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Jan 20 2013

Help send me to Women In Secularism? *GOAL REACHED!*

Update: Made it! Any further donations will go to helping someone else get there, likely through the Surly Grants program. Cheers!

I hate fundraising for things other than charities. I hate that I do not make enough money that I could pay my own way to these events. But I’m going to swallow my pride and hold out my hat, because I really want to be at WIS this year, given their fantastic lineup.


For too long, our secular and skeptical communities have — not by design, but by the accident that we live in a patriarchal society — been led by men to the virtual exclusion of women. This means the movement, which attracts people who look like the people representing it, gets disproportionate male representation as compared to the background of society. The ideas in our community’s marketplace, flowing as they do from the people making it up, do not represent the true meritocracy that might exist if ALL ideas, from people of ALL cultural backgrounds, had at least some representation. Improving diversity in a community also brings in ideas from cultural viewpoints that are simply not represented when the people making up the community are homogeneous.

I know that every one of the women speaking at Women In Secularism are great thinkers, great speakers, and deserve to be on stage at any convention. The necessity for them to speak is obvious, so giving them a stage is the best way to encourage this.

And I recognize that the community is becoming more pluralistic, to the point where one day, a convention of *just* women speakers may become unnecessary because women are as well represented in our community as they are in our society. But our society does not yet represent women as well as the numbers suggest they should be represented — men still disproportionately hold vast swathes of power that they do not deserve any more than the women beside them. We do not yet live in a post-sexist utopia. Until then, I will do what I can to make sure my own ideas are being influenced by great female thinkers as much as by the great male thinkers who already get airtime.

I’m sad I didn’t get to go to the first WIS. Now’s my chance to make up for this, with your help. I want humankind to see everything, learn everything and do everything. Women are more than half of that humankind. So I want to hear from the half that keeps getting left out, by conscious and unconscious biases, by false assumptions of lack of merit — I want their words to shape me, because I think it’ll pay dividends to all of you.

Sadly, I don’t have anything to give you in return — if I make it there, I’ll report on the talks and live-tweet and blog about it for all of you, whether you donated or not, but I have nothing to give you to sweeten the deal. I’m not going to sell space on my t-shirt, or send you signed swag, but you’ll get my humblest, most heartfelt thanks. Click the Paypal Donate button below to send a few bucks my way if you can’t make it to WIS either, and want to live vicariously through me. If I’ve ever written something that you’ve found yourself nodding along to as you read it, please consider adding some spare change to my fund.





You can also donate directly to CFI, if you’d rather give your money to the organization behind WIS. I’d be equally pleased that you opened your pursestrings to keep WIS going for next year if you felt so inclined.

Update: I’m going to plow back any money I get over what I need directly into Surly Amy’s grants. And as of 10:49am, half an hour after putting up the button, I’m already at ~30% of my goal! (Exact numbers once I figure out my own possible financial input into this fund.)

Update 2: I’ve gotten info about flights, and they look to be about $680 round trip. I’ll have to pay full price ticket of $210, because I’m not a student or a CFI member, but someone earmarked a funding for the banquet specifically, so I have to take that $85 option. I’ll be able to steal someone’s bathtub for sleeping if need be, so I’m not worried about that. So, all told, it’ll be $975. Assuming this is all in CDN. Which it’s not.

I don’t have a good enough handle on my finances ahead of time, but assuming I can contribute ~200 of my own money by squirrelling away everything I can between now and then, my goal is $775. People have already donated $502, though Paypal took a cut so it’s really $483.33. So, I’m at 62% of my goal.

I am overwhelmed by the response so far. You people are amazing. I will do right by you all in whatever way I can manage, I promise.

Update 3: Wow. In less than 24 hours, you folks made my goal. In the intervening hours while I was indisposed with my day job, you’ve donated a grand total of $1002. Which means I am, absolutely, positively, without a doubt…
going to Women In Secualarism 2!

Thank you. All of you. This is incredible.

