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Apr 18 2012

Wait, I just got home!

I have to catch up with all of my classes now, but I also have to prepare for the next couple of weekends. Next on the agenda:

  • I’m flying off on Friday for the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism in New York. I’ll be talking about squid.

  • Next weekend is the Freethought Festival 2012 in Madison, Wisconsin. I shall be talking about the scientific method, and why it’s incompatible with religion.

  • Then I get a few weekends to stay at home and get through finals week. Yay!

  • On 18 May, I’ll be at Imagine No Religion 2, in Kamloops, British Columbia. I forget what I’m talking about there, something sciencey, I’ll figure it out later.

  • Also on 18 May, I won’t be attending the Women in Secularism conference in Washington DC, because I can’t be in two places at once. However, my daughter Skatje will be my proxy there and will be reporting back on it in her own cantankerous and independent-minded style (I have no idea where she gets that from).

I do have to say something about the Women in Secularism conference: some people are being condescendingly stupid about the fact that we can have a special purpose conference within the broader domain of secularism. It is embarrassingly idiotic that we actually have clueless atheists who are demeaning the idea that there is worth in dedicating conferences to specific issues: would there be any of this dismissal if it were a conference on secular parenting, separation of church and state, secular lobbying, race and religion, or the pernicious influence of religion on education? Because these are all pressing concerns, as is the importance of involving women in atheism, and it is a mark of the growth of atheism and secularism and humanism that we do have focused conferences. Expect to see more of this sort of thing in the future.

But somehow, macho assholes seem to think women are unimportant. Sorry, guys, this is the future coming at you: institutions will be egalitarian or die. And the only thing that’s unimportant is addressing the whines of spoiled man-children who break into tears and rage at any diminution of their privilege. Bye-bye, testosterone-addled dinosaurs.


See also this article at CFI.

Look, people, and yes guys, I’m talking to you specifically. This conference is not about “separating” women from men, it’s about having the spine as a movement to say that women deal with prejudices and oppression that are unique to them, thanks to religion, and at the same time recognizing that our own community has a LOT of work to do in how we treat, acknowledge, and highlight our female half. It’s not a conference exclusively FOR women, but yes, about them. Our boss Ron Lindsay says men absolutely should attend. PZ Myers says men should attend. And I’m telling you, too. If you think it’s a problem to have a conference like this, I challenge you to buy a ticket, show your face, and talk about it like a grownup. No more nameless Internet thuggery.

By the way, there are a limited number of $25 student registrations still available for the women in secularism conference.

119 comments

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  1. 1
    Anthony K

    Bye-bye, testosterone-addled dinosaurs.

    Hardly. As a magnificent specimen of male virility myself, I don’t think too much testosterone is these twits’ problem.

  2. 2
    PZ Myers

    True. And since they’re entirely impotent, it may be a shortage of manliness that frustrates them.

  3. 3
    Pteryxx

    As a magnificent specimen of male virility myself, I don’t think too much testosterone is these twits’ problem.

    No, but these particular specimens obviously have a low tolerance for it. Testosterone should be used responsibly.

  4. 4
    jamessweet

    I dunno, PZ, our resources are limited. We can’t let special interests dictate our agenda. I don’t think we can afford to take time out for a conference that is relevant to a measly 50% of the human population.

  5. 5
    cag

    jamessweet #4, I think you underestimated by about 100%.

  6. 6
    Louis

    {Puts on special protective clothing}

    MRAs inbound. Alert the Feminists. Rally the Mockers. Limber up and stretch those Piss-Taking Organs. Get the links for Feminism 101 ready…AGAIN. We’re about to get shelled by morons.

    Even money on misogyny by comment 60? Anyone? Anyone?

    Louis

  7. 7
    Anthony K

    I dunno, PZ, our resources are limited. We can’t let special interests dictate our agenda. I don’t think we can afford to take time out for a conference that is relevant to a measly 50% of the human population.

    And it’s not like religion in general targets women’s sexuality specifically or anything like that. What could secular women possibly have to talk about?

  8. 8
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    By comment 60? Hope springs eternal.

  9. 9
    Louis

    Okay everyone, Jamessweet is joking, he’s joking, that doesn’t count as misogyny this early in the thread without separate confirmation. I’m not paying out for that.

    Louis

  10. 10
    Pteryxx

    Louis: I’ll take #35 for the heck of it. There’s no obvious tells in PZ’s title though, nor is there a flood of MRA’s in the linked post at Ophelia’s; so I think the odds’ll run to a higher number. Even money at #50?

  11. 11
    Inaji

    Louis:

    Even money on misogyny by comment 60?

    #60? Seriously? My, you’re feeling generous today.

  12. 12
    nanocephalic

    In other news: http://meanspirited.net/people/2010/jun/squidink.jpg

    This picture is surprisingly similar to the way my coffee and I looked when I saw it.

  13. 13
    dougittner

    And there’s the awesome Skeptics of Oz conference in Wichita this weekend.

  14. 14
    Louis

    Caine,

    I think Pteryxx gives excellent reasons why we might escape. Mind you, I am waiting a judges’ decision on jamessweet’s #4. I think he’s being ironical,* but I’ve been wrong before…

    Ok, I’ll go 9:2 by #35, 3:1 by #50, and I’ll keep evens by #60 until further evidence is in.

