A Woman’s Room Online: An immersive experience of the daily harassment women face online

Content note: images based on threats and harassment

A Womens Room Online photo

This art show by Amy Davis Roth sounds hugely powerful. If you’re anywhere near the L.A. area, I strongly encourage you to see it.

I am building a free standing 8ft by 8ft office space, from the ground up on, the 2nd floor of The Center For Inquiry-Los Angeles. The room is intended to be an average office that a woman would work in. It is simply a normal office space, with a door, desk, chair and a computer and other small objects that one might have in a workspace, but this particular room has been transformed to clearly show the viewer what it can feel like to be targeted in your place of work, over multiple years with aggressive online stalking and harassment.

The room and its objects are blanketed with actual messages sent to, or publicly posted about the women who have contributed to the exhibit.

The messages are all real and were sent to or publicly posted about the women from July 2nd, 2011 up until now.

It’s your turn to read them. What has been sent to us, will now be on display for you.

And yes, before you ask, some of the images for the show come from my own files.

More information about A Woman’s Room Online: An immersive experience of the daily harassment women face online is at the link. The exhibit will be at Center for Inquiry-Los Angeles (2nd floor) 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Sept. 13 – Oct. 13. The opening reception is on Sept. 13 at 7:00 pm. See it — and please spread the word about it. If you know media people in the L.A. area, please let them know.

Trans People and Basic Human Respect

There’s something that’s been puzzling me. I’ve been thinking about cisgender people who get upset about transgender people. (“Cisgender,” for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, is the opposite of “transgender”; it means someone whose gender identity corresponds with the sex they were assigned at birth.) Some cis people object to the new vocabulary many trans people are advocating for or are simply making use of—changes in names, pronouns, and so on. Others object to the very existence of transgender people: they think gender is solely and entirely determined by the genitals we were born with, and that any other perception of it is just nonsense.

Here’s what’s puzzling me: Why do these people care?

Let’s assume, purely for the sake of disproving the assumption, that trans people are somehow mistaken—that they “really” are the gender they were assigned at birth based on their genitals, and it’s silly for them to think otherwise. I obviously don’t think that—I think it’s a horrible opinion, deeply offensive, and out of touch with well-documented reality. But assuming that this opinion is true will help me demonstrate just how wrong it is. So for the sake of argument, let’s assume it’s true.

So what? How could it possibly affect you? What business is it of yours? If someone else is identifying with a gender that you personally think is “wrong,” how does it harm you in any way?

*****

The Humanist magazine coverThus begins my latest Fierce Humanism column for The Humanist magazine, Trans People and Basic Human Respect. To read more, read the rest of the piece. Enjoy!

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...]

So You Think You Can Dance Nudity Parity Watch, Season 11, Episodes 12 and 13

sytycd logoAs regular readers know, I’m watching the current season of So You Think You Can Dance, the mixed-style dance competition show, and am documenting whether the women are generally expected to show more skin than the men. (I give a more detailed explanation of this project, and why I’m doing it, in my first post in the series.)

I’ve been letting the perfect be the enemy of the good: I haven’t posted the “So You Think You Can Dance” nudity parity documentation for the last couple of episodes, since I keep thinking, “Oh, I just have to find video links and the photos to illustrate it,” and I’ve been swamped lately and that task just seems daunting. So I’m just going to get the documentation up, sans video links and photos, and sans clever commentary. [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...]

Michael Brown, Entirely Normal Teenager, Is “No Angel”

Are you fucking kidding me, New York Times?

Michael Brown Spent Last Weeks Grappling With Problems and Promise

Michael Brown was “no angel” — because he got frustrated with his family, sometimes used vulgar language, dabbled in drugs and alcohol, got into one scuffle with a neighbor, wasn’t the best student, once took money meant for shoes and bought a PlayStation, and as a child climbed fences and scribbled on the wall.

None of which makes him an ENTIRELY NORMAL TEENAGER.

Also he “had taken to rapping in recent months.” OOOOOOO! No! Not rapping!

Oh, and he was accused of stealing an iPod, but actually didn’t. Which is relevant how?

Seriously? Are you fucking kidding?

Susie Bright’s Ridiculously Easy, Amazingly Delicious Roasted Tomato Sauce

tomatoes and peppers

It’s tomato season, which means I’m making big batches of Susie Bright’s roasted tomato sauce. This recipe is amazingly delicious and ridiculously easy (about 10-15 minutes of prep depending on how much you’re making, plus blending at the end). And it freezes really well, so whenever it’s tomato season, we make giant batches of it and freeze it in Tupperwares for the winter. You know that children’s book, Frederic, about the mouse who sits around in the summer gathering words and colors and sun rays to store up for the winter? That’s what making this sauce feels like. When winter comes, and it’s been gray and cold and wet and dark for days on end, we stick some of this sauce in the microwave and put it on pasta, and it feels like pulling a bit of stored summer out of the freezer. And when we’re making it, it fills the house with this ambrosial tomato perfume. We mostly make this to freeze for the winter, but we can never resist eating some of it right away, warm out of the oven.

I want Susie to get the traffic, so I’m not going to repeat the basic recipe here — you have to go to her blog to get it. But I have a few modifications and finer points, and those I’ll tell you about. [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...]