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Feb 16 2013

That Smurthwaite woman!

I was sent this video, which I’d seen before, but this time I noticed the name of the woman speaking.

Kate Smurthwaite…I’d seen that name just recently. Oh, yes: she’s speaking at the Empowering Women Through Secularism conference.

This meeting is going to be awesome.

27 comments

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  1. 1
    DLC

    Nice. Definitely wish I was going.

  2. 2
    Bernard Bumner

    Totally outrageous that she didn’t respect the good pastor’s belief that heaven is a place where not merely one, but two women will have feign interest in his righteousness sexism.

    I feel as though the pastor was trying to redefine the institution of heavenly marriage. Doesn’t he know “one man, one woman,… blab-blab, blah-blah?” What next, pastors marrying animals in heaven?

  3. 3
    slowdjinn

    Oh well-played that woman! *applauds*

  4. 4
    The Mellow Monkey: Non-Hypothetical

    That was a thing of beauty. I’m growing increasingly jealous of everyone going to that conference!

  5. 5
    marcus

    She is definitely not an idiot. Well-played indeed!

  6. 6
    Nick Gotts

    A triple slapdown! Of the pastor on abortion, of the imam (note BB@2 – it’s his, Islamic version of heaven Smurthwaite’s talking about), and of both, on “faith”. Strengthens my desire to get to Dublin.

  7. 7
    Charles Thornton

    Only one niggle – the video title should be changed to “Hitchslap”.

    The used title is insensitive, IMO

  8. 8
    jetboy

    “Because I’m not an idiot.” Boom. Done. Out. Nothing more need be said. Further deponent sayeth not.

  9. 9
    chemicalscum

    She is awesome!

  10. 10
    jimatkins

    Well, I guess that files under “cut to the chase”. Damm! Taking no prisoners, leave no stone standing.

  11. 11
    jdmuys

    What she said was definitely too hard to grasp for me as a non-native English speaker. If anyone could take the time to transcribe, I would be most grateful.

  12. 12
    davekendall

    I don’t expect this to be a very popular post, but I’m not sure I see a big difference between authoritarian radical feminists like Smurthwaite and the religious fundamentalists she’s attacking.

    They both follow a puritanical dogma and make claims that don’t hold up to scrutiny. For example, when Smurthwaite was campaigning to ban sex shops and strip clubs in the UK she pushed discredited statistics linking them to an increase in rape. I’ve also seen her use misleading statistics, misrepresentation, and smear tactics against sex workers’ rights activists when attacking their campaign for the decriminalisation of prostitution.

    This is someone who picketed the funeral of writer Sebastian Horsley because he wrote an article opposing her radical feminist stance against prostitution. The only other people I’ve seen doing that kind of thing are the worst fundamentalist Christians.

    In my opinion she’s not someone who deserves respect just because she’s entertainingly rude to Christians.

  13. 13
    Crissa

    Wow the automated captions are weird.

  14. 14
    Jafafa Hots

    The religious guy:
    “Heaven is real. We believe that heaven is real.”
    (that’s all that really needs to be in the video, actually.)

    “That’s a very trivial response to a very serious issue” (the issue being his belief that all aborted children are in heaven.)

    Actually it was a very serious response to a very trivial belief system.

  15. 15
    latsot

    Kate is very good. She’s on TV and radio quite a lot over here.

  16. 16
    Moggie

    Jafafa Hots:

    Actually it was a very serious response to a very trivial belief system.

    Jesus is the miracle ingredient which transforms an otherwise simple-minded and infantile belief into something deep and sophisticated.

  17. 17
    bcreason

    Christopher Hitchens reincarnated as a woman. Yahoo!

  18. 18
    ck

    It’s always enjoyable to watch someone with a razor-sharp wit demolish a “sophisticated, respectable” sounding opinion with just a few words.

    davekendall,

    Christopher Hitchens supported “enhanced interrogation” (until he tried waterboarding himself and realized it really was a form of torture), perpetual war on terror in the middle east, and regularly expressed some misogynistic ideas, but he was still fun to watch when he demolished shoddy “sophisticated theology”. I am not required to accept someone’s opinions on everything to support their opinions that do align with mine.

    To be honest, whenever a feminist is highlighted, there are always cries about how this person is horrible because of some opinion. More often than not, the opinion attributed to them is a gross exaggeration of what they’ve actually expressed. Frankly, I can’t be bothered to try and look up to see if your presentation of her position on sex work is 100% accurate or not. However, you did not actually provide evidence of what you claim, so I’ll just defer to something Hitchens was fond of saying, “That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”

  19. 19
    Jadehawk

    To be honest, whenever a feminist is highlighted, there are always cries about how this person is horrible because of some opinion.

    um. being anti-sex-work is not just an opinion, it’s a position that harms women. She’s part of the Feminist Coalition Against Prostitution, a group that promotes the Swedish Model of criminalizing clients of sex-workers. A model rejected by sex-workers because it harms them.

