Greta Christina in the Trollop Salon!

Alison Tyler: Do you need a certain mindset or tools or other to enable you to get into your writing, and if so, what?

Greta Christina: Tools, for damn sure. I am very attached to writing on my own laptop. It would feel weird to write on anything else.

As for mindset: It definitely helps to be in a certain mindset for certain kinds of writing. It helps, for instance, to be horny when I’m writing dirty stories. If I’m not horny, I’ll generally do other kinds of writing instead: like atheist rants, or cat blogging.

That being said, though: A deadline for paying work is powerful inspiration. If I have a deadline for a specific piece, I just bloody well work on it, whether I feel like it or not. I flesh out the skeleton if I haven’t yet started a piece, or work on polishing and revisions if I have. Starting to write a piece can get me in the mindset to write it. And starting to write porn can definitely make me horny enough to write porn. If I can’t get revved up any other way, then I’ll read some of my older porn. It can get me very… inspired.

*****

Bending coverTo read the rest of this interview with celebrated sex writer and editor Alison Tyler, go to Alison’s interview blog, Trollop Salon.

Here’s the deal: I’m doing a blog tour for my new erotic fiction collection, “Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.” Today’s installment in the tour is an interview I did with Alison Tyler, on the nuts and bolts of writing erotic fiction. as well as on some personal stuff (like my idea of an ideal lover!).

And remember — the book is currently available as an ebook on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords. Audiobook and paperback are coming soon!

Previous stops on this blog tour:

6/3:
Ozy Frantz’s Blog: Is Erotic Shame Real Shame? (guest post by me)
Ozy Frantz’s Blog: Christian Domestic Discipline (extended excerpt)

Ozy Frantz has taken down their blog. These posts have now been reprinted on my own blog:
Is Erotic Shame “Real” Shame? (essay)
Excerpt from Christian Domestic Discipline (extended excerpt)

6/4:
Brute Reason: Greta Christina on Writing Dirty Stories (interview with Miri)

6/5:
Lusty Lady, Rachel Kramer Bussell: Excerpt from Craig’s List (extended excerpt)

6/7:
Charlie Glickman’s Blog: “Discover just how far sexy goes” (brief review/ blurb)

6/10:
WWJTD? JT Eberhard: On Being an Atheist Writing Religious Porn, plus Excerpt from Penitence as a Perpetual Motion Machine (guest post by me, plus extended excerpt)

6/12:
Passions and Provocations, Pam Rosenthal (a.k.a. Molly Weatherfield): How to Read a Remarkable Work of Erotica (review/ essay)

6/13:
Curvacious Dee’s Blog: Bent Fiction, plus Excerpt from Doing It Over (review, plus extended excerpt)

6/13:
Susie Bright’s Journal: Pain, Kink, Shame — and a Unicorn Chaser. Greta Christina’s New Erotic Epic! (brief review and extended excerpt from The Shame Photos

6/14:
En Tequila Es Verdad, Dana Hunter’s blog: Why Is Kink Fun? (guest post by me)

6/18:
Under His Hand, Kaya’s blog: Excerpt from This Week (extended excerpts)

6/19:
Heina, Skepchick: Why Atheists Say “God” When They Have Sex (essay)

6/21:
Girl on the Net: Someone else’s story (essay/review)

Apologies Are Hard: Stephanie Zvan

I urge everyone who cares about the Ron Lindsay/ CFI thing to read Stephanie Zvan’s piece about it. It has some actual facts and information that may help you make a decision about how to respond, as well as some very good analysis. Here’s a brief excerpt to give you an idea of where she’s going:

Apologies Are Hard

They’re almost never ideal, for lots of reasons. Emotions are high. Full understanding rarely happens with the immediacy of a cartoon light bulb over someone’s head. The harm that has been done can rarely be undone simply with words. It is easy to view words as trivial.

When apologies are really, really good, people hold them up as shining examples, but this is the sort of thing that happens in the English-speaking world maybe once a year. Most apologies have the kind of faults we expect and deal with in any other communication.

With that said, I want to thank Ron Lindsay for his remarks yesterday evening on the CFI blog. They give me hope for moving forward on this, and they help me resolve the dilemma of wanting to support the good work of my friends at CFI while being unable to support the management.

