“Where the hell can I find a secular counselor?”: Guest Post on The Secular Therapist Project

This is a guest post by Dr. Darrel W. Ray, founder of Recovering from Religion, and founder and project leader of the Secular Therapist Project. Conflict of interest alert: I am currently in therapy with a therapist I found through the Secular Therapist Project.

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Thanks to Greta for providing me the opportunity to talk about The Secular Therapy Project. In 2011 and 2012, as I was speaking on our Sex and Secularism research and on book tour for my book, Sex and God, I had a steady stream of people coming to me and emailing me to ask about psychological help. Many of their stories were horrendous. Typical was a former Catholic man who said, “I was really depressed about my marriage and recent loss of my job when my wife suggested we go to a counselor. We searched and finally found one that seemed qualified and reasonably priced. I had recently stopped going to Mass with my wife and seriously doubting the whole Catholic thing. Needless to say, the counselor we chose was Catholic, her book shelf was full of Catholic counseling kinds of books. Within two sessions, I could tell this woman was more interested in our “spiritual” life than the issues we faced in our marriage. As we revealed more to her, I could tell her own biases from her expressions and the direction she tended to take in the discussion. My wife was perfectly satisfied with her, I was furious. I did not go to a counselor to get told how to make a perfect Catholic marriage. I’d been there and done that. We had done Catholic marriage encounter, among many other things in our 24 years of marriage. It always made her feel better, but ultimately drove me out. At my insistence, we dropped that counselor and searched for another. The new one turned out to be a New Agey kind of therapist that talked about energy and spiritual alignment. I was out of there in two sessions. The next one turned out to be evangelical, but he was somewhat better than the others. I lasted four sessions with him. Where the hell can I find a secular counselor?” [Read more...]

The Godless Perverts Social Club — Thursday August 21! Topic: “Is repression necessary for kink?”

BDSM Gear With a Red Rose

The Godless Perverts Social Club is meeting again this Thursday, August 21!

The Godless Perverts Social Club is the socializing/ hanging out branch of Godless Perverts. Community is one of the reasons we started Godless Perverts. There are few enough places to land when you decide that you’re an atheist; far fewer if you’re also LGBT, queer, kinky, poly, trans, or are just interested in sexuality. And the sex-positive/ alt-sex/ whatever- you- want- to- call- it community isn’t always the most welcoming place for non-believers. So please join us! We’re now meeting twice a month — first Tuesdays, and third Thursdays. We’re meeting again this Thursday, August 21.

We’re doing slightly different formats for the two clubs. Our Third Thursday Social Clubs are a little more structured — we pick a topic, let people know what it is ahead of time, have a moderator/ host who leads the discussion, maybe even get in special guests to guide discussions on particular topics. In August, that’ll be Thursday August 21.

The topic for August’s Topical Thursday: Is repression necessary for kink? Imagine a world in which there are no boundaries on what is considered normal consensual sexual expression, a world in which sexual practices are openly discussed and fully accepted as personal preference without shame or recrimination. In this imaginary utopia, would kink exist? Is kink a response to repression and, if so, how has repression formed the current ideas of what is or is not kink? Would we always find a path to kink, regardless of the enforced societal standards? We’ll discuss how repression, whether societal or religious, has shaped the idea of kink and how our personal experiences have defined our understanding of and preferences for kink. Come talk about religion’s role in shaping your kinky (or non-kinky) choices.

The first Tuesday Social Clubs are more loosely-structured casual affairs: we typically start with a check-in question and do a little moderating to make sure everyone gets to talk who wants to, but mostly we just nosh and sit around schmoozing about whatever topics happen to come up. On First Tuesdays, we’ll keep doing that. Our next First Tuesday: September 2.

All Social Clubs are at Wicked Grounds, San Francisco’s renowned BDSM-themed coffee house — 289 8th St in San Francisco, near Civic Center BART. All orientations, genders, and kinks (or lack thereof) welcome. 7:00 – 9:00 pm. There’s no admission, but we ask that you buy food and drink at the counter. (Their food is quite yummy, with both full dinners and lighter snacks/ beverages, and they have the best milkshakes in town.)