    Louis

    * I love that line by Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting. “I was being ironical, Jerry.”, it’s beautifully delivered, well crafted and nicely poised.

  15. 15
    chigau (違う)

    Louis #9
    OK.
    We’ll assume your #6 and jamessweet #4 was just bad timing.

  16. 16
    Anthony K

    Limber up and stretch those Piss-Taking Organs.

    Mine’s always limber. Magnificent specimen of virility, remember?

  17. 17
    Anthony K

    I guarantee jamessweet is being ironical.

  18. 18
    jamessweet

    Okay everyone, Jamessweet is joking, he’s joking, that doesn’t count as misogyny this early in the thread without separate confirmation. I’m not paying out for that.

    Now I’m wondering if I should double-down if I’m not offered a cut… :p

    (I won’t bother, though, because I share others’ skepticism that it will make it to comment #60.)

    (And yes, I was joking)

  19. 19
    Inaji

    Louis:

    Mind you, I am waiting a judges’ decision on jamessweet’s #4.

    I can guarantee James Sweet was being sarcastic and joking. He’s been around a long while.

  20. 20
    jamessweet

    I dunno, though, really, 50% of the human population is a pretty low number. Judging from the work meeting I am sitting in right now, college-educated middle-class males make up ~85% of the population, so shouldn’t we focus exclusively on that demographic?

  21. 21
    Louis

    Brownian and Caine,

    Darlings! I’m aware of Jamessweet’s work. My comment was in the manner of An Joke. Uncle Louis, Bookmaker to the Stars,* does not want to pay out for any old misogyny. It’s possible, given enough beer and twiglet abuse, that someone could lumber in, mistake Jamessweet’s comment for misogyny and demand fiscal remuneration. Uncle Louis does not want that.

    Not at all.

    Louis

    * Another division of LouisCorp. Uncle Louis is a friendly bookmaker, almost certainly guaranteed to be on quick horse out of town come pay-up time.

  22. 22
    Inaji

    jamessweet:

    so shouldn’t we focus exclusively on that demographic?

    Of course. Besides, we all know the decumbent urinators don’t count.

  23. 23
    Louis

    NO! NAUGHTY! DOWN BOY! NO COMEDY MISOGYNY! BAD JAMESSWEET! BAD!

    You go and sit in the corner and think about what you’ve done as I artificially inflate the post count.

    What? You think I respect the purity of the turf? Clearly you’ve never read a P G Wodehouse novel. No gentleman worth his salt would be above the occasional nobbling of a favourite to tweak the result in his favour.

    Louis

  24. 24
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    I’m dying to go to the WIS conference. I wish i had the cash :*(

  25. 25
    Pteryxx

    *eyes Illuminata* Potential donation fund material? probably via TET?

  26. 26
    jamessweet

    NO! NAUGHTY! DOWN BOY! NO COMEDY MISOGYNY! BAD JAMESSWEET! BAD!

    What, you’re not going to acknowledge the classicism in my last comment? Do I have to throw in some heterosexism too?

    Continuing my practice of using this work meeting as my demographic model, I think we might as well write-off LGBTQ issues altogether: There isn’t (I automatically presume) a single gay or trans person in this entire meeting!

  27. 27
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Its actually transportation i’d need more than anything. Car bit the dust in March. And, while I am working again (yay!!), can’t afford new wheels just yet.

    Does amtrak go there?

  28. 28
    chigau (違う)

    college-educated middle-class males make up ~85% of the population, so shouldn’t we focus exclusively on that demographic?

    I’d like to focus something on that demographic.

  29. 29
    Pteryxx

    Oh heck, ridesharing should be possible with *somebody*. WIS has a hashtag and Facebook going on, and Ophelia, Greta, Rebecca Watson and Jen are all going – that’s a lot of lively commentariats. (WIS also is accommodation-friendly and has child care funded by Dawkins’ foundation – sweet!)

  30. 30
    Pteryxx

    also, looks like Amtrak + Metro is a viable option:

    http://www.mwaa.com/reagan/1199.htm

    IMHO, with train prices being what they are, I’d rather rideshare. Y$MV of course.

  31. 31
    Inaji

    Pteryxx:

    Potential donation fund material? probably via TET?

    No. I’d like to go to that conference myself, can’t afford it. Everyone who can’t get somewhere does not call for a fund. If you personally want to fund someone, go for it. However, save tapping our pockets for emergencies, thank you.

  32. 32
    jamessweet

    WIS also is accommodation-friendly and has child care funded by Dawkins’ foundation

    Taking off my troll hat for some seriousness… do a lot of the atheism/secularism conferences have free child care? A big discouraging factor in me trying to attend any of that stuff has been that I have two sons under age three…

    (I’m not sure I could bring myself to visit DC in the near future anyway, a very close friend who lived there passed away very suddenly a year ago last December… even to this day, even just this minute, my mental thought process went something like this: WIS has free child care? Hmmm, where is it… Oh, it’s in DC. That’s less than a day’s drive! And while we were down there, my wife and I could visit Nicole– oh yeah. No we can’t. Ever. :(

  33. 33
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    A big discouraging factor in me trying to attend any of that stuff has been that I have two sons under age three…

    BUT BUT BUT TAHT CANT BE RITE KIDS IZ A LADY CONCERN STUPID EMASCULATED WAI DOAN U MAKE UR WIMMON DO IT@@!11232312`1

  34. 34
    Inaji

    jamessweet:

    do a lot of the atheism/secularism conferences have free child care?

