Bi Any Means Podcast #67: Women in Secularism 4

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Today’s episode is a collection of short interviews I did with some of the speakers and attendees of last week’s Women in Secularism 4 conference in Arlington, VA. Women in Secularism is a yearly conference put on by the Center for Inquiry where a diverse group of women talk about what it means to be a secular woman, not just in theory but in practice. This year’s convention featured conversations about why there aren’t many out secular women, what it means to matter, and a heated yet still interesting discussion about the safe space debate. I wasn’t able to interview everyone I wanted to, but I did manage to snag a few great speakers, so today we’re gonna hear from blogger Dr. Ashley F. Miller, American Humanist Association president Rebecca Hale, Yvette d’Entremont the SciBabe, philosopher Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, and ex-Muslim activist Maryam Namazie.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #66: Bisexual Activism with Faith Cheltenham

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My guest for today is Faith Cheltenham. She is a bisexual activist who currently serves as president of BiNet USA, which is “America’s oldest advocacy organization for bisexual, pansexual, fluid, queer-identified and unlabeled people.” So for Bi Week 2016, we’re going to talk about her story, her activism, and BiNet USA.

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The Biskeptical Podcast #8: Indigenous Rights and Free Speech Warriors

Today Morgan and I discuss the North Dakota pipeline protests, followed by a discussion about the rise of the so-called “cultural libertarians.” Also, the President makes a public statement about the importance of free speech . . . at least for some.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #65: Intersectional Humanism with Diane Burkholder

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My guest for today is Diane Burkholder. According to her bio, Diane is a social advocate for misrepresented and marginalized communities, particularly focused on issues concerning young adults, LGBTQ, people of color, and individuals living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. She is co-founder of Kansas City Freethinkers of Color and a co-founder of One Struggle KC, a coalition of Kansas City activists seeking to connect the struggles of oppressed black communities, locally and globally. Today we’re going to talk about her background, her activism, and how to take a more intersectional approach to humanism.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #64: Atheist Youth Activism with Thomas Sheedy

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My guest for today is Thomas Sheedy. He is an 18-year-old atheist activist whose journey to start a Secular Student Alliance at his high school had some bumps in the road. In 2015, he won the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Richard and Beverly Hermsen Student Activist Award, and he currently serves as President of Long Island Atheists, a member of the Center for Inquiry’s Student Advisory Committee, and a member of the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State’s Youth Advisory Council. Today we’re going to talk about his life and his activism.

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I Am Lena Dunham

You all know the story: Lena Dunham told Amy Schumer a story about how football player Odell Beckham Jr. allegedly ignored her because, according to her, he didn’t think she was “not the shape of a woman by his standards.”  Several people called her entitlement and mind reading on Twitter. Dunham at first chalked it all up to the “outrage machine,” but a few days later she publicly apologized on Instagram. I haven’t been following the story too closely because, quite frankly, I don’t care about Dunham. I’ve never watched “Girls” because it looks like your typical Quirky White People Having Awkward Sex in New York show. However, I did read Zeba Blay’s Huffington Post article about Dunham today, and it really got me thinking. Blay writes:

Lena Dunham is probably not a bad person. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging the reality of white entitlement, even if it complicates a carefully cultivated narrative of oppression which revolves largely around being an average-bodied white woman. This reality doesn’t mean Dunham hasn’t dealt with misogyny, and it doesn’t negate her insecurities and fears. But by her own admission, her lack of self-awareness, coupled with her privilege and platform, can lead to the sort of tone-deaf characterizations of black men that are ultimately more harmful than they may seem.

Part of being a public figure means accepting that your learning is going to take place on a public stage. Dunham and other celebrities who make (even unintentionally) harmful comments should be held responsible for their words ― especially when those words perpetuate damaging ideas about real human beings. Dunham is entitled to her own perspective and story, but not to the minds and thoughts of the black men around her. [Emphasis mine]

I hate to admit it, but in a way I’m Lena Dunham. I’ve said problematic things and then got incredibly defensive when I was called out. I’ve refused to acknowledge my blind spots. In fact, I still do from time to time.

I don’t say all this to make people pat me on the head and say, “There there, Trav, you’re an awesome person!” Neither am I saying we should let Dunham off the proverbial hook. She has a history of saying problematic things. I’m just saying I can’t stand on my high horse and act like my hands are clean.

As I recently told a friend, there comes a time in every activists life where you think you’re being an excellent activist until someone says, “You think you’re helping us, but you’re not. You’re just giving us table scraps. You’re too busy making yourself look good. We’re literally dying, and you’re not doing a damn thing about it.” At first you just write off your critics as the Rage Police, and maybe even yell at them, but then you realize you’re wrong. Talk about getting egg on your face!

Fortunately, we’re all works in progress. We’re all trying to figure this shit out. The key is whether or not you learn from your mistakes. Hopefully someday Dunham will. And hopefully someday I will, too.

