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Jul 11 2014

“Inspirational, outspoken, thought-provoking”: Amazon Customer Review of “Why Are You Atheists So Angry?”

I’ve been reprinting my favorite Amazon customer reviews for Coming Out Atheist, and it occurs to me that I never did this for Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless. So I’m doing that now. Here’s a nice customer review, five stars out of five. (The book has 134 customer reviews, and 108 of them are either 5-star or 4-star.) Here’s what Book Shark had to say about it:

Eloquence with Passion!,

“Why Are You Atheists So Angry?” is a book that had to be written. It’s the inspirational, outspoken, thought-provoking, grounded on reality book that makes you proud to be an atheist. Iconic voice of the atheist movement and widely-read blogger Greta Christina provides a much needed book in a growing movement that is grounded on reason and evidence. In this exciting book, Christina replies directly and so powerfully to questions presented to her by believers. Her responses are direct, compelling and ultimately persuasive. A real treat and a much needed resource for all those who care about their beliefs being truthful. This 272 KB book is composed of the following fifteen chapters: 1. Why Are You Atheists So Angry?, 2. Some Answers to the Questions I know I’ll Get Asked, 3. Why This UIs Religion’s Fault, 4. Yes, This Means You: Moderate and Progressive Religion, 5. Yes, This Means You: New Age Religion, 6. Yes, This Means You: “Spiritual But Not Religious”, 7. Yes, This Means You: Ecumenicalism and Interfaith, 8. The Top Ten Reasons I Don’t Believe In God, 9. Why “Religion Is Useful” Is a Terrible Argument – The Santa Delusion, 10. What Do You Want, Anyway? One Atheist’s Mission Statement, 11. Is Atheism Activism Valid?, 12. Is Atheism Activism Effective? 13. On Other People’s Anger and Compassion, 14. What Now? and 15. Resources.

Positives:
1. Anger has never been so eloquent. A well-reasoned book grounded on reality and accessible to all.
2. A thought-provoking, reason-grounded rant of evidence-based proportions.
3. An outspoken yet respectable tone throughout. A feat on its own.
4. Christina is able to put in words what many of us have trouble to put in thoughts.
5. Fascinating questions and profound yet intelligible answers!
6. I can finally embrace my anger with newfound confidence. A welcomed indelible mark of wisdom, thank you!
7. I love unique voices in the atheist movement, and it’s refreshing to have a female voice!
8. The Litany of Rage! That alone is worth the price of this book. Many will be familiar with many of the points, some are new but all are well stated. Excellent!
9. The importance and necessity of anger.
10. One of the most important points of this book, “why religion sucks and why so many atheist are pissed off about it”. Amen, strike that, I concur.
11. So many thought-provoking and intellectual treats, “it makes me feel more compassion for religious people — and more anger about religion”.
12. In support of the First Amendment!
13. The importance of coming out.
14. God as a hypothesis. Interesting stuff.
15. Understanding religion: the claims, the doctrines, the armor.
16. The problems with religion.
17. Same-sex marriage.
18. Great quote, thoughts throughout, “there’s an equally important way that woo can do harm. And that’s that it leads people away from valuing reason, and evidence, and reality. Woo, like every other religious or spiritual belief, ultimately prioritizes faith over reason; personal experience over external evidence”.
19. Some of the best heartfelt rants I’ve ever read, “But it’s disingenuous at best, hypocritical at worst, to say that criticism of other religious beliefs is inherently bigoted and offensive…and then make an exception for beliefs that are opposed to your own”. That’s what she said.
20. Religious ecumenicalism…a callous disregard for the truth. Can I hear an Amen?? Never mind.
21. A foundation for reason, “Do you care whether the things you believe are true?”
22. I really enjoyed the Top Ten Reasons I don’t Believe in God. David Letterman take note.
23. In defense of the scientific method.
24. Debunking the soul…always a personal favorite.
25. The lack of solid evidence for God’s existence…oh my Science.
26. A total destruction of the argument for utility.
27. One of the few authors that I can say that I agree on practically every point, “I don’t want religion ended by force. I want it ended by –persuasion”. Organic atheism.
28. Facts, “The fact that religion is unfalsifiable doesn’t mean we have to accept it as reasonable possibility. It means the exact opposite. It means we should reject it wholesale, on that basis alone.”
29. The problem with religious evangelism.
30. One of the most compelling arguments why the defense of reason, evidence, atheism is needed and necessary.
31. Why atheists are angry?!! The best book I’ve ever read that addresses the subject of this book.
32. Great links and an invaluable resource chapter, thank you!!
33. A treat to read from beginning to end.