    No, which is one of the things that atheist women try to address in the midst of being shouted down by privileged atheist menz.

  35. 35
    jamessweet

    BUT BUT BUT TAHT CANT BE RITE KIDS IZ A LADY CONCERN STUPID EMASCULATED WAI DOAN U MAKE UR WIMMON DO IT@@!11232312`1

    Heh, I must confess that every once in a while, when I am reading about some Christian Patriarchy thing or what have you, I occasionally experience a twinge of wistfulness. “Y-you mean… I could just make her do it, and I could be kicking back with a beer and playing video games?” It only lasts for a moment, mind you; even ignoring what I believe is right, I know I’d be miserable in that type of relationship, and as tiring as it can be sometimes I do enjoy the amount of time I get to spend with my kids… but still… every now and then… heh

  36. 36
    Pteryxx

    Caine: true, and I was sort of thinking aloud. I don’t have the pull to direct anyone else where to donate their money (at least, I fricking well shouldn’t.)

    It bugs me though that cost of attendance disproportionately affects women’s ability to get to these events, as was mentioned even as far back as PZ’s “Woman Problem” thread. I can’t afford to go, but if I could, I’d be actively searching for other attendees who needed ridesharing, room-sharing, food-sharing or whatever it took to get there. I’m sure there’s at least a dozen Horde regulars who could attend with a little support, and I’d help send someone, if there were a way to make it fair.

    jamessweet: No, child care’s a rare and precious commodity at conferences, even conferences loaded with women (such as veterinary conferences).

  37. 37
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Caine:

    Everyone who can’t get somewhere does not call for a fund. If you personally want to fund someone, go for it. However, save tapping our pockets for emergencies, thank you.

    Agreed 100%.

  38. 38
    jamessweet
    do a lot of the atheism/secularism conferences have free child care?

    No, which is one of the things that atheist women try to address in the midst of being shouted down by privileged atheist menz.

    Bummer.

    And though I won’t forgive cag at comment #5 for ruining my joke, yeah, this is a perfect illustration of that: The availability of child care at conferences may be seen as primarily a women’s issue (and probably does affect women disproportionately), but it has potential benefits for everyone.

  39. 39
    Louis

    BUT BUT BUT TAHT CANT BE RITE KIDS IZ A LADY CONCERN STUPID EMASCULATED WAI DOAN U MAKE UR WIMMON DO IT@@!11232312`1

    Well I’m at home now, looking after my kid, and for the next two days, whilst my wife is away on business and getting drunk and going to gala dinners in major European cities. The lucky bugger!

    I demand Extra Points, a Cookie, Praise (lots of it) for being Enlightened, and of course All The Things.

    Why? Well because as you correctly say, looking after Teh Chilluns comes under the heading of Women’s Things. Obviously.

    Louis

  40. 40
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    I demand Extra Points, a Cookie, Praise (lots of it) for being Enlightened, and of course All The Things.

    I’ll consider it, fake husband (who recently became even more rowr in my imagination on learning you have a posh BBC accent). Now put down those children and come over and see my kajigger.

  41. 41
    Inaji

    jamessweet:

    The availability of child care at conferences may be seen as primarily a women’s issue (and probably does affect women disproportionately), but it has potential benefits for everyone.

    Exactly. Also, why should atheists be the ones who have to leave the sproglets at home for these events? It’s sad to say, but child care is one area where churches and religious events have us beat, hands down.

  42. 42
    Louis

    Josh,

    Your Kajigger? Hmmm tempting.

    I do have two days off work, which I pretty much had to use up, and remarkably good access to Heathrow airport…

    …Do you have childcare and or vodka? I think I can see a way to make this work!

    Louis

  43. 43
    Louis

    Caine at #41 say true thing. True thing make Louis sad. Louis start drinking heavily, make the sad go away. But sad come back tomorrow. Hmm how to make sad go away forever? Louis know! More drinking! Hurrah!

    Louis

  44. 44
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Vodka always in stock. Often wine, too. Sometimes beer. Childcare is accomplished by wireless Deactivation Field that puts children into a temporary coma within the confines of my property.

  45. 45
    Inaji

    The other thing that tends to go missing at secular/atheist conferences is addressing secular parenting.

  46. 46
    Louis

    Josh, #44,

    Excellent. That suits me nicely. I feel The Boy needs to experience some cruelty and neglect otherwise how can I feel appropriately guilty when he blames everything on me as a teenager?

    Tell me more about this kajigger of yours whilst I Drink All The Things.

    Louis

  47. 47
    Pteryxx

    The other thing that tends to go missing at secular/atheist conferences is addressing secular parenting.

    …That’s not on the agenda for WIS, either, though there is a talk on “Celebrating Life Passages the Secular Way”. Argh. Now I REALLY hope it gets brought up, loudly, in some of these other panels at least.

  48. 48
    Rich Woods

    @Josh #44:

    Tell me, have you by any chance been too busy to patent that Deactivation Field yet?

    Just asking.

  49. 49
    Inaji

    Pteryxx, I don’t know that a whole lot of people would be interested in talks about secular parenting, but I don’t think anyone is trying to find out, either.

