Second to last thing! Elisabeth Cornwell will be speaking about who speaks for feminism. This could be….interesting? I’m not sure where it’s going.
Here we go! Elisabeth is thanking everyone in the CFI staff. They’re pretty freaking great.
Elisabeth learned a great deal this weekend, and talks about how important it is that we can talk about these things and disagree about them in a place free of recrimination. There’s people here that she deeply respects but disagrees with them. Having discussions about it doesn’t change her respect for them.
One of the reasons Elisabeth doesn’t like debates very well is that she likes to take time to process and think about how the opposing side has defended their position. Also important to remember that it’s often true that as you have more and more agreement, can be harder to argue about the details.
The first wave of feminism was about getting the rights that we now consider unthinkable (in the West) to lack. Susan Jacoby reminded us that even old white Repulican males can speak for feminism. Would Robert Ingersoll be welcome at this conference. Would he have been told that because he’s not a woman he can’t be here? [Me: WHAT. One audience member: YES! Rest of audience: NO!!]
Panel on women leaving religion was heartbreaking. We often can’t imagine how it is to worry about losing our lives for our principles. Maryam Namazie doesn’t want our sympathy…she wants our activism. To avoid speaking out because we fear being called racist or Islamaphobic is not okay–we need to speak out. Being polite is not acceptable anymore–if we don’t speak up, we leave that fight to the radical right. We must speak out. We aren’t risking much–risking being called a bigot. Elisabeth has been called worse. After all, we’re called atheists; can it get much worse than that. [Me: er...what?]
Women are often the ones responsible for pulling it all together. (Should have clarified–w/r/t family, etc.)
There’s a cultural shift that has snuck in through pop psych, reality TV, Oprah…the elevation of victimhood. [Me: uh oh] This is often present in Christianity. Prayer as the the most obvious example. Elisabeth wants to scream at people to get off their knees and do something. Of course there are some victims, and that is recognized, and what’s faced by women who are victimized under Islam is not the same as the discomfort of some sexist remark. We, of course, need to keep working on pay gaps, gender equality. We should gain strength from women fighting from oppression abroad.
We need to keep fighting until we have subdued religion to the form of Quakers and Unitarians. Elisabeth loves the UU’s. [Audience light laughter.]
This is where it’s important to know history. Young women and men are often annoying in their pushes and fail to recognize history. [Me: Wow, this talk makes me feel super welcome.] Good to recognize strengths and weaknesses of mvmts before us. One big failure of previous mvmts is diversity. Groups have had to regroup after. Take civil rights. Atheists and socialists were told to sit down and shut up. Maybe was right decision. Sometimes you have to give things up to make the gains you need. But atheists and socialists have been written out of history. Women too.
Feminism has had their troubles as well–first wave neglected everyone outside upper class white, second wave left out many of same. Hard for women of color to identify with Gloria Steinem.
We must work with other groups–not necessarily ones we agree with w/r/t supernatural.
One place we can step in to work on: battered women. Something churches do–a place for us to get involved as well. Also helping women looking for jobs. It’s not just women who can mentor women, men can mentor women. Elisabeth’s best mentors were often men. Male boss saw inequities helped her at previous job.
Women are particularly good at reading faces! Audience gives dead stare. Elisabeth: My bad–apologizes.
Acceptance and support that Teresa got should be rule.
We began con with white male Republican, Elisabeth wants to end it with one. Does so–I didn’t recognize source, she didn’t say. [Me: I dunno, didn't go so well when we started with one.
Are there any dealbreakers?
E: don't think so. Makes analogy to Israel-Palestine. (Honestly didn't catch it all, was too flabbergasted.)
Are there any secular feminists who actually make the argument that the opression of Western women is the same as that of women under Islamist rule?
E: Well, I'm not going to say that there are, but I disagree with that argument. Makes argument about how we know they're different. [Me: Yes, we know. That wasn't the question. You implied that secular feminists equate the two. Someone is trying to call you on it.]
Slight diversion of story to how women can help other women. Employee of E’s was groped by another staffer who was high money-making. One staffer went to support women. E called groping employee into office. “If you ever go near X staffer at all, I will have your balls on my desk. Don’t think I can’t, I work with cattle.” Elisabeth said don’t you say another word. Not another word. [Audience member: You told him to shut up and listen? Laughter.] She went to boss, said “You’ll have my back on this, right?” He said yes. Elisabeth repeats importance of mentoring people.
Importance of remembering that what one person may be insulted by isn’t what other person will be. Must remember we think differently.
What about rapists or those who threaten rape? [In response to first question]
E: No, absolutely not. [Audience: ...wait, but you said there ISN't a line?] E: No, that is criminal behavior. I thought we were talking about conversations that can be had. We *can* have conversations with these people, but should be with someone trained, like clinical psychologist. On our website, it’s our home. We don’t tolerate bullying, this behavior. We ‘smite’ them. Let’s not conflate criminal behavior discussion with conversations about feminism. Didn’t mean to imply otherwise in answer to first question–if you want to call me on that, you can.
Internet is place where people don’t have to claim who they are. For instance, if in car and someone cuts you off, you might…react with a signal or finger. If someone cuts you off while walking, you see them as a real person and don’t do the same thing. Face to face community is so important. We lose that on the internet. For heaven’s sake, don’t try to be cynical or ironic on the internet. It doesn’t work.
Elisabeth understands where Greta is coming from and doesn’t want to minimize it, but maybe…doesn’t want to use another word liek ignoring…but maybe having a shield of armor so these things can bounce off?
Maybe some people can do it and some can’t. Community as a whole has a right to stand up and say these need to stop.
Question about experience of living in small town with bad discrimination, cannot quit job, is withdrawing from life. What resources?
Elisabeth: hasn’t had experience, etc.
Fucking awesome audience member stands up, says has had similar experience, invites questioner to contact her. [Loud applause]
Elisabeth talks about not considering herself a racist but having learned how she hasn’t been viewing situations as well as she could be.
Ends with something about how white and black people can come together and chat with each other and say we’re black and you’re white and let’s go from here.
Update: comment from Elisabeth Cornwell.