I’m still processing my own response — again, I’m at a conference today, and then I’m traveling — but as of this writing, I’m leaning towards a response that pretty much agrees with her.

Processing… (UPDATED)

UPDATE: Here is a link to Lindsay’s apology.

Sorry for the terseness of this. I’m writing this on my phone, the guest Internet at the dorm where I’m staying for the SSA conference for some reason shuts off between midnight and 7 AM. But I wanted to get something up about this now.

Yes, I’ve seen Ron Lindsay’s apology. (Can’t link to it – again, doing this from my phone – but I’m sure it’s being linked to extensively elsewhere.) I want and need to think about this for at least a few hours before I give a full response, plus I’m at this conference and Sunday is a travel day and I have a deadline on Monday, so I can’t give this the full attention it deserves right this second. So for right now, provisionally, I will just say this: Reservedly happy, and cautiously optimistic. More as soon as possible, probably by Monday afternoon Pacific time.

Someone else’s story

I want to talk about fantasy and issues around consent. This blog touches on both of these things. Everything in it is consensual, but if discussions around this upset you or make you uncomfortable, you might prefer not to read it.

Consent is utterly fundamental when you’re having sex. It’s so fundamental, so important, that the vast majority of people wouldn’t even need to hear that stated: you just know. As you know it’s wrong to punch a stranger, sneak meat into vegetarian lasagne, or throw a kitten into a lake.

However, despite knowing these things are wrong, we’re more than happy for them to happen in fiction. We’ll cheer when the baddie gets punched in an action film, smile when Tom gets hit by Jerry, or laugh along when David Mitchell suggests that Robert Webb should kill and eat a cat. We’re perfectly capable of distinguishing fantasy from reality.

*****

Bending coverTo read the rest of this clever, complex, funny essay, go to Girl on the Net’s blog, Someone else’s story.

Here’s the deal: I’m doing a blog tour for my new erotic fiction collection, “Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.” Today’s installment in the tour is an essay/ review on the nature of consent and how it applies to fantasy versus reality, by Girl on the Net.

And remember — the book is currently available as an ebook on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords. Audiobook and paperback are coming soon!

Previous stops on this blog tour:

6/3:
Ozy Frantz’s Blog: Is Erotic Shame Real Shame? (guest post by me)
Ozy Frantz’s Blog: Christian Domestic Discipline (extended excerpt)

Ozy Frantz has taken down their blog. These posts have now been reprinted on my own blog:
Is Erotic Shame “Real” Shame? (essay)
Excerpt from Christian Domestic Discipline (extended excerpt)

6/4:
Brute Reason: Greta Christina on Writing Dirty Stories (interview with Miri)

6/5:
Lusty Lady, Rachel Kramer Bussell: Excerpt from Craig’s List (extended excerpt)

6/7:
Charlie Glickman’s Blog: “Discover just how far sexy goes” (brief review/ blurb)

6/10:
WWJTD? JT Eberhard: On Being an Atheist Writing Religious Porn, plus Excerpt from Penitence as a Perpetual Motion Machine (guest post by me, plus extended excerpt)

6/12:
Passions and Provocations, Pam Rosenthal (a.k.a. Molly Weatherfield): How to Read a Remarkable Work of Erotica (review/ essay)

6/13:
Curvacious Dee’s Blog: Bent Fiction, plus Excerpt from Doing It Over (review, plus extended excerpt)

6/13:
Susie Bright’s Journal: Pain, Kink, Shame — and a Unicorn Chaser. Greta Christina’s New Erotic Epic! (brief review and extended excerpt from The Shame Photos

6/14:
En Tequila Es Verdad, Dana Hunter’s blog: Why Is Kink Fun? (guest post by me)

6/18:
Under His Hand, Kaya’s blog: Excerpt from This Week (extended excerpts)

6/19:
Heina, Skepchick: Why Atheists Say “God” When They Have Sex (essay)

Secular Meditation: “This is my job”

“This is my job.”

I have a few quasi-mantras that I sometimes use when I meditate. They’re not mantras, exactly: they’re not words or ideas that I’m making the focus of my meditation. They’re more like reminders, ways to pull my focus back to whatever it is that I am working to focus on. “I am my body.” “One thing at a time.” “Notice that, acknowledge it, gently return.” “Forgive yourself.” “Put it on the list” (a phrase I use when I’m fixating on some undone task: if I externalize it by putting it on my to-do list, it’s easier to let go of and return to the meditation). “I am who I am” (more on that in a future post). “Be here now.” “Let go.”