  50. 50
    Pteryxx

    Caine: I do know there’s a large undercurrent of disgust with the religious homeschool movement, and also that there are secular homeschooling parents who’ve removed their kids from hostile Christian and/or homophobic bullying environments in schools. They’ve repeatedly said there’s a need for secular homeschooling support to counter the massive religious influence in homeschooling materials and conferences.

    Now that you mention it, I suspect there would be a lot of interest in how to protect kids from school-based religious pressure at the very least; and a lot of us as educators, tutors, volunteers and scientists might be interested, too. (At least, I would be.)

    Besides, how are secular organizations going to find out about interest in secular parenting unless they make an effort to include parents in their conferences, say by providing child care? Argh!

  51. 51
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    Caine, IANAP, but I would guess that talks about how to deal with religious-themed holidays and child gear, answering kid’s questions about their friends’ religions, etc, might be of interest.

    The lack of childcare issue is one that shows up at professional conferences all the time. Agreed that religious orgs seem to have that high up on the priority list – and plan for more than just babysitters. Frequently, child-geared programming is offered as well. This seems like something the atheism conferences could do!

  52. 52
    dancaban

    Our strength over religion arises because we include women.

  53. 53
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    However, save tapping our pockets for emergencies, thank you.

    Just for the record, I had no intention of asking anyone for anything. I agree with this statement.

  54. 54
    Pteryxx

    Sorry. That was my urge to help running off my mouth.

  55. 55
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    Well, dancaban, most American churches skew female in their membership anyway (even while many exclude them from leadership), so “including women” is really-but-not-really something that atheists have over religion.
    After all, many religious types justify their misogyny using religion, while many atheists justify their misogyny using science. The religious types, however, have really perfected the art of lip service and saying “We value you, you just need to submit.”

  56. 56
    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle

    Pteryxx: no apps necessary. I appreciate the sentiment! Just attempting to head miscommunication off at the pass. I’m waaay too much of a stubborn ass to ask anyone for help for anything ;).

  57. 57
    Inaji

    Pteryxx @50, given all that, I’d say we’re definitely falling down here. I think most of the meetings to date have had to do with rallying people, getting people to be out, loud and proud. To a large degree, this has been accomplished.

    Now, it’s time to move the focus onto community, which PZ mentions in his GAC talk. There is a need to become more inclusive and more family-oriented, in the “most people have sprogs” sense.

  58. 58
    Anthony K

    It’s sad to say, but child care is one area where churches and religious events have us beat, hands down.

    True, though there’s reason enough to call into question the quality of the ‘care’ *cough*handsdownchild’spants,beatingoff*cough*

    But childcare should be available at atheist events. And to be fair to the MRA atheists who’ve somehow managed to avoid having their sperm stolen by evil sluts up to now: neckbeard trimming.

  59. 59
    Anthony K

    There is a need to become more inclusive and more family-oriented, in the “most people have sprogs” sense.

    That’s not necessarily true, at least not here in Canada.

    I’m supportive of childcare, but not breedernormative privilege.

  60. 60
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Damn.

    My privilege is showing again (white, male, etc).

    I would never have thought of child care at a conference (atheist or otherwise). A fantastic idea which will hopefully spread.

  61. 61
    jamessweet

    Wow, made it to #60! Is it too late for me to complain about the shameful absence of a Men in Secularism conference?

  62. 62
    Inaji

    Brownian:

    I’m supportive of childcare, but not breedernormative privilege.

    Same here. I’m childfree and I don’t appreciate everything being geared toward those with sprogs, however, there’s a huge gap in atheist meetings that does need addressing.

  63. 63
    Pteryxx

    IMHO, I see childcare as basically an access issue, sort of like elevators. Without it, parents with young kids simply won’t show up.

    I’ve been to ONE conference in my entire life that actually offered childcare, and I believe it was an anime con. I didn’t pay attention at the time, but it sounds like a con function that needs serious volunteer commitment and probably some licensing requirements. Heck, now I’m tempted to go to WIS just to see how it’s done.

  64. 64
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    I like that analogy, Pteryxx. Offering childcare (or child-geared programming) doesn’t detract from the experience of those who attend who don’t need the service. It does, however, greatly add to the experience of those who do need the service.

  65. 65
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    The other thing that tends to go missing at secular/atheist conferences is addressing secular parenting.

    I remember that we were talking lately about having at least a blog that adressed those issues.

  66. 66
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    And to add to that (yeah, I should allow my brain to finish thinking before I hit submit), it is a feminist issue, not only because raising the sproglets is still mostly done by women, but also because the sproglets are obviously the next generation of men and women and I can tell you, it’s a fucking uphill struggle to keep their minds in the status quo we have now, not to speak of making progress with the next generation.

  67. 67
    carlie

    I think that childcare is a way to NOT gear everything towards the with-small-kids demographic, as the other option to make things more accessible is to make all events *shudder* “family-friendly”.