Negatives:
1. Alan Turing wasn’t included in the Litany of Rage. Alan Turing was a hero, the father of modern computer science, whose work was instrumental in breaking the wartime Enigma codes, a genius if there ever was one and whose only “crime” was being gay and was ultimately forced to castration and ultimately committed suicide. That’s how they treated a World War hero in England…it’s so infuriating.
2. If you are expecting an in-depth dissection of religious beliefs the author provides references. This is not that kind of book.
3. It felt more like an appetizer than the main course, but it was still delicious nonetheless and left you wanting for more.

Overall, I loved this brief book. Greta Christina gets it and knows how to convey her message loudly and lucidly. It doesn’t matter how many books I read about any given topic a good author is always able to leave an indelible mark of wisdom. Greta Christina in few words was able to accomplish that and then some. I can for one embrace my anger with a newfound confidence that I didn’t have before. My worldview is stronger and I have obtained a new wind of inspiration to spread the word of reason. I want to thank Greta for being such a wonderful voice in a community that needs heroes. I can’t recommend this inspirational book enough, I highly recommend it!

Thanks, Book Shark! And if any of you have read Why Are You Atheists So Angry?, Coming Out Atheist, or Bending, 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!

Why Are You Atheists So AngryEbook editions:

The Kindle edition is available at Amazon.

The Nook edition is available at Barnes & Noble.

Smashwords has the book in multiple formats, including iBooks, Sony Reader, Kobo, Kindle (.mobi), Stanza, Aldiko, Adobe Digital Editions, any other reader that takes the Epub format, Palm Doc (PDB), PDF, RTF, Online Reading via HTML, and Plain Text for either downloading or viewing.

All ebook editions and formats cost just $7.99.

Print edition:

The print edition is available at Powell’s Books.

The print edition is also available at Amazon. However, be advised (if you haven’t been already) that seriously abusive labor practices have been reported at Amazon warehouses. Please bear that in mind when you’re deciding where to buy my book — or indeed, where to buy anything. (For the record: Powell’s employees are unionized.) Again, that’s the link for Amazon US — it’s available in other regions as well.

The print edition is available at Last Gasp.

The print edition is $14.95 USD. It is published by Pitchstone Publishing.

Wholesale sales of the print edition:

Bookstores and other retailers can get the book from Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and other standard wholesale distributors. It can also be purchased directly from the publisher, Pitchstone Publishing.

Audiobook edition:

The audiobook version is available at Audible.

The audiobook version is available on iTunes.

The audiobook version is available on Amazon.

And yes, I did the recording for it!

Jul 10 2014

Greta Speaking in DC This Saturday! Plus Chicago, San Francisco, Denver, Los Angeles, Costa Mesa, Charlotte NC, Sacramento, and Springfield MO!

I’m going to be speaking in Washington, DC this Saturday, at Busboys and Poets! It’s a fundraising dinner for CFI-DC, and I’m really jazzed about it. Here are details about this and my other upcoming speaking gigs — including Chicago (next week!), San Francisco, Denver, Los Angeles, Costa Mesa, Charlotte NC, Sacramento, and Springfield MO. If you’re in any of these places, I hope to see you there!

CITY: Washington, D.C. (CFI-DC Special Summer Fundraiser Event)
DATE: Saturday, July 12
TIME: 6:00 pm
LOCATION: Busboys and Poets, 2021 14th St NW (14th & V), Washington, D.C.
HOSTS: CFI-DC
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?
NOTE: This will be a fundraising dinner for CFI-DC. Admission includes a full dinner with open bar.
COST: $50 regular admission; $100 Premier Seating (add book to either option for an additional $15)
EVENT URL: http://www.centerforinquiry.net/dc/events/coming-out-atheist-greta-christina/