But there’s one quasi-mantra in particular that I’ve been using a lot, probably more than any other. It’s one that I’m finding both interestingly useful and interestingly problematic, and I want to think out loud for a bit about both.

That quasi-mantra: “This is my job.”

computer with handsHere’s the thing. When I meditate, the thoughts and feelings and anxieties that rise in my head, and which I notice and acknowledge and gently let go of so I can return my focus, are overwhelmingly about work. I’ve let my work plate get full to the point where it’s overflowing and spilling onto the floor. I have two five twelve hours of work to do for every hour that I have to do it in. And even if that weren’t true, the nature of being a writer is that I essentially have an infinite amount of work I could be doing at any given time. There is always, always, something that I could be writing about. Always. So there’s a part of me that sees myself lying quietly and paying attention to my body and my breath, and thinks, “What the hell are you doing? Look at all the work you have to do. This is a waste of time.”

But at the same time, I am vividly aware that one of the many benefits I’m getting from meditation — and certainly the most tangible one — is that it’s cranking up my work productivity to eleven. My increased ability to focus, my improved ability to prioritize, my new-found technique of ditching the inefficient multi-tasking crap and doing just one thing at a time, the returning joy and pleasure that I’m taking in my work… all of this is coming largely from my meditation and mindfulness practice.

So when I meditate, and I find my thoughts continually returning to work-related anxieties and to-do lists, and I find myself getting guilty and anxious and impatient about the time I’m spending meditating when I could be writing or answering emails or picking up promo cards from the printer or something… I tell myself, “This is my job.”

“This is my job.” My quasi-mantra shorthand for, “This is what I’m supposed to be doing right now. The time I’m spending on lying quietly and paying attention to my body and my breath is more than paying off in work productivity. This is not technically speaking work, but it is making it easier for me to do my work, and is making my work better. This is not wasted time. This counts as work.”

“This is my job.”

On the plus side: This quasi-mantra works. It quiets my brain. It lets me get on with my practice. It helps me stop thinking of meditation as a waste of time… which makes it possible to pursue it. People I know who have meditated for years (including my meditation teacher) talk a lot about doing whatever practice works for you, in whatever way works for you… and this works for me.

On the minus side: Do I ever get to value myself, not just for my work, but for myself?

Do I ever get to take care of myself, just for my own sake?

Dynamo-donutsWhen I wrote “In Praise of Frivolity,” when I wrote about finding meaning not just in big things like work and family and social change, but in little things like donuts and fashion magazines and Cards Against Humanity, I said this: “If we exist to make other people happy, and they exist to make other people happy, and so on and so on… at what point does that end? At some point, doesn’t experience get to just matter, simply because it matters?”

Do I ever get to apply that to myself?

For now, I’m going to let this quasi-mantra be. It’s working, and I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. Meditation is turning out to be hugely beneficial, not just for my work productivity but for my mental health and my physical health and my self-awareness and my ability to connect with people and my ability to fully experience and take joy in my life… and if this work-around lets me get on with that, I’m not going to worry about it too much. And the reality is that my work is a huge part of who I am, a huge part of what gives my life not just meaning but deep pleasure and joy. So if it’s easier for me to focus on my meditation practice by framing it as work, for now I’m going to let that be.

But I’m looking at this. I suspect that this gift horse may have some sharp teeth. At some point, I may have to let this go. At some point, I may have to find some other way to quiet the “work! work! work!” hamster wheel in my head. At some point, I may have to find a way to value this practice, not just because of what it lets me do, but because of what it lets me be.

Other piece in this series:
On Starting a Secular Meditation Practice
Meditation and Breakfast
Meditation, and the Difference Between Theory and Practice
Some Thoughts on Secular Meditation and Depression/Anxiety
Secular Meditation, and Doing One Thing at a Time
Secular Meditation: “Energy,” and Attention/ Awareness
Secular Meditation: How Down Time is Changing

Why Atheists Say “God” When They Have Sex, by Heina

Once upon a time, a veiled girl grew into a decidedly bare-headed young woman. As criticisms based on sexual pleasure were usually levied against, rather than by, the religious, she paid attention when religious folk criticized atheism in that way. Namely, certain theists claimed that without taboo, sex couldn’t possibly be as much fun. If they had been serious, she would have pointed out that the argument was the more benign cousin of the notion that sex is only good and healthy within the confines of monogamous, heterosexual marriage (her old religious, pedantic habits had yet to truly die).

