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Tokenism Is Not Inclusivity

When a list of Top Five atheists doesn’t include any women, you’ve got a problem.

When a list of Top Five atheists doesn’t include any women — and the creator of the list says it’s because he didn’t want to include any “tokens” — you’ve got a bigger problem.

You may have seen the Atheist of the Year contest at the Examiner, created by Staks Rosch of Dangerous Talk. There’s been a fair amount of discussion about it, largely because — in a year when discussions and debates and controversies about sexism have dominated the atheist community — there was not one woman on the list. Rosch has been widely criticized for this… but instead of simply acknowledging that this was a problem and promising to do better in the future, he’s decided to double down. He’s defending his decision: saying that he considered some women for inclusion in the list, but he didn’t deem any of them worthy, and he didn’t want to include one just to have a “token.”

A token.

His word. Used eight times, in a 677-word post. Ten, if you count the title, “Tokens or No Tokens.”

Are you fucking kidding me?

Ophelia Benson has issued a masterful takedown of this whole “token” idea, and exactly why it is so grotesquely insulting. Awesome pull quotes:

Doesn’t everybody know by now that it’s a tad insulting to attach the words “a token” to the words “black” and “female” automatically like that, as if it were simply obvious and universally acknowledged that a black and a woman couldn’t possibly be qualified?

Or to put it another way…what a rude dismissive contemptuous entitled thing to say. Newsflash: it is not the case that there are no black atheists or female atheists or black female atheists who are good enough to be nominated as Atheist of the Year. It is not the case that any black or woman so nominated would be a worthless talented zero who was nominated solely as a “token” of good will. It is the case that implying otherwise is deliberately insulting.

What infuriates me even more about this whole thing is that Rosch is citing me as a supporter of “tokenism.” I shit you not. Quote, from his recent post defending his decision:

In the comments section [at Blag Hag], Greta Christina made a case for the token nominee and that is something I will have to consider next year.

Shame on you, Staks.

At no point did I advocate making a “token nominee.” What I advocated for was taking gender into account when considering your nominees. That is absolutely not the same as making a “token nominee.” “Token” implies that the nominee is not actually qualified, but is being included solely for their gender (or race, sexual orientation, etc.). Here, exactly, is how the Blag Hag exchange you’re referring to took place:

You:

My question I guess to the female community, is would you rather I had taken gender more into account or remained gender neutral and let the chips fall where they may? I seriously would like to know.

Me:

DangerousTalk: Take gender into account. Because — among many other reasons — there is virtually no way that you can genuinely be gender neutral. We are all influenced, even if unconsciously, by sexism, including the tendency to see what men do as more serious and important than what women do. And as a result, women don’t get promoted as serious participants in society… and as a result of that, we don’t see what women do as serious… If we don’t make a conscious effort to be more inclusive of women, this vicious circle will continue forever. So please, yes, in the future, make an effort to be inclusive of women and to promote their work.

(Ditto people of color, LGBT people, etc.)

Tokenism is not inclusivity. Inclusivity means (okay, gross oversimplification here) being aware of your own biases (conscious and unconscious), and being aware of the biases of the culture you live in (conscious and unconscious), and being aware of how these biases become self-fulfilling prophecies, and making a conscious, pro-active effort to overcome them. Tokenism means patronizingly including one member of the marginalized group in question, without regard to qualifications, and without any real attempt to make deep-rooted change either in yourself or in society.

Shame on you for equating them.

Comments

  1. Rejistania says

    So true, so very true. It is actually one of the reasons why I do not believe quotas of females (like for jobs) are a good idea. I always fear that it leads to the idea that women are just there because the powers that be want them to be there, not because they are any good.

  2. says

    @Rejistania, while I appreciate the point you’re making, I question which is more harmful: the perception that women get those jobs because there’s a quota to fill, or the lack of women in those positions if there isn’t some kind of regulating, leveling influence?

    I don’t think we have any chance at fighting that perception if we don’t give qualified women a chance to demonstrate that they actually deserve to be there.

  3. karmakin says

    I do not like the list. No sir, I do not.

    It’s not even that it’s just sexist. It’s just very…limited. Gervais, I get, in terms of celebrity public atheism. I get that. Silverman? Possibly. I don’t really get the other three. Not that they’re not good, interesting atheists. It’s just that I don’t think they’re publicly important or overwhelmingly interesting or anything like that.

    Hemant? I mean I like his blog and all that, but I don’t think it’s nearly as high quality or interesting as Ophelia Benson’s or yours. (I’m not sure who I’d rank higher. Please don’t ask me to do so.) Same with Dillahunty but he hasn’t really done that much IMO.

    Safe, traditional choices.

    And hell the hell do you leave our Rebecca Watson in any way shape or form for this year? That makes zero sense what-so-ever. Sorry to pull that out, hope it doesn’t start a troll fight, but really. Zero sense.

    And it’s not even the RIGHT dudes. Considering the writings of Hictchens facing down sickness and death, I’d consider that pretty important and interesting as well.

    It’s just very safe and plain and limited and boring.

    I will say that there MIGHT be a point, where the top 5 “Atheists of the year” were actually clearly all men that might be a symptom of a problem and not the problem in and of itself. But this year? Of all years?

    Oh hell no.

  4. a miasma of incandescent plasma says

    Wouldn’t a more effective strategy be, instead of “taking gender into account” (and leading to another problem of using bias in the “weighting for gender” scoring system), take out gender/race of the potential nominees? Just put the list of accomplishments out there without names attached, and let’s judge on merits and accomplishments alone?

  5. says

    @Karmakin:

    Considering the writings of Hictchens facing down sickness and death, I’d consider that pretty important and interesting as well.

    To be fair, he does explain why Hitchens was excluded: http://www.examiner.com/atheism-in-national/atheist-of-the-year-award-open-nominations

    @a miasma of incandenscent plasma: Your idea, though in good spirit, still doesn’t take into account the issue of awareness of women atheists who have done things of note.

    Also, Rosch mentions that he considered Greta Christina and Rebecca Watson, but didn’t find their accomplishments worthy. It’s possible that if their accomplishments were reviewed out of context of their genders that he would have been more impressed…it would be an interesting experiment, bu a difficult one to pull off. You’d have to phrase things pretty carefully and vaguely so that you weren’t able to identify the individuals from the descriptions.

  6. says

    …and following up on my own comment to say that I don’t think we should have to remove peoples accomplishments from the context of gender/race/etc to consider them fairly. That would be a workaround, not an end goal.

  7. says

    I apologized for misrepresenting your comment. That was not my intend and it was a misunderstanding on my part. I don’t “double down” on my position. There were no women nominees. That sucks and hopefully next year will be different. But at this point, it doesn’t really matter. Out of all the atheist bloggers, I am particularly fond of both you and PZ. I respect you both greatly. If I am wrong here (and it appears that I am) then I’m sorry and will try to do better next time. That’s all I can do.

