Women Protagonists in YA: A List and Resources

akata-witch-by-nnedi-okorafor

This is a work in progress, any feedback from the audience/readers will be incorporated into the list.  I am especially interested in finding any good works about female friendship.  Here is a wonderful tumblr devoted to diversity in YA.  Here is a wonderfully comprehensive list of protagonists of color in YA and another specifically looking at SF and fantasy.

Akata Witch – Nnedi Okorafor

I cannot recommend this book enough.  It deals with being an outsider on multiple levels — because of looks, because of talents, because of being a girl in a patriarchal society, and because of culture.  It’s about an albino girl in Nigeria, who was born in America and spent years there before being brought back to Nigeria with her family.  She discovers that she has magic powers.  Imagine Harry Potter, but based entirely on Nigerian culture.  I’ve not read Nnedi Okorafor’s other work, but I am going to as soon as I can.  The beautiful art above is from the cover of this novel.

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

While this book does have a love triangle in it, it is otherwise a fantastic dystopian novel with a female lead.  Katniss is smart and driven by her desire to help her family and herself.  She can be quite selfish and uninterested in the feelings of others.  These flaws make her far more interesting than many women in YA novels and far from a passive participant in the events.  She is also written with olive skin and dark hair, which many interpret as being a person of color but, at the very least, is resistant to the blonde haired, blue eyed tradition.

His Dark Materials Trilogy – Philip Pullman

These books are really fascinating from an atheist perspective, but also just a really good fantasy story.  The lead character is a pre-pubescent girl who is an expert liar.  Her journey is fascinating.  The book is also notable for the importance and fundamental goodness of the Gyptian people (based on Gypsies) to the storyline.

Speak – Laurie Halse Anderson

This is an incredible book about a girl who is outcast from her high school because she called the cops when she was at a party.  She called the cops because she had been raped, but she is unable to talk about it.  In fact, she doesn’t speak much at all.  The book is about her coping with what happened to her and learning to be herself again.  It was made into a completely watchable movie starring Kristen Stewart pre-Twilight.

Princess Academy – Shannon Hale

I am a sucker for books about princesses, especially if they’re princesses who buck the trend and do something totally unusual like have opinions and fight battles and refuse to get married.  The lead character of this book is a young woman who feels like an outcast and, in the end, does not want the prince and doesn’t get him.  The book is really about the importance of education for women and the role of one’s home and family.

Tiffany Aching Series – Terry Pratchett

My reviews of Tiffany Aching books are here and here.  I love Terry Pratchett, I hope some day to write something I enjoy as much as Terry Pratchett books.  Tiffany Aching is a marvelous lead.  Her first book is the most compelling, but I really wish that someone would turn Tiffany Aching into a TV series.  It’s like a pre-teen Buffy.

Equal Rites – Terry Pratchett

My review from a couple years ago: Third in the Discworld series and by far my favorite of them all.  This introduces Granny Weatherwax, who is my favorite Pratchett character, followed closely by Death.  Pratchett’s greatest skill as a writer, in my opinion, is that none of his characters are particularly attractive and they all have terrible flaws, but you like them and they never get over their flaws.  People don’t become pretty, or overcome their inherent selfishness or cowardice, they’re just regular people.

Harriet the Spy – Louise Fitzhugh

This is one of my favorite books. She also seems to be on the spectrum as well — she’s very into routine and order and not good at empathizing with others.  I tried to watch the movie version again recently and was unable to get through it, so stick to the book I think.  Many people read Harriet and her friends as queer as well.  I personally see far more traits of autism than indications of any kind of sexuality.

Enchanted Forest Chronicles – Patricia C. Wrede

This is a brilliant series about a princess who doesn’t want to be a princess and has no interest in boring princes trying to rescue her.  She runs away to live with a dragon because that’s much more interesting.  And the dragons are much more into gender equality than humans, teaching some interesting lessons about the roles of men and women.

Ella Enchanted – Gail Carson Levine

Despite the terrible movie, the book is actually a really good examination of societal expectations of women.  I really like Gail Carson Levine’s writing style, but her books are fairly short on people of color.

Coraline – Neil Gaiman

I love Neil Gaiman, and the character of Coraline is great.  The story is not my favorite, I thought The Graveyard Book, which was similar in tone, was a much better read.  If you like YA horror, however, you can’t get a much better character than Coraline.