I have to go talk to Amy now and ask her how best to handle the overflow. I’ll hang onto the money til I get my own flights and tickets sorted out, but then I’ll plow every cent of the overflow into making sure someone else gets to go too.

50 comments

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  1. 1
    julian

    Good luck. If I had any money to spare this month I’d donate.

  2. 2
    EllenBeth Wachs

    Where’s your paypal button?

  3. 3
    Jason Thibeault

    The HTML got mangled. It should be showing up now.

  4. 4
    julian

    Screw it I don’t need that cigarretes. Here’s 10 bucks.

  5. 5
    Jason Thibeault

    Thank you Julian, that means a lot to me. Your sacrifice benefits you too! :)

  6. 6
    dgrasett

    Job done. Easier if the tip jar is not hidden.

  7. 7
    Jason Thibeault

    Indeed… sorry about that. And thank you for the donation!

  8. 8
    dgrasett

    PS I hope to go to Washington in May.

  9. 9
    Jason Thibeault

    Excellent! Do introduce yourself. Chances are, I’ll be wearing one of Stephanie’s Freeze Peach t-shirts.

  10. 10
    PZ Myers

    I chipped in a little bit. Would have been more, but I’m paying my way to WIS2, too!

  11. 11
    Jason Thibeault

    But but I thought you were supposed to be mean! WORLDVIEW SHATTERED!

  12. 12
    PZ Myers

    I am! I’ve contributed to locking you in a room full of FEMINAZIS who will probably chop off your testicles.

  13. 13
    EllenBeth Wachs

    I made him promise to sit with me. :P

  14. 14
    melody

    Come on, people! I haven’t seen any activity on this in hours! Help a secular brother out! And yes, I chipped in!

  15. 15
    Jason Thibeault

    Thank you for that, by the way, Melody. It is very much appreciated, coming as it does from the person who founded the conference in the first place. (Slightly star-struck here!!)

    I updated the OP:

    I’ve gotten info about flights, and they look to be about $680 round trip. I’ll have to pay full price ticket of $210, because I’m not a student or a CFI member, but someone earmarked a funding for the banquet specifically, so I have to take that $85 option. I’ll be able to steal someone’s bathtub for sleeping if need be, so I’m not worried about that. So, all told, it’ll be $975. Assuming this is all in CDN. Which it’s not.

    I don’t have a good enough handle on my finances ahead of time, but assuming I can contribute ~200 of my own money by squirrelling away everything I can between now and then, my goal is $775. People have already donated $502, though Paypal took a cut so it’s really $483.33. So, I’m at 62% of my goal.

    I am overwhelmed by the response so far. You people are amazing. I will do right by you all in whatever way I can manage, I promise.

  16. 16
    Audra

    Done. Look forward to meeting you there!

  17. 17
    Shannon

    How soon do you need the money by? I want to help but can’t right now, but hopefully will be able to in the near future. Also you know that if you ever go to conference in Atlanta you have a place to stay.

  18. 18
    Jason Thibeault

    Thank you so much, Audra! Almost certain I’ll be there now. :D

    Shannon: I love you man, but don’t you dare. You think of you and Teri first. And one day, perhaps I’ll have enough money to go to a Dragon*Con. And I’ll drag you two with me. This I swear.

  19. 19
    melody

    Audra has done so much to help this conference. Thank you for your generosity.

  20. 20
    Jay

    Jason, I genuinely wish you the best of luck in getting you there. (Although I guess as Skeptics we don’t believe in luck).

    Anyway, I hope the conference is successful.

    I also hope they discuss the ethics of doxxing disagreeable people, like Informed Consent did at Ophelia Benson’s blog.

    Ophelia Benson has banned me so I have no way of getting this information to her, so if you think that Informed Consent’s post is unethical, I urge you to contact Benson and let her know so it can be taken down.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/01/ill-teach-you-to-mention-acid-in-the-face/#comment-426863

  21. 21
    Jason Thibeault

    She dealt with it, though I must note that it was a first time commenter who, by my eye, did not appear to be using a proxy. The IP had never before commented here, at Ophelia’s, nor anywhere else I thought to check.