As they were generally being playful, her mind went in a more pleasant direction. This isn’t to say that all of her religion-tinged sexual memories were good ones. She felt no goosebumps on her skin, just a wry smile playing upon her lips, when she recalled how her first partner once insisted she wear a headscarf during sex. She ended up feeling overheated and annoyed, not aroused. Darker were her memories of a tortured adolescence, one where an injunction against masturbation was delivered to her all too late to break the habit but soon enough to instill guilt. Flick, fret, flick, fret.

But she didn’t want to dwell on that. She recalled how lovely it was to feel the gentle warmth of the spring sunshine on the back of her neck and shoulders as she awaited a date for the first time. The accompanying breeze added to the tingling already coursing its way up and down her spine as she waited for her date to show up. Later, the fear of being caught fed the hunger with which her mouth tore into the one against it as the movie credits rolled.

Suddenly, she realized that she hadn’t violated a sexual boundary in years. Well, fuck, she thought. How could she get her spine to tingle like that again? She had no boundaries left that weren’t truly based on ethical considerations. Her feminism couldn’t provide any for her, either, since it was intersectional and sex-positive. It was clear that she needed to go on a quest for answers.

*****

Bending coverTo read the rest of this thoughtful, hilarious, and hot essay by Heina, go to Why Atheists Say “God” When They Have Sex at Skepchick.

Here’s the deal: I’m doing a blog tour for my new erotic fiction collection, “Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.” Today’s installment in the tour is an awesome, fun, iconclastic, and frequently sexy essay by Heina at Skepchick, Why Atheists Say “God” When They Have Sex.

And remember — the book is currently available an an ebook on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords. Audiobook and paperback are coming soon!

Previous stops on this blog tour:

6/3:
Ozy Frantz’s Blog: Is Erotic Shame Real Shame? (guest post by me)
Ozy Frantz’s Blog: Christian Domestic Discipline (extended excerpt)

Ozy Frantz has taken down their blog. These posts have now been reprinted on my own blog:
Is Erotic Shame “Real” Shame? (essay)
Excerpt from Christian Domestic Discipline (extended excerpt)

6/4:
Brute Reason: Greta Christina on Writing Dirty Stories (interview with Miri)

6/5:
Lusty Lady, Rachel Kramer Bussell: Excerpt from Craig’s List (extended excerpt)

6/7:
Charlie Glickman’s Blog: “Discover just how far sexy goes” (brief review/ blurb)

6/10:
WWJTD? JT Eberhard: On Being an Atheist Writing Religious Porn, plus Excerpt from Penitence as a Perpetual Motion Machine (guest post by me, plus extended excerpt)

6/12:
Passions and Provocations, Pam Rosenthal (a.k.a. Molly Weatherfield): How to Read a Remarkable Work of Erotica (review/ essay)

6/13:
Curvacious Dee’s Blog: Bent Fiction, plus Excerpt from Doing It Over (review, plus extended excerpt)

6/13:
Susie Bright’s Journal: Pain, Kink, Shame — and a Unicorn Chaser. Greta Christina’s New Erotic Epic! (brief review and extended excerpt from “The Shame Photos”

6/14:
En Tequila Es Verdad, Dana Hunter’s blog: Why Is Kink Fun? (guest post by me)

6/18:
Under His Hand, Kaya’s blog: Excerpt from “This Week” (extended excerpt)

Skepticon No Longer Accepting CFI Sponsorship

Skepticon, the awesome annual ENTIRELY FREE skeptic/freethinker/atheist conference in Springfield, Missouri, has just announced that they’re no longer accepting sponsorship from CFI.

Dear Internet,

We here at Skepticon HQ love our movement. We love that we don’t always agree, are wicked smart and have a penchant for awesome hats. Skepticon has always worked hard to cultivate a conference that celebrates such diversity and awesomeness, doing our best to ensure that any and all know that they are welcome and safe at our event.

