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Mar 12 2013

Dave Muscato on Female Atheist Leaders

Dave Muscato, the new PR Director for American Atheists, has a guest post over at JT’s blog about some of the lesser known atheist women who are helping to lead our movement. Some of them are pretty well established, like the awesome Debbie Goddard of CFI. Others are younger and just getting started, including FTB’s own Miri Mogilevsky and Kate Donovan.

Some of the others he mentions: Jessica Ahlquist (obviously), Kelley Freeman (now an intern with the Foundation Beyond Belief), Ellen Lundgren (part of our wonderful crew here in Michigan), Lyz Liddell of the SSA, and Sarah Hargreaves. Let me add a few more that come to mind immediately (and this focuses a lot on younger activists and on those who aren’t as well known as, say, Greta Christina or Jamila Bey, who surely deserve to be on any list like this):

Monica Harmsen, who leads the SSA chapter at the University of Michigan. And it suddenly occurs to me that there are three on this list who speak fluent Russian. Odd coincidence.

My dear friend Jennifer Beahan, the associate director of CFI Michigan, who works as hard and cares as much as anyone I’ve ever met.

FTB’s own Ashley Miller. Super smart and she plays the ukelele too.

Lauren Lane and Katie Hartman, who’ve done such a great job with Skepticon over the last few years.

Julia Galef, who forms a pretty potent duo with her brother Jesse as two of the brightest young leaders we have.

Despite all the battles over Deep Rifts in the secular community, we really do have some incredible women helping lead this movement. I imagine it must be very gratifying for some of the more established leaders like Margaret Downey or Ophelia Benson to see so many committed young women stepping to the forefront and taking their place. The future is very bright indeed.

5 comments

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  1. 1
    Sastra

    I imagine it must be very gratifying for some of the more established leaders like Margaret Downey or Ophelia Benson to see so many committed young women stepping to the forefront and taking their place.

    Hm. You know, this statement can be read several ways. I was about to object — reread it — and then realized what you meant. Oh, right.

    And we no doubt both agree that nobody could ever take Margaret or Ophelia’s place. (For one thing, they bite!) ;)

  2. 2
    Ed Brayton

    Oh goodness, I didn’t notice that. I didn’t mean taking the place of those older female leaders, I meant taking their own place among them as leaders.

  3. 3
    Michael Heath

    I would like to see Susan Jacoby get more attention. Her contributions will reverberate for generations, especially for Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism.

    Ms. Jacoby also elevated my perception on how influential people use rhetoric to demean others in a way that negatively influences how their audience considers the populations being demeaned; that was Jacoby’s The Age of American Unreason. She’s just published a new book, The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought.

    I also remain in awe of Greta Christina’s Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless; largely because it’s such a finely crafted argument; in spite of her passion.

    I’m a big fan of Sam Harris; first because I enjoy reading finely crafted arguments; especially ones that directly confront the best counter-arguments and secondly for the obvious reasons – he covers topics that interest me. But Mr. Harris isn’t for everyone, partly because he’s so dispassionate. I think passion-inflected arguments can make for a more effective argument, but adding passion predominately seems to risk sloppy thinking and exposes the advocate to criticism that diverts attention from the core conclusion(s) – fairly or unfairly.

    Recently, Andrew Sullivan’s passionate debating with the Idaho neo-confederate Douglas Wilson seems to have provided Sullivan’s opponents an opening to ignore his equality and democratic friendly advocacy for civil gay marriage. Ms. Christina’s passion in her book is self-evident; yet I don’t recall any slip-ups or openings for red herrings. Instead her passion amplified the impact of her conclusions, and she made it look easy.

  4. 4
    davemuscato

    Good post, Ed; I couldn’t agree more. It was very difficult to narrow down my article to a manageable number, which is a GREAT thing. I’m so proud of our movement’s balance these days, and it’s only getting better.

  5. 5
    Ophelia Benson

    I’m established? I thought I was just getting started. :P

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