    So yeah. Tell your buds back at the ‘Pit to stop bleating.

  22. 22
    thebookofdave

    Okay, I’m serious about giving you the opportunity to go. So I’ll dip into my beer budget for some gas money.

  23. 23
    smhll

    I hope you have a great time! I look forward to reading about it.

  24. 24
    Jason Thibeault

    I very much look forward to writing about it!

    Thank you all, again, for donating. It means the world to me. I won’t let you down. (I hope.)

  25. 25
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Please excuse me for a moment while I Gooooooaaaaaaalll! Again, I beg your pardon.(No vuvuzela, though.)

    Hey Jason, it ain’t begging, man. Sure, maybe you like doing cons, etc., but also a lot of people would like to see you go, be there for us, and then tell us about it. So, it’s just a non-traditionally-funded job of work. (And even if it wasn’t, I’ll bet plenty of people would chip in anyway.)

    Of course, you may still feel the same no matter what, because you’re human. Hell, I feel guilty for not making enough money to chip in for every good cause, great or small, which I run across. Generally underpowered given the amount of starting privilege I have in this life. Best not to dwell overmuch on these things we can’t change at will in the smaller picture.

    So, I’m sorry I couldn’t donate, good for you, and have fun, Mr. huge numbers on the posts, which I really like.

  26. 26
    Ernst Hot

    Now you’ve done it.

    You’ll never be able to buy a pair of shoes again.

  27. 27
    kaboobie

    Hooray! I’m glad I was able to chip in a little bit. I just registered for WIS myself, and I hope I get a chance to meet you there.

  28. 28
    Andrew Tripp

    Yessssssssssssssssss! I’m almost certain I’ll be there too!

  29. 29
    chasstewart

    What if you donated the overflow to Operation Smile?

  30. 30
    Jason Thibeault

    chasstewart / Birdterrifier: I don’t see a problem with Operation Smile as an organization, as they seem to have mostly recovered from their bad business charges quite nicely. They do compensate their board more than some people might like, but there are a lot of charities that do exactly that.

    My main concern is that you bring it up here because the Slymepitters are all about that charity right now, which, while it’s good that you’re focusing on something other than how evil Freethought Blogs is, certainly opens me to criticism that the money I asked for to go to WiS is better spent on Operation Smile — because you people are all about hyper-scrutiny of people’s donation decisions, despite the people donating having donated to exactly the funds they wanted to.

    You know, like how Greta Christina asked for money to help her continue living, while she couldn’t collect speakers fees or travel while she had a hysterectomy, then you folks got all uppity about how she shouldn’t have comfortable, functional and stylish working shoes because she obviously didn’t have THAT bad of cancer. She asked for money to do something, e.g. her living expenses, and you hyper-scrutinized what she spent it on, being living expenses. I’m sure you’ll find lots to criticize here in my asking for money to go to WiS, then going to WiS, and possibly taking others with me — not because there’s anything wrong with asking for money, but because there’s something wrong with what I did with it, because you petty and nasty folks just do that.

    How about instead of spending these good people’s money on a charity they may or may not want me to spend it on, I put that money directly into the type of thing they wanted it spent on? I can do a fundraiser for Operation Smile at a later juncture. It’s a good idea, in my opinion, and I’m very glad you folks are doing something good for a change instead of all the petty backbiting. But that’s not why I raised funds here, and it would be wrong of me to do something with that money other than what I said I would.

    I notice you have another fundraiser on your side of the great rift related to WiS. It’s even putting some percentage into Operation Smile. Maybe that percentage could be upped to 100%, so the money goes entirely toward making people happy, instead of trying to make the WiS-goers miserable for your happiness?