    That said, when my kids were little I wouldn’t have wanted to bring them to somewhere offering child care on site anyway. There’s a narrow window that’s really good for, when they’re old enough to fend for themselves in a new weird environment and when they’re old enough to sit in the meetings with you. I’m a bit overprotective, but I’d probably only use site-provided childcare for kids between about 6 and 11 years old. Younger than that and my preferred option would be a separate “children are here and it’s childproof go nuts” fussy room with the talk being projected into the room on closed-circuit tv. That way parents with babies and toddlers can have them with them at all times, but switch back and forth between the actual event rooms and the fussy room as the situation demands, and everyone else doesn’t have to deal with screaming toddler during the talk. To make life even easier, reserve the last row of seats or a back corner in the main talk rooms for parents with children, make it obvious that they’re supposed to go there, and then it’s easy for them to duck in and out without traipsing all over half the room to get out. (so yes, anyone can sit in the back, but people with small kids are strongly encouraged to)

    Louis – my husband will be in the same position as you tomorrow, when I leave him with the kids and jet off for… uh, a town of 10k people to listen to committee reports on faculty governance for a couple of days.

  68. 68
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    I like that idea, Carlie. Possibly also a supervised room with cots and such for nap time? Oh, lactation areas are another biggie.

  69. 69
    Pteryxx

    carlie: The “fussy room” is a really good idea. I was just at the NTSCC (single day, single room, brand-new conference center) and it had flatscreen TVs and speakers mounted in the hallways so anyone outside could still see and hear the proceedings. I’m thinking that’s a viable option for most single-room conferences such as WIC, especially in newer facilities, that requires minimal fuss and staffing while the con’s actually going on.

  70. 70
    Pteryxx

    Oo, lactation areas! I actually have a contact in public health who specializes in lactation accommodation – I can call her up and ask!

  71. 71
    carlie

    Esteleth – oh yeah, nursing area definitely! With rocking chairs if possible. If the event has enough PR, they might even be able to get a chain like Toys R Us to loan them chairs and nursing stools to stock the room – good PR for the store, and good advertising if the purchasing information is plastered all over them. (“Like this chair? You can get it at our store for only $79.95″) Throw in a hundred dollars’ or so worth of diapers in various sizes for people who are caught out short, and it would be a parenting nirvana.

    The nice thing about having separate rooms nearby is that then there’s no cost in having someone there to actually watch the kids, and no liability issues. Maybe a single person there to run interference/errands as needed would be good, but it’s multiple levels of organization/cost cheaper to have maybe one person supervising the whole room and have a projector running the main talks and just have a rule that every kid has to have a parent/guardian with them than it would be to have actual site-sponsored childcare.

  72. 72
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Lactation areas? That means a few comfy chairs and a jug of water in the back of the main area.
    I seriously never got the meaning of “lactation rooms”. I hated being shut off from the rest of the world, the conversation, etc.
    And usually the kids are very well-behaving while being breastfed…

  73. 73
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    Hmm. I think supervised child care should be available, if for no other reason than if the parents want to go to a talk that kiddies shouldn’t attend.

  74. 74
    a miasma of incandescent plasma

    There’s a ginormous total of exactly one (1)(!) fantastic atheist parenting resource that I have found. http://parentingbeyondbelief.com/blog/

    There are at least these 2 issues that should be addressed differently by our conferences: free child care, and at least a panel discussion on parenting beyond belief issues.

    I think I as a parent have a lot more real-world and day-to-day concerns, issues, and implications of raising my kid as a freethinker than most of the stuff discussed at our conferences I’ve been to. I love talks on the awesomeness of science and why it kicks goddiditists ass, but I face issues in our family and our immediate community that scare the living f*ck out of me that just aren’t talked about there.
    What do I say, ask, and act when my kid’s spending the night at grandma’s and is taken to church? What do I say to my child who has come home crying because her “friend” just said they can’t be friends anymore because she’s going hell? And what if my co-parent’s someone who’s religious? And how do I discuss death when everyone’s talking about heaven? And and and…

    tl;dr – My biggest concern as a human now that I’m a parent is raising my kid the best possible way in a reality-based household that deals with freethinker-unique issues. And there are conferences that are centered around living a reality-based lifestyle. But there’s a dearth of reality-based-parenting issues discussed at these conferences. I would bet there’s a large segment in our population that’s hungry for these types of discussions/open forums/panels at atheist conferences, and we should do it in an inclusive, non-hetero-normative kind of way.

  75. 75
    Pteryxx

    WIS isn’t the first conference where Dawkins Foundation provided childcare, right? Didn’t that happen at… was it Skepticon, or TAM? Somewhere, there’s a group of attendees who can attest to how it went and what they’d like improved.

  76. 76
    Anthony K

    I’m childfree and I don’t appreciate everything being geared toward those with sprogs, however, there’s a huge gap in atheist meetings that does need addressing.

    Oh, for sure. I’m not anti-other people’s kids at all, and parents have a right to exist in society with their kids and without. Surely we can find some adult-only spaces and provide childcare so parents can enjoy those spaces too, but we can also take the stick out of our collective ass with regards to thinking we should never have to see or hear kids ever. (Yeah, sometimes people’s kids have tantrums in the supermarket. Doesn’t make them bad parents. Deal.)

    I was just referring to the idea that it’s okay to ask all adults above 25 without kids when they’re going to have some, because there’s clearly something wrong with them that they haven’t yet.

  77. 77
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    Some women get self-conscious nursing in public. *shrug*

    As someone who is not a parent, I don’t really have a dog in that fight, but it is a fact.

    A set-aside lactation room, and acceptance of women who nurse outside of it. Ghettoizing nursing mothers who don’t have a problem nursing in public isn’t the fix.

