Why Free Conferences Are Important — And Why You Should Support Skepticon

Atheist and skeptical conferences matter. They help us find each other and create community. They give organizers and activists a chance to network. They give people who are closeted a place to be themselves, if only for a weekend. They generate ideas. They spread ideas. They’re a testing ground for ideas. They inspire and energize people. Miri Mogilevsky has a great piece on why conferences matter, in case you’re not persuaded.

Conferences are also, much of the time, expensive. And that means that all these wonderful benefits are only accessible to people who can afford them. The high expense of conferences isn’t the only barrier to marginalized people who want to participate in our community and our movement, it’s not even the most important one — but it is a barrier, and it’s not trivial.

This is why I am so tickled to see the increasing trend in our community of free conferences.

And this is why I’m asking you to donate to Skepticon.

skepticon 7 logo

Skepticon is the mothership of free conferences in the atheist and skeptical community. In seven years, it’s grown from a small local conference by and for a student group, into one of the largest, most recognized, most awesomely fun conferences in our community. And it’s become a model for other free conferences.

But free conferences are, obviously, not free to put on. It’s like public radio — it’s funded by the support of generous donors like you.

Please donate to Skepticon. You can make a one-time donation, or get set up to automatically donate a small amount each month. (Or a large amount each month, if you can manage it.) Help keep this free conference going — and help it continue to inspire other free conferences like it. Even small amounts help — they really do add up. So donate whatever you can.

skepticon 7 tshirtYou can also support Skepticon by buying one of these awesome T-shirts. 100% of the profit goes back to Skepticon, and if you order now or soon, they’ll ship them before the event.

And if you register for Skepticon by October 17 (yes, even though it’s free, they want you to register, it makes it easier for them to plan if they know how many people are coming), you get get a free lanyard & badge. So if you’re planning on coming, register now! Skepticon 7 is Friday November 21 to Sunday November 23, and speakers this year include me me me, PZ Myers, Jamie Kilstein, Cara Santa Maria, Hemant Mehta, Heina Dadabhoy, Amy Davis Roth (“Surly Any”), Dr. Nicole Gugliucci, Ben “Sweatervest” Blanchard, Sheree Renee Thomas, Kayley Whalen, Daniel Bier, Peggy Mason, Dr. David Gorski, JT Eberhard, Scott Clifton, and Melanie Brewster.

skeptipromPlus this year they’re having Skeptiprom — it’s going to be the best prom ever, as they’ve taken out all the raging teenage hormones and added a crapload of glitter and skepticism. This thing is going to be mega-awesome.

And if you can’t make it — if your sister is getting married that weekend or something (pfff! shabby excuse) — please support them anyway. Think of it this way — if you can’t go this year, you might be able to go next year, and supporting it now means they’ll be able to keep on doing it!

Srsly. If you can, donate now.

Sam Harris is Just Factually Wrong — Globally, Atheism Has No Gender Split — UPDATED WITH IMPORTANT CORRECTION

VERY IMPORTANT CORRECTION: It looks like I was mistaken about the global gender breakdown of atheism. Details here. I still think the bulk of my criticism of Harris was correct and fair — I think his remarks were sexist, even if you do recognize a global gender split in atheism (which I now do), and even if you do accept some degree of innate gender difference between women and men. But when it comes to the specific question of whether there really are more male atheists than female atheists worldwide, it seems likely that I was mistaken, and that the study I was citing was an outlier. My apologies.

Sam Harris is just factually wrong. Globally, there is no gender split in atheism. Globally, women and men are religious, not religious, and convinced atheists at about the same rate. In fact, globally, women are slightly more likely to be atheists than men (although that difference is small, probably too small to be significant).