  31. 31
    chasstewart

    I don’t consider myself a Slymepitter though I sometimes lurk and have posted four times there (for comparison, I lurk at Atheismplus and have posted twice (under Birdterrifier)). My bro, Damion Reinhardt helped Vacula put together that fund that is not at all meant to detract from the environment of WiS. It was meant to be an opportunity to rise above the “backbiting” that barred Vacula from working as an activist for his local community. Hopefully, Vacula, you and others can learn from each other. I’m guessing you don’t see anything to learn from this situation but I don’t think Vacula can avoid being educated as he will be enveloped by the messages from the women in the movement. He’ll have no choice but to listen. He’s also not going to say anything derogatory about any specific person at the event even if he disagrees with some opinions.

    I offered Operation Smile because it seemed like a neat idea. You all would be working together for specific cause and it would make the truly spiteful people on the other side of the rift really uncomfortable. But I can see why you wouldn’t want to divert funds to something your donors were not expecting.

    On Greta Christina. She was completely upfront about what she was going to use the money for (income replacement) so I of course had no objection to her buying shoes she would have bought if not for undergoing treatment for cancer.

    I think it’s great that you are going to WiS. Maybe you can meet Vacula while you’re there.

  32. 32
    Stephanie Zvan

    Yeah, Vacula’s demonstrated a real willingness to listen.

  33. 33
    chasstewart

    Justin needs help with his delivery. Now this is a work of art: (edited to be a link, not an embed)

    I think that the comment that Justin read aloud was a fairly ridiculous comment in pixel form but out loud takes it to a new level.

  34. 34
    Damion Reinhardt

    Jason,

    Pitters do not have the same opinion on any given issue, not even Greta’s shoes:
    http://skepticink.com/backgroundprobability/2013/01/06/in-support-of-greta-christina/

    They also aren’t all thrilled about the idea of making “WiS-goers miserable” at all. Please consider the possibility that at least some of us sincerely believe that rifts should be healed, rather than deepened, and that meeting each in person will help further that goal. Don’t take my word for it, please feel free to ask Justin in person.

  35. 35
    Jason Thibeault

    Damion, you understand why one might be skeptical of that goal, between the majority of his donors expressing their desire to see “sparks fly”, and your picking possibly one of the most divisive of your members as your olive branch?

    I strongly suspect this is an attempt at deepening the rift and making it look like our fault. But I will be pleasantly surprised if this is not the case.

  36. 36
    Jason Thibeault

    Just released chasstewart@33, where his link to a Youtube video by Justin mocking another commenter belies your point, Damion, that he’s interested in dialogue.

  37. 37
    Damion Reinhardt

    Have you seen Justin’s YouTube? He could never produce a video with that level of production quality. That was 100% Rocko. I think my bro may have pasted the wrong link.

    As to “picking possibly one of the most divisive of your members” this is admittedly a high-risk high-return venture. If you guys meet Justin and discover he’s actually a friendly fellow freethinker with mostly similar goals and just a few disagreements (perhaps about means rather than ends) then it could be a huge step forward for everyone concerned.

    Now I’m really fantasizing here, but imagine the effect on both sides if you and Justin each came away holding on to most of your disagreements (whatever they might be) but with a much better impression of each other as an honest interlocutor and compassionate person, and the temerity to say so in public. What might that do to prompt his readers (and yours) to rethink their prejudices against the other “side” of the rift?

    I know, it’s a long shot. But if it cannot happen at a CFI conference, where “No topic should be placed off limits to scrutiny,” then it probably cannot happen anywhere.

  38. 38
    Jason Thibeault

    You should know by now that these topics aren’t off-limits to scrutiny. But just because we’ve moved past 101-level topics — like, say, a creationist wandering into an atheist conference and wondering aloud why there are still monkeys — doesn’t mean the scrutiny itself is worthy any more. There comes a point when certain ideas are, in fact, well behind us and they’ve been scrutinized enough.