  8. Jason Bathon says

    One would need to know the criteria of the selection process before an opinion could be made. It is here, that I feel, the error was made. The selection process was very vague, the submit process as well. Staks error was in not having a clearly defined submission, narrowing process, selection, and review process were all flawed.

    Staks should have had a nomination board, review board, and selection board, etc.

    That being said, I disagree with your stance that on “take gender into account”, “make a conscious effort to be more inclusive of women”, and “in the future, make an effort to be inclusive of women and to promote their work”.

    Taking ones physical attributes into account simply because they exhibit those attributes in a contest based upon merit (or whatever), would, I feel, be an unwarranted inclusion.

    If you change those statements into any other form of minority, you can easily see why one would not be for their inclusion and actually how it would do more to continue the subjugation of said groups than to help them.

    If someone said “take sexual orientation into account” or, “make a conscious effort to be more inclusive of the little people”, or “in the future, make an effort to be inclusive of hermaphrodites and to promote their work”, I feel we would be hurting the cause, not helping it.

    Again, I do not agree with his methods and many errors were made and the contest seemed mostly based on this one mans subjective opinion, but we can not force equality by supporting inequality.

    Unless you want to get into the whole gender debate and if that is the case, just open it up for ALL kinds of awards, female AotY, African American AotY, Asian American AotY, Gay AotY etc.

    If you feel he effed things up (and he did), then ignore his award and start a new one. Or of you are still so inclined, hold an award for the female atheist of the year. Regardless, the error here was the selection process in general, not the absence of inclusion of minorities, specifically because they are minorities.

    If an award is given out for just a general atheist of the year, physical attributes or other minority attributes should not be included, or even considered, as a determining factor. Whatever the criteria set up for the award should be, i.e. merit, influence, popularity (or whatever).

  9. says

    It was just supposed to be a fun little contest. There was no money or prizes involved I with wasn’t something I thought would get that much attention. So I didn’t make the criteria as clear as I should have and I didn’t put together a huge board of people to look over everything. Next year (if there is a next year) I will certainly have a more solid process.

  10. says

    We are all influenced, even if unconsciously, by sexism, including the tendency to see what men do as more serious and important than what women do. And as a result, women don’t get promoted as serious participants in society… and as a result of that, we don’t see what women do as serious… If we don’t make a conscious effort to be more inclusive of women, this vicious circle will continue forever.

    This. This this this this this.

    It’s not “tokenism.” It’s remembering to notice people who should be noticed. It’s not overlooking people for no reason apart from habit.

  11. says

    I had no idea about the “token” comment. How sad. Award declined.

    My impression of this, from the beginning, was that this was a rather strange list and a strange award. I shrugged it off, as anyone with a computer could set up any sort of award, name it whatever they like, take nominees and run a short popularity contest.

    When David Silverman decided to have a bit of fun with it by challenging Hemant and me, I decided to play along. Yes, I was bothered by the list of nominees (and not just because of the lack of women on the list) but I really didn’t see this as anything ‘real’.

    I really wish someone would have called, texted or pinged me about this token-nonsense. I’ve been at work and didn’t know until Greta posted. :(

  12. says

    Like I said, this was just supposed to be a fun award thing and I was very surprised people took it as seriously as they did. Matt totally deserves the award and I don’t think he should have to give it back because I didn’t promote the open nomination process well enough and the list was unbalanced. In all, I think it was a good list and I should have been better. Next time it will be. My point about “token” has been misunderstood and that is my fault for not being more clear. I attempted to explain why the nominees were who they were, but that is just an explanation not a justification. Next year (if there is a next year) I will hopefully have a better process in place.

  13. Brice Gilbert says

    Looking at the list it seems like the sort of list devoted to finding the most popular “atheists”. People who are in the limelight or who everyone knows. You throw in a wildcard like Matt which could easily be flipped with Greta for me, but it is a subjective end of the year list (which are bullshit to begin with). I would have left it at that and given him the benefit of the doubt if it weren’t for the token commments.

  14. Matt Penfold says

    I would have left it at that and given him the benefit of the doubt if it weren’t for the token commments.

    I think most people would.

  15. kerfluffle says

    Matt totally deserves the award and I don’t think he should have to give it back…

    He doesn’t *have* to. He is not being forced. It is a justifiable position.

    My point about “token” has been misunderstood and that is my fault for not being more clear.

    Please, be more clear. Explain how “token” has been misunderstood.

  16. Matt Penfold says

    Thanks Greta for ruining a fun game.

    Yeah, typical of those uppity blacks and bitchy women to ruin something.

  17. janine says

    Manuel, this blog is hardly the only place where the “token” defense has been picked apart. So sorry that you “fun game” is so dependent on being dismissive of women and of black people.

    Perhaps being dismissive is the point of the criticism no matter the intent of having a silly little award?

  18. Manuel says

    I’m hispanic, and I’m not complaining about an Hispanic person not in the list, c’mon!

  19. Manuel says

    I mean, you guys wanted a wowan, a black, a latino, a indian, a mulato, etc etc, it was just an informal game (at least I see it that way) have you seen the statue with Hitchens face? I mean…. well, I guess some people are itchier than others.

  20. janine says

    I’m hispanic, and I’m not complaining about an Hispanic person not in the list, c’mon!

    Therefore, the criticisms about tokenism is defeated.

  21. Natalie says

    And maybe, just maybe…this isn’t “just a silly award” and “just a bit of fun” and just anything. MAYBE it is yet ANOTHER of countless examples of the achivements of women being ignored and dismissed. Looked at in isolation this is nothing worth wasting the time to even dismiss, but when it’s part of an overall pattern it definitely fucking matters. Every single “little” instance… each rape joke to a 15 year old girl, each piece saying that a 4 year old girl is cute and precious but her thinking clearly isn’t very “logical” compared to evo psych (hyuk hyuk), each act of a prominent leader defending a misogynist asshole who viciously attacks female bloggers and defending the nepotistic defense of sexual predation, each “fun game” that discounts even the remote possibility that a woman or black person deserves to be on a list as a “token” and puts them in the lose-lose situation of not having enough “merit” while also not being famous enough while also not being allowed to be included through “tokenism” (i.e. proactive inclusivity), each one of these instances builds up into a VERY SEROUS, VERY REAL issue.

    It’s all fun and games until an entire class of human beings gets chucked out of a movement.