However, after witnessing the actions of one of our years long sponsors, the Center for Inquiry (CFI), it has come to our attention that, in order to uphold the values that we have come to embody and endorse, we will no longer accept their sponsorship.

So what does this mean for Skepticon? Well, losing a large sponsor is going to hurt a little bit (we’re probably going to have to sell some of those awesome hats were were talking about) but it has made even determined than ever to make a conference that we can be proud of.

Love,

Skepticon

P.S.-Want to help us keep our awesome hats? Donate today and help us make your conference even better.

Taking this position means Skepticon is going to lose money. But they’re taking the principled stand anyway. It would be awesome if we could get some of that famous atheist fundraising juice headed their way. If you’ve recently cancelled your membership with CFI, or have otherwise withdrawn financial support, please consider re-directing some or all of that support in Skepticon’s direction. For that matter, if you haven’t withdrawn your support for CFI, or if you never supported CFI in the first place, spread some money-love in Skepticon’s direction if you can. Even a small amount makes a difference. And spread the word on the usual social media outlets!

Extended Excerpt from “This Week”

His first blow is a real one. Not extreme, but she knows right away that she’s being spanked. He waits, and delivers another blow, exactly the same. And then he begins to spank her in earnest. The spanking is slow, she can feel it each time his hand strikes her bottom. She begins to squirm; she’s embarrassed now, self-conscious about what she’s doing and how she must look, a grown woman being punished on her bare bottom like a child. And it hurts, it’s hard now and it hurts, she wasn’t expecting that. But she can’t bring herself to say anything, she’d feel like a fool just quitting in the middle… and now it’s lighter, and she thinks she can take it a little longer.

*****

Bending coverTo read the rest of this extended excerpt from my dirty story “This Week,” go to Kaya’s blog, Under His Hand.

Here’s the deal: I’m doing a blog tour for my new erotic fiction collection, “Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.” Today’s installment in the tour is an extended excerpt from “This Week, one of the dirty stories in the collection. (This actually went up last week, but there was a miscommunication about it, and I’m just getting the link up now.)

And remember — the book is currently available an an ebook on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords. Audiobook and paperback are coming soon!

Previous stops on this blog tour:

6/3:
Ozy Frantz’s Blog: Is Erotic Shame Real Shame? (guest post by me)
Ozy Frantz’s Blog: Christian Domestic Discipline (extended excerpt)

Ozy Frantz has taken down their blog. These posts have now been reprinted on my own blog:
Is Erotic Shame “Real” Shame? (essay)
Excerpt from Christian Domestic Discipline (extended excerpt)

6/4:
Brute Reason: Greta Christina on Writing Dirty Stories (interview with Miri)

6/5:
Lusty Lady, Rachel Kramer Bussell: Excerpt from Craig’s List (extended excerpt)

6/7:
Charlie Glickman’s Blog: “Discover just how far sexy goes” (brief review/ blurb)

6/10:
WWJTD? JT Eberhard: On Being an Atheist Writing Religious Porn, plus Excerpt from Penitence as a Perpetual Motion Machine (guest post by me, plus extended excerpt)

6/12:
Passions and Provocations, Pam Rosenthal (a.k.a. Molly Weatherfield): How to Read a Remarkable Work of Erotica (review/ essay)

6/13:
Curvacious Dee’s Blog: Bent Fiction, plus Excerpt from Doing It Over (review, plus extended excerpt)

6/13:
Susie Bright’s Journal: Pain, Kink, Shame — and a Unicorn Chaser. Greta Christina’s New Erotic Epic! (brief review and extended excerpt from “The Shame Photos”

6/14:
En Tequila Es Verdad, Dana Hunter’s blog: Why Is Kink Fun? (guest post by me)

An Open Letter to the Center for Inquiry, Withdrawing My Participation and Support

MORE RECENT UPDATE: Ron Lindsay has apologized for his remarks. I have accepted his apology, and have indicated my willingness to work with CFI again.

(UPDATE: In my original letter, I neglected to ask to be removed from the CFI Speakers’ Bureau. I have now done so.)

Dear CFI Board of Directors:

It pains me to do this, but I am withdrawing my support from the CFI national organization, and am cutting ties with all events, projects, and publications connected with it.