Street Epistemology with an Anti-Feminist

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A few weeks ago when I interviewed Anthony Magnabosco, he told me that you can use Street Epistemology for any belief, not just religion. I recently tested this when an anti-feminist started spewing anti-feminist bullshit on a friend’s Facebook wall, and here’s our exchange:

Anti-Feminist: Feminists live in a delusional world which is highly resistant to facts and logic which would shatter their fantasy narrative.

Me: Y’know, there is a podcast called Promoting Secular Feminism that actually uses facts.

Anti-Feminist: Very peculiar! Why don’t feminists use those facts in debates?

Me: Depends. Which feminists have you debated with?

Anti-Feminist: Which types? Hard to tell. Pretty sure most types ranging from first wave to gender feminists.
I don’t bother debating with equity feminists since I tend to agree with them on most points. They’re just humanitarians who can’t deal with the fact that the word feminism is sexually biased.

Me: How so?

Anti-Feminist: “Fem”

Me: Well it seems to me the point of feminism is to address issues affecting women, so why not use “fem?”

Anti-Feminist: Because it makes it biased to that group and that groups interest and often limits it to that idea. not to mention women are equal in the western world a fighting a imaginary dragon at this point.

Me: What makes you think women have gained full equality in the West?

Anti-Feminist: Name an area where they don’t. Also, there are issue affecting humanity, so why not address the issues affect humanity as an egalitarian?

Me: Well, there are several areas where it’s hard for women to get abortions. Also, women are part of humanity, so why not address women’s issues?

Anti-Feminist: Men are a part of humanity. Why not address men’s issues?

Me: What would be men’s issues?

Anti-Feminist: You’re missing my point, but some of the issues that are having an effect on men are the high suicide rates 80% of the suicides are committed by men, issues with custody battles women win out 84% of the time regardless of character, men are 76% of homicide victims and not to mention the savage way they are treated in prison and raped. But the point of that was to say that there issues affecting humanity as a whole, so why not be an egalitarian/humanist?

Me: Most feminists that I know address these issues as well

Anti-Feminist: I actually had a feminist promoting male genital mutilation on my wall last week.  I would argue that most forms of feminism inherently damage humanity as a whole.

Me: Do you have any statistics?

Anti-Feminist: For what?

Me: Statistics for why feminism is the worst thing in the world since religion. One particular radical advocating male genital mutilation doesn’t count.

Anti-Feminist: Before I potentially waste my time talking with you, do you believe in cultural relativism? Do you think it is ethical to eat animals if you don’t need to?

Okay, so here’s where I think I messed up. I went from focusing on his beliefs to my own.

Me: I think I know where you’re going with your first question, so let me be frank: No, I don’t believe it’s okay for Muslim men to assault women! I’m against purity culture in all forms, whether it’s Christian or Muslim. I’m also against using the death penalty for adultery because 1). what is adultery anyway? And 2). what consenting adults do in the bedroom is no one’s business. As far as your second question . . . I’m not really sure where you’re going with that one. Nevertheless, if lab grown meat ever becomes a thing, I’d be all for it!

Anti-Feminist: You didn’t answer either of the questions.

Me: I thought I did, but maybe I automatically assumed what you meant by cultural relativism and eating animals without needing to. When people say cultural relativism, they are usually referring to regressive leftists who refuse to acknowledge Islam has problems like Christianity. So if that’s what you mean by cultural relativism, then my answer is no.

Anti-Feminist: But even the way you worded that isn’t acceptable. Islam doesn’t have problems like Christianity. Christianity is a little bit shitty. Islam is the shittiest of the shit. Islam is way worse. It’s not even close. If you can’t acknowledge that Islam is far worse than Christianity, we’re done here.

Me: Well in that case, TTFN–ta ta for now!

TL;DR It was just YouTube talking points, and not a constructive conversation. Oh well, at least I tried.

The Biskeptical Podcast #7: Putting the B Back in LGBT

Today Morgan and I discuss Bella Thorne’s recent coming out as bisexual, the way the media depicts bisexuality, and why bisexual erasure sucks. We also get to meet the Social Justice Galaxy Warriors and their arch nemeses the Sargosians.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #63: Why Philosophy Matters with Dan Finke

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My guest for today is blogger and philosophy professor Dan Finke. According to his bio, he was an adjunct assistant philosophy professor at Hofstra University, City College of New York (CUNY), and Hunter College (CUNY). He also was a teaching fellow and then a teaching associate at Fordham University. He also spent a lot of time as an adjunct professor at William Paterson University, St. John’s University, Fairfield University, and back at Fordham University. In 2014, he left adjunct teaching to start his own online teaching business, and his blog Camels with Hammers can be found on Patheos. So today we’re going to talk about his background, his blog, and why philosophy matters.

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