 

On My To-Read

Divergent – Veronica Roth

Fault in Our Stars – John Green

Books by Tamora Pierce, not sure which

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown – Holly Black

Ash – Malinda Lo

Liar – Justine Larbalestier

Chaos – Nalo Hopkinson

Half-World – Hiromi Goto

Eon – Alison Goodman

Book of 1000 Days – Shannon Hale

TMI Review – Softcups / Complaining about my period

Taken From Naamah_Darling's Livejournal This is a post all about uteruses and the havoc they play.  Really it’s mostly about my uterus.  So, for some people, that may be too much information and, hey, that’s fine, just stop reading.  Because I intend to pull no punches.  Maybe I’ll throw in a picture of a flower or something.  But seriously, don’t read this if you’re going to be all like, “Ew, lady parts” or “Ashley is gross.”

Yesterday I had a long, involved conversation on Facebook about whether it was feminist to complain about your period or if it was buying into patriarchal notions of… something.  The conclusion was basically that hating your period is A-OK.  Which is good because I really hate my period.  It’s also fairly subversive to not be embarrassed of your basic bodily function, so I’m claiming it as feminist.  Look — it happens, it’s pretty gross, but it actually means my body is working, so hurray.  So take that, reviewing Softcups is my feminist FU to people who are bothered by my ladyparts.  SHAZAM.

FeminismVaginaBolt

I take Seasonale continuously, but every 4 months or so, I suffer from breakthrough bleeding that’s pretty heavy and will only stop if I relent and have a full period.  Basically I have to make a choice between continuous bleeding that’s relatively painless but never stops or 5 days of excruciating pain and massive quantities of blood that will ultimately stem the flow.  Hooray my body.

elevator

Supposedly the fact that I’m on birth control makes my periods not as heavy and not as painful.  I don’t remember them ever feeling worse than they do now, though, so I am skeptical of this supposed beneficial side effect.  It does mean that I have them less frequently, though, so that’s a relief.  If you’ve ever had a period then you know that the methods for taking care of them are fairly medieval — plug it up or wear some gauze.  Science has not made major advances in this field.

Ranging from ineffective to might as well shove a hand towel up there

Ranging from ineffective to might as well shove a hand towel up there

Pads are basically like wearing a diaper.  They are messy, especially if you have hair down there, and they are incredibly uncomfortable.  Then there are tampons.  If, like me, you have wildly varying days of super heavy uterine explosion and not too much going on down there, tampons can be difficult.  You have to predict your level of flow and, if you go super heavy in protection when you’re actually producing super light, it creates this crazy uncomfortable dry, scratchy vagina sensation that doesn’t go away for a while.  And I already have ridiculous sensitive, in need of hypoallergenic everything skin.  Not pleasant.  Oh, also they can kill you.

So a few years ago, I longed to branch out from my uncomfortable period solutions and tried Instead, which are now known as Softcup.  I was afraid of Diva Cups because reusing them seemed unsanitary but I was fascinated by the idea of a solution that didn’t involve absorption.  So I tried out Softcup and have never looked back.

softcup

In addition to the plus of no dry vagina and not wearing a diaper, there are other benefits.

When I have my period, I tend to need to use the bathroom a lot.  Cramps just make everything seem to move down there.  When I wear a tampon that usually means I just have to change the tampon every time I pee.  The physics of making that not happen are difficult and unreliable and I’m a little too OCD for that.  Changing your tampon every two hours is expensive and uncomfortable and also you’re not really supposed to flush them apparently, and that’s weird too.

With Softcups I just leave it up in there for 12 hours.  Sometimes there’s some leakage when I pee or poop, but it goes back into place on its own.  The only bad thing is that it does create a little bit of internal pressure which can require a little extra pressure when expelling waste, on either side.

You can wear them when you’re being intimate — though it’s good to warn people.  And also to have a fresh one to avoid leaks.  You can wear them swimming.  They’re also great if, like me, you’ve got the problem of there is no pad or tampon strong enough to get you through a full night on your worst nights.

I also can’t feel it at all when it’s inside, which is miles better than pads or tampons.

The bad: They can leak — it’s a good idea to wear a panty liner with them, especially on heavy days.