  78. 78
    Louis

    Carlie,

    Good ideas all.

    My wife works…obviously…and so we share the care. Hopefully equally obviously! Childcare is a lifesaver (not a cheap one dammit!), but I have to use a couple of unused days, so what the hell, daddy time!

    For all the comedy complaining, which is necessary to Maintain the Pretence, I kinda love it! Tomorrow there will be park, climbing on Dada, spaghetti bolognese (home made by Dada of course), an exciting series of nappy changes (all to the tune of Dada’s new song, “Nappy Change”, to the tune of “Happy Trails” by Van Halen*), and possibly an overdose of Thomas the Tank Engine related activities.

    That’s just for me, I’ll have to think something up for the kid.

    Louis

    * Previous hits include the Flanders and Swann-esque “One does not rub one’s train on one’s penis”, the nursery rhyme “Daddy’s going to change your nappy” and the gritty rap tale of life on the mean Streets of Sesame “I’ve got 99 problems but Elmo ain’t one”.**

    ** All written by me, hey, don’t judge me, that stuff stinks! Writing songs as I change nappies helps me forget the smell!

  79. 79
    carlie

    Ha – I just realized where my ideas came from, and how my priorities might not be all parents’ priorities. One of my children is an Aspie, so whenever we took him places when he was little, the first thing I’d do upon entering a room of people was look around and think “What is my exit strategy when shit goes down, and is there any way to get out of here FAST but still not miss much?”

    Giliell – some kids are more…distractable than others, and feeding in a room with stuff going on means it can take three times longer as they keep breaking off and looking around. :D

  80. 80
    carlie

    Somewhere, there’s a group of attendees who can attest to how it went and what they’d like improved.

    Very good point.

  81. 81
    Louis

    Oh and as for my previous odds, I’m extending misogyny appearing to evens at #100, all other odds apply in the same post to rate ratio.

    Seriously, we can’t have had a half dozen actually sane and brilliant posts from women on parenting topics and lactation without it attracting the attention of some MRA moron somewhere. Surely there’s a “herp derp, don’t bring your spawn, sluts” genius out there somewhere?

    Louis

  82. 82
    jamessweet

    Some women get self-conscious nursing in public. *shrug*

    As someone who is not a parent, I don’t really have a dog in that fight, but it is a fact.

    A set-aside lactation room, and acceptance of women who nurse outside of it. Ghettoizing nursing mothers who don’t have a problem nursing in public isn’t the fix.

    Yeah, that’s about right.

    My wife is a bit of a self-described “lactivist”, so I’ve done quite a bit of thinking on these issues. The relationship between breastfeeding and feminism (and, by extension, skepticism) is a complicated one, but the bottom line is empowerment: If a woman feels comfortable breastfeeding in a public area, then she should be encouraged to do so. If a woman only feels comfortable breastfeeding in a private area, then ideally that ought to be available to her as well, without shaming her for not being sufficiently open about it or something.

  83. 83
    Pteryxx

    miasma, thank you for that link! Looks like Parenting Beyond Belief blog is run by Dale McGowan, exec of Foundation Beyond Belief, and he’s written books and is giving workshops on secular parenting.

    It also links to here: http://parentingbeyondbelief.com/parents/

    which has a huge list of secular parenting meetup groups by state! Now that’s what I call a resource.

  84. 84
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Some women get self-conscious nursing in public. *shrug*

    That’s true, and some kids are not willing to eat anything as long as there’s entertainment around.
    Me, I couldn’t care less.
    If people had a problem with my boobie they were allowed to look the other way.

    Surely we can find some adult-only spaces and provide childcare so parents can enjoy those spaces too, but we can also take the stick out of our collective ass with regards to thinking we should never have to see or hear kids ever.

    This.
    Lectures and speeches aren’t for small children. It doesn’t respect their needs and it doesn’t respect the adults’ needs.
    In short, it ruins the event for everybody.
    Not having childcare ruins the event for responsible parents.
    Having childcare means that parents can attend, children can have fun and childfree people aren’t bothered by “Mooooooooooooom, I have to peeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!” during a lecture. And I think we can agree that kids in the coridors or entrance hall can be tolerated by everybody, unless there’s that special coridor experience that can’t be had with people under 18 present.

  85. 85
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    One of my children is an Aspie, so whenever we took him places when he was little, the first thing I’d do upon entering a room of people was look around and think “What is my exit strategy when shit goes down, and is there any way to get out of here FAST but still not miss much?”

    carlie, I think that’s not limited to parents with Aspies. I remember once listening to a presentation by a book author while sitting in the corridor so I could still supervise the offspring in another room.
    I always scan locations for the best place where we won’t bother too many people and can exit quickly.

    If a woman only feels comfortable breastfeeding in a private area, then ideally that ought to be available to her as well, without shaming her for not being sufficiently open about it or something.

    Definetly, and don’t anybody ever suggest she go to the bathroom.

  86. 86
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    The “nurse in the bathroom” thing just baffles me. Where is she supposed to sit?

  87. 87
    a miasma of incandescent plasma

    pteryxx

    Looks like Parenting Beyond Belief blog is run by Dale McGowan, exec of Foundation Beyond Belief, and he’s written books and is giving workshops on secular parenting… a huge list of secular parenting meetup groups by state!