If you want to be notified about all our Godless Perverts events, sign up for our email mailing list, or follow us on Twitter at @GodlessPerverts. You can also sign up for the Bay Area Atheists/ Agnostics/ Humanists/ Freethinkers/ Skeptics Meetup page, and be notified of all sorts of godless Bay Area events — including the Godless Perverts. And of course, you can always visit our Website to find out what we’re up to, godlessperverts.com. Hope to see you soon!



Coming Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina’s books, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why and Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, are available in print, ebook, and audiobook. Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More is available in ebook and audiobook.

“When you tell us how to talk about religion, you are telling us how to discuss our abuse.”

Brilliant, must-read piece by Alex Gabriel, on how accomodationist one-policing in atheism amounts to telling victims of religious abuse how to speak about their abuse: To the atheist tone police: stop telling me how to discuss my abuse.

It is a form of privilege to be an atheist who’s never experienced religious abuse, as many of us have who are antagonistic.

It is privilege blindness to expect — without a clue what we’ve experienced or what it means to us — that we give up our self-expression so that you can form alliances with faith communities that deeply injured us.

It is tone-policing if when you’re not telling us to shut up about it, you’re telling us how to talk about it. How dare you tell us to be more respectful.

It is splaining if your answer when we detail histories of religious abuse is ‘Yes, but’ — or if you tell us we can’t blame religion for it since not all believers do the same. We know the details. You don’t.

It is gaslighting dismissing justified anger about widespread, structural religious abuse by telling us we’re bitter or hateful.

It’s civility politics implying our anger, bitterness or hatred is just as unacceptable, siding with the aggressor by prioritising believers’ feelings over ours on the false pretence of neutrality.

It’s respectability politics implying we need to earn an end to bigotry we face by getting on politely with believers, throwing those of us under the bus who can’t or won’t sing kumbaya.

It’s internalised bigotry shaming atheists for being stereotypical — smug, scornful and the rest — for letting the side down, instead of asserting our collective rights however we express ourselves.

It is victim-blaming to treat atheists who are stereotypical as a legitimate cause of anti-atheist bigotry or hatred.

It is tokenisation to impose on any individual the burden of representing atheists so our collective status can be judged by how they act.

And it is deeply, deeply problematic to cheer for snarky, confrontational firebrands of social justice who take on mass structures or beliefs that ruined their lives… then boo snarky, confrontational atheist firebrands off the stage who’ve survived religious abuse.

Read the rest.



Coming Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina’s books, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why and Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, are available in print, ebook, and audiobook. Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More is available in ebook and audiobook.

Greta Speaking in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and Amherst NY! (Plus Charlotte NC, Sacramento, and Springfield MO!)

UPDATE: The location of the Cincinnati event on September 16 has been changed, and it no longer involves a dinner thing. Akron has been cancelled. Details are below.

I have a mega-epic speaking tour coming up in the Midwest and East! I’ll be in Grand Rapids, MI; Farmington Hills, MI (near Detroit); Cleveland, OH; Amherst, NY; Akron, OH; Columbus, OH; Cincinnati, OH; and Indianapolis, IN.

Here are details about this tour, as well as my other upcoming speaking gigs — including Charlotte, NC; Sacramento, CA; and Springfield, MO. If you’re in any of these cities, I hope to see you there!

CITY: Grand Rapids, MI
DATE: Wednesday, September 10
TIME: 7:00 pm
LOCATION: Women’s City Club, 254 E. Fulton St Grand Rapids, MI
HOSTS/ SPONSORS: Center for Inquiry – Michigan
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other, And Why
SUMMARY: Coming out is the most powerful political act atheists can take. But coming out can be difficult and risky. What are some specific, practical, nuts-and-bolts strategies we can use: to come out of the closet, to support each other in coming out, and to make the atheist community a safer place to come out into? What can atheists learn about coming out from the LGBT community and their decades of coming-out experience — and what can we learn from the important differences between coming out atheist and coming out queer?
COST: Free and open to the public (suggested donation $5)
EVENT URL: http://www.cfimichigan.org/events/event/w-lecture-091014/
FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/events/751180984920178/

