That doesn’t guarantee we’ll have the same conclusions (wouldn’t that be boring!), it just takes away one false escape card.
Lilandra has been given the chance to speak several times and has made good on the opportunity. she is finding her voice and it seems to suit her. good on ya Lilandra.
aron ra, aron ra, ra ra ra!
I think AronRa just got schooled by his wife Lilandra :P
Very interesting speech.
I could go on, but you get the point.

[important]

I almost forgot that I was inspired to speak out by Laci Green’s new video where she admits she is a feminist and gives 51 reasons why.

[/important]

Comments

  1. yazikus says

    This is a lovely post, thanks for sharing. I don’t watch a lot of videos, but I did watch that one on the MSS where you were talked over and it just made me cringe each time. You deserved better.

  2. Vivre says

    Dear Lilandra, again thank you so much for sharing your talents to improve hu~wo~man~kind :-)

    It is voices likes yours that give me hope that one day our species members might regard each other in all gender appearences as equivalent beings. And as long men ‘apelike’ won’t share the cake by obvious realisation we need women to tell them.

    Much has already been achieved by women standing up for our rights and you can be happy to be a part in the hearable choir.

    I too was present at the MSShow and it was unbearable to witness how you had been suppressed to speak out your points. And that is where Tf00t lost the rest of supposed decent enlightenments, as far as I’m concerned.

    … and besides, benefiting from being Mr Ra is a smart move :-)

    All the best to you ~ heartily greets Vivre

  3. says

    Yes, aside from the favorite practice of marginalizing women with whom they’d otherwise agree, or whom they would fairly appreciate, excepting that they are women, the haters want to play the “riding coattails” game (which also has a specific nature when applied against women). Honk that noise. Everyone starts out unknown, why should status matter more than what the message is? Why should it matter if you are close enough to people that have more “known” status that you are “in their shadow”. Never mind that your domains of expertise are fairly critical when covering the relevant topics mentioned here.

    Don’t break your spine trying to judge anything on merit, doods. The strain would apparently kill you. Try some stretching first. You’ll be better off for it.

  4. jamessweet says

    Sometimes, it isn’t even a conscious effort on the part of men to dominate the conversation.

    I would even say that most often it’s not. As an anecdote: I tend to be somewhat of a loud-talker, it’s just sort of how I am, and I never really thought about it much — until a few years ago, when I suddenly realized that it was disproportionately excluding the participation of women in meetings where I was involved. Not because I was intentionally talking over women, but because people whose voices carried less tended to be less able to break in if I was prattling on for too long. So I started making a deliberate effort to let people finish their thoughts, and to give them space to interrupt me if necessary — and woah, what a “red pill” moment. I saw men, who I am quite sure had no idea they were doing this, talking only facing the other men in the room, not even looking at the women, interrupting and/or co-opting their ideas… All of these things were invisible until I started making a conscious effort to look for them.

    Yeah, it’s usually unintentional. That’s what makes it so insidious. If it were only self-consciously misogynist assholes who did this, there wouldn’t be nearly as much of a problem. But it’s everyone. Or at least, everyone who isn’t making a conscious effort at that very moment to not do it…

  5. Trebuchet says

    Excellent. And you don’t have to be “Mrs.” anything. Unless you want to. Perhaps we should call Aron “Mr. Lilandra”?

  6. Spooky Tran says

    Once in awhile Aron mentions his view that an organism cannot evolve out of its clade, and therefore all humans are a class of ape, which itself is a class of monkey. Therefore, humans are, in fact, a subclass of monkey. I’ve been out of the academic sciences for awhile but as far as I know, Aron’s is still not a widely accepted viewpoint. If Lilandra had said such a thing, I’m sure she would have been roundly condemned.

    All speculation aside, you certainly have my support.

    • EnlightenmentLiberal says

      @Spooky Tran

      organism cannot evolve out of its clade

      That is correct and non-controversial AFAIK.

      therefore all humans are a class of ape, which itself is a class of monkey

      That’s the controversial part. Aronra argues that we should (re)define monkey as a (monophyletic) clade. Others argue that we should (re)define “monkey” as something which is not a (monophyletic) clade. See:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monophyly

  7. A Hermit says

    Having been married to a teacher for thirty years now I can honestly say I know of no other profession so consistently under-estimated and under-appreciated. And it is a profession requiring just as much commitment and expertise as any other. You have my undying respect and admiration.

  8. Robert, not Bob says

    It bothers me to see people accepting the “feminism=misandry” definition. Don’t they know it’s unwise to let the enemy define your terms?

  9. Die Anyway says

    Excellent, well-written article. I just had to log in long enough to give you a thumbs-up vote. I’m sure it is difficult to find a balance between “feeding the trolls” and refuting them but a well reasoned refutation is bound to have a positive effect on some reader if not on the troll.

  10. cmcwp says

    Lilandra, I’ve been immersing myself in the usual atheist videos, and have only listened to one of your lectures so far, but will eventually catch up! I love that you have your own unique expertise to offer, in addition to providing the “yang” to AronRa’s “yin” (whichever is which!)

    We have no kids of our own, but my husband’s family is born again, and they are raising the nieces/nephews as creationists (though a couple of the nephews are showing promise as critical thinkers.) It’s heartbreaking but I’m trying to learn all I can for future discussions…..when they’re *allowed* to discuss such things.

    I’ve noticed a lot of my friends/family are Sunday school teachers, and can’t help but wonder- is there an alternative? Obviously, Sunday school is serving some purpose (keeping kids busy on Sundays with a lousy attempt at morals training I guess.)

    Why do so many women I know sign up for this? And why to parents send their kids? I can barely keep up with AronRa’s reasoning, as they’re soooooo much to learn, so why not start teaching kids some of this on Sundays?? Or at least a very basic version? Wouldn’t parents rather get their kids on a better, smarter track?

    Anyway. I hope this isn’t anti-feminist to say or anything, but you guys also happen to be the cutest couple. Clearly a great match, and yet funny how physically opposite. (My husband’s a math guy/engineer and I’m the one who corrects his spelling and helps him articulate atheist arguments when his mother confronts us.)

    Thanks for all you do!

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