  22. Reg says

    What we have here are atheists who are used to understanding each other, finding the places where words mean different things to different people. To a male who (I assume) has not had much reason to consider the nuance between tokenism and inclusivity the two words seem remarkably the same. In fact to many white males inclusive policies that have quotas for minorities seems rather unfair and similar to “because we need an x”. But this is because the white male likes to assume that we are living in an unbiased age, where human resource managers have the superhuman ability to take physical appearance out of the equation.
    Of course if that were the case I would wear t-shirts to job interviews.
    The point I’m trying to make is that, while it is fine to be disappointed in Mr Rosch for not having this knowledge, this moment should probably be approached as an educational moment. In times like these we non-religious folks need to be less fractured. While Mr Rosch was certainly wrong in this case, he is a reasonable person, so can be shown his mistakes. With Rick Santorum winning Iowa, we need to teach each other and fight as one.

  23. Ms. Crazy Pants says

    I apologized for misrepresenting your comment. That was not my intend and it was a misunderstanding on my part. I don’t “double down” on my position. There were no women nominees.

    There was a post in the comments with 5 women nominated.

    Barbara Kalister · San Francisco, California
    1. Greta Christina – in addition to her consistently great posts, her speech, Why Are You Atheists So Angry, was an excellent addition to every lineup in which it was included.
    2. Maryam Namazie – for campaigning against faith based laws.
    3. Jessica Ahlquist – for her perseverance in the fight to remove a prayer from the wall of her high school auditorium.
    4. Rebecca Watson – for bringing the long overdue conversation about sexism within the atheist movement to the table, and helping to keep it there.
    5. Beth Presswood – for creating the Godless Bitches podcast – dealing with the intersection of feminism and secularism.

    I’m not sure if the choice was based off of accomplishments or votes. Just pointing out that there were nominations present.

  24. Skepacabra says

    This seems rather blown out of proportion. It’s one man’s subjective list on an Examiner.com article of people he personally thinks stood out this year for their contributions to the atheist community. It happened to catch on and people started promoting it. You disagree with the list? Great. That can start an interesting conversation about who should have gotten on but didn’t. But this hardly seems like a calm, rational approach to a misunderstanding. And according to the comments here, Staks doesn’t seem to have doubled down, but rather has apologized and promised to do better in the future. So instead of alienating people in the name of “inclusiveness”, can we all get back to not looking for ways to divide this atheist/skeptic movement of ours? Maybe even find some time to criticize religion and pseudoscience?

  25. Matt Penfold says

    Of course if that were the case I would wear t-shirts to job interviews.
    The point I’m trying to make is that, while it is fine to be disappointed in Mr Rosch for not having this knowledge, this moment should probably be approached as an educational moment. In times like these we non-religious folks need to be less fractured. While Mr Rosch was certainly wrong in this case, he is a reasonable person, so can be shown his mistakes. With Rick Santorum winning Iowa, we need to teach each other and fight as one.

    Not having this knowledge ? Where has he been the last six months ? You clearly do not hold Mr Rosch in high regard if you think he is that obtuse.

  26. Matt Penfold says

    Skepacabra, you seem to be another who thinks that learning nothing from what happened to Rebecca Watson is just fine.

    Sorry to have to tell you this, but it just shows an indifference that is hard to accept as being genuine.

  27. Manuel says

    Some people are just too hypersensitive, anything itches them… it was a lousy contest made by a person! get real…

  28. Natalie says

    Skepacabra, the apology offered in this comment thread came only after his posting a big, angry attack on Jen McCreight’s criticism, and then a bunch of incredibly patronizing vitriol in Ophelia Benson’s post. Please take the entire context into consideration, not simply this particular thread.

  29. Greta Christina says

    This seems rather blown out of proportion. It’s one man’s subjective list on an Examiner.com article of people he personally thinks stood out this year for their contributions to the atheist community. It happened to catch on and people started promoting it. You disagree with the list? Great.

    Skepacabra @ #28: You are missing the point. The list, with its absence of women on it, was bad enough — but it is not the topic of this post. The topic of this post is the defense of the list by saying that any woman included on it would have been a “token.”

    That can start an interesting conversation about who should have gotten on but didn’t. But this hardly seems like a calm, rational approach to a misunderstanding.

    And, once again, when women point out sexism, we’re not being calm or rational. We’re being hysterical and emotional and over-sensitive. Where’s that bingo card when you need it?

    And according to the comments here, Staks doesn’t seem to have doubled down, but rather has apologized and promised to do better in the future.

    He has now. He hadn’t before this post. So maybe this post changed his mind. And maybe it changed the minds of others.

    So instead of alienating people in the name of “inclusiveness”, can we all get back to not looking for ways to divide this atheist/skeptic movement of ours? Maybe even find some time to criticize religion and pseudoscience?

    If you think criticizing instances of sexism is by definition divisive, you have a serious problem. And you do not get to decide what it’s worthwhile for this community to talk about. I do spend time criticizing religion and pseudoscience; I’ve even done so today. But sexism is a serious problem in a movement that I care about passionately. I want us to deal with it now, so it’s less of a problem in ten and twenty and fifty years. If we don’t focus our energies on it now, it will keep coming back, bigger and uglier, to bite us in the ass.

  30. says

    You know, it seems to me that if Rosch is the one deciding this, then there is a problem right there. What criteria is he using? Why is he the only one making this decision concerning the top 5? I won’t argue that George Takei but I’m bias as a Star Trek fan. That and I think he’s cute (I know. I know. He’s married, but that doesn’t mean I can’t think he’s cute. :) ) Still, that would not be enough criteria for the atheist of the year award. I looked over how he wanted Hemant, and I agree, but I still cannot decipher what criteria he is using overall. What is his reasoning for Takei? Is it solely on Takei’s “That’s sooo Takei” thing? If so, I see a potential problem with tokenism there, but we won’t know for sure unless we hear from him. On the other hand, George Takei has done a lot and definitely deserves an award 100% without a doubt and I would never dream of taking it from him and I would argue he deserves it more than Hemant (no insult to Hemant, but I’m also biased), despite what Rosch may say. The point is, unless someone can give good reason why Rosch is the only one making this decision concerning the Top 5 atheists, I don’t know why he’s the only making the decision and if he is the only one making the decision, I would take it with a grain of salt and not get bent over it, because IMO, a panel needs to be deciding, not one person, otherwise, it means nothing. Except for my favourite one- George Takei. :) Um… sigh Yeah, I’m a HUGE Trekkie in a little body. What can I say.

  31. Greta Christina says

    mrianabrinson @ #37: I think we’re all pretty much agreed that the list is basically meaningless, reflecting one person’s personal preferences rather than any sort of community consensus. But since it was posted and promoted in the public sphere, we get to critique it. And again, the issue is less the list itself and its lack of women (which is bad enough), but the defense of that lack of women as an attempt to avoid “tokens.” A defense which, again, was posted and promoted in the public sphere, and which we therefore get to critique.