In case you haven’t already heard this: Sam Harris recently gave an interview to the Washington Post. When asked why the vast majority of atheists — and many of those who buy his books — are male, he said this:

“I think it may have to do with my person slant as an author, being very critical of bad ideas. This can sound very angry to people..People just don’t like to have their ideas criticized. There’s something about that critical posture that is to some degree instrinsically male and more attractive to guys than to women,” he said. “The atheist variable just has this – it doesn’t obviously have this nurturing, coherence-building extra estrogen vibe that you would want by default if you wanted to attract as many women as men.”

Why Are You Atheists So Angry? coverThere are a lot of possible responses to this. The first one that springs to my mind, and to many people’s minds, is, “Fuck you, you sexist, patronizing asshole. You think women don’t take a critical posture? Come talk to some women in the atheist movement, and we will give you an earful of our critical posture.” The second response that springs to my mind, and to many people’s minds, is, “Do you think that maybe — just maybe — the fact that not that many women read your books might have something to do with the fact that you say horrible sexist bullshit like this, and we’re sick of it, and we don’t want to hear it, or anything else from you, ever again?” And the third response, from me in particular, is, “Do you seriously not know that the person who literally wrote the book on angry atheism — Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless — is me, a woman? Have you seen the cover art for that book? Would you really not describe the woman standing on the soapbox labeled ‘REASON’ with her fist in the air as, quite literally, a critical posture?”

But it’s also very, very important to say this, since it’s something that even a lot of feminist atheists don’t know: The gender split in atheism is not universal. It seems to be an American phenomenon. It may exist in some other countries as well — but globally, women and men are religious, not religious, and convinced atheists at about the same rate. According to the WIN-Gallup International “Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism 2012,” August 6, 2012 (PDF, Table 8, page 20 of 25), when asked, “Irrespective of whether you attend a place of worship or not, would you say you are a religious person, not a religious person or a convinced atheist?”, 60% of men and 57% of women said “A religious person.” 23% of men and 23% of women said, “Not a religious person.” 12% of men and 14% of women said “A convinced atheist.” (“Don’t know/no response” got 5% from men and 6% from women.) [Read more...]

All Greta’s Books On Sale During Mega-Epic Book Tour!

I’m currently on a mega-epic book tour for Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why: I’m speaking in Grand Rapids, MI; Farmington Hills, MI; Cleveland, OH; Amherst, NY; Columbus, OH; Cincinnati, OH; and Indianapolis, IN. (Tour details are here — if you’re in or near any of these cities, come say hi!)

So I’m putting the ebook editions of all three of my books on sale! The sale will last through the tour — the last day for these low, low prices is September 18. If you’ve been thinking about buying any or all of these books, now’s the time!

Coming Out AtheistThe ebook of Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why is now just $7.99! You can get it on Kindle (that’s the link for Amazon US, btw — it’s available in other regions as well), Nook, and Smashwords.

why are you atheists so angryThe ebook of Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless is now just $5.99! You can get it on Kindle (again, that’s the link for Amazon US, it’s available in other regions as well), Nook, and Smashwords.

BendingAnd the ebook of Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More is now just $5.99! You can get it on Kindle (once again, that’s the link for Amazon US, it’s available in other regions as well), Nook, and Smashwords.

These sale prices apply only to the ebook editions, not to the print books or audiobooks. Again, these sale prices will be good through September 18. Happy shopping!

Greta Speaking in MI, OH, NY, and IN, Sept. 10-17! (Akron Cancelled; A Few Other Changes.) Plus San Francisco, Charlotte NC, Sacramento, Springfield, MO!

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

A couple of changes: The Akron event, unfortunately, has been cancelled. The topic for the Columbus talk has changed: it’s now going to be “Atheism and Sexuality.” And the topic for the Cincinnati talk has been expanded: I’m now going to speaking on both “Coming Out Atheist” and “Why Are You Atheists So Angry?” (More briefly on each topic, obviously.)

I’m also going to reading in San Francisco at Perverts Put Out! on Saturday, September 20, along with Sherilyn Connely, Lori Selke, horehound stillpoint, Xan West, hosts Simon Sheppard and Dr. Carol Queen, and more. And I’m going to be speaking in Charlotte NC at the Carolinas Secular Conference; Sacramento CA at Sacramento Freethought Day, and Springfield MO at Skepticon!