CITY: Farmington Hills, MI (near Detroit)
DATE: Thursday, September 11
TIME: 7:00 pm
LOCATION: Birmingham Temple Congregation for Humanistic Judaism, 28611 W 12 Mile Rd, Farmington Hills, MI
HOSTS/SPONSORS: CFI – Michigan and the Birmingham Temple Congregation for Humanistic Judaism
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other, And Why
SUMMARY: See above
EVENT URL: http://www.cfimichigan.org/events/event/se-lecture-091114/
FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/events/751180984920178/?ref=5

CITY: Cleveland, OH
DATE: Friday, September 12
TIME: 7:00 pm
LOCATION: Mavis Winkles Irish Pub & Restaurant, 5005 Rockside Road, Cleveland, OH
HOSTS/ SPONSORS: CFI Community of Northeast Ohio
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other, And Why
SUMMARY: See above
COST: Free and open to the public
EVENT URL: http://www.meetup.com/CFI-NEO/events/201063462/

CITY: Amherst, NY
DATE: Saturday, September 13
TIME: 7:00 pm
LOCATION: CFI – Transnational, 3965 Rensch Rd., Amherst, NY
(Across from the UB North Campus on Sweet Home Road. Plenty of free parking is available.)
HOSTS/ SPONSORS: CFI – Western New York
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other, And Why
SUMMARY: See above
COST: Free for members, $5.00 for non-members, open to the public
EVENT URL: http://www.centerforinquiry.net/wny/events/greta_christina_coming_out_atheist/

CITY: Akron, OH
DATE: Sunday, September 14
TIME: TBA
LOCATION: TBA
HOSTS/ SPONSORS: Secular Student Alliance at the University of Akron
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other, And Why
SUMMARY: See above
COST: Free and open to the public
EVENT URL: TBA

CITY: Columbus, OH
DATE: Monday, September 15
TIME: 7:30 pm
LOCATION: Thompson Library, Room 165, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
HOSTS/ SPONSORS: Secular Student Alliance at The Ohio State University
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other, And Why
SUMMARY: See above
COST: Free and open to the public
EVENT URL: https://www.facebook.com/events/794817570559066/

CITY: Cincinnati, OH (actually in Newport, KY)
DATE: Tuesday, September 16
TIME: 6:00 pm
LOCATION: Radisson Hotel, 668 W. 5th, Covington, KY (Texas room upstairs)
Now at Newport on the Levee, 1 Levee Way, Newport, KY
(From the Parking Garage: Take the Gallery Building elevators to the Riverwalk Level. The CommunityCenter Suites are located opposite of GameWorks. We are in Suite B.)
HOSTS/ SPONSORS: Tri-State Freethinkers
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other, And Why
SUMMARY: See above
COST: Free and open to the public
EVENT URL: http://www.meetup.com/Tri-State-Freethinkers/events/200713502/
NOTE: Dinner will be available at the meeting. (It is what pays for the room.) Please RSVP through the Meetup.
UPDATE: Because of the change in venue, dinner is no longer happening as part of this event.

CITY: Indianapolis, IN
DATE: Wednesday September 17
TIME: 7:00 pm
LOCATION: Center for Inquiry – Indiana, 350 Canal Walk, Suite A, Indianapolis, IN
HOSTS/ SPONSORS: Center for Inquiry – Indiana
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other, And Why
SUMMARY: See above
COST: Free and open to the public
EVENT URL: http://www.centerforinquiry.net/indy/events/greta_christina/

CITY: Charlotte, NC (Carolinas Secular Conference)
DATES: Friday September 26 – Sunday September 28
LOCATION: Hilton Charlotte Executive Park, 5624 Westpark Dr, Charlotte, NC
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Carolinas Secular Association
TOPIC: TBA
OTHER SPEAKERS: Mandisa Thomas; Bridgett “Bria” Crutchfield; Steve Ahlquist; Greydon Square; Harry Shaughnessy; Faisal Saeed Al Mutar; Fred Edwords; and DJ Alex Zygmunt
COST: $125. Includes the Meet and Greet which is also a costume party (costumes optional); all speaking events and workshops; and the Awards Dinner Banquet.
EVENT URL: http://www.carolinassecularassociation.org/conference/