  32. says

    To anyone showing up to point out that it’s just a silly list and doesn’t matter anyway, Brice Gilbert @15 said it well. The issue–and this post–isn’t so much about the list as it is about the tokenism comments.

  33. says

    @ Greta Christina I see your point concerning someone saying they would have been a token and I agree. All the same, how much power does Rosch have in the atheist community? Is his list really all that important and to whom? While I like reading what he says sometimes, his list (except he has one of my heroes on it) means nothing to me. George Takei, he means something to me, but Rosch’s list… meh. If it helps though and I were making a list, you, ZOMGitscriss, and Rebecca would be in my top 5, but sorry, George Takei is #1, unless it’s a Star Trek list, then Gene and Majel, although dead, would outrank him. :) Now, I’m going back to drooling over the George Takei picture in the upcoming conference later this year.

  34. says

    @ Greta Christina “And again, the issue is less the list itself and its lack of women (which is bad enough), but the defense of that lack of women as an attempt to avoid “tokens.” A defense which, again, was posted and promoted in the public sphere, and which we therefore get to critique.”

    Does this mean I have to stop drooling over Takei and think rationally? Just kidding. You’re right, it is insulting that one man sees women as token atheists… for his list. Again, how much power does he have, compared to a bunch of women, intelligent enough to make their own lists, for very rational reasons (except maybe when it comes to the cute one, of course). Hey, we could make a list of the top 5 worst atheists and make that public.

  35. janine says

    Again, how much power does he have, compared to a bunch of women, intelligent enough to make their own lists, for very rational reasons (except maybe when it comes to the cute one, of course). Hey, we could make a list of the top 5 worst atheists and make that public.

    You miss the point. It is not about how much power Shaks has. It is the fact that he thought he could be so dismissive.

  36. otrame says

    It is the fact that he thought he could be so dismissive.

    Oh, he can be so dismissive. I will defend his right to be dismissive to the death.

    What he can not do is be so dismissive and expect people to just carry on and ignore it. Especially this year. After the shit we’ve seen this year…

    Oh, damn, I do get tired of it. Thank you, Greta, and all you others who never let them shut you up, who keep talking when the rest of us get tired. I mean it. Thank you.

    *deep breath

    After the shit we’ve seen this year, anyone claiming to be know anything in particular about the atheist movement (at least claiming to know enough to post an “award” after taking nominations) should have known that the “token” remark was not going to be ignored.

    And Matt, if I were in your shoes, I would do the same thing. You rock*.

    *But then, we already knew that.

  37. says

    Another fab post from a fab blogger. I think too the idea of an ‘Atheist of the Year’ is pretty horrid anyway; much like the UK’s New Year’s Honours List it is the already rich and powerful who tend to be recognised while those doing all the undervalued work are further marginalised. Best not to get involved with an ego-maniac’s race to the top of yet another greasy pole; atheism is starting to mimic the structures of religions as it is.

  38. says

    I love the chorus of people who somehow want to look at this issue (and every issue of this sort, when they come up) as an isolated occurrence and not part of a larger pattern. Is our rejection of pareidolia so complete that we’ll even throw out the very obvious behavior patterns?

    Women make up half the population, perhaps somewhat less of the prominent atheist population–and I suspect that’s a symptom of the same problem. Point being, if you picked purely at random a list of nominees, we would expect to have at least one woman in there. Thinking back over the prominent atheist news items over the last year, these are the ones I can remember: the rise of FreethoughtBlogs, Elevatorgate, a variety of billboards and billboard controversies, Hitchens’ death, r/atheism raising money for Doctors without Borders, r/atheism making rape jokes at a 15-year-old, the launching of Grief Beyond Belief, the American Cancer Society refusing atheist money, “tide comes in, tide goes out,” Skepticon and the gelato debacle, the release of “The Ledge,” the military’s flip-flopping on “Rock Beyond Belief,” Tim Minchin’s censorship (and the release of the Storm animated short), and the variety of young people standing up against their communities and school boards (Damon Fowler, Jessica Ahlquist, and I know there was at least one or two more).

    Now, I love Matt Dillahunty and Hemant Mehta as much as the next guy (and they’re among the very few prominent atheists I’ve actually gotten to spend time with), but neither one has had a particularly notable year–except for Matt’s nuptials, but that’s not exactly an atheist news story. In fact, Matt’s biggest atheist-centric event–debating Ray Comfort on AXP, alongside Russell Glasser–wasn’t even mentioned in Rosch’s write-up. They’re all worthy of awards, sure, but “Atheist of the Year” suggests that they had a particularly notable year, or a larger-than-average impact on atheism this year, and I don’t see that either one has. It’s been business–excellent business, sure–as usual. If “business as usual” is enough, then what of Tanya Smith or Ayaan Hirsi Ali or Ashley Paramore?

    The same largely goes for George Takei. He’s done some amazing work the past year for LGBTQ rights and causes, and fighting the good fight against schools who work to minimize LGBTQ individuals, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen his name come up with regard to major atheist events. If “being an atheist and doing good work elsewhere” is enough to get an atheist-of-the-year award, then what of Rhys Morgan or Steve Novella or Elyse Anders?

    Dave Silverman has had, without question, a notable year. Lots of billboards, lots of publicity, an Internet meme after a notable turn on the O’Reilly Factor. No argument there. Ricky Gervais? He’s been increasingly open about his atheism in the media, and increasingly present in said media, especially after his stint at the Golden Globes this past year–which he’s about to repeat. No question there, either. After that, though, a list that didn’t include Jessica Ahlquist and/or Damon Fowler is barely even worth considering. Snubbing Rebecca Watson, who has made herself a lightning rod for the movement and illuminated one of its key failings, because Elevatorgate was “internal controversy”–ignoring her work on Skepchick (including seriously expanding the international network this year), the SGU, and giving excellent talks around the country, as well as the r/atheism debacle, and publicizing the Lawrence Krauss rape-defense inanity–is dismissive at best and obviously biased at worst.

    There’s really no excuse, and the dismissiveness regarding Watson suggests that it’s no accident, either.

  39. SamInMpls says

    On the right side of this page there is a list of more than twenty five blogs under the heading “FREETHOUGHT BLOGS.” I’d call it a blogroll except that it is not. I don’t think it should be referred to as such because it is simply a list of the blogs that make up freethoughtblogs.com rather than a list of free thought blogs personally compiled by Greta.

    If you take a moment to journey back in time by opening up a new browser tab and typing in: gretachristina.typepad.com and you look on the left side of that page, you will see a list of more than fifty blogs under the heading “ATHEIST BLOGROLL” and you know what? THAT IS A BLOGROLL. It is a glorious blogroll with two sub-headings, the first of which are links to blog posts, one by Greta and one by Jen, that provide the reader with many, many more links to women and people of color who blog about atheism, skepticism and the like.