    I love the book, a collection of essays but still organized so you can pull it out and use it as a resource when stuff comes up.
    I know there are regular meetings for secular parenting, if you’re lucky enough to be close to a group, but I think atheists conferences are missing out here.

    And agree 314% with the above statements about allowing multiple options for breastfeeders to be where they are most comfortable. While also considering non-breeders. I have a unique perspective, when we got married Mrs. Miasma and I were staunch non-breeders-that’ll-never-ever-breed-ever that ended up changing our minds 8 years later. So um… yeah, our community has to find a way to be as inclusive as possible for both of these populations.

  88. 88
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    The “nurse in the bathroom” thing just baffles me. Where is she supposed to sit?

    On the toilet seat, duh, where do you go to eat dinner?

  89. 89
    Inaji

    I think, when it comes to being inclusive and family-friendly, the secular community has a great opportunity to include and welcome all the different variations of family – those with sprogs, those without, single parents, gay families, poly, etc. We have the chance to do things right.

  90. 90
    Louis

    Miasma, #87,

    I have a unique perspective, when we got married Mrs. Miasma and I were staunch non-breeders-that’ll-never-ever-breed-ever that ended up changing our minds 8 years later. So um… yeah, our community has to find a way to be as inclusive as possible for both of these populations.

    Not entirely unique! ;-)

    My wife and I have been together 18 years this year, 11 of them married, and our son is 3 this year. We waited ages too.

    We got all the lovely questions from family too. She was asked if she was barren, I got asked about My Boys. The questions stopped once I started offering to provide samples on the spot. Amazingly, reasonable answers like “we do not want to have kids” or the less confrontational “we’ll have kids if and when we are ready” did not get reasonable responses.

    Louis

  91. 91
    Louis

    Shit! 19 years! Holy balls! I better get THAT right.

    Louis

  92. 92
    Inaji

    Back when I used to get pestered by breeders all the time and they’d lob the “what if you change your mind?”* at me, I’d wait a three beat then ask “what if you change yours?” Always shut them up.

    *Unlike some folks, I was absolutely certain about being childfree and made sure I was sterile at an early age.

  93. 93
    giscindy

    Pteryxx @ 50 As much as I hate living in the state of Florida I will say they have an excellent Virtual School program that is not religious and in our county is actually administered by the school district. It has taken a lot of anxiety off of me as a secular parent living deep in the bible belt. My son plays football with the high school team and I’m lobbying now to include him in the yearbook. He gets more work done and makes better grades than he ever has. He is one of only four to go through the school district the rest of the homeschoolers are, sadly, bible based.

  94. 94
    Kamaka

    @ Caine

    It’s sad to say, but child care is one area where churches and religious events have us beat, hands down.

    Yah, Caine, but their motivation for beating us hands down is…questionable, shall we say.

    Carlie @ 67

    You have really good ideas here with a “fussy room” and all. I would add to your thoughts by suggesting conferences have interactive talks just for the older (6 to 12?) kids. There are enough scientists and educators around such events and why wouldn’t we address kid’s interests? They’re people, too. Animal stuff, a cosmic slide show (NASA pics are public domain), dinosaurs…a good dinosaur presentation would be a big hit with the sprogs and would be enjoyed by the caretakers as well.

  95. 95
    Inaji

    Kamaka:

    Animal stuff, a cosmic slide show (NASA pics are public domain), dinosaurs…a good dinosaur presentation would be a big hit with the sprogs and would be enjoyed by the caretakers as well.

    I think that’s a great idea.

  96. 96
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Back when I used to get pestered by breeders all the time and they’d lob the “what if you change your mind?”* at me, I’d wait a three beat then ask “what if you change yours?” Always shut them up.

    You know, that’s something I never understood.
    I love children. Not only my own, I’m one of those people who reaaaaaally like children. I like talking to them, I like playing with them. I care a hell lot about them.
    Why should I want people who feel very differently about all kids to have any?
    If somebody says that parenthood is not for them, I’m not going to persuade them as if we were talking about tasting some strange dish.

  97. 97
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Animal stuff, a cosmic slide show (NASA pics are public domain), dinosaurs…a good dinosaur presentation would be a big hit with the sprogs and would be enjoyed by the caretakers as well.

    The only problem would be to keep the grown-ups out ;)

  98. 98
    Inaji

    Giliell:

    You know, that’s something I never understood.

    In the U.S., there’s an assumption that everyone will follow the Life Script™. When you don’t, that’s considered to be heretical, after all, you should be doing this, not that!

    That said, I’ve wondered why in the hell anyone would want to condemn sprogs to life with me. It wouldn’t be good.

  99. 99
    Kamaka

    Giliell @ 97

    The only problem would be to keep the grown-ups out ;)

    And it would be so easy for an adult to get a seat, just toss a handful of quarters on the floor.

  100. 100
    carlie

    Kamaka – oh, I would be all over organizing and doing that. 7-12ish is my favorite age group to work with. I would gladly take charge of such activities in exchange for a train ticket and a free hotel room. :)

  101. 101
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Caine, it’s not only the US. It’s pretty much the same here, where you get asked about “when will you have kids” at least from 30 onwards (OK, that’s probably much later than in the US) and every woman/couple who doesn’t have any kids by the end of their reproductive age is assumed to be a tragic medical case of infertility.
    WTF?