CITY: Sacramento, CA (Sacramento Freethought Day)
DATE: Saturday, October 11
LOCATION: TBA
HOSTS/SPONSOR: Sacramento Atheists and Other Freethinkers
OTHER SPEAKERS: Annie Laurie Gaylor, Heina Dadabhoy, Neil Wehneman, Jason Frye, Sean Faircloth, and more TBA.
TOPIC: I’m not giving a talk at this event, but I’m going to be on their Authors’ Panel.
COST: Free
EVENT URL: http://freethoughtday.org/

CITY: Springfield, MO (Skepticon)
DATES: Friday November 21 – Sunday November 23
LOCATION: Ramada Oasis, Springfield, MO!
OTHER SPEAKERS: PZ Myers, Jamie Kilstein, Cara Santa Maria, Hemant Mehta, Heina Dadabhoy, Amy Davis Roth (“Surly Any”), Dr. Nicole Gugliucci, Ben “Sweatervest” Blanchard, Melanie Brewster, Sheree Renee Thomas, Kayley Whalen, Daniel Bier, Peggy Mason, Dr. David Gorski, Scott Clifton, JT Eberhard.
TOPIC: TBA
COST: Free
EVENT URL: http://skepticon.org/



Coming Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina’s books, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why and Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, are available in print, ebook, and audiobook. Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More is available in ebook and audiobook.

Greta Speaking This Weekend in Denver, Los Angeles, and Costa Mesa! Plus Charlotte NC, Sacramento, and Springfield MO!

I’m going to be speaking this weekend in Denver, Los Angeles, and Costa Mesa! in Denver I’ll be at the Colorado Secular Conference) — along with Jamila Bey, Candace Gorham, Seth Andrews, Matt Dillahunty, Mandisa Thomas, and many more awesome speakers — and I’ll be in Los Angeles and Costa Mesa with the CFI groups. Here are details about this and my other upcoming speaking gigs — including Charlotte NC, Sacramento, and Springfield MO. If you’re in any of these places, I hope to see you there!

colorado secular conference billboard

CITY: Denver, CO (Colorado Secular Conference)
DATES: Friday August 15 – Sunday August 17
LOCATION: Radisson Hotel Denver Southeast, Aurora, CO
HOSTS/SPONSOR: Colorado Coalition of Reason, with other local groups
TOPIC: Celebrating Secular Diversity
SUMMARY: Making organized atheism more diverse will help make our movement larger and stronger. And it’s also the right thing to do. What are some of the obstacles to diversity? What are some practical steps we can take to become more diverse? And why is this issue so important?
OTHER SPEAKERS: Jamila Bey, Candace Gorham, Seth Andrews, Matt Dillahunty, Hemant Mehta, Mandisa Thomas, Rebecca Hale, Steve Hill, Raúl Martínez, Mikey Weinstein, Amanda Metskas, August Brunsman, David Tamayo, and more.
COST: $35 – $175
EVENT URL: http://www.cosecularconference.org/

CITY: Los Angeles, CA
DATE: Sunday, August 17
TIME: 11:00 am to 1:00 pm
LOCATION: Center for Inquiry-L.A., 4773 Hollywood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Center for Inquiry-L.A
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other, And Why
SUMMARY: Coming out is the most powerful political act atheists can take. But coming out can be difficult and risky. What are some specific, practical, nuts-and-bolts strategies we can use: to come out of the closet, to support each other in coming out, and to make the atheist community a safer place to come out into? What can atheists learn about coming out from the LGBT community and their decades of coming-out experience — and what can we learn from the important differences between coming out atheist and coming out queer?
COST: Free for Friends of the Center: $8 for the public: $4 for students (with ID)
EVENT URL: http://www.centerforinquiry.net/la/events/coming_out_atheist/