CITY: Chicago, IL (Humanism At Work, the Foundation Beyond Belief conference)
DATE: Friday July 18 – Sunday July 20
LOCATION: Hilton Rosemont/ O’Hare, Chicago, IL
HOSTS/SPONSORS: Foundation Beyond Belief
TOPIC: Coming Out Atheist — How It Helps the World
SUMMARY: Coming out is the most powerful political act atheists can take, and one of the most powerful acts we can take to make life better for ourselves and other atheists. But are there ways that coming out makes life better, not just for atheists, but for believers and the rest of the world?
OTHER SPEAKERS: Hemant Mehta, Leo Igwe, Rebecca Vitsmun, Caroline Fiennes, Brittany Shoots-Reinhard, Hemley Gonzalez, Alix Jules, Pathfinders Panel (Conor Robinson, Ben Blanchard, Michelle Huey, Wendy Webber), and more
COST: $129/ticket ($149 after April 15)
EVENT URL: http://humanismatwork.org/

CITY: San Francisco, CA (Perverts Put Out!)
DATE: Saturday July 26
TIME: 8:00
LOCATION: The Center for Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission Street, San Francisco (near Civic Center BART)
EVENT: Perverts Put Out!, San Francisco’s long-running pansexual performance series, has featured stellar line-ups of truly twisted, mega-talented artistes — even an occasional naked mayoral candidate — since way back in 1998.
OTHER READERS/PERFORMERS: Princess Cream Pie, horehound stillpoint, Na’amen Tilahun, hosts Simon Sheppard and Dr. Carol Queen, and more.
COST: $10-25 sliding scale
EVENT URL: http://www.simonsheppard.com/simonsheppard%27su.html

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: See above
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/

Jul 10 2014

Annabeth Leong on “Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More”

Long before I read Greta Christina‘s book Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More, I was lucky enough to encounter its title story. This was early in my career as a reader of erotica, and it pushed buttons I didn’t even know I had. Though I got off a great deal, I also found myself moved by the story of shifting desires, love as insufficient, and exploration as paramount. Reading “Bending” was one of the first times I realized that erotica isn’t the low form it’s made out to be.

Fast-forward many years, and “Bending” has become one of a handful of stories I return to again and again. It’s not just for the filthy, lovingly fetishized, obsessive ass play, though I do still love that. It’s also that few pieces of writing have been wiser about the issues I’ve faced in BDSM as I’ve come to practice it, not just read about it. When I’m distressed about having changed in a way I swore I never would, it’s to “Bending” that I turn.

When I read Christina’s entire collection, I recognized the fearless gaze I first met in that story I have loved so well. In her introduction, Christina explains that she hopes each story conveys the respect she has for sex itself. And Christina respects sex enough to visit hot and uncomfortable places, to trust that adults understand what it means “to imagine things we wouldn’t actually want to do—even things we think are immoral.” She respects her audience enough to believe that we will sort out the difference between fantasy and endorsement. “If we have any freedom at all,” she writes, “it’s between our ears: the freedom to think about whatever we like.”

Thus begins a really nice, really thoughtful review of my erotic fiction collection, Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More. To read more, read the rest of the review. Many thanks to Annabeth Leong at the Circlet Press blog!

*****

Bending coverHere, by the way, is the most current ordering info for Bending — in ebook, print, and audiobook editions.

Ebook 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 book is available on Smashwords in multiple formats, including Apple iPad/iBooks, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, and most e-reading apps including Stanza, Aldiko, Adobe Digital Editions, and others.

All ebook editions and formats cost just $7.99.

Audiobook edition:

The audiobook is available on Audible.

The audiobook is also available on Amazon.

The audiobook is also available on iTunes.

And yes, I did the audiobook recording myself!

Print edition:

A print edition is in the works. Please watch this blog for future announcements.

Jul 09 2014

How Humanism Helps With Depression — Except When It Doesn’t

What’s it like being a humanist with depression?

I’m going to preface this right off the bat by saying: I am not a doctor. I’m not a therapist. I’m not a mental healthcare professional, or indeed a healthcare professional of any kind. I’m just talking about myself here, and my own experiences. I freaking hate it when people give me unsolicited, amateur medical advice about my mental health, so I’m very careful not to do that with other people. If you have depression, your mileage may vary from mine. Take what you need from this and leave the rest. (And if you’re not already doing it, get professional help if you possibly can.)