    I suspect Justin’s a decent guy. A nice guy even. A guy you could have a beer with. Have nice long discussions about common ground, about how terrible those Christians that can’t stand a simple billboard are — about how they have to vandalize it and tear it down instead of letting it be and existing in the marketplace of ideas.

    But then I suspect afterward, he’d return to you folks shaking your head about how far gone I am, because he couldn’t get me to concede a single point to him on basic feminist-related topics like the existence of privilege or that this is a patriarchal society (concepts long settled in the actual scientific field of sociology). Like the creationist asking about monkeys, his 101-level questions will find no purchase at this conference.

  39. 39
    Jason Thibeault

    Fair point on that not being a Justin video. I thought it was the one I’d already seen, and TOTES UNSKEPTICALLY didn’t click through.

    It’s still dumb though. Yeah, way to go with your iMovie 2009 or whatevz. You’re skilled, guy.

  40. 40
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    Jason, I’d advise that you steer well clear of Justin Vacula, and if you can’t manage that at least make sure you’re never alone with him. At this point there’s not much I’d consider beneath the mildew mob, including some kind of faked assault charge. They’ve already demonstrated how little regard they have for other people, Vacula especially with that ‘dramatic reading’ stunt.

  41. 41
    Damion Reinhardt

    “They’ve already demonstrated how little regard they have for other people…”

    Such as telling them to die in a fire, Wowbagger?

    Jason – Search through everything Justin has ever written or said, you’ll never find a sentiment so disgustingly anti-humanistic as that one from your would-be moral adviser here.

  42. 42
    Jason Thibeault

    I don’t think that’s in question, Damion. Justin is an extremely polite person who’s dogmatically entrenched in the idea of “gender feminism vs equity feminism” being an actual thing. Since that belief actively harms women seeking equality, and since it’s hinged on dogmatic libertarianism, I expect he’s going to be extremely wrong about a lot of things, and since everyone’s sending him to the conference to “see sparks fly”, I expect he’s going to act as an agent provocateur.

    All of that is entirely orthogonal to whether or not Wowbagger once told someone to die in a fire. That is not who we’re talking about, and you’re poisoning the well without any evidence for it. And even if you did provide evidence that Wowbagger generally goes around saying that sort of thing, how exactly does that make his assertion here wrong?

  43. 43
    Jason Thibeault

    Actually, I should amend that. There IS a divide that could be labeled “gender feminists” vs “equity feminists”, but it’d be better described by the terms “feminists” and “libertarian antifeminists who want to steal the term feminist for themselves”.

  44. 44
    Damion Reinhardt

    Jason,

    I provided slightly more evidence of Wowbagger’s personal morality than he did of Justin’s, since I was referring to one specific well-documented event, whereas he referred to nothing that Justin has actually done. You have rightly showed skepticism regarding my claims about Wowbagger, but can you apply that same skepticism to his claims about others? Shall we simply accept sweeping unfounded accusations such as his, or shall we apply skepticism and perhaps even a bit of charity?

    Such orthagonalities aside, the dichotomy between two forms of feminism (however you’d like to label them) is certainly worth discussing, but I don’t think it’s going to get to the heart of the disagreement that you have with Justin. For that, I think you’ll need to delve into specific policy questions and specific end goals. Hopefully, you will get the chance to do this in person.

  45. 45
    Damion Reinhardt

    I neglected to mention earlier that if you’d like to hear what Justin sounds like when he is debating someone on matters of consequence to both parties, he has a couple of debates posted on the NEPA Freethought Podcast. I’m pointing this out now just to say that there is primary evidence of how he behaves when talking directly with people with whom he disagrees. You will find no sparks in those videos, not so much as a Hitchenseque verbal slap or a Dawkensian dismissal.