CITY: Costa Mesa, CA
DATE: Sunday, August 17
TIME: 4:30 pm
LOCATION: Costa Mesa Community Center, 1845 Park Ave. Costa Mesa, CA
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Center for Inquiry-L.A/Community of Orange County
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other, And Why
SUMMARY: See above
COST: Free for Friends of the Center: $8 for the public: $4 for students (with ID)
EVENT URL: http://www.centerforinquiry.net/oc/events/feed_your_brain_lecture_series1/

CITY: Charlotte, NC (Carolinas Secular Conference)
DATES: Friday September 26 – Sunday September 28
LOCATION: Hilton Charlotte Executive Park, 5624 Westpark Dr, Charlotte, NC
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Carolinas Secular Association
TOPIC: TBA
OTHER SPEAKERS: Mandisa Thomas; Bria Crutchfield; Steve Ahlquist; Greydon Square; Harry Shaughnessy; Faisal Saeed Al Mutar; and DJ Alex Zygmunt
COST: $125. Includes the Meet and Greet which is also a costume party (costumes optional); all speaking events and workshops; and the Awards Dinner Banquet.
EVENT URL: http://www.carolinassecularassociation.org/conference/

CITY: Sacramento, CA (Sacramento Freethought Day)
DATE: Saturday, October 11
LOCATION: TBA
HOSTS/SPONSOR: Sacramento Atheists and Other Freethinkers
OTHER SPEAKERS: Annie Laurie Gaylor, Heina Dadabhoy, Neil Wehneman, Jason Frye, Sean Faircloth, and more TBA.
TOPIC: I’m not giving a talk at this event, but I’m going to be on their Authors’ Panel.
COST: Free
EVENT URL: http://freethoughtday.org/

CITY: Springfield, MO (Skepticon)
DATES: Friday November 21 – Sunday November 23
LOCATION: Ramada Oasis, Springfield, MO!
OTHER SPEAKERS: PZ Myers, Cara Santa Maria, Hemant Mehta, Dr. Nicole Gugliucci, Ben Blanchard, Melanie Brewster, JT Eberhard, and more.
TOPIC: TBA
COST: Free
EVENT URL: http://skepticon.org/



Coming Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina’s books, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why and Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, are available in print, ebook, and audiobook. Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More is available in ebook and audiobook.

LGBT Americans Are “Significantly Less Religious” – And There’s Almost No Gender Difference

So this is interesting.

According to a recent Gallup Poll, LGBT Americans are less religious than straight Americans. Like, a lot less. Here are the numbers:

gallup poll lgbt americans less religious

If you can’t see that image: 24% of LGBT Americans are highly religious; 29% are moderately religious; and a whopping 47% are not religious.

I’ll say that again: 47% of LGBT Americans are not religious.

Almost half.

Compare that to non LGBT Americans. 41% of non LGBT Americans are highly religious; 29% are moderately religious; and 30% are not religious.

So there’s two things I want to pull out of this data.

heresy makes for progress women in secularism logoOne is the gender breakdown. One of the most consistent patterns in these religiosity polls — for Americans, anyway — is the gender difference, with women consistently polling as more religious than men. (That shows up in this poll as well. Among male non-LGBT Americans, 36% are highly religious; 28% are moderately religious; and 35% are not religious. Among female non-LGBT Americans, 45% are highly religious; 30% are moderately religious; and 25% are not religious.) Many ideas have been floated about why this is, from “women have more pressure on us to be religious” and “religion is one of the few spheres where women have power and influence” to assorted evo-pysch explanations arguing that women are just born that way.

I hope this survey puts the last nail in the coffin of the evo-psych explanations. Because among LGBT Americans, there is almost no gender difference in how religious we are. Among male LGBT Americans, 25% are highly religious; 26% are moderately religious; and 49% are not religious. Among female LGBT Americans, 24% are highly religious; 31% are moderately religious; and 46% are not religious. That’s a tiny, tiny difference. Whatever the reasons are for the gender disparity in religiosity, it disappears among LGBT Americans. Unless you’re going to argue that queers are just born this way — that queer women’s brains are born radically different from straight women’s brains, in a way that somehow links sexual orientation and/or gender identity with religiosity — you now have to accept that whatever the reasons are for the gender disparity in religiosity, it’s not inborn.