    Why is that a blogroll? In my humble opinion, blogrolls are about inclusion and solidarity. They are about one writer recognizing the work of other writers and essentially stating to their own readers: “Here is a list I have compiled of other writers that I think you, dear reader, might want to investigate, especially if you enjoy reading my work.” By linking to those bloggers, I do not assume that Greta and Jen are endorsing every opinion in every post on every blog. What I do assume they are signalling to me is that this writer might be someone else who I would enjoy reading and given that the general theme of all of these blogs is free thought, I assume that there might be things with which I disagree but also find worthwhile.

    Before I go any further I should confess that I do not read almost all of those blogs and those that I have read come through links from other blogs that I do read. Greta is the only free thought blogger who I read religiously. I read her post “Lesbian Sex With Men” on her old blog and fell in love with her as a writer. I would read more from those writers if I had more free time or if my interests were more narrowly focused on atheism, skepticism and free thought. Greta’s interests and her work are not narrow and they overlap with my own. She spreads her wings and is all like “I AM A GOLDEN GOD!” Okay, wait. Shit! That wasn’t her it was Russell Hammond. My point here is that I really do not have any opinions about who should or should not have made that list or any other list of top atheists for last year or for any other year.

    Top five or top ten lists are not inclusive. By definition, they are exclusive. That does not make them inherently bad but it does require that the person or persons selecting the list exclude everyone else who also does what the people selected for the list do. Do you wear socks like, ever? Well, in my head I totally just complied a list of the greatest sock wearers of the last forty years and I am sorry to say that you didn’t make the cut. Perhaps if I had known more about your sock wearing, you might have made my list. I wish you the best of luck in 2052.

    You don’t feel excluded. You don’t care that I didn’t share my decision-making process with you or that I didn’t ask everyone, even those people who never wear socks, to nominate sock wearers for my list. Could that might just possibly have something to do with the fact that there isn’t a vibrant online community of people discussing their wearing of socks? That people don’t really care about which of those among us are the greatest wearers of socks?

    When someone makes a list that people do care about, when they do accept nominations and when there is a vibrant online community of people to discuss that list then that list does matter. Maybe just a little, maybe a lot, maybe even a whole lot. They care because some of the people in that community were excluded from the list in favor of others. They care because we are all people and people have feelings.

    When someone makes a list, that person implicitly accepts certain burdens. For their list-making work to be accepted, they need to engender in their readers and fellow community members the sense that they acted with and according to propriety, equity and integrity. I chose those three words carefully because words matter. Those two are Latin! They are very old words that are worth understanding and if you and I are tuned into the same frequency, I can skip a few paragraphs of writing because you understand what each of them implies and that each of them implies some very complicated concepts that greater minds than ours have grappled with for a super, duper long time.

    I am a white male and one of the reasons I love reading Greta is that I feel attuned to many of the things she writes about, not the least of which are her ideas about gender and sexuality. The coffee shop suddenly got a little dusty at the exact moment I read “Lesbian Sex With Men” for the first time. That must have been it, right? I mean, I am built like a viking and my eyes don’t normally get all leaky like that and I know I couldn’t have been crying in public over something I read on the internet. I also totally wasn’t in a bad mood for a week when I woke up with a bad cold the one day that Greta came to my neck of the woods to an event that I had RSVP’d for in time to attend.

    Okay, I’ll be serious: I teared up becuse I fervently believe that male people living today desperately need feminism. They need to understand it on its terms. They don’t need their own male version of feminism, they need straight-up feminism because: Feminism. Is. For. Everyone. Many other males with whom I communicate are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with that idea. One of their primary objections, and it is always an initial one, is that they don’t accept the idea of privilege, much less that they themselves has got it.

    The best way I have found to explain the idea of privilege is to ask a person to think about the assumptions they carry with them about what is or is not acceptable or appropriate behavior. There is a blog post written by Delia Christina that goes into the different assumptions that different people carry with them into certain situations. Here’s the link: http://bitchphd.blogspot.com/2010/06/you-want-my-contacts-too.html

    Her point is that there were two people that were referred to her to essentially gain access to her network of contacts. One of them was prepared, did a lot research, and showed up prepared to discuss specific opportunities and get advice. They spoke for 30 minutes, shook hands and parted ways.The other person showed up unprepared, had not done any research, was vague about their interests and refused when asked to give a five minute pitch on what opportunities they wanted to pursue.

    Which one do you think was a guy?

    If you are a guy, especially a white guy, and you don’t like the idea that your identities are chalk full of privilege, that is your business. All I will say to you is: good luck.

    However, you don’t get to throw yourself on the floor and whine and cry about feminists being mean to you when they call you out on your behavior and on the work that you put out into the world.

    And you don’t get to throw yourself on the floor and whine and cry about feminists being mean to you when they object to use using words like “token” because you were the one who made the decision to compile an exclusive list of the best whatever over the last whenever period of time. You took it upon yourself to compile that list and that means you are asserting a position of privilege. You are the one that decided your cookies are so delicious and wonderful that everyone would want one year after year and that you were only going to bake a very small number of them.

    Personally, I don’t want any part of compiling lists that other people care about. I don’t want to put in the time and energy necessary to do it according to my own standards of propriety, equity and integrity. If I did care about it, I mean really cared enough to put expend that time and energy, I would do my very best to work with the rest of the community to compile a very long list of nominees that at the very least was representative of what the entire community wrote and read and commented upon and then I would work with the rest of the community to have everyone vote for the best whatever over the last whenever period of time. Then I would write about the winner and also write about specific non-winners that I wanted to single out as also being representative of whatever was being polled. Then I would ask the rest of the community to submit their own take on the winner and non-winners and try to craft something valuable that the enitre community can look back upon when whenever is later than now. Yeah, that is a lot of work and navigating the intersections or gender, race, sexuality and nationality is not easy and might not always be fun. But you know what?

    GRETA AND JEN COMPILED A LIST OF BLOGGERS WHO ARE NOT ALL EXACTLY LIKE YOU! They practiced exactly what they preach. They made it easy for you to step outside of your own world. They aren’t here to hate, they are here to celebrate. So, excuse me if I don’t tear up if their criticisms make you has a sad. They aren’t asking you to give up anything. They aren’t trashing your list because everyone selected writes in English. They aren’t emasculating you by calling you out for your own privileged bullshit.

    Okay, so, that’s it.

    Rant concluded.

    Peace out.

  40. Chas Warren says

    A “token woman” or a “token black” refers to a woman or a black included just to be able to say that one has included a woman or a black.