    In that sense, she’s similarly bad to Hitchens or Harris; and last I checked, we were trying not to have that type of harmful asshole around, anymore.

    I am not required to accept someone’s opinions on everything to support their opinions that do align with mine.

    it’s not about accepting their opinions, but about promoting them in the Atheist/Skeptical Movement.

  20. 20
    Jadehawk

    crap, that’s what I get for doing this in a hurry: that link above is spam.

    here are better links about her connection to and support for anti-sex-work stuff

    from her own blog:
    http://cruellablog.blogspot.com/2007/09/article-on-bbc-website-reports-that.html
    http://cruellablog.blogspot.com/2008/02/swedish-models.html
    http://cruellablog.blogspot.com/2010/09/hello-catherine-stephens.html

    and she’s a member of the London Feminist Network (according to her guardian profile), which is the group that created the “Feminist Coalition Against Prostitution” campaign.

    There, that’s better. Sorry again.

  21. 21
    ck

    Jadehawk wrote:

    She’s part of the Feminist Coalition Against Prostitution, a group that promotes the Swedish Model of criminalizing clients of sex-workers.

    Fair enough. Like I said, since davekendall didn’t link to anything that supports what he said, I didn’t do any research to verify it. I just assumed it was another drive-by “feminists are bad” where one fragment of a statement is taken and extrapolated to ridiculous levels. We’ve had a lot of those lately. Sorry, davekendall, I jumped to conclusions here, and assumed you were saying something you were not.

    If she’s part of that group, then opposition is obviously warranted. While it ought to go without saying, it seems it does need to be said more often: People, whether women, men, or anything in-between, deserve the right to make their own choices in life, even if you think those choices are mistakes.

    In that sense, she’s similarly bad to Hitchens or Harris; and last I checked, we were trying not to have that type of harmful asshole around, anymore.

    I suspect strategic alliances with people who hold terrible opinions on other things will always be necessary. They may be assholes, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be useful from time to time.

  22. 22
    davekendall

    Sorry, davekendall, I jumped to conclusions here, and assumed you were saying something you were not.

    Fair enough. For some reason I was under the impression that including more than one link would send the post into moderation, and assumed that anyone interested in checking out her views would google them.

    Along with being part of the Feminist Coalition Against Prostitution, she’s also an activist and fund raiser for Object. They’re a particularly authoritarian group who campaign for censorship of pornography and the banning of strip clubs and sex shops, as well as criminalisation of prostitution.

    I’m friends with a former dancer, so it’s Smurthwaite/Object’s campaigning to ban strip clubs that makes this a bit more personal for me. In particular, I consider the blaming and shaming of dancers for “encouraging rape” to be a very ugly and offensive lie.

    But it isn’t really Smurthwaite’s anti-sex industry stance that I find particularly noteworthy, after all most British feminist organisations support the Swedish model and oppose pornography/stripping.

    What I find really objectionable are her dishonest attempts to smear sex worker organisations as being fronts for pimps and traffickers. If you follow Jadehawk’s third link to her blog, you’ll find her accusing a sex worker activist of being a pimp and “funded by the Conservative Party”. It’s a way of discrediting sex workers so that their voices can be ignored.

    Add the demonstrably false statistics she uses, like the average age of entry into prostitution being 14, or the claim that there’s a proven link between strip clubs and increased rape, and it’s hard for me to see her as much of a sceptic. It’s not like people don’t call out these false claims and provide evidence to debunk them, yet they keep on being used…

    People, whether women, men, or anything in-between, deserve the right to make their own choices in life, even if you think those choices are mistakes.

    That’s my stance in a nutshell. It’s nice to be reminded that there are feminists/pro-feminists who don’t reject the idea of individual choice as inherently “neoliberal” and anti-feminist.

  23. 23
    David Marjanović

    For some reason I was under the impression that including more than one link would send the post into moderation

    We’re allowed 5 links per comment.

  24. 24
    Jadehawk

    dave, your link got borked. try again.

  25. 25
    davekendall

    This should be a working link to Object’s site, and here’s a link to an article about one of their campaigns to close down sex shops, strip clubs and adult cinemas.

    What that piece doesn’t show is the full nastiness of Object’s attitude towards the people protesting to save their jobs; portraying dancers as victims one minute, then blaming them for rape and calling them stupid, greedy and selfish gender-traitors the next. This piece mentions Object using intimidation tactics against activists, including threatening their families.

    I have about as much respect for Object supporters like Smurthwaite as I do for Christian fundamentalists.

  26. 26
    thegoodman

    “I’ll pray for you (so your soul doesn’t burn in hell,sinner)” /applause
    “You are being very arrogant” /applause

    “You have a belief based on nothing, you are an idiot” /pandemonium

    Oh the privilege. She is absolutely correct. Believing something that is unprovable because someone told you to do it does make you an idiot.

  27. 27
    Elayne Riggs

    I adore Cruella!!! It’s been a few years since I’ve seen her, but I’m hoping to get together with her the next time I’m in Merry Olde. I imagine she’ll make a great panelist!

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