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The first ever Women in Secularism conference

The Center for Inquiry has just announced an exciting new event for next year – the Women in Secularism conference. It will be May 18 – 20 2012 in Washington, DC, and the speaker lineup looks amazing:

  • Ophelia Benson
  • Jamila Bey
  • Greta Christina
  • Elisabeth Cornwell
  • Margaret Downey
  • Annie Laurie Gaylor
  • Jennifer Michael Hecht
  • Sikivu Hutchinson
  • Susan Jacoby
  • Jennifer McCreight
  • Wafa Sultan
  • Rebecca Watson

Look! Somehow my name snuck in there! Woohoo!

This conference is a wonderful idea – hats off to Melody Hensley of CFI for creating and organizing it. No longer will people be able to say that men outnumber women as speakers because there just aren’t as many deserving or interesting women. …Well, people will still say that because people can be frustratingly dense, but now we can hold up this event as evidence.

I also hope that it’s well attended. The other argument I hear a lot is that we need to keep inviting the Big Names, not because they’re old white men, but because they’re popular and otherwise no one would come to the conference. But frankly, as much as I enjoy hearing Dawkins and PZ speak, seeing them for the 49839847th time gets a little old. I’m way more excited about seeing a bunch of people I’ve still yet to see – Annie Laurie Gaylor, Susan Jacoby, and Wafa Sultan. And usually I never see these amazing women all at the same time – I’m looking forward to seeing what happens when you stick us in a room together.

But really, I see the goal of this event is to make itself obsolete. We shouldn’t need specific women in secularism conferences in order to get the voices of women heard. We shouldn’t be shocked when conferences occasionally have more women speaking then men – we certainly take the opposite to be the norm. So while I’m greatly looking forward to it, I’m being optimistic that we won’t always need it.

Of course, some people are already whining in the comments of the announcement, claiming that the atheist movement obviously has no problems recruiting women or dealing with sexism. Surprise, surprise. My favorites so far are by John D:

“A conference just for women featuring several very vocal self described “Liberal/Progressive Feminists”… I have a feeling that trouble is brewing. I suspect I will enjoy the free flowing man bashing that will come from this event. I also look forward to the blog explosion which will result.”
“I will listen if only because I have respect for Susan Jacoby. Inclusion of Watcon, McCreight, and Christina insure that the pot will be stirred with great vigor and that the misandry will be served up rare!”

Stuff like this cracks me up. Yes, I am that radical, man-bashing, misandrist! And so is Greta (though we all obviously knew Rebecca was one). Seriously, do these men know that I’m kind of Feminism Lite? A Feminism Gateway Drug? I’m the type of feminist that’s one of the easiest for outsiders to tolerate – I’m extremely sex positive, pro-porn, have written about how we shouldn’t suspend skepticism in all rape cases… If you think I’m a man-hater, just wait ’til you meet the feminists who don’t like me! Your brain will surely explode.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to the conference, and the pre-freakout from insecure men is just going to fuel my fire.