The other thing I want to pull out of this data: Almost half of LGBT Americans are not religious. So LGBT organizations need to wake the fuck up.

LGBT organizations that present LGBT people as religious in an attempt to make us seem mainstream and nice — and that throw LGBT atheists under the bus — need to wake the fuck up. LGBT organizations that bend over backwards to court interfaith alliances, while ignoring alliance-building with atheist organizations and communities, need to wake the fuck up. Major LGBT conferences that have approximately 764,906 sessions about religion, with three sessions about atheism, need to wake the fuck up.

rainbow_atheist_scarlet_letterI don’t know how many of those non-religious LGBT Americans are self-identified atheists, and how many are non-believers under some other name (humanist, agnostic, non-believer, etc.), and how many are “spiritual but not religious,” and how many just don’t think of themselves as religious but don’t give that a name because they don’t consider the issue to be very important. I’d like to see that data. And I don’t know why exactly we would be so much less religious than straight people: David Badash at The New Civil Rights Movement, where I saw this data in the first place, has a pretty good analysis, as does Gallup itself. But however that data breaks down, the bottom line is clear, and it’s important: LGBT Americans are much, much less religious than straight Americans. Almost half of LGBT Americans are not religious. So LGBT organizations need to wake the fuck up.

We’re here. We’re queer. We don’t believe in God.

Get used to it.



Coming Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina’s books, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why and Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, are available in print, ebook, and audiobook. Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More is available in ebook and audiobook.

#mencallmethings: “infantile, stupid, and lame,” “scum,” “Someone should tattoo a giant cock across your face”

Content note: rape trivialization, not-so-veiled threats

Jerk on my blog, in response to my recent post on The Amazing Atheist:

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 3.46.37 PM

I would not expect a grown ass woman to be so infatile, stupid, and lame. REALLY? Someone should tattoo a giant cock across your face, because you apparently can’t take a fucking joke. Could you be more anal? Do you lose some poop in your pants every time your feminists sense tingles? This A+ pond of scum, is an echo chamber of socially retarded Asperger’s people who have gone undiagnosed an entire life.

You know you are little small Ellliot Rodger clones. He could not take a joke. He was anal. You can’t take a joke. You are anal. So when are you gonna organize a mass shooting of all these Rape Joke people?

Q: Is a Rape Joke ok, if it involves the Holy Virgin Mother Mary? Because thats the only kind of Rape joke that I like. I mean, this woman is basically famous for not having sex before giving birth. Rape is certainly profoundly fun in this scenario… Is it not? Oh, and Remember, if you answer no to my Question, you are all Antisemites. Because you know how Jews like to make Rape jokes about Mary. You don’t want me to send the ADL after your small fish asses. I mean FTB is like a small ADL. Imagine what the big ass full grown ADL could do to your little hairy armpit bloggette?

I challenge you Motherfuckers.

#mencallmethings

I see. So in an effort to persuade people that The Amazing Atheist isn’t really sexist or misogynist and we should give him a chance to explain himself, this person goes onto a woman’s blog and tells her that she’s infantile, stupid, lame, scum, with hairy armpits, and socially retarded; that she has Asperger’s; and that someone should tattoo a giant cock across her face

Also, he thinks it’s an insult to say that someone has Asperger’s. (And, for that matter, that they are lame, retarded, and have hairy armpits.) Also, he really does think rape jokes are okay.

I’m reminded once again of Lewis’s Law: “Comments on any article about feminism justify feminism.”