Here are details about the upcoming tour, as well as my other upcoming speaking gigs. If you’re in any of these cities, I hope to see you there! [Read more...]

The “Coming Out Atheist” Donation Recipient for August 2014: Freedom From Religion Foundation

Coming Out Atheist coverAs some of you may already know, I’ve pledged to donate 10% of my income from my new book, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, to atheist organizations, charities, and projects.

Here’s why. I got lots of help with this book, and working on it felt very much like a collaboration, a community effort. (To some extent that’s true with any book, but it was even more true with this one.) Because coming out is really different for different atheists, it was hugely important to get detailed feedback on the book, so my personal perspective wasn’t completely skewing my depiction of other people’s experiences. So I asked lots of friends and colleagues to give me detailed feedback on the book: either on the book as a whole, or on particular chapters about atheists with very different experiences from mine (such as the chapters on parents, students, clergy, people in the U.S. military, and people in theocracies). Many people were very generous with their time helping out: they put a whole lot of time and work and thought into a project that wasn’t theirs, because they thought it would benefit the community. And, of course, I had the help of the hundreds of people who wrote in with their coming-out story, or who told their coming-out story in one of the books or websites I cited, or who just told me your coming-out story in person.

freedom-from-religion-foundation-logoI want to give some of that back. So I’m donating 10% of my income from this book to atheist organizations, charities, and projects: a different one each month. Each month, one of the people who helped with the book gets to pick the recipient. The recipient for August 2014, chosen by Lee Hays Romano, is Freedom From Religion Foundation. [Read more...]

“Supportive, practical, and compassionate… probably a definitive guide”: B.A.R. Review of “Coming Out Atheist”

Coming Out Atheist“Some of the real-life experiences recounted here are chilling and disturbing, but Christina’s advice, with its breezy, conversational tone, is supportive, practical, and compassionate… With a superb resource appendix, including listing organizations and support groups, online forums and resources, video/print blogs and podcasts, as well as an exhaustive bibliography, Coming Out Atheist is probably a definitive guide, providing a witty, common-sense road map for those willing ‘to be hated for who they are, rather than loved for who they are not.'”

There’s an interesting, largely positive review of Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why by Brian Bromberger at the Bay Area Reporter, one of San Francisco’s oldest LGBT newspapers.

FYI, the review gets some important facts wrong. I’m bisexual, not a lesbian; the 2013 Harris Poll showed that 36% of Americans under 35 don’t believe in God, not that they identify as atheists (not the same thing); I didn’t collect the coming out stories primarily from my blog (only about a third of the coming-out stories I read for my research were collected on my blog); and I have definitely not placated my exasperation about religion, I continue to happily rail about it. And I’m a little tired of the trope about how atheism in “chic.” But it’s an interesting take on the book, and I’m happy to see the book get noticed in the LGBT press.

Here, by the way, is current ordering information for the book. All three formats — print, ebook, and audiobook — are currently available! [Read more...]

“She writes like she’s talking to you”: Amazon Customer Review of “Coming Out Atheist”

Got a nice customer review on Amazon for Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other Do It, And Why! Four stars out of five. (In fact, the book now has 32 customer reviews — and 27 of them are either four- or five-star reviews!) Here’s what Davd L. Wilson had to say:

I like Gretta’ s writing. She writes like she’s talking to you.

She covers all bases of the act of being honest to a society that is firmly sure of it’s own views to the exclusion of others.

Some people have criticized this book for repetition but I do not see this as a problem. If you have a problem with kin or friends or jobs then you can go straight to the chapter that deals with it and read the rest of the book later. She is a fun writer.

She also understands how two very different cultures interact with one another in a very practical way.