So, with caveats in order, what’s it like for me to be a humanist with depression?

As regular readers may know, I’ve been diagnosed with clinical depression. My form of it is chronic and episodic: I’m not depressed all the time, I’m not even depressed most of the time, but I’ve had episodes of serious depression intermittently throughout my adult life. I had a very bad bout of it starting about a year and a half ago. I’m pulling out of it now, but my mental health is still somewhat fragile, I still have to be extra careful with my self-care routines, and I still have relapses into fairly bad episodes now and then. And I’ve been thinking lately about what it means to be a humanist with depression, and how these experiences intertwine.

For the most part, my humanism helps. For one thing, I don’t experience any religious guilt—or religious anger—over my depression. I don’t have any sense that I’m letting down my god, that I’m doing something horrible to him by feeling glum and crappy about this wonderful gift of life he’s given me. I don’t have any sense that my god is letting me down. I don’t think my depression is divine punishment or some sort of obscure lesson, and I’m not racking my brains trying to figure out what I did to deserve this. I accept that my depression is a medical condition, and I have it because of genetics, early environmental influences, and other causes and effects in the physical universe.

*****

humanist coverThus begins my latest Fierce Humanism column for The Humanist magazine, How Humanism Helps With Depression — Except When It Doesn’t. To read more about some of the ways that humanism affects depression — mostly for the better, but in some ways not so much — read the rest of the piece.

Jul 09 2014

“It feels like she’s talking with you”: Audible Customer Review of “Coming Out Atheist” Audiobook

Got a nice customer review on Audible for the audiobook version of Coming Out Atheist: How To Do It, How to Help Each Other Do It, And Why! Five stars out of five for story, performance, and overall. (In fact, the audiobook now has 13 customer ratings on Audible, with an average of 4.40 stars out of five.) Here’s what Zhuge had to say:

“Addresses Major Issues Head On”

If you could sum up Coming Out Atheist in three words, what would they be?

On point.

What other book might you compare Coming Out Atheist to and why?

Greta’s book “Why are You Atheists So Angry” is definitely the right companion to this book. This book is more for atheists, though the religious can gain a lot from it too. This other book is the reverse, theists can learn a lot from it, though highly recommended for atheists too. Greta is unwilling to let any tough issue go, be it sexism in atheism or the harm done even by the most benign liberal religions.

Which character – as performed by Greta Christina – was your favorite?

Greta performed herself admirably, of course! Her narration is excellent, and it feels like she’s talking with you the entire time. She has an excellent voice, and listening to her is very enjoyable.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Many of the stories Greta tells are very powerful, and often very funny. But the discussion of some of the real troubles in the atheist community can be hard.

Any additional comments?

Greta is on point. She addresses atheism not just for white guys like myself, but for all people, men and women, White, Hispanic, Black, Asian, cis, trans, gay, straight, etc. Highly recommended for all atheists to listen too, and religious people too, to understand the different perspectives we all have on atheism and being atheists.

Thanks, Zhuge! And if any of you have read Coming Out Atheist, or listened to the audiobook, it’d be awesome if you’d post a review on Amazon or Audible.

***

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:

The print edition is now available through Powell’s Books.

The print edition is also available at Amazon. However, be advised (if you haven’t been already) that seriously abusive labor practices have been reported at Amazon warehouses. Please bear that in mind when you’re deciding where to buy my book — or indeed, where to buy anything. (For the records: Powell’s employees are unionized.) Again, that’s the link for Amazon US — it’s available in other regions as well.

You can also buy the print edition at your local bookstore. If they don’t currently carry it, you can special order it. (Bookstores can get it from standard wholesalers; wholesale info is below.) Support your local bookstore!

The print edition is $17.95 USD. It is published by Pitchstone Publishing.

Wholesale sales of the print edition:

Bookstores and other retailers can get the book from Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and other standard wholesale distributors. It can also be purchased directly from the publisher, Pitchstone Publishing.

Audiobook edition:

The audiobook version is available on Audible.

The audiobook is also available through Amazon.

The audiobook is also available through iTunes.

And yes, I did the recording for it!

Jul 08 2014

On The Ethics of Vampire Slaying in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”

Buffy with bloody knifeSpoiler alert, for people who haven’t watched “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” but plan to.