They are hard to find.  I went to four stores in DC before finding them.  CVS carries them, but I have been to CVSs that didn’t have any in stock.  It’s terrible to be starting your period without supplies and not know where to get them.  Especially if your period is super unpredictable like mine.  There’s supposedly a reusable one, where it’s one cup per period, but I can’t find it anywhere.

Taking them out can be kind of gross — but then, if you’re following the directions with tampons or using pads, those are pretty gross too.  Your hands will probably get bloody, though you can use gloves if you like.

Here's that promised picture of a flower

Here’s that promised picture of a flower

DNA Test Reveals I am not 100% White

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I am a huge fan of the website 23andme.com, which analyses your DNA.  I’ve learned a lot of interesting things from the site in terms of what my genes say about how i look (I likely have blue eyes and reddish-blonde hair!), what diseases I am likely to face (BRCA negative, but it looks bad for Restless Leg Syndrome), but the most interesting thing I’ve learned about myself has been about my heritage.

I was unsurprised to see that I was more Neanderthal than average, as that’s fairly common when you’re European.  But I was a little surprised to discover that I am not 100% European.  In fact, if I had been living in a lot of the Americas in the last 200 years, I wouldn’t have been considered white.

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In the colonial Americas — from Haiti to New Orleans to Spanish-America — race mixing was very common and, because they thought race mattered, they actually had specialized terms for those who were a certain percentage of different heritages.  I spent a lot of time researching some of the more obscure names for people of mixed-blood, to see if i could find one that got as distant as I appear to be from my nearest Sub-Saharan African ancestor (assuming it’s just one) — probably seven generations away, as I am at about 1/128th percentage.

It took a long time.  While it was easy to see that one of my great-grandparents would have had names for their percentage of African heritage, it was less clear whether I’d simply be considered fully white or just have had the one drop rule applied and been considered “Colored.”

My answer came from Haiti. In Haiti, they felt that people were made out of 128 parts, or 7 generations of heritage, and so they had the longest list of names for partial African descent.

      1. Myself 1/128 Sang-mêlé
      2. Parent 1/64 Also Sang-mêlé
      3. Grandparent 1/32 Mustefino, Quateronné, Demi-Meamolouc
      4. Great-Grandparent 1/16 Mustee, Meamolouc, Hexadecaroon, Quintroon
      5. 2x Great-Grandparent 1/8 Octoroon or Métis
      6. 3x Great Grandparent 1/4 Quadroon
      7. 4x Great Grandparent 1/2 Mulatto

harry-potter-et-le-prince-de-sang-melePer Haitian tradition, I am sang-mêlé, which literally translates as mixed blood.  The term is French and is used in the title of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”.  I assume this means I am, in some metaphysical way, Snape.

Clearly I fail the one-drop rule, but it’s interesting to note how recently my family would not have been legally considered white even in relatively lax race laws.  A 1970 law in New Orleans stated that 1/32 African was enough to make you legally considered black.  Considering that my father’s mother is from New Orleans, if the heritage is from her (which seems as likely as from anyone) she would have been considered black.  One of my parents is as black, in terms of heritage, as Walter White, the civil rights activist who ran the NAACP for 25 years.

"I am a Negro. My skin is white, my eyes are blue, my hair is blonde. The traits of my race are nowhere visible upon me." - Walter White

“I am a Negro. My skin is white, my eyes are blue, my hair is blonde. The traits of my race are nowhere visible upon me.” – Walter White

All of which is to say that my father’s disownment of me for dating outside of my race is not only absurd on the face of it, but hypocritical and inaccurate as well.

I should point out, of course, that I was raised as white as one can be, and this DNA discovery doesn’t really offer any new particular insight into other people’s experiences nor would I claim it to.  It is interesting, but I am so very privileged in terms of race that I want to make sure I am clear that this in no way erases that privilege.  I may be “sang-mêlé” and I am happy to add this information to my personal narrative of myself, but in this culture I am the beneficiary of white culture.  That same culture makes me feel like I should do something meaningful with the information rather than just use it as part of some navel-gazing exercise, but I am unsure what that something could be.

On the one hand, it seems like the racial history of one-drop rule and Walter White’s example might make it a politically meaningful statement for a ginger of small-but-measurable African heritage to claim African-Americanness or even mixed race, on the other hand I feel like that’s claiming a position of oppression that I obviously have never and will never face.  I don’t know, I’m not sure there’s a correct answer, but it is the thought puzzle I’ve been given by my DNA.