    Suppose that Rosch had conducted a Cuisine of the Year contest, and his top five choices were Thai, Indian, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese. Should he have included a European cuisine — Italian or French, perhaps — just to be able to say that he had included a European cuisine?

  41. says

    On the basis of whose blogs I always go to — several times a day — PZ Meyers and you, Greta, are at the top of my list. Both of you come out with some of the most outstanding posts I’ve ever found.

    The fact that you are a woman and gay never enters into my attitude toward your writing and your efforts to promote atheism. Some of your blogs, like the one on atheists and anger have a dedicated place in my favorites menu so I can get to them without a lengthy search.

    I don’t give the proverbial “hoot in a whirlwind” about anybody else’s subject list. I know what registers with me and I follow my own desires and inclinations. F++k the list.

  42. ben says

    Your point about invisible biases is well-taken.

    But including women in order to counter those invisible biases is a _terrible_ idea! Here’s the correct way to do it: consider people for inclusion in the list without _knowing_ their gender. That pretty much rules out seeing them give talks, but it’s not impossible with writing, and with a smart but somewhat naive panel. And, frankly, it’s the only right way to do it.

    Without that, it’s impossible to tell whether a woman (or a man, obviously) is on the list due to merit or just gender. Because a corollary of “invisible bias” is that either theory (merit/gender) is unfalsifiable.

  43. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Congrats, Mr. Warren, on not reading the post, but still being inclined to comment on it. I mean, whatever would we do without yet another dude saying “quit yer bitchin bitches”

  44. Huskvarna says

    And hell the hell do you leave our Rebecca Watson in any way shape or form for this year?

    Maybe because she accidentally got moderator privileges on JREF then started abusing them immediately, then got banned herself for doing that:

    http://i.imgur.com/dM8ir.png

    Banning people out of mere personal dislike isn’t exactly worthy of the title “Freethinker”, is it?

  45. Natalie says

    Just a small point…

    I was just noticing how Jen’s list, despite being based on a really simple, straightforward, open nominate/vote system, resulted with a very, very diverse group.

    It just goes to show that you can be inclusive and diverse without “tokens”. All you really need to do is actually be open to considering the achievements and merit of women and minorities, like Jen’s readers were. :)

  46. sambarge says

    The arguments about the exclusion of female atheists from this list notwithstanding, the problem with the list is the making of “Top Five” lists (or top 10s or 100s or whatever).

    The makers of these lists always present them with the implied notion that they’re objective or something. As if the list of Top Five Atheists on 2011 has anything to do with an objective review of accomplishments and/or additions to the atheist movement. These lists are always more indicative of the what the list maker values rather than what is actually good.

    For evidence, check out any list of the top 100 movies or records for the usual crap that gets trotted out as the best every freaking time.

  47. says

    @Huskvarna: Huskvarna, you’ve been frozen in suspended animation for four years! I know it must be a shock, such that you’re having trouble recognizing that “atheist” and “freethinker” are different words, and that the “year” in question is 2011 rather than 2008, but I’m sure with time you’ll acclimate to this strange new world.

  48. Huskvarna says

    I know it must be a shock, such that you’re having trouble recognizing that “atheist” and “freethinker” are different words

    “Atheist” tends to have this at least veneer of scientific, rational, freethinking, etc. qualities these days. For example: here on so-called “Freethought” Blogs.

    and that the “year” in question is 2011 rather than 2008, but I’m sure with time you’ll acclimate to this strange new world.

    “Year” didn’t need to be put in quotes; also, it’s still wrong, regardless what year it happened in, she still hasn’t apologized, and she’s basically kept up the same censorious behavior on Skepchick.

  49. Huskvarna says

    Unless of course RW had an epiphany between now and then that she no longer wants to stifle legitimate debate. Like she did, and this is well-documented, on JREF.

  50. julian says

    I hate atheist and skeptics who think they’re immune from cognitive biases. Looking at you Manuel.

  51. Pteryxx says

    SamInMpls @48, if you delurked just for that rant, that was one of the most epic lurker rants it has ever been my privilege to witness. *snif* Is it dusty in here…

    Okay, I’ll be serious: I teared up becuse I fervently believe that male people living today desperately need feminism. They need to understand it on its terms. They don’t need their own male version of feminism, they need straight-up feminism because: Feminism. Is. For. Everyone.

  52. says

    “Year” didn’t need to be put in quotes;

    Huskvarna, I know you’re still recovering from the cryogenic thawing process, so I assume that it’s had an effect on your understanding of punctuation. To remind you, one typically puts quotes around words or phrases that are being directly taken from some source, in this case the title of the award, “Atheist of the Year.”

    Hopefully as you reacclimate to the present, these things will come back to you.

    also, it’s still wrong, regardless what year it happened in, she still hasn’t apologized, and she’s basically kept up the same censorious behavior on Skepchick.

    Huskvarna! I know they’ve only recently replaced the antifreeze in your veins with blood again, so I’m sure that the whole “freethought” thing will come back to you as you recover, but to remind you: claims of continued “censorious behavior” presented without supporting evidence are, at best, mudslinging. If you’re going to make such a claim, it might be best to provide a link or other additional evidence beyond your freezer-addled word.

    Further, I certainly hope there’s nothing in your past–or Hemant’s, or Ricky Gervais’s, or heaven forfend, anyone on FreethoughtBlogs–that even has the whiff of impropriety, since your moral sense (which, I allow, may have been similarly affected by your sudden transition to this future age) apparently means that no person who does anything improper on the Internet can ever be awarded any otherwise-relevant award! If one action is enough to damn everyone for eternity–well, now, that’s the sort of thing that I wouldn’t expect to see on FreethoughtBlogs.

    Good luck in your transition, and welcome to the world of the future!

  53. Huskvarna says

    Huskvarna! I know they’ve only recently replaced the antifreeze in your veins with blood again, so I’m sure that the whole “freethought” thing will come back to you as you recover, but to remind you: claims of continued “censorious behavior” presented without supporting evidence are

    Here’s your evidence:

    http://i.imgur.com/dM8ir.png

  54. Huskvarna says

    Oh and here:

    http://i.imgur.com/dM8ir.png

    Or are you talking about Skepchick? If you want evidence for that, go there and disagree about something with total politeness. Don’t insult anyone. But just keep it up for a little while, then watch as you get banned.

  55. Pteryxx says

    *sigh* Rebecca Watson debunked the “censorious behavior” crap months ago.

    http://skepchick.org/2011/09/mom-dont-read-this/

    My favorite of Hoggle’s posts is the one in which he says that I’m an honest-to-Jesus criminal who should be arrested because maybe four years ago the JREF forum mistakenly gave me moderator powers and so I made a post joking about using them to ban a friend. I also edited replies to that post to say things like “…and Rebecca is the greatest” and suspended someone who said he wanted to be suspended. I’m not going to lie, it was pretty god damn funny, but it’s true: please call the Internet police and arrest me right now.

