Good News, Everybody!


Two pieces of good news on the “feminism in atheism/ skepticism” front!

Good News #1: The Center for Inquiry — hosts of this year’s wildly successful Women in Secularism conference — have put a harassment policy/ code of conduct into place! And it’s not jsut for big conferences, either. Their policy will apply to “any educational meeting or gathering organized or sponsored by CFI or its affiliates to which nonemployees are invited.” (CFI president and CEO Ronald A. Lindsay has a blog post explaining their decision — why they institute the policy in the first place, and why they crafted this one as they did. It’s well worth reading.)

Good News #2: A new organization has formed, Secular Woman, specifically devoted to advancing the interests of atheist, humanist and other non-religious women. Among other things, they’re forming a speaker’s bureau; forming a central list of local secular women’s groups; collating links to petition and action centers; setting up a guest blog for new/ intermittent bloggers; and giving conference grants to women who want to attend atheist conferences. (This last one is a really good and important idea — if you’re pondering the question of why women’s conference attendance is lower than men’s, “money” has got to be high on your list.) Membership is just $20 — $10 for students — and is open to people of all genders. (If you have skills to share but are short on cash, they’re also looking for volunteers.) If you want to support women in the secularist movement and promote our visibility, this would be a great way to do it.

And if you want to know why we have to keep talking about all this sexism stuff, or why I have hope in the face of ugly Internet firestorms about sexism? This is why. It works.

Comments

  1. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    And if you want to know why we have to keep talking about all this sexism stuff, or why I have hope in the face of ugly Internet firestorms about sexism? This is why. It works.

    They KNOW it works. Why do you think they’re so desperate to have people not talk about it?

  2. says

    Excellent news! It’s good to know that even if DJ Grothe isn’t changing his tune, at least other organizations and organization leaders are listening and reacting. On the whole I get the impression that there is real forward momentum building towards addressing this problem (not to say we don’t still have a long way to go of course).

    OT: Did anyone else read the title of this post in Professor Farnsworth’s voice?

  3. Nurse Ingrid says

    Azkyroth, absolutely yes. Brilliant.

    Salo, that is certainly how I heard it.

  4. says

    Glad to see this. This infighting as been the discussion on some Christian blogs along the lines of “see, the women are aggressively harassed. Good without God, my ass”.

  5. says

    Nice to see all genders welcome in the new group. (I’m cis-female, but I appreciate the inclusiveness anyhow!)

    I may just have to think about joining.

  6. Bubba says

    I just wish none of this were neccesary and we could all stop seeing each other as stereotypes and instead see each other simply as fellow human beings. It’s sad when some men see women as targets of opportunity and some women see men as potential rapists. What makes it worse is some people make it a requirement as a mode of survival.

  7. proxer says

    First thought: “I wonder if membership is open to men?”

    Yep!

    @Bubba: I’m with you. I do wonder what the ‘endgame’ looks like though. It seems unrealistic to set a goal of eliminating all prejudice, which leaves me wondering where we put the goalpost, and how the answer to that question affects our strategy, tactics, and expectations, if it does at all.

  8. IIzO says

    I don’t understand.Aren’t those codes of conducts like basics to respect in any social events/conference by default ?I didn’t know the (male?)atheist community was so bad . =/

  9. Sophia Dodds says

    Proxer:

    We all know it’s impossible to achieve perfection, partly because we can’t really agree on what perfection is and partly because people are people and many people tend to err on the side of stupid.
    We can, however, aim for perfection. Figure out exactly what we want and take steps toward that goal. Of course we’ll never get there, but every time progress is made… well, progress is made. Isn’t that how everything works?

    I suppose what I’m trying to say is that we can put the goalpost anywhere we like, and the more idealistic the better. Having a seemingly unachievable goal only throws how far there is to go into ever more stark contrast.

  10. Quinapalus says

    proxer@11: It’s unrealistic to set that goal, but that’s no reason not to do it. As for what we expect, that’s simple enough: we can expect more.

  11. F says

    Excellent news on both counts.

    Amazing how “just whining” turns into positive results, innit?

  12. ibbica says

    @IIzO

    I don’t understand.Aren’t those codes of conducts like basics to respect in any social events/conference by default ?I didn’t know the (male?)atheist community was so bad . =/

    Well, they should be. Some people have managed to remain completely ignorant of that; some are aware that they’re expected to respect all other people as, you know, people and just refuse to. The institution of formal policies helps educate the former, and allows third parties to stop the latter.

    “The atheist community” hasn’t necessarily been any better or worse than society at large in dealing with sexism. Some members of the atheist community have decided to do something about that. (Psst… that’s a Good Thing.)

  13. Hibernia86 says

    I think it is good to have a basic standard of conduct expected at meetings and it is good to have women’s groups in secularism. But I think the reason why people were getting annoyed, however, is that rather than discuss those issues, people (including in the post above) decided to cry wolf about sexism instead. The standards for conduct at meetings that we are debating over apply equally to both genders, so no one can claim gender discrimination. Rather than demonizing the Atheist community (I thought that was the Fundamentalists’ job) we should talk as adults and attempt to agree on standards for our meetings that will make most people comfortable.

  14. Tyrant of Skepsis says

    ” But I think the reason why people were getting annoyed, however, is that rather than discuss those issues, people (including in the post above) decided to cry wolf about sexism instead.”

    Think harder…

  15. proxer says

    Quinapalus, Sophia Dodds,

    I’m going to have to preface this by stating unequivocally that I wish to live in a world where there is no prejudice, where there is no harassment, and that I strive to act accordingly. I am not in any way justifying an ‘acceptance’ of any level of prejudice or harassment; I’m advocating a reasoned and practical approach to these issues.