This includes the following:

* I am withdrawing as a speaker from the CFI Summit in Tacoma in October.
* I am resigning my position as columnist for Free Inquiry magazine.
* I am declining the honorarium I earned for my recent speaking engagement at CFI headquarters in Amherst, NY. Please re-direct this payment to the Secular Student Alliance. If that is not possible, please go ahead and send it to me, and I will donate it to the SSA.
* My wife and I are cancelling our subscription to Skeptical Inquirer magazine. This last one makes me extremely sad: Skeptical Inquirer played an enormous role in my process of becoming a non-believer, and it was the first publication to publish my godless writing. But I am no longer willing to be connected with your organization.

I will continue to support local CFI groups, as they are largely independent of the national organization. But unless I see tangible evidence that Ron Lindsay’s words and actions at Women in Secularism 2 do not represent CFI, and that this is not the direction CFI intends to take in the future, I cannot support or participate in the national organization.

I have already sent you two letters detailing my very serious objections to Ron Lindsay’s opening statement at the Women in Secularism 2 conference, and explaining why both the content and the context of that talk was insulting, contemptuous, patronizing, wildly inaccurate, and grossly unprofessional. I, and many other people in this community, have been waiting for several weeks now for an official response from CFI on this matter, in hopes that the Board of Directors would recognize that a large and growing segment of the community was deeply insulted and alienated by this incident, and in hopes that they would take this matter seriously.

Today’s response by the CFI Board of Directors was nothing short of cowardly.

Today’s response by the CFI Board of Directors was pure spin. It was bland, equivocating, obfuscating misdirection and corporate bafflegab. It expressed “unhappiness with the controversy,” without any acknowledgement of what that controversy was about or why people have been so angered by it. It referred to the controversy “surrounding the recent Women in Secularism Conference 2,” without any acknowledgement that the source of this controversy was the CEO of their organization. It took the cowardly position of valuing “respectful debate and dialogue” on important issues that concern the community, without being willing to actually take a stand on these issues. It expressed the intent to work with “all elements of the secular community,” without any acknowledgement of the “elements” in this community who have been engaging in a persistent campaign of hatred, harassment, abuse, and threats of violence, rape, and death towards feminist women in this movement. It expressed the intent to “enhance our common values and strengthen our solidarity,” creating a false equivalency between harassers and their targets. It was so dodgy, it wouldn’t even use Ron Lindsay’s name.

And today’s response by the CFI Board of Directors treated this community like fools. It responded to a serious controversy in the community, not with straight talk and a willingness to take a stand, but with bland corporate spin that obfuscated the issues and failed to address them in any substantial way… or even in any insubstantial and symbolic way. It treated the people in this community, not as participants to be talked with, but as sheep to be placated and deflected and manipulated.

Some people have been calling for Ron Lindsay to resign or be fired. I am not one of them. I have been calling for Lindsay to apologize. But frankly, I would have been satisfied with any action at all on the part of the CFI Board of Directors — censuring Lindsay, calling for him to apologize, apologizing on his behalf — that would have shown an understanding of the seriousness of this matter. I would have been satisfied with any action at all indicating that Lindsay’s insulting and contemptuous behavior did not represent CFI, and that this is not the direction CFI intends to take in the future.

The board wasn’t even willing to do that.

It has become all too clear that the people in charge at CFI — not the staffers, not the volunteers, but the people in power — are profoundly out of touch with the realities of this movement. They are profoundly out of touch with the ugly realities that any woman in this movement faces if she raises her head to speak about sexism. They are profoundly out of touch with the ways that Ron Lindsay’s opening talk at WiS2 was a dog-whistle to the misogynistic harassers in this movement. They want solidarity and a focus on common values, but are profoundly out of touch with the fact that it is literally impossible for this movement to be inclusive of everyone: that it is literally impossible to be inclusive of atheist women, and at the same time be inclusive of people who hate women or are dismissive of our concerns and our realities.