    I mean, duh.

  56. says

    I did mean Skepchick, which is where you alleged the “censorious behavior” continued. I will also note that I read the thread where Rebecca talked about her mistaken moderator powers (and a later post on Skepchick where she talked about the event), and don’t see anything that amounts to censorship beyond obvious joking. I’ll further note that your twice-posted Jeff Wagg screenshot gives almost no information whatsoever. Hardly well-documented, and barely evidence of anything. It could be used with almost equal validity to accuse Wagg of “censorious behavior.”

    As I have no desire to try to get banned from Skepchick, I’m afraid your current evidence for that claim hovers somewhere in the ‘if you pray to God, he’ll reveal himself to you’ and ‘acupuncture works if you believe it’ region. But I’m certainly open to actual evidence if you’re willing to provide any for your agenda. Just don’t over-exert yourself–cryo-sleep is hard on the body!

  57. Huskvarna says

    That doesn’t exactly square with the JREF moderators’ / staff’s account of the issue. From what I can glean from moderator discussion of the issue, multiple moderators, is that Watson accidentally got moderator powers when her suspension was lifted and immediately abused them. Which is why she was permabanned.

    What a dishonest little twerp.

  58. Huskvarna says

    As I have no desire to try to get banned from Skepchick, I’m afraid your current evidence for that claim hovers somewhere in the ‘if you pray to God, he’ll reveal himself to you’ and ‘acupuncture works if you believe it’ region.

    This isn’t a matter of belief. It’s a matter of what you do.

    Here’s what got me banned from Skepchick:

    http://skepchick.org/2011/12/sacrificing-privilege/

    I, emporsteigend, was hastily accused of “bullying”. Notice the conspicuous lack of personal insults anywhere in my discourse.

    I’ll further note that your twice-posted Jeff Wagg screenshot gives almost no information whatsoever. Hardly well-documented, and barely evidence of anything.

    What more do you want besides clear indication that the JREF staff and moderators found what she did highly inappropriate?

  59. Greta Christina says

    Huskvarna’s discussion about this old controversy regarding Rebecca Watson is an obvious derail. In fact, it hits two spaces on the “Why “Yes, But” Is the Wrong Response to Misogyny” bingo card: “Yes, but… the woman/ women in question didn’t behave absolutely perfectly in all respects. Why aren’t we talking about that?” and “Yes, but… Rebecca Watson or some other feminist said something mean or unfair in another conversation weeks/ months/ years ago. Why aren’t we talking about that?”

    This is a violation of my comment policy. Huskvarna, this is your warning: Drop it and stay on topic, or you’re going to get banned. Everyone else, if Huskvarna continues to post on this topic, please either don’t respond, or respond with a “Thank you for sharing.” Thanks.

  60. Huskvarna says

    That’s a cute excuse to get rid of people who disagree with you. Handy, too, since it almost looks legitimate.

  61. Natalie says

    You were banned because you were being a hostile, arrogant, belittling obstinate bully, yes.

    You were given REPEATED warnings and you declined every single one of them.

    You were being abusive to the other commenters and treating them like shit.

    I like my commenters. I want them to enjoy being there. I want them to be able to have open, enjoyable, friendly conversations about the subject matter.

    So fuck no I’m not going to provide you a platform for abusing them and banging them over the head with a bunch of idiotic assertions that the concept of privilege isn’t “scientifically rigorous” enough to ever be discussed. And posting MASSIVE diatribes, in repeated succession, to intimidate and claim power over the playing field.

    It’s not censorship. It’s maintaining our own freedoms and rights about what our PRIVATE blog is used for. Just like you don’t get to walk into someone’s house, berate their children, and then cry “censorship” when they call the cops. It’s declining to let you use my post as a means of bullying others and spreading your MRA “feminism isn’t scientifically valid!” arghy-barghy. Yes, bullying.

    What you did was NOT “politely disagree over the slightest thing”, and that’s not what got you banned, and framing it like that is offensively dishonest.

    I would indeed invite people here to go ahead and read the link, look at how you behaved, and come to their conclusions about your behaviour and your “polite” disagreements there.

    Finally, you know what?

    It has fuck all to do with Rebecca or any “censorious” behaviour she may have done whatever-many years ago anyway. It was my decision. And I stand by it 100%.

  62. Natalie says

    @Greta, sorry… I was typing while your post about not responding went up. Sorry!

    @SamInMpls… you are awesome and that was a terrific rant. :)

  63. Huskvarna says

    You were banned because you were being a hostile, arrogant, belittling obstinate bully, yes.

    You were given REPEATED warnings and you declined every single one of them.

    You were being abusive to the other commenters and treating them like shit.

    So, the scathing sarcasm directed at me here by Tom Foss is probably OK in your book. As is the “mocking” advocated by Watson herself, here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5vGh3mWRPo

    But persistently disagreeing with others is not OK.

    You have a very curious definition of “bullying”, Natalie.

    And posting MASSIVE diatribes, in repeated succession, to intimidate and claim power over the playing field.

    No intimidation meant. There was just a lot of ridiculous, wrong stuff to reply to.

    It’s not censorship. It’s maintaining our own freedoms and rights about what our PRIVATE blog is used for. Just like you don’t get to walk into someone’s house, berate their children, and then cry “censorship” when they call the cops.

    It’s a matter of hypocrisy. Don’t call yourself a “freethinker” if you can’t stand disagreement.

    spreading your MRA

    I’m not a “men’s rights activist”, unless you can find some instance where I said “I want X right for men only”.

    It has fuck all to do with Rebecca or any “censorious” behaviour she may have done whatever-many years ago anyway. It was my decision. And I stand by it 100%.

    Oh, OK, so it was you. But it does happen under her watch. And congratulations on admitting that you like to stifle legitimate criticism.

  64. Greta Christina says

    Huskvarna, despite being given a warning about not derailing this thread, has continued with their derailment. Thus violating not only #4 in my comment policy — “No repeated attempts to bring up the same topic over and over again” — but also clearly violating #10: Respect my right to moderate my blog. They have therefore been banned.

  65. Leum says

    Greta, I can’t find a link to your comment policy on your site. Could you please place a link on your sidebar so that people can easily find it?

  66. Kaboobie says

    @Leum Greta provided a link to her comment policy in #69. She always does so when she warns a commenter that s/he is violating that policy.