How Scalia predicted marriage equality 10 years ago

In light of today’s ruling, it’s important to note that Scalia himself predicted marriage equality all the way back in 2003 when they made the decision to make sodomy legal.

It should be noted that, now that California is included, full state and federal marriage equality is now in 13 states, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Maine, Maryland, Washington, Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota, and California, and DC. These states and DC make up 30.5% of the US by population. Equality is coming.

This reasoning leaves on pretty shaky grounds state laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples. Justice O’Connor seeks to preserve them by the conclusory statement that “preserving the traditional institution of marriage” is a legitimate state interest. Ante, at 7. But “preserving the traditional institution of marriage” is just a kinder way of describing the State’s moral disapproval of same-sex couples.

[...] Today’s opinion dismantles the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions, insofar as formal recognition in marriage is concerned. If moral disapprobation of homosexual conduct is “no legitimate state interest”… what justification could there possibly be for denying the benefits of marriage to homosexual couples exercising “[t]he liberty protected by the Constitution,” ibid.? Surely not the encouragement of procreation, since the sterile and the elderly are allowed to marry. This case “does not involve” the issue of homosexual marriage only if one entertains the belief that principle and logic have nothing to do with the decisions of this Court. Many will hope that, as the Court comfortingly assures us, this is so.

Full horrifying opinion here, where he says he’s got nothing against the gays, he just thinks they’re going to hell.

The Non-Religious Patriarchy: Why Losing Religion HAS NOT Meant Losing White Male Dominance (excerpt)

coverNow available through Wiley Online!

This is not my first academic publication, but it is my first journal article, so I am very excited!  Here’s an excerpt:

Beyond this, the atheist movement fails to address or analyze the problem in meaningful ways. Within the critiques of organized religion, there is “little analysis of the relationship between economic disenfranchisement, race, gender, and religiosity” meaning that such critiques inevitably are of “limited cultural relevance for people of color.”31 Likewise, such critiques often fail to engage with the reasons that religion can be a very useful thing to women and people of color, in a strictly utilitarian way, even while it oppresses them. The atheistic, science-and-objective truth above all point of view means that the experiences of those without the luxury of choice or who cannot place more importance on philosophy than taking care of their families are both not explored and treated as inferior. Religion is not simply about a belief system, and treating it as though it is, is only possible with a blindness to all of the social benefits it provides, even while acknowledging all of the injuries it creates as well. From the position of privilege many in the atheist movement occupy, the focus is always on what is false rather than on what helps one to survive. This is not to say that organized religion is a net good, or something not worth fighting against, but rather to say that ignoring the reality of how religion helps people means being unable to offer meaningful alternatives to it.

There is a pervasive belief that “objective” science holds all of the answers without an acknowledgement that most values and causes are supported by philosophy and personal worldviews as well.32 A white male scientist is naturally going to be interested in causes related to being a white male scientist and blind to or ignorant of causes not related to that. It is a systematic bias. As a movement founded primarily by white male scientists who felt ostracized, the atheist movement has a difficult time acknowledging that science has its problems both historically and as the sole foundation of a worldview and that being white confers special privileges, as does being male. Ironically, their deep commitment to skepticism often fails to include a skepticism aimed at their own worldview.

The movement “likes to talk about the European Enlightenment as if nothing bad could ever legitimately be said about it”33 despite the fact that the Enlightenment was responsible for scientific rationalization and implementation of terrible programs that exploited and hurt people of color and women. Historically, science has been responsible for: terrible programs of eugenics, claims of biological race, and sex differences that have sense been proven to be untrue, justification of slavery, scientific experiments on people of color, forced sterilization of women who committed the crimes of being poor, unmarried, or not white, forced imprisonment of women who were sexual or became involved with someone of a different race, and the list goes on. Science has been responsible for a great many crimes against humanity, and the majority of these crimes have been committed against those least able to defend themselves. There is a natural distrust from people who have faced generations of horror at the hands of scientists and science and the atheist movement’s focus on science above all, with no recognition of the problematic history, makes it difficult for many to trust it.

