I am constantly dunned by email and tweets from the haters and sick scumbags, and I read stuff by my colleagues who get far worse, and at times it is just too depressing and dismal — there really are reactionary fanatics within atheism who refuse to recognize the responsibility to work towards equality. And I just want to give up.
But then…perspective. Step away from the smears and assaults and slime and look at the movement as a whole: look at the leading organizations of the godless. You know what you’ll see? None of them support these loons. They’re all progressive and committed to improving the diversity of the atheist community and broadening our engagement with the greater culture.
Hm. I’d like to agree, but – the leading organizations don’t support them, but they don’t disavow them, either (except in broad general terms that don’t grip on anything). I think most of the organizations don’t know much about them and their project, but I kind of think maybe they should try to find out.
Rebecca is more definite about it.
For the most part, these organizations work on their causes while pointedly avoiding what they see as a divisive quagmire. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily, no. For years, I defended the JREF’s pointed disinterest in atheist topics because while I do think atheism is the natural outcome of skepticism and that the two are ultimately inextricably linked, I understand that there’s a benefit to an organization focusing resources on a particular goal while also appealing to a larger audience. But it would be silly to then congratulate the JREF on working toward some atheist or secular goal, just as it’s silly to congratulate these organizations that are not focused on fighting for women.
I think that’s pretty much right. The organizations aren’t against us, but they’re not really for us either. They’re doing other things.
So while PZ finds optimism in the work these organizations do, I, for the most part, do not. I see anti-feminists who think those organizations stand for them. (Hell, I’ve seen misogynists cite feminist and Freedom from Religion Foundation co-founder Annie Laurie Gaylor as an inspiration.) I don’t think these people are stupid (though yes, many are – just look at the people populating my Twitter @ replies) – I think that secular organizations aren’t being loud enough in their support of women. I think often these organizations are being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century by a few progressive employees who want to do good at the risk of being seen as radical troublemakers.
And that’s where I find my inspiration: not in the large organizations but in the individuals who are strong enough to stand up for what’s right despite the endless hateful shit thrown their way. People like Ophelia Benson, Stephanie Zvan, Greta Christina, and Melody Hensley. People like Surly Amy and all the other Skepchick Network contributors. People like Amanda Marcotte, who in December recounted what it’s like to be a writer who happens to be a feminist…
Yes. We find our inspiration in each other. Not at all a bad place to find it, either.