I was recently re-watching ““Becoming, Parts 1 and 2,” those Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes where geeky witch Willow does a spell to give the vampire Angel his soul back. And suddenly I had a burning ethical question.

Why don’t they just keep doing the re-ensoulment spell — on all vampires? Or at least, on all the vampires that they can?

Yes, it’s a somewhat difficult spell — although given that Willow could do it when she was a fairly inexperienced witch, it clearly can’t be that difficult. And yes, it’s very likely (although I’m not sure they specify this) that the spell can only be done one vampire at a time, and that you need to know which particular vampire you’re re-ensouling. But given what a scourge vampires are on humanity, wouldn’t it be worth doing, as much as possible? At least from a harm-reduction perspective, even if they could only re-ensoul a couple/few vampires a week, wouldn’t that be worth it?

*****

Thus begins my new piece for io9, On The Ethics of Vampire Slaying in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. To read more about this burning issue of the day (well, this burning issue of 2003), read the rest of the piece. Enjoy!

Jul 08 2014

So You Think You Can Dance, Nudity Parity Watch: Season 11, Episode 6

Are female bodies displayed and objectified in pop culture more than male bodies? If so, how much?

sytycd logoI’ve been watching So You Think You Can Dance, the mixed-style dance competition show, since about Season 4. I’m a fan: yes, the show is often cheesy and very gender-normative, but it’s fun, and much of the dancing is quite good, and some of it is very good indeed. Plus it’s interesting to watch dancers work in dance styles outside the ones they’re trained in, and to see their dancing grow (or not, as is sometimes the case) as a result.

But there’s a trend I’ve been noticing on the show that bugs me, and I’ve decided to start documenting it — partly just to see if I’m really right or if this is just confirmation bias, and partly because if I am right, I think it’s worth documenting. The trend is this: In choreographed performances, there’s significantly more female skin shown than male skin. Whether the dancers are partnered in male-female couples (as they typically are), or are dancing in group routines, the men and women either show roughly the same amount of skin, or the women show more skin than the men. It is very, very rare for the women to be more covered up than the men.

Here’s why this matters. A big part of sexist culture is the sexual objectification of female bodies. Insert standard rant: Women are routinely expected to be ornamental and to fit conventional standards of attractiveness: we’re often valued only when we fit these standards, and are dismissed when we don’t (while at the same time, in a no-win game, we get slut-shamed and trivialized when we do). Beauty and attractiveness isn’t just more important for women than it is for men — the standards are far more stringent. Women’s bodies are put on display in popular culture more than men’s, and this display is often objectifying, with the bodies being dehumanized (e.g., shown without faces), treated as interchangeable, treated as things to be owned or acquired, treated as tools of other people’s purposes without regard to our own agency, etc. And all of this often shows up in sexual ways: women’s sexuality in particular is often treated as more important than anything else we might have to offer, while at the same time is dehumanized, treated as interchangeable, treated as something to be owned or acquired, treated with disregard to our agency, more carefully watched and judged than men’s, more stringently controlled than men’s, etc. Standard rant over.

sytycd-armen-way-and-marlene-ostergaardBut it can be hard to critique all of this without seeming prudish, anti-nudity, or anti-sex. And it can be especially hard to critique this in dance, which by its nature is all about showcasing bodies and the beautiful, amazing things they can do. The art form is inherently physical, sensual, often sexual. So it’s hard to say, “Look, they’re displaying female bodies in an objectifying way,” without drawing the response, “Um…. they’re displaying everyone’s bodies. That’s sort of the point.”

Which is why I’m focusing here, not on whether women’s bodies are being displayed or even sexualized, but on whether women’s bodies are being displayed and/or sexualized more than men’s. If everyone’s bodies are displayed in much the same way, then I’m wrong, and in this instance my observation is just confirmation bias. But if women’s bodies are displayed and/or sexualized more than men’s, then I have a point.

And yes, I realize SYTYDC is just one small part of both the dance world and the pop culture world: this analysis isn’t intended, by itself, to be proof of the sexual objectification of women. This phenomenon has been amply and thoroughly documented elsewhere. This is just the example of it I happen to be looking at right now. (I also realize that this analysis is very much based on a gender binary: the show itself is super-gender-binary oriented, so that’s unfortunately inevitable, and that’s actually part of what I’m documenting here as well.)