  46. 46
    julian

    They also aren’t all thrilled about the idea of making “WiS-goers miserable” at all. Please consider the possibility that at least some of us sincerely believe that rifts should be healed- D4M1ON

    Just who do you think you’re fooling? It’s not difficult to see what the SIN and slympit crowd thinks. It’s not hard to find what the majority of you feel towards Christina (conartists, free loader are among the nicer things) or Watson (better left unsaid) or the things said about McCreight (apparently objecting to a homeless man masturbating in front of you makes her some perverse oppressive bitch).

    But beyond that, most remember E-gate. We remember what you all had to say about things like WiS. We remember how you all dismissed it as tokenism. We remember how you lot applauded when women like Kirby dismissed it and any attempt to form something like it.

    I encourage anyone who wants to speak face to face with Vacula or you or whoever to do so. If you can come to some resolution great. But how’s about we stop pretending nothing has happened or been said?

  47. 47
    Stephanie Zvan

    I encourage anyone who wants to speak face to face with Vacula or you or whoever to do so.

    Sure. And in the meantime, let’s drop the charade (looking at you, D4M10N) that a single one of us harassed or defamed by him has even the tiniest shred of moral obligation to try to make nicey-nice now. “Lie back and think of the movement“? I don’t owe that to anyone or anything.

  48. 48
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    D4M10N wrote:

    Jason – Search through everything Justin has ever written or said, you’ll never find a sentiment so disgustingly anti-humanistic as that one from your would-be moral adviser here.

    Ah, the famous false equivalence which is the hallmark of the slymepitter. Only this is so astonishingly dishonest an attempt at it that I’m amazed that even you would try it.

    So, one documented instance of my doing something wrong. One. Let’s count them again: one.

    It’s also important to note that it’s one which I admitted was the wrong thing to do, that I shouldn’t have done it, that in fact no-one should do that.

    Just in cased you missed that, or don’t understand what an apology is – your people seem to have difficulty with the concept; funny how there are atheists who still believe in infallibility – what I said was wrong, I was an asshole to say it, that I won’t do it again.. Can you present any ‘evidence’ that I have done otherwise? That I’ve made similar remarks since? That there’s any indication I was lying when I admitted wrong-doing?

    I’ll save you the effort: None. Zero. What I did was wrong, and my admission genuine. How many of your slimy creep friends can claim that, exactly? How many of them have admitted anything they have done during their ongoing campaign of hate was the wrong thing to do and that they shouldn’t have done it?

    Has Vacula apologised for the things he’s said? Has he admitted he was wrong to say that’d he like to see women kicked in the cunt? Or trans* people, how did he put it, “take a mallet to the micro-penis”?

    Feel free to provide some links where he has – though forgive me if I don’t hold my breath.

    What’s also important is context – which you, of course, have dishonestly neglected to include a reference to.

    Unlike Vacula’s most recent asshole move, my comment was not part a pattern of behaviour. It was expressed by one individual to another, not by one of a group who have taken delight at bullying, harassing, stalking, intimidating and threatening people. It was directed towards one person who, as far as I am aware, has not been on the receiving end of years of that bullying, harassing, stalking, intimidating and threatening that the people Justin Vacula is hoping to discomfort and distress by attending this conference have been receiving.

    So, nice attempt at a derail. Take your bullshit false equivalence and cram it, you disgusting, dishonest scumbag.

    Justin, my point stands. I suspect that the real reason Vacula and the creepshow chorus wants to attend is to obtain some kind of ‘gotcha!’ moment, whether it’s getting himself kicked out in a vain attempt to gain the kind of attention PZ got from the Expelled debacle, or to somehow manufacture the means to slur people from FTP/Skepchick/A+ for something, anything.

    Please don’t give him the opportunity.

  49. 49
    Stephanie Zvan

    Wowbagger, you’re confusing Vacula and Ryan Grant Long there. Long was the one who flipped out on Greta.

  50. 50
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    Wowbagger, you’re confusing Vacula and Ryan Grant Long there. Long was the one who flipped out on Greta.

    Whoa. Okay, thanks for that.

    Justin, if you’re reading, my apologies. I’ll leave my involvement in this discussion at that.

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