And they are profoundly out of touch with the direction this movement is going in. They are profoundly out of touch with the fact that the young people in this movement are overwhelmingly on board with feminism and other social justice issues. They are profoundly out of touch with the fact that the young people in this movement overwhelmingly want the atheist movement to work on these social justice issues in the places where they overlap with atheism… and want the atheist movement to pay attention to these issues in internal matters and be willing to clean up their own house. They are prioritizing the concerns of the old guard — and the lack of concern of the old guard — at the cost of alienating the vibrant, energized, well-organized, rapidly-growing segment of this community that is 25 and under. As Amanda Marcotte wrote in her own response to the CFI board statement (“The Center For Inquiry Likes Atheism’s Cranky White Guy Image, So Screw You Ladies”): “Sometimes, by refusing to take a side, you end up siding with one side, usually the bad guys.” In waffling and trying to placate everyone in this debate, they have alienated the people who are the future of this movement.

I’m done. It makes me sick and sad — I have great respect for many of the CFI staff and volunteers, and have great value for much of the work that CFI has done. But I can’t be part of it.

Sincerely,
Greta Christina

*****

Note to readers of mine who are angry and disappointed in the recent actions of the CFI leadership, but who don’t want to harm the projects or staff members who you do value and support, and who are wondering what I might suggest: Ultimately, you have to keep your own conscience. But you do have options. You can withdraw your time, energy, and financial support from the national CFI organization, and donate it to other organizations that are doing similar work and whose leadership you respect and trust. You can withdraw your time, energy, and financial support from the national organization, and donate it instead to local CFI groups. You can continue to donate money to the national organization, and earmark it for specific purposes that you do support rather than just for the general fund: such as supporting local groups, paying the salaries of staffers like Melody Hensley or Debbie Goddard, supporting CFI On Campus, etc. If other people have suggestions, I’d welcome hearing them in the comments.

Whatever you do, please let CFI know that you’re doing it. Email to the Board of Directors can be sent to the Corporate Secretary, Tom Flynn, at tflynn@centerforinquiry.net. Their mailing address is Center for Inquiry, PO Box 741, Amherst, NY 14226-0741. Please be sure to let them know what your current level of participation in CFI is — donator, organizer, local group member, national group member, event/ conference participant, etc.

Parsing the Center For Inquiry’s Non-Statement about Ron Lindsay and the Women in Secularism 2 Conference

UPDATE: Ron Lindsay has apologized for his remarks. I have accepted his apology.

Parsing the Center For Inquiry’s Non-Statement about Ron Lindsay and the Women in Secularism 2 Conference

So CFI has issued a statement, in response to the controversy over Ron Lindsay’s opening remarks at the recent Women in Secularism 2 conference.

No. Correct that. CFI has issued a non-statement, in non-response to the controversy over Ron Lindsay’s insulting, contemptuous, patronizing, wildly inaccurate, grossly unprofessional opening remarks at the recent Women in Secularism 2 conference, in which he used his position of authority with the organization to scold the attendees and speakers, give them an ill-informed lecture on the history of feminism, and request that they talk about sexism and misogyny with more moderation and respect.

Background, in case you haven’t been following this:

A Blatant Misrepresentation — And An Insulting One: The Content of Ron Lindsay’s WiS2 Talk
He Treated Us With Contempt: The Context of Ron Lindsay’s WiS2 Talk

Here is their non-statement, in full:

Center for Inquiry Board of Directors Statement on the CEO and the Women in Secularism 2 Conference

The mission of the Center for Inquiry is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.

The Center for Inquiry, including its CEO, is dedicated to advancing the status of women and promoting women’s issues, and this was the motivation for its sponsorship of the two Women in Secularism conferences. The CFI Board wishes to express its unhappiness with the controversy surrounding the recent Women in Secularism Conference 2.

CFI believes in respectful debate and dialogue. We appreciate the many insights and varied opinions communicated to us. Going forward, we will endeavor to work with all elements of the secular movement to enhance our common values and strengthen our solidarity as we struggle together for full equality and respect for women around the world.

I would like to take a moment to parse this statement.

Center for Inquiry Board of Directors Statement on the CEO and the Women in Secularism 2 Conference

“The CEO.” Note that nowhere in this statement do they mention Ron Lindsay by name — even though this entire controversy was about his words and actions.

Translation: “The CFI board is going to start right out of the gate by declining to speak clearly and directly about this matter, and by prioritizing spin control over content. Also, we’re not going to make it easy for people to Google this.”

The mission of the Center for Inquiry is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.

Translation: “Gee, we’re awesome.”