So, with all that being said: Here is my data on nudity parity and the lack thereof in So You Think You Can Dance, Season 11 (the current season). I’m starting with Episode 6, since this is the first episode with most of the choreography and costuming chosen by the Fox network and its employees. (Until now, we’ve just had auditions, with costumes self-selected by the dancers: there are interesting nudity parity issues to be observed there as well, but with self-selection, the issue of whose perspective is being expressed is more complicated, as is the sex-positive feminist question of women choosing to display our own bodies and our own sexuality in a sexist and objectifying world. With routines choreographed and costumed by the network, I think we can fairly see the patterns as reflecting the viewpoint of the corporation, to the degree that a corporation can have a viewpoint.) And I’m doing this several days after this episode first aired because I was away for much of last week visiting family. I’ll try to be more prompt in the future, but I make no promises. Read the rest of this entry »

Jul 08 2014

“I couldn’t put it down”: Amazon Customer Review of “Why Are You Atheists So Angry?”

I’ve been reprinting my favorite Amazon customer reviews for Coming Out Atheist, and it occurs to me that I never did this for Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless. So I’m doing that now. Here’s a nice customer review, five stars out of five. (The book has 134 customer reviews, and 108 of them are either 5-star or 4-star.) Here’s what Jennifurret had to say about it (full disclosure — Jennifurret is a friend and colleague of mine):

Eloquent Rage

I was originally going to wait for the print version since I don’t have an ebook reader, but I couldn’t stand the wait. So I downloaded the Kindle App for my iPhone, prepared to squint at my screen during my flights to and from the Reason Rally. Then I made the mistake of starting to read it early… and I plowed through the whole thing in a day. I couldn’t put it down.

But it’s not surprising. Greta has always had the special power to calmly and pointedly explain even the most rage inducing or complicated topics. I often find myself reading her posts on a topic I’ve talked about, thinking “I wish I would have said it that way!”

And this book is no different. As someone who has been reading Greta’s blog for 6 years and has been an atheist activist for 5, most of the stories and arguments weren’t new to me. But they were put so eloquently that I still gobbled them up, and stored them away in my brain for future debates. Especially the various hilarious quotes involving peanut butter, hair dyers, drowning in chocolate, and parrots.

So in short: buy it now. You won’t be disappointed.

Thanks, Jennifurret! And if any of you have read Why Are You Atheists So Angry?, Coming Out Atheist, or Bending, 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!

Why Are You Atheists So AngryEbook editions:

The Kindle edition is available at Amazon.

The Nook edition is available at Barnes & Noble.

Smashwords has the book in multiple formats, including iBooks, Sony Reader, Kobo, Kindle (.mobi), Stanza, Aldiko, Adobe Digital Editions, any other reader that takes the Epub format, Palm Doc (PDB), PDF, RTF, Online Reading via HTML, and Plain Text for either downloading or viewing.

All ebook editions and formats cost just $7.99.

Print edition:

The print edition is available at Powell’s Books.

The print edition is also available at Amazon. However, be advised (if you haven’t been already) that seriously abusive labor practices have been reported at Amazon warehouses. Please bear that in mind when you’re deciding where to buy my book — or indeed, where to buy anything. (For the record: Powell’s employees are unionized.) Again, that’s the link for Amazon US — it’s available in other regions as well.

The print edition is available at Last Gasp.

The print edition is $14.95 USD. It is published by Pitchstone Publishing.

Wholesale sales of the print edition:

Bookstores and other retailers can get the book from Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and other standard wholesale distributors. It can also be purchased directly from the publisher, Pitchstone Publishing.

Audiobook edition:

The audiobook version is available at Audible.

The audiobook version is available on iTunes.

The audiobook version is available on Amazon.

And yes, I did the recording for it!

