Rebecca Watson has a few things to say about The Silencing of Men at Women in Secularism, and Ron Lindsay’s opening talk. You know, there is a very, very tiny grain of truth to what he said — I