The Center for Inquiry, including its CEO, is dedicated to advancing the status of women and promoting women’s issues, and this was the motivation for its sponsorship of the two Women in Secularism conferences.

Translation: “Gee, we’re awesome. We are especially awesome when it comes to women’s rights. See, we put on this conference and everything! We therefore are totally feminist and stuff. So stop yelling at us about how our CEO acted like a sexist asshole and treated the feminists in this movement with contempt.”

The CFI Board wishes to express its unhappiness with the controversy…

Okay. This is an important one.

“Its unhappiness with the controversy.”

Not its unhappiness with Ron Lindsay’s statement, or with the context of this statement, or with any of his follow-up statements. Its unhappiness with the controversy.

Translation: “The CFI Board wishes to express its unhappiness with the people who raised a shitstorm about this incident, and with the fact that so many people got so pissed off about it. This has been a huge pain in the ass for us, and we’re really irritated about it — but we don’t actually understand why people are so angry. Either that, or we don’t care.”

…surrounding the recent Women in Secularism Conference 2.

And this is another important one.

“…surrounding the recent Women in Secularism Conference 2.”

Surrounding the conference.

Not “surrounding Ron Lindsay’s opening remarks at the conference.” Not “surrounding Ron Lindsay’s subsequent writings defending these remarks.” Surrounding the conference.

I am going to spell this out as calmly and clearly as I can: The problem was not the conference. The conference was incredible. The conference was first-rate. The conference was one of the best I’ve ever attended… and I’ve attended a lot. The problem was with Ron Lindsay’s opening remarks, and with his subsequent writings defending these remarks.

So. Translation: “The CFI board wishes to use misdirection, equivocation, obfuscation, and corporate bafflegab to deflect attention away from the anger at Ron Lindsay, and to re-direct it towards the conference itself.”

CFI believes in respectful debate and dialogue. We appreciate the many insights and varied opinions communicated to us.

Translation: “The CFI board is taking the cowardly position of valuing debate on important issues that concern the community, without being willing to actually take a stand on these issues. To assist us in this endeavor, we are going to create false equivalencies and use the golden mean fallacy.”

Going forward, we will endeavor to work with all elements of the secular movement to enhance our common values and strengthen our solidarity…

And this is a really, really important one. Possibly the most important one of all of them.

“We are going to work with all elements of the secular movement.” “Enhance our common values and strengthen our solidarity.”

Translation: “Fuck the divisive feminists who want us to disavow the abusively misogynist element in this movement.”

Translation: “We are willing to work with all elements of the secular movement — including the ones who have been targeting a persistent campaign of hatred, harassment, abuse, and threats of violence, rape, and death towards feminist women in this movement. And including the ones who respond to this hatred, harassment, abuse, and threats with dismissal, denial, trivialization, hyper-skepticism, false equivalencies, derailing, changing the subject, and accusations of divisiveness. After all — some of these people are big names, or big donors to our organization, and we can’t afford to alienate them! We expect the feminists in this movement to make peace and play nice with the people who have been harassing, abusing, and threatening them — as well with the people who have been ignoring, denying, deflecting, and trivializing this issue. And we expect the feminists in this movement to stop making us uncomfortable with their demands that we take a stand on this.”

… as we struggle together for full equality and respect for women around the world.

Translation: “But really — we’re awesome! We’re in favor of women’s rights and stuff! We’re just not willing to actually do anything about it that’s in any way difficult.”

Translation of the entire non-statement: “We don’t see anything wrong with what Ron Lindsay said, or the context in which he said it. At any rate, we’re not willing to publicly acknowledge that we see anything wrong with what Ron Lindsay said or the context in which he said it. We are deeply unhappy that we have to deal with this controversy. We really wish this whole thing would just die down and go away. But we’re not willing to do anything at all in response to it. We are not willing to take even a symbolic action of censuring Lindsay, or asking him to apologize, or apologizing on his behalf. We are not willing to make any gesture at all indicating that Lindsay’s words and actions in this incident do not represent CFI, and that this is not the direction CFI intends to take in the future. So we’re going to issue a bland, equivocating, weaselly, double-speak statement that doesn’t address the issue in any substantial way, or even in any insubstantial and symbolic way.”

I’m currently writing a separate statement on what I’m doing in response to this, and what I’m going to suggest you do. But I wanted to get this out right away.