Secular Woman also has a response to “An Open Letter to the Secular Community.”
Today, the leaders of several prominent secular organizations published a document titled “An Open Letter to the Secular Community.” Our name is not attached, and our members may be wondering why Secular Woman declined to endorse this document. As a secular organization, our mission is to amplify the voice, presence and influence of non-religious women. We recognize that part of our mission takes place in online communities. Although promoting better online communication is a worthy goal, we reject the current statement’s conception of civil discourse because we feel that it gives equal voice to the sexist ideas and beliefs that have been perpetuated as differing “interpretations” of feminism.
So let’s take a look at the open letter.
There’s a section for bullet points saying how to do things better.
• Go offline before going online: pick up the phone.
When you hear that an organization or member of our community is doing something that you think is wrong or bad for the community, call and talk with them, find out what they are actually doing and why they are doing it. If you don’t have a phone number, send a private email and arrange a time to talk. So much of the time there’s more to the story, and talking to another person on the other side of the issue can help us more fully understand the situation. Plus, a phone call makes it easier for people who are making mistakes to change course, because they aren’t on the defensive as they would be after being called out publicly.
I wonder why they say when you “hear that”…Could it be in order to create the impression that hearsay and personal conversation are the only two sources of information? Often we know perfectly well that “an organization or member of our community is doing something that you think is wrong or bad” because it was done in writing, in a public place, and you have read the writing.
So that’s the first thing. It’s not alway gossip; often it’s in writing.
Second thing – if it is in writing, why should we “pick up the phone”? Not to mention the fact that we don’t all know each other personally. If we see a banker or a CEO “doing something that you think is wrong or bad” we don’t “pick up the phone”; we blog or tweet or set up a petition.
This is insider talk, boss talk, top down talk – “heads” talk. “We always have our reasons, little people, so if we do something you don’t like, be sure it’s for a reason, and call us or email us to arrange a chat but don’t ever go public with it, because We know what we’re doing and you are nobody in particular.”
On the other hand – there is this:
Unfortunately, the discussion of these issues has suffered from the same problems that plague online discussion in general—although arguably to a greater extent. Some blogs and comments actually exhibit hatred, including rape threats and insults denigrating women. Hatred has no place in our movement. We unequivocally and unreservedly condemn those who resort to communicating in such a vile and despicable manner.
So that’s a start.