Jul 08 2014

Godless Perverts Social Club July 17! Topical Thursday: “So, Where Ya From? Local Differences in Sex and Religion”

Godless Perverts Banner

The Godless Perverts Social Club is now meeting twice a month — first Tuesdays, and third Thursdays! 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! Our next meetup is our Topical Thursday — July 17.

godless-perverts-slide-where-you-fromWe’re doing slightly different formats for the two clubs. Our Third Thursday Social Clubs are a little more structured — we’ll 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 July, that’ll be Thursday July 17. The topic for this Topical Thursday: “So, Where Ya From? Local Differences in Sex and Religion.” Community standards of religiosity and sexuality vary across the map (and with race and class even in the same place). Tonight’s moderator is a Yankee who spent most of his school years in the suburban South. Where have you lived, and how did the people there regard their religious and sexual norms — and the people who deviated from them? Are you from New England? Costa Rica? Did you live in Texas? South Africa? Were you a military brat? Did you grow up in an immigrant community? Come tell us about your experiences!

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. Our next Casual Tuesday will be Tuesday August 5.

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 — for an evening of conversation and socializing. 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, and/or make a donation to the venue. (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!

Jul 07 2014

“I have had 3 people say ‘me too!’”: A Coming Out Atheist Story From the Mailbag

Got this email the other day (a follow-up to an earlier email), with a “coming out atheist” story partly inspired and influenced by my book. I’m posting the email with permission, with only slight edits as requested by the letter-writer.

*****

I sent you an e-mail back in May after reading your book, and was pleased to get a direct response from you! You indicated that if there was a second edition of the book, you might be interested in putting my experience in it. My original message is below in case you need it for reference. [Original letter is here - GC] Since then, a lot has happened! I came out to most of the rest of my family. I did it all in a weekend. Most of my family was in town for Memorial Day weekend. I managed to get some alone time with my mom, and I told her. She was calm and less upset than I thought she’d be. I don’t think she quite grasped what an atheist is, because she kept saying “but you won’t go to heaven if you don’t believe in god!”. She is worried about me, and she asked a few questions. When I told her I had studied the Bible and was shocked at all the things they glossed over in Sunday school, she admitted she has had some of the same thoughts about the extreme violence in the Bible.

The following day, I told the rest of my family. One of my aunts was genuinely curious. She is married to a minister, and I was the first atheist she knew (that she was aware of anyway!). For the most part, they seemed surprised, but moved on. I got a personal email from one of my aunts telling me she felt it was very important to accept differences, and that she loved me. Probably the most negative reaction I got was from another aunt who never said a word, but just silently cried. I directly told her I wasn’t trying to hurt her and was sorry she was feeling hurt. She didn’t say anything. Her daughter said it was my business, not hers, but the look she gave me was similar to what one would expect if I’d told her I enjoy popping heads off of kittens. I directed everyone to a blog I wrote about my experience, and some read it. The crying aunt and the cousin both spoke to me later in the week and acted as if nothing had happened. I still don’t know what the crying was about (anger? fear? hurt?). I left the door open by telling them I was willing to answer questions, but I won’t bring it up again.

Tonight, I came out to select facebook friends, including many who are religious. I did it for some of the reasons you mentioned: mainly to let people know it is ok to be an atheist, and to let Christians know that they DO know atheists even if they think they don’t. The response is positive so far. I have has 3 people say “me too!” (including one I never would have suspected), and I have had a couple of Christian friends thank me for sharing. So far, no unfriendings and no threats of hell (this is almost certainly due to my thoughtful selection of whom to share it with!). Anyway, please feel free to share my story on your blog or book, but just don’t use my name since I will remain closeted to some people.

Jean (not her real name)

*****

Coming Out Atheist cover 150Greta here, with a couple of quick editorial comments. One: Jean’s experience is surprisingly common. One of the most common — and most surprising — patterns that I found when I was researching Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why was that coming out atheist very often turns out better than people think or fear it will. Virtually every out atheist I’ve read or spoken to has said they’re glad they did it, and many more of them than I expected said that the people in their lives handled it much better than they’d imagined. This experience isn’t universal, of course — but it’s surprisingly common. And the “me, too!” experience of coming out as an atheist, and suddenly having a bunch of other atheists among your friends and family come out to you, happens ridiculously often.

Two: This is why I wrote this book. This is why I do this work. I cannot even begin to tell you how happy it makes me to know that atheists are coming out because of my book, and that it’s going well. If you came out to anyone as an atheist after reading Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, please let me know how it went! However it went, and whether or not you want me to post your story to my blog, I want to hear about it.

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