Why I Don’t Like Calling Myself an “Activist” or “Ally”

This isn’t to say that there’s nowhere online where I am described as an activist or an ally to something or other, mind you. It’s that I very much hesitate to call myself by either of those terms.

I call myself a writer, blogger, soon-to-be-author, speaker, presenter, facilitator, workshop coordinator, quasi-professional ex-Muslim, disrupter of narratives. I claim the titles that relate to my identities: atheist, secular humanist, feminist, queer, woman of color, pansexual, non-monogamous, polyamorous. I might say I engage in activism of some specific type or in some specific context.

I won’t call myself an activist or an ally because I don’t want to fool myself into thinking I’m already there.

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On the Use of Drugs for Their Prescribed Purpose

Note: I’m sorry for having to continue to blog about this. Ignore it if you prefer my posts that aren’t about community issues. I try to keep those rare and still have a point to them beyond “they said / did a thing, here’s what I think.”

To follow up to my last post, Eshto reactivated then deactivated his Twitter, but not before quoting two of my friends-only posts on Facebook. These have been apparently been shared on a certain thread dedicated to hating on us Skepchick / FtB types on a certain forum. The sharing, including that of a post in which I mentioned that I use marijuana and Ambien, was ostensibly out of concern for Ryan Grant Long. How my personal choices represent something “cruel” I’ve said about him, I will never know.

That said, I’m going to publicly set the record straight: In my view, using legal drugs for their prescribed purpose is nothing to be ashamed of.

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At Least Four Internet Jerks Are Not Nice People Offline

Many thanks go out to those who helped me with editing and revising this: Stephanie, OpheliaDanny, and especially Alex, who generously copy-edited this for free and could really use some help right now.

There are some who claim that if only we were all away from this Internet thing, everything would be alright. According to this theory, perfectly nice, decent people suddenly morph into complete monsters lacking any and all humanity online. Trolls, their defenders, and people who hate technology all chant this “He means well” and “I’m sure she’s nice if you get to know her not-on-the-Internet” bullshit.

And it is bullshit.

What’s after the jump might count as drama-blogging and discusses some very unpleasant things using appropriately unpleasant language. It is an account of the in-person time I have spent with John Rael, Emery Emery, Heather Henderson, and Ryan Grant Long.

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A Woman’s Room Online Event & Live Feed

What a week for skepto-atheist sexism it has been: Shermer, Dawkins, Harris — not to mention their defensive fans who are so irrationally invested in the perfection of their heroes that they cannot see blatant, shameless misogyny for what it is.

While Shermer, Dawkins, and Harris aren’t vicious internet trolls, their expressed sexism and misogyny helps to create a sense of safety and acceptance for the aforementioned awful. I am not the recipient of much vitriol, through no doing of my own, but I know far too many women who are. Some of those bad-ass ladies will be sharing the bile they receive via a very special project.

Tonight is the opening of A Woman’s Room Online, an activist art installation by Amy Davis Roth, aka Surly Amy, my former colleague at Skepchick. The event is taking place at CFI-LA. Amy is setting up a live feed of the opening; the link will be posted on Skepchick when the event begins, this evening between 6 and 7 PM PDT.

As I am going to attend the event, you’ll probably see me. A lot of other LA-area and visiting feminist atheist types will be in attendance, as well. I, for one, am looking forward to a night of camaraderie and commiseration in fancy dresses.

Sam Harris: Misogynistic or #EstrogenVibe Entrepreneur?

Sam Harris said something… well, interesting is a word.

There’s something about that critical posture that is to some degree instrinsically [sic] 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.”

Of course, as soon as some of us took to the Intertubes to call people’s attention to its wildly gender essentialist nature, others took to our corners of the Intertubes to tell us that we were wrong. Nothing sexist or misogynist — I’m sorry, “misogynistic” — about it.