Note: The #mencallmethings hashtag does not say #allmencallmethings, or #mostmencallmethings. If you want to learn more about the history of this hashtag and why people started using it, please read But How Do You Know It’s Sexist? The #MenCallMeThings Round-Up and Why Are You In Such A Bad Mood? #MenCallMeThings Responds! on Tiger Beatdown, where the hashtag originated. And please do not start a “but not all men are like that, so the #mencallmethings hashtag is reverse sexism!” argument. That has been addressed, at length, in the comments in the #mencallmethings: “FUCKIN HOE,” “FUCKIN FEMINAZI SLUT” post, as well as elsewhere. Please read Why “Yes, But” Is the Wrong Response to Misogyny if you’re wondering why I will not take kindly that that particular line of conversation.

Richard Dawkins Apologizes for “Dear Muslima”

Content note: mentions of childhood sexual abuse, trivialization of childhood sexual abuse.

There should be no rivalry in victimhood, and I’m sorry I once said something similar to American women complaining of harassment, inviting them to contemplate the suffering of Muslim women by comparison.
-Richard Dawkins

Richard DawkinsRichard Dawkins has apologized for “Dear Muslima” — his infamous comment belittling American women in general and Rebecca Watson in particular for speaking out about sexist behavior, on the grounds that sexism and misogyny in Islamist theocracies is so much worse.

The apology is easy to miss. I missed it myself the first time. It’s buried in the final paragraph of an otherwise obnoxious piece that once again snidely straw-mans his critics. (No, Professor Dawkins, nobody said that you had to experience your molestation as the worst thing that ever happened to you. Everyone I’ve read who’s criticized your comments on this subject has great compassion for you as a target of childhood sexual abuse; and yes, you absolutely get to assess for yourself how harmful that experience was. We criticized you for belittling OTHER PEOPLE’S sexual abuse. We criticized you for insisting that when it comes to sexual abuse, you personally know what the objective gradation of badness is for OTHER PEOPLE. We criticized you for commenting on this supposed objective gradation of OTHER PEOPLE’S abuse based purely on your own experience and opinions — with no apparent knowledge of the extensive research showing that the factors contributing to the degree of harm caused by sexual abuse are numerous, complicated, and often highly subjective. We criticized you for condemning physical and sexual abuse in religious cultures, while inconsistently rationalizing the physical and sexual abuse of OTHER PEOPLE as well as yourself, saying it was just the culture of the time and place. We criticized you for belittling OTHER PEOPLE’S sexual abuse. OTHER PEOPLE. Citation; citation; citation; citation. Sheesh.)

So. All that being said:

Richard Dawkins has apologized for “Dear Muslima.”

Finally. It took three years, but Richard Dawkins has openly acknowledged that it is reasonable for American feminists to complain about harassment, even though women in many other countries experience sexism and misogyny in far worse forms. He has openly acknowledged that it was wrong for him to say otherwise. It’s sad that this should be news, but it is. And although I’m not thrilled with the fact that he buried this apology at the end of a pile of muck — that’s rather insensitive, given the years of toxic shit feminist women have dealt with since he poured that tanker of gasoline onto a forest fire — I, for one, am nevertheless going to accept the apology. Apologies are hard to make, and people often make them awkwardly, and I don’t like to refuse to accept them just because they’re less than ideal. Y’all, of course, can follow your own consciences on that. (For the record, although the apology was not personally made to Rebecca Watson — the original target of “Dear Muslima” — and did not mention her by name, she has accepted the apology. Her exact words: “Richard Dawkins just did the blog-equivalent of coughing into his hand while mumbling “sorry” to me. Eh I’ll take it”)

I’m not holding my breath for Dawkins to suddenly become super-awesome on the subject of feminism or social justice generally. His recent behavior is not filling me with optimism. But given how much furor was sparked by “Dear Muslima,” and how often the sexist jerks in atheism cite it and the fallacious ideas behind it, I’m happy that Dawkins has finally retracted it. The absurd notions that the only forms of sexism worth fighting are the most extreme forms, that the only valid feminism is the fight against misogyny in Islamist theocracies, that sexism and misogyny in the Western world are trivial or non-existent and anyone speaking out about them is just whining — these are way too commonly held, especially among the sexist douchebros in the atheist community. I’m hoping that Dawkins’ apology, and his acknowledgment that it’s valid for American feminists to talk about American sexism, will trickle down. I’ll echo Rebecca Watson here: I’ll take it.