Thanks, David! (BTW, you’re exactly right about the occasional repetition. Yes, there’s some repetition of some of the in the book, and it’s for exactly the reason you mention — I knew some people probably wouldn’t read the book straight through and would just skip to the chapters that were relevant to them, so if a particular idea was particularly important, I mentioned it more than once.)

And if any of you have read Coming Out Atheist, it’d be awesome if you’d post a review.


Here, by the way, is ordering info for the book in all three formats — print, ebook, and audiobook!

Coming Out Atheist cover 150Ebook edition:

The Kindle edition is available on Amazon. (That’s the link for Amazon US, btw — it’s available in other regions as well.)

The Nook edition is available at Barnes & Noble.

The Smashwords edition is available on Smashwords. Right now, it’s only available on Smashwords in epub format: I’m working to make it available in other formats.

All ebook editions and formats cost just $9.99.

Print edition: [Read more...]

Godless Perverts Story Hour Saturday September 6! Plus Godless Perverts Social Club, Tuesday September 2!

Godless Perverts Banner

The next Godless Perverts Story Hour is happening Saturday, September 6!

It’s time again for the Godless Perverts Story Hour, the performance and entertainment branch of the Godless Perverts empire! Join us at the Center for Sex and Culture for an evening about how to have good sex without having any gods, goddesses, spirits, or their earthly representatives hanging over your shoulder and telling you that you’re doing it wrong. We’ll be bringing you depictions, explorations, and celebrations of godless sexualities, as well as critical, mocking, and blasphemous views of sex and religion. The evening’s entertainment will have a range of voices — sexy and serious, passionate and funny, and all of the above — talking about how our sexualities can not only exist, but even thrive, without the supernatural.

Our performers this time include:

Charlie Jane Anders

Charlie Jane Anders

Juba Kalamka

Juba Kalamka

Anthony O'Con

Anthony O’Con

Cinnamon Maxxine

Cinnamon Maxxine

Hew Wolff

Hew Wolff

Greta Christina

Greta Christina

Chris Hall

Chris Hall

Blogger and managing editor of io9, Charlie Jane Anders;
Poet and co-founder of homohop group Deep Dickollective Juba Kalamka;
Poet and activist Anthony O’Con;
Genderqueer burlesque artist Cinnamon Maxxine;
Jon Longhi, author of Wake Up and Smell the Beer, and The Rise and Fall of Third Leg;
Writer and all-around nerd, Hew Wolff;
Godless Perverts co-founders Chris Hall and Greta Christina.

It’ll be at the Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission Street in San Francisco (near Civic Center BART), starting at 7:00 pm. $10-20 sliding scale; no one will be refused entry for lack of funds; benefit for the Center for Sex and Culture. Hope to see you there!

And we’re having a Godless Perverts Social Club on Tuesday, September 2! [Read more...]

Is Repression Necessary for Kink? Notes on the Godless Perverts Social Club Discussion

Is repression necessary for kink?

BDSM Gear With a Red Rose

That was the topic for discussion at last night’s Godless Perverts Social Club. The Social Club is now meeting twice a month, and we’ve been alternating the format: the third Thursdays are “Topical Thursdays,” where we pick a discussion topic that we announce ahead of time, while first Tuesdays are more casual and we discuss whatever’s on people’s minds that day.

So our topic last night:

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.

We had a really interesting conversation, and I thought I’d blog about it. This post isn’t going to be a coherent essay on the topic, by the way: it’s just presenting some of the ideas that got tossed out and discussed, in no particular order. [Read more...]

Greta Speaking! Farmington Hills, MI (Near Detroit) Added to Tour of Michigan, Ohio, New York State, Kentucky, and Indiana!

UPDATE: The Akron event has been cancelled, and the topic for the Columbus talk has been changed.

I have a mega-epic speaking tour coming up in the Midwest and East! And Farmington Hills, MI (about a half hour drive from Detroit) is now on the schedule! I’ll be in Grand Rapids, MI; Farmington Hills, MI; 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! [Read more...]