The pedant who so bravely corrected me on my misuse of “misogynist” for “misogynistic” very misandrically asserted that the statement made sense because men are naturally more violent than women. Furthermore, he cited the term “evolutionary psychology” but provided no citations. Since neither assertion is very credible, how could such a blatantly generalizing statement be neither sexist nor misogynistic? It seems to blame hormones for a lack of participation by women in a community in the grand tradition of hysteria.

I think I have a theory: sex toys.

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What Exactly Does “Skeptic” Mean Anymore?

Last night, Mark Oppenheimer, the same journalist who wrote the New York Times piece about EXMNA that featured Sadaf and myself, posted a piece about Michael Shermer. It includes the names of three of those speaking out against Shermer’s treatment of them, one of whom is Ashley Miller, my fellow FTBer and my friend, of whom I am so proud for speaking out.

Stephanie has posited some important questions that we should be asking ourselves in the wake of this. My question is sparked by how this news comes on the heels of another unfavorable tidbit about Shermer: that he came out quite warmly in defense of none other than noted right-wing quack Dinesh D’Souza. “High in regard”, “forthright”, “honest”, “unfailingly fair”, “genuine”… you’d almost think they were friends. And as it turns out, Shermer thinks so.

Add to that the fact that many self-identified skeptics, especially those in my local skeptic community, have vehemently defended convicted fraudster Brian Dunning, and I wonder what the point of the “skeptic” movement is anymore.

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Ajar Thread / Throwback Thursday: Forgotten, Formerly-Precious Things

Less than a month ago, The Toast asked about first fan fiction. This led me to look up the one piece of fan fiction that I ever publicly posted. Lo and behold: it was still up. Alas, by today, the page seems to be down; thank the Noodly Lord for the Wayback Machine.

You can read it if you want to cringe-laugh. Mine is The Dawn by Bant428. You know, the one with choice lines like “the pregnant silence that ensued, the soft darkness that matured their love from the hunger of bodies into the fusion of souls.”

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You’re Not Fat, You Just Suck at Life!

[Content Notice: fat hatred, body image]

I can put on a short skirt, a deeply-plunging neckline, appealingly “natural” make-up, high heels, and a sweet smile; wander in alone to a bar filled with allegedly-prowling men; and be left alone. I’d call it my superpower were it not for the fact that, the one time I’ve stayed until closing time, a man who had previously insulted me to my face and laughed about it with his buddies that night told me that I was going home with him (I didn’t).

Since I am not a fan of the bar and club scene, especially not for meeting people, it’s not a huge deal for me. In fact, it wouldn’t bother me at all… if it weren’t for other people. More normative-type people can’t understand why I would call a night out “expensive” because “you’re a girl!” MRAs declare free drinks to be “female privilege.”  Even articles that debunk the notion of “female privilege” assume that free drinks are a universal female experience.

I constantly hear about all the free stuff women automatically get just for being women — free stuff I’ve never gotten. Pointing this fact out leads to people engaging in some rather ridiculous mental gymnastics in order to avoid acknowledging that lookism and fatphobia exist.

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“Positive Thinking” Was #WhyIStayed: How Self-Help & Religion Enabled My Abuse

The genesis for this piece was Twitter. The hashtag is heartbreaking but worth a read.

An unholy marriage of Islam’s teachings on gratitude and the late 90’s/early aughts obsession with “positive thinking” made my childhood and adolescence utterly miserable.

I was born a very obedient, literal child. There’s something about a sincere, thoughtful little fat girl that bring the worst out in bullies. My adult male relatives bullied me in the name of “toughening me up” & “teasing” me. Male and female relatives of all ages taught me through their behavior and words that because I was not pretty, I was utterly contemptible, worthy of either no or negative attention.

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Leslie Knope Is Not a Better Feminist Than Beyonce

This weekend, I came across an article on the Huffington Post in which a feminist unfavorably compared a real-life feminist woman of color to a fictional white feminist character. I took to Twitter, and my fears were confirmed — it isn’t snark. This is a piece that seriously posits Beyoncé as the the Big Bad Too-Sexy-Not-Feminist-Enough, with the alternative being Leslie Knope.

Donna Meagle, as depicted by Retta, making an unamused/unbelieving face.

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