Why Secular Hedonism Needs Social Justice

silhouette dancing for joyI’m going to go out on a limb here. If we want to create and maintain a secular society that values pleasure? If we want to create and maintain a society that recognizes that this life is the only one we have, so we should experience it and enjoy it as richly as we can? If we want to create and maintain a society that understands that our bodies are all we have, and that values those bodies? If we want to create and maintain a society that that recognizes pleasure, not as the only part of life worth working towards, but as one part of that life, and an important one?

We need to fight for social justice.

Hear me out. At the Godless Perverts Social Club last night, we were talking about the mysterious appeal of religious asceticism, and why anyone would think the deliberate denial of pleasure was an awesome way to live. And several people pointed out that asceticism often rises as a reaction, not necessarily to a hedonistic and pleasure-based society, but to a society in which sensual pleasure is primarily available to a few rich and powerful people at the top.

One person pointed out that in a society with both (a) liberated sexual values AND (b) a great deal of social stratification, with a few wealthy and powerful people at the top and a whole passel of poor and powerless people at the bottom, it creates a recipe for sexual exploitation — which, obviously, isn’t going to make people very happy with those supposedly liberated sexual values. Someone else pointed out that if a society’s rich and powerful leaders are openly hedonistic, it creates a situation where more ascetic leaders will become very appealing: the hedonistic leaders will be seen as entirely in it for themselves and their own pleasures, while the ascetic leaders will be seen as more authentic, high-minded and self-sacrificing, seeking leadership purely for the greater good. (This perception will often be dead wrong, of course — there are plenty of selfish but non-hedonistic goodies to be gained from power and authority, and of course many supposedly ascetic leaders have gotten plenty of hedonistic goodies on the sly — but it’s still a very seductive image, and people will be fooled by it again and again and again.)

And of course, in a culture where most people are sick, miserable, exhausted with over-work, with no time or energy to pursue pleasure, with no resources to pursue pleasure, just generally ground down by life, and with little or no hope for anything better, a religion that promises bliss in the next life as a reward for sacrifice in this one will have tremendous appeal.

So it occurred to me: If we want to create and maintain a secular society that values pleasure, we need to fight for social justice. We need to fight for a world in which sensual pleasure is not just a privilege available to the 1% at the top who can afford the pleasures and aren’t working themselves to exhaustion merely to survive. We need to fight for a world in which sensual pleasure — good food, comfortable homes, sex education, reproductive control, art and entertainment, pleasant and beautiful public spaces, time to enjoy our bodies, physical health care so our bodies can be enjoyed, mental health care so enjoyment is possible — is available to everyone.

society without god coverWe should do this anyway, just because it’s right — because bodies are something we all have, and basic enjoyment of those bodies should not be a special privilege accorded to the lucky few. But we should also do it because it will be a whole lot more sustainable. A culture that values pleasure — not as the only value of course, but as an important one and one worth pursuing — and that makes pleasure available to pretty much everyone… that’s a culture with a good chance of lasting. (I’m thinking, as I so often do, of Phil Zuckerman’s research in Society without God, showing that societies with high rates of atheism tend be ones with high rates of stability, egalitarianism, access to basic social services, and general happiness.)

A culture that values pleasure, but only lets a few people have it, is not going to stick around.

Related piece:
Atheism and Sensuality

Please Welcome Aoife O’Riordan to Freethought Blogs!

And please welcome yet another new blogger to the Freethought Blogs network — Aoife O’Riordan, of Consider the Tea Cosy!

Aoife O’Riordan

Aoife is located in a small town in Ireland, and she won’t let you forget it. She gets paid to teach, but will default to roller derby and social theory if given half a chance. She’s quite likely (but not guaranteed) to be writing about: feminism, queerness, wheelyshoes, Ireland, what she cooked last week, or any combination of the above.

She will tell you how to pronounce her name, but only if you ask very nicely.

We’re so excited to be adding this wonderful blogger to our network!