In addition to the fact that church offers so many benefits to women and people of color that the movement offers no alternative for, the atheist movement often fails to create a welcoming environment. Even without addressing the fact that the movement does not make an effort to emulate the community support of church, it also does not treat the issue of welcoming women and people of color as an important one.

31. Hutchinson, Moral Combat, 199

32. Pigliucci, Massimo, Denying Evolution: Creationism, Scientism, and the Nature of Science, 1st ed. (Sinauer Associates, 2002).

33. Edwords, “The Hidden Hues of Humanism.”

There is also a piece by annalise fonza: Black Women, Atheist Activism, and Human Rights: Why We Just Cannot Seem to Keep It to Ourselves!

In this sense, therefore, this article is constructive and written to assert that black women atheists should be at the table with women who struggle for reproductive rights and with those who fight for religious rights. In this essay, I discuss the ways in which black women such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ayanna Watson, Sikivu Hutchinson, Jamila Bey, Kim Veal, and Mandisa Thomas have risked social status and reputation to raise the awareness that they too struggle for human rights and in particular for the rights of women to choose not believe in a god or supernatural ideas. Indeed, my objective is to assert that black atheist women must be a part of these dialogues and debates on matters related to gender, religion, and human rights, especially at this point in history, when human and civil rights for females/women are threatened worldwide by governance that is informed by patriarchal masculinity that conveys the need to control the fate of the female body.

If you need more information or help accessing the article, feel free to contact me.

It’s OK to shoot hookers in Texas — but only if it’s dark outside

texasgunsIt’s hard to imagine, without knowing the story, how someone could shoot a woman in the back of the head and then, quite literally, get away with murder.  Actually, it’s pretty hard to believe when you do know the story because that is what has just happened in Texas.

Ezekiel Gilbert hired a woman from Craigslist to be his escort and, after having spent the time he paid for in his apartment with him, she left.  But they hadn’t had sex, so Gilbert wanted his money back.  Instead, the woman got into her car and he shot her multiple times.  She was paralyzed and ultimately died from her wounds and he was charged with the murder.

His defense said that it is perfectly legal because of the “nighttime theft” rule in Texas which states that it’s OK “to use deadly force to recover property during a nighttime theft.”  Now, he’d paid the woman she claimed for the time and he claimed for the sex, so it was really a dispute over whether he was getting what he paid for.  But instead of, say, suing or claiming fraud, he decided to shoot a woman with no weapons in the back because he didn’t get what he wanted from her escorting.  And he got away with it.

Here’s what I wonder.  Would any of this have happened if having sex for money was legal?

This is a big problem with underground, illegal economies.  When you pay for a special massage or escort service, sex isn’t clearly, necessarily in the cards.  Because, legally, it can’t be.  There’s no way that, if he’d sued her for not having sex with him, he would have won.  But, somehow, his understanding that there would be sex is enough justification for him to convince the jury that he was just trying to get money he’d been duped out of giving away because he had the expectation of getting laid.

Can you imagine a circumstance under which someone shot their dealer for not giving them the right kind of drugs?  Like the dealer sold the guy some perfectly legal version of pot, therefore the guy buying shot the dealer because he was expecting marijuana and then a court said, well, you didn’t like what you paid for, so it was fair to shoot the guy for not giving you what you really wanted.  There was an exchange of goods and services — you just thought you were getting something else for your money.

If prostitution (or drugs for that matter) was legal, there would be consumer protection, clarity in advertising, and protection for those selling the services. But apparently the only consumer protection now is to just shoot someone if they’re taking advantage of you.  Because your foolishness in falling for their scheme means that death for them is the appropriate action to take.  At least, according to juries in Texas.

[Archive] Why Atheism Inspires Me to Seek Social Justice

Today, a repost. Last year, Ian Cromwell started a series asking atheists at large to contribute what being an atheist has done to improve their lives. Though I was not raised in a particularly religious fashion—a progressive take on Catholicism, followed by the epitome of spiritual-but-not-religious—my involvement in the secular movement and active identification as an atheist and a skeptic have enriched my experience. The piece has been slightly edited to correct for last year’s enthusiasm for awkwardly constructed sentences. 

[Piece originally appeared at The Heresy Club]

I have but this one short life. Though it would be nice to plan to live to a ripe and grouchy old age, it could end tomorrow. Or next Tuesday. Life has this terrible habit of behaving unpredictably, you know.