  67. says

    I think aside from the stupid way he worded it, the principle is solid. I don’t think it’d be right to include a woman or a minority person *simply because he/she is a woman or minority.* But I find it hard to believe that of all the prominent female and minority atheists popping up that not a single one of them could have made the list on merit alone, especially when taking Dawkins and Harris out of the picture (and really, what have they done lately?)

  68. Beauzeaux says

    I was amazed that he even used the word “token” and then doubly amazed that he kept using it! Over and over and over.

    Maybe he’s too young to know the weight of that word? Is that possible?

    And on Ophelia’s blog he just seemed oblivious to the problem. How could ANY woman make an impact equal to that of Ricky Gervais or George Takei? Any woman would just be a “token” — no one deserving of being in such august company. Blecch.

  69. says

    Wow! Funny, you’d think Staks would have gotten the point from South Park, where the “Token” character is the well-spoken kid with successful parents.

  70. Chas Warren says

    Thank you, Illuminata, for your response. However, I did read the post — and all subsequent comments — before replying. I don’t believe that you or anyone else who posted in this thread are a bitch, nor can any such implication be inferred. The word “bitch” isn’t part of my vocabulary (not even when describing a female canine).

    Believe it or not, it is possible to be non-sexist and have a contrary opinion.

  71. says

    Jason Bathon: Undoubtedly, you are not in any group that has ever been excluded unless others made a conscious effort to be more inclusive of it.

    BTW, the term is “intersexed person,” not “hermaphrodite.” You aren’t describing “freaks of nature” who exist to amuse you; you’re describing human beings.

    Reg: Thanks for pointing out to us silly wimminz that there are more important things in the world to be angry about, so maybe we ought to take our overreaction and our unladylike anger and promise to be nicer to sexist menz who are totally on our side.

    Skepacabra: But alienating women in the name of “non-divisiveness” is OK, huh?

    Manuel: I hope you’ve still got a big red mark on your ass from the door hitting it on the way out.

    Janine: But Mriana had to let everybody know what a big Takei fangirl she is! And add lots of smilies, too!!

  72. jemand says

    Hi KvdH , Huskvarna, nice morphing.

    I guess it was SOOO important to you to not let the emporsteigend thing go (do you EVER keep the same posting name?) that you outed yourself sockpuppeting.

    Nice job getting banned TWICE in two different comment threads, without, apparently, it being commented on you morphed.

    Are you planning on coming back? (Don’t answer. Stay away.)

  73. Emrysmyrddin says

    If Greta had Mollies, SamInMpls would get my immediate OMnomination! Speaking as a lurker, great de-lurk!

  74. Rose says

    Forewarning: a bit rambly

    I just recently noticed that, for years, I’ve _unconsciously_ been reading books and blogs by almost exclusively female writers, and watch talks/videos almost exclusively by women. The few exceptions in book authors are those that have interesting, realistic female characters. I don’t go “meh, he’s a guy” and choose not to read something. It’s that time and time again the writers that grab my attention and hold it are female.

    Yes, all these guys who were nominated are pretty great for sure. But it’s more than just that not including the awesome female atheists is ignoring their accomplishments (though that’s not okay). It’s ignoring the sheer importance of being an outspoken female atheist. It is challenging, as I’m sure Greta and Rebecca and so on know, and it’s _important_, especially in light of the sexism that has been prominently on display this past year. It matters to me, and I believe to other women, to see women in atheism.

    Think about President Obama. The fact that he is a person of color means that by the very act of becoming president, he did something that no one had ever done before, and took us all a step further towards equality. That is a serious accomplishment.

    Simply by becoming a respected and influential speaker, blogger, etc. in a male-dominated and sometimes sexist domain, a female atheist HAS accomplished something very important, difficult, and worthy of recognition.

    Hope that made sense. x.x

  75. Don Lacey says

    A single list is not evidence of what’s happening in the entire community of Atheists and Skeptics.

    “When a list of Top Five atheists doesn’t include any women,…” We don’t have a problem, we have a bad list that doesn’t reflect reality, for whatever reason. Perhaps the person that made the list has the problem but I don’t have a problem and the FreeThinking community doesn’t have a problem.

    How do we do this? Create a problem where none should exist. If there was a list of the most influential Atheists in 1964, I’m sure that Madelyn O’Hair would surely be at the top of the list. Atheism has always had a large number of women leaders. A few years ago both American Atheists and Atheists Alliance International were both headed up by women. They were recognized as leaders by their organizations. Who cares about the opinion of one person who generates one list? The point is there are women Atheists and they are doing things every day. More importantly, they are being recognized for their leadership.

    All that gender neutral “goodness” can be killed by one individual with one list? Are we not Skeptical? How can we let a single anecdote drive us to distraction? This has been a bad year for single events creating massive controversies. It’s completely human to be captured by the compelling story but as Skeptics aren’t we better than this? Can’t we just take a single story for what it really is–a single story? The overall evidence tells another story. We have highly effective and respected women in the FreeThinking community. Let’s celebrate that fact every day.

  76. Paul says

    Sorry if this has been covered already, but I’ve very confused as to the point being made here…
    As I understand it, some guy made a list of people as a kind of short-list for an award. They happen to all be male. Rather than include a woman just for the sake of having a woman there (tokenism), he elected to keep the list as is based on the original criteria (whatever that was).
    The creator of the list wanted to *avoid* tokenism.
    Seems to me that anyone that has a problem with this is either (1) advocating tokenism, or (2) criticising the selection criteria itself.
    I can understand that people (particularly women) would be unhappy with a lack of female presence in the list, but is that because they feel the selection criteria was faulty, or just that there are more boys than girls?
    Be careful you’re not protesting for the wrong reasons!

  77. Drein says

    The amount of time you spend seeking out items to get outraged over is inversely proportional to life success I would bet.

  78. says

    Drein: good thing we aren’t seeking this shit out, huh? It’s generally coming to us.

    Greta: sorry for posting the manual ping right after the pingback. I don’t get this pingback nonsense and I’m not even going to try. :p

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  1. […] For anyone who’s thinking, “Hey, this is just democracy in action, the top vote-getters got the top five nominations, there’s nothing racist about it,” I passionately urge you to read Greg Laden’s excellent piece, How To Make Diversity Happen, on how a selection process with no conscious attempt to be inclusive is almost always going to wind up perpetuating privilege. If you’re thinking that deliberately seeking diversity in a selection process will lower the quality of the candidates, I urge you to read Natalie Reed’s excellent piece, Thoughts from a Diversity Hire, on why diversity itself “is a qualification, a merit and a value.” (As well as on many of the other reasons why this accusation is baloney.) And for anyone who’s thinking that making a conscious effort to seek diversity is the same as advocating “tokenism,’ I urge you to read my own piece on that topics, Tokenism Is Not Inclusivity. […]

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