    I agree that the ‘goal’ should be zero harrassment, period. Maybe my question is better phrased as a comparison:

    We want zero car accidents. We could have zero car accidents by eliminating cars, but we choose not to do that. We know that some people will be killed in car accidents this year, and we accept that as the cost of the benefits of driving. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the gist is that there are a LOT of good things that people do with cars, accidents (even intentional ones) represent a breakdown, and we should preserve the overwhelming benefits while working to eliminate the breakdowns.

    For example, we could say “well, if we have a speed limit of 10mph, we’ll have ALMOST zero fatal car accidents.” But we don’t accept that solution either. We have a situation where we have standards and rules in place that balance the benefits of cars with the harm of cars.

    Of course, the goal is still to have zero car accidents, and we’re continually improving cars, roads etc. to both increase the benefits and reduce the harms, I just feel that it’s more honest, and therefore more effective, to recognize that we accept certain losses in order to preserve the overwhelming benefits of cars.

    I feel like eliminating prejudice is a similar issue. Prejudice and harassment are carried out via otherwise beneficial behaviors: speech, hiring practices, physical contact, etc. You can’t eliminate all prejudice without lobotomizing everyone that’s born.

    What we can do is what we do with cars: reduce the rate of harassment while preserving the overall health of society. What I was trying to express to Bubba is my frustration with the messiness of that problem, especially as we start to get past the “big” issues: Overt prejudice and harassment can be effectively addressed with simple solutions, such as anti-discrimination laws, but the closer we get to true equality, the more nuanced the problems become, which I feel calls for more nuanced solutions, many of which aren’t easy (for me, anyway) to find.

  16. Hibernia86 says

    Tyrant of Skepsis: I do think hard. Now it’s your turn. Try to actually come up with some sort of logic to support your point next time.

    To boil down proxer’s post, I think that the general goal should be to come up with standards that most people can agree on. If there are specific people that still feel uncomfortable then we can try to solve those problems individually with the people involved.

  17. bubba707 says

    proxer, the older I get the more disgusted I get with the entire human species. I’ve about reached that point where being a hermit looks good. Hell, I took up kayaking because there’s only room for one in the boat and it can go places other boats can’t so I can get away from idiots. At the moment I’m dealing with settling my mothers estate but after that I’m loading supplies in my kayak and disappearing for as long as possible by myself. Let’s be honest, these problems with predjudice will never be eliminated. The best we can realistically hope for is they’ll be pushed into the dark and not be displayed publicly.

  18. proxer says

    bubba,

    I took up kayaking because there’s only room for one in the boat and it can go places other boats can’t so I can get away from idiots

    That made me laugh :)

    I’m sorry to hear about your mother, and I hope that your sojourn in the wilderness is awesome; I may join you some day…

    While I agree that we can’t eliminate these problems 100%, I am confident that we’ll minimize them eventually.

  19. bubba707 says

    Proxer, getting away from people and cities is my way of staying sane. I’m fortunate in that my wife understands this. I’m planning a real trip for next year or the year after to the boundary waters wilderness area for a month or so. The solitude works wonders for morale. My wife has no interest in these activities, she prefers flush toilets, air conditioning and the conveniences of being in town.

  20. Hibernia86 says

    Yeah, my brother has a similar minimalist view when it comes to possessions. He is actually on a big trip this summer, peddling a bike across the country. He sometimes arranges to sleep on people’s couches through the couch surfer’s website. The rest of the time, he just sets up a tent somewhere and sleeps in it. He is enjoying meeting the random people and he is able to make money by doing web design work on the lap top he brought along and uploading it at random wifi areas along the way.

  21. Bubba says

    Hibernia, sounds like he’s having a good time. For me, the closest to tech I expect to get is an emergency radio and a supply of MREs and maybe a fishing pole. The clean environment and solitude are a big help in reducing stress. That’s the great thing about protected wilderness. Sadly, I read that Homeland Security wants to put a road through the place and a huge cell tower is going to be built.

  22. Stacy says

    “(This last one is a really good and important idea — if you’re pondering the question of why women’s conference attendance is lower than men’s, “money” has got to be high on your list.) ”

    Are we just assuming that all women earn less than men? I happen to earn a lot more than my husband. If we were going to go to these conferences, he would be the one who would need a grant.

    But thank you all for assuming that we are all an oppressed underclass who can not even attend a conference without a handout. Your modus operandi seems to be based on the assumption that we are all victims, and all remedies must come from that assumption of victimhood.

    http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,2015274,00.html

    We have gotten there, my generation is the first, and its probably going to keep going this way for a while, hopefully until it balances out and gender is no longer an issue when it comes to wage.

    So don’t be so damn condescending.

  23. Bubba says

    Stacy, are you telling us you think we should be totally unconcerned about the issue and simply ignore it?

  24. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    Are we just assuming that all women earn less than men? I happen to earn a lot more than my husband.

    ….how exactly did that happen without you learning some basic concepts of statistics?

  25. says

    I’ve long considered myself a feminist, but I was in the “why are we talking about this?” camp, until Mrs. DJW told me some stories. Reading Greta’s blog recently has helped cement the issue in my mind. I am delighted that conventions and organizations are taking the harassment issue seriously; as someone who has been harassed (in a different but very real way), I know I would be calling for some firm and well-enforced policies myself.

    Thanks, Greta, for helping explain the matter to me.

  26. sawells says

    Heh. “I make more money than my husband, therefore women don’t earn less than men on average.” I think Stacy heard Chaka Khan’s “I’m every woman” and didn’t quite understand it.

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