Though I am extraordinarily clumsy, I will likely, as do the vast majority of people, fade out of existence quietly. Five, ten, fifty years from then, I will have become nothing but curled pictures and retold retellings of stories.

These are facts, and they are cold. We atheists hear a lot about the chill of disbelief, about what we miss without a sense of the supernatural, the oceans of unseen, unmeasured universe we just have to have faith in. We are asked if it isn’t just a little bit lonely, to have nothing but ourselves and the neurons between our ears? With so little meaning to our lives, what motivation can we have?

Quite a bit, really.

I’ve but this one life to live. That means when I see homophobia, when I see sexism or littering or injustice in the world, I must act. I must act because now is all that’s guaranteed  But most importantly, I must act because the person who is suffering, like me, only has this moment for themselves. There isn’t any other happy alternate life for them either.

I’ll play devil’s advocate to your Pascal and his wager—in the vast infinity of beliefs, are you willing to let the unhappiness of your fellow human hang in the balance against the existence of a paradise for them in the afterlife?

I believe there is nothing to death but the winking out of one flame against the backdrop of an unending candelabra; I must do all I can in this life.

I have only this time, and if the only contribution I can leave as memory of own my existence is my actions, I must make them count. I must say what I mean. I must tell those I love that I love them now, because tomorrow is uncertain. I must share my happiness, and do what I can to give everyone else an opportunity to leap about in joy.  Sometimes this will come before my homework.

Because I am an atheist, I must act and care and speak and do. And, you know, occasionally shut up and listen.

Taking it Personally: Privilege and Women in Secularism

Illustration by Tom Gauld for The Guardian

Illustration by Tom Gauld for The Guardian

There is a tendency for people to take criticism of ideas personally.  It’s true of all people, though I noticed it particularly this weekend at the Women in Secularism conference.  People also have a bad habit of criticizing individuals rather than their ideas.  I do not claim freedom from this tendency, although I do work very hard to try to be clear in that distinction.  I do not like the speech that Ron Lindsay used to open the conference with, but this doesn’t mean that I do not like Ron Lindsay.  I don’t know him, he is quite probably a pretty cool guy generally speaking.

Of course, I am not the only person who took umbrage at his opening speech.  I wasn’t particularly upset by it, I just felt it was wrongheaded as an opening speech for this event in particular and demonstrated poor understanding of the cultural theory behind the terms of “privilege” and the intent of “shut up and listen.”   I think it’s inappropriate to use the opening speech to criticize the conference goals rather than introduce it. I also think that the way he talked about critical theory indicated a lack of familiarity with the scholarship on the subject and the power dynamics at play. At best it was terrible tone deafness which was then exacerbated by his position of power in the organization, his race and gender and socioeconomic status, and the fact that he was giving the opening address not a lecture.

I also agreed with Rebecca Watson that it was particularly bad for these apparent misunderstandings to be delivered by a wealthy white man who was part of the organization in charge of the Women in Secularism conference.  In other words, it was a poorly expressed, poorly timed message delivered by exactly the wrong person for the message.maiself

For stating that, I have been accused of being sexist, of having it out for men, for having it out for Ron Lindsay, of quote-mining, of being dismissive, of shutting down dialogue by calling people names, and just good old “fuck you” and “fuck off” from strangers. I am dogmatic and hateful and trying to tear people down.

Rebecca Watson has also gotten this kind of response, but far more intense, for level-headed criticism of the talk.  In response, Ron Lindsay felt the need to make it about how Rebecca Watson is a Bad Person.  (At least further accusations of quote-mining will be justified by the use of quotes):

Rebecca Watson inhabits an alternate universe.  At least that is the most charitable explanation I can provide for her recent smear.  Watson has posted comments on my opening talk at Women in Secularism 2.  It may be the most intellectually dishonest piece of writing since the last communique issued by North Korea.

Perhaps Watson was too busy tweeting about how “strange” it was to have a “white man” open the conference to pay attention to what I was actually saying

I’m just glad Watson didn’t notify security: “white man loose on stage, white man loose on stage!”

There are also places where it continues to be clear that he doesn’t understand the “shut up and listen” suggestion, but at least those aren’t unnecessary and unprofessional attacks on someone who has criticized something he said.