  102. 102
    Matt Penfold

    Good grief, we have got to 100+ posts with no one whining “what about the menz”.

    My guess is they found the talk of lactation to icky.

  103. 103
    Inaji

    Giliell:

    WTF?

    Oh, I know. There’s this sense that anyone who doesn’t want sprogs (especially a woman) is defective, abnormal. It’s irritating.

  104. 104
    Louis

    Matt,

    Yeah, I’m no longer giving odds on misogynists turning up. This is too weird. Maybe they’re scared.

    Louis

  105. 105
    Matt Penfold

    Yeah, I’m no longer giving odds on misogynists turning up. This is too weird. Maybe they’re scared.

    Well I saw the women of the horde standing with sharp but rusty scalpels, and a book on surgery open at the page on castration without anaesthetic, I would be scared as well. If I was a misogynist pig that it is.

  106. 106
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Yeah, I’m no longer giving odds on misogynists turning up. This is too weird. Maybe they’re scared.

    They’re all over at B&W, complaining about the fact that we don’t find Jim Jeffries hilarious.

    Caine
    Yep, all women want sprogs, that’s what we’re made for, but no men ever, they just want to fuck, they all have their sperm stolen.
    The idea that competent adults make a joint decision about those questions seems unbelievable.

  107. 107
    Kamaka

    @ Carlie

    oh, I would be all over organizing and doing that

    Accessing my inner 10-year-old, Krauss or PZ giving some cool, at my level, science talk would have been *the coolest thing ever*.

    Giliell is right, Lawrence Krauss doing a Hubble slide show talk for the kids would pack the house.

  108. 108
    Inaji

    Matt & Louis, actually, they haven’t shown up the last few posts dealing with women and/or feminist issues. I think they’ve either been told to stay away by their handler or have decided to hit places which aren’t as well defended, such as Ophelia’s blog.

  109. 109
    Matt Penfold

    Matt & Louis, actually, they haven’t shown up the last few posts dealing with women and/or feminist issues. I think they’ve either been told to stay away by their handler or have decided to hit places which aren’t as well defended, such as Ophelia’s blog.

    You could be right.

    Although there does seem to be a pretty stout defence being put up at Ophelia’s. I have no worries that they will remain much of a problem there.

  110. 110
    Louis

    Should we cast “Summon Tetchy Feminists” at Ophelia’s place then?

    Louis

  111. 111
    Cipher

    You have really good ideas here with a “fussy room” and all. I would add to your thoughts by suggesting conferences have interactive talks just for the older (6 to 12?) kids. There are enough scientists and educators around such events and why wouldn’t we address kid’s interests? They’re people, too.

    THIS IS THE BEST IDEA.

    As for the fight being over at Ophelia’s place… Count one tetchy feminist who must refuse to be summoned. I’ll stomp misogynistic trolls into the ground here all day long, but I don’t deal with slimepitters. Those people aren’t right.

  112. 112
    Pteryxx

    nah, Louis, some of us are lurking. ;>

    anyway, I’m taking notes on how to make cons more parent-friendly, and for further research. Woo!

  113. 113
    Louis

    I shall be guided by your greater experience in these matters, ladies.

    I am going over for a bit of a look though.

    Louis

  114. 114
    Inaji

    I’m with CC. I’ve read all the posts and the SPers make me ill.

  115. 115
    Antiochus Epiphanes

    Back when I used to get pestered by breeders all the time and they’d lob the “what if you change your mind?”* at me, I’d wait a three beat then ask “what if you change yours?” Always shut them up.

    HA HA HA HA!

  116. 116
    Ophelia Benson

    Most of the slime pitters are on the hold for moderation list. Sometimes I don’t recognize one for awhile, until the code words start appearing; then I clean up retroactively. I think it’s not slimepit-infested now.

    I think that jerk who was showing off at RDF is one though – there was a tell in his last comment.

  117. 117
    Philip L

    I’d be confident the jerk showing off at RDF is one of the guys who were so upset by the recent guest post at Black Skeptics.

    The latest threadjack of the Jim Jefferies thread is plain old hoggling. Not interested in helping him (ambiguous name, but it’s almost certain he’s a guy) wank all over the place.

    Ophelia didn’t mention it, but the thread over at RDF got shut down, thereby handing a victory by proxy for the troll. My thoughts on that are in Ophelia’s new thread.

    It’s laughable really – among the points I made, several hundred comments ago in the Jefferies thread, is that sexist humour is still sexist, and it’s hardly shocking or challenging material when sexism is ubiquitous anyway, as the sexism on the RDF thread in parallel shows. The trolls keep on hogglin’ anyway. Gotta keep them trolls happy, ‘cos what’ll they be like if we upset ‘em?

    *facepalm* *headdesk*

  118. 118
    Pteryxx

    A commenter over at JT’s place mentioned something I forgot about being an atheist parent – the bias against atheism in child custody proceedings. It’s common for judges to equate church attendance with moral rightness, or to order parents to take children to church because otherwise they’re depriving the kids of moral development. Yet another issue that needs discussion.

  119. 119
    MG Myers

    Kamaka @107

    PZ enjoys and has led a fair amount of children’s activities for the public over the years. He’s scheduled to lead two hands-on children’s science sessions, in addition to participating in adult programming, at our local science fiction and fantasy convention this summer.

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