Now I’d like to offer some advice to Ron Lindsay: Shut up and listen.

  • Shut up because you’re just making this more and more of a PR disaster.
  • Shut up because you’re hurting Melody Hensley and the amazing event she put together.
  • Shut up because if you’re so busy coming up with ways to defend yourself, you’re failing to understand why people are upset.
  • Shut up because it is so very clear that you are not listening.
  • Shut up because you can’t talk and listen at the same time.
  • Listen to what other people in your organization have to say.
  • Listen to what other people in the cause have to say.
  • Listen to women and men who are upset about the opening speech.
  • Listen to criticism of what you said and remember that it’s not about who you are as a person, but the argument that you’ve made.
  • Listen because it’s the right thing to do.

I appreciate that there are those who somehow think that this “shut up and listen” thing means don’t use critical thinking, but it’s actually about defensiveness.  People always take things personally.  When someone says, “You’ve got privilege,” most of us want to yell, “I worked really hard to get what I’ve got.”  And most of us have worked really hard, but it doesn’t mean we aren’t privileged — learning to see the privilege is difficult, and to see it we’ve got to be willing to shut up for a little while and recognize the possibility that there are things that we didn’t know before.  In other words, if you’re not prepared to just listen for a little while, you’re going to spend the entire time trying to prove someone wrong instead of considering the possibility that they may have a point.

Ron Lindsay presents this as a war where either you “believe reason and evidence should ultimately guide our discussions, or you think they should be held hostage to identity politics.”  This negates the possibility that this is a fight between factions who think that reason and evidence point to the necessity of identity politics and those who refuse to listen.

[#wiscfi] Kate Live Blogging Women in Secularism

I am!

I’m here! It’s nice, if a bit muggy in DC, and I am trying to avoid buying ALL THE SURLIES (but will eventually crack).

Jason, Miri, and I will be trading off live blogging events! Ron Lindsay is reading from the Bible right now, and you should go head on over to Lousy Canuck for some snarky commentary.

I’ll also be tweeting along at @donovanable!

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Miri will be catching the first panel: Faith-Based Pseudo-Science, with Sarah Moglia, Carrie Poppy, Amy Davis Roth, Rebecca Watson, and moderator Desiree Schell. I’ll catch the highlights and tweet things! (May contain lots of exclamations!)

We’re talking about homeopathy–right now we have an imaginary person who’s projectile-vomiting to cure. You know, standard fare.

Surly Amy is explaining how people can take alt med and get better–i if you’re sick and don’t get any treatment (or take homeopathy) you either get better because you can only go up…or you die. If you die, we don’t hear about it.

Homeopathy popluarized by Mary Baker Eddy. Was a great alternative to…well, bleeding people (a practice of the time).
[This is also why you hear about how homeopathy must work: fewer people died of Spanish Flu in homeopathic hospitals  in France in early 20th century. No, it's because getting no treatment is way better than being bled.]

Rebecca Watson talking about Creationism–it’s not contained to a single religion.

Sarah Moglia: really awful pseudoscience that really hurts women and the sick: God has a plan. Or, it’s awful cousin “everything happens for a reason!”. NO STAAAHP.

Rebecca: The people who are the most attracted to the “Law of Attraction” are those in desperate circumstances. It’s the worst kind of apathy for the suffering and victim blaming.

Desiree Schell: So do we have a responsibility to prevent all pseudoscience? Are there things that could be good?

Amy: part of the problem is the positive reinforcement from society..which breeds an antiscience culture.

Carrie: If we don’t acknowledge that there’s different levels of harm associated with kinds of alternative medicine, we actually lose people who could be on our side.

Sarah: A really important reason naturopaths get popular: they can spend an hour sitting and listening to what you’re dealing with. Doctors see patients for 7-9 minutes on average. Of course you’re going to feel better after being listened to!

Desiree: Where should we go next with out skepticism? (We have anti-vax, we have homeopathy).
Me: BEST QUESTION.

Sarah: (With my favorite answer) We need to focus on the people–don’t dismiss them for using pseudoscience…you’re doing very little to help them. We need human-focused skepticism!

Carrie: chase what’s personal to you, that you can relate to! Way better than trying to make some big Official Skeptical Organizational Focus Change.

Catch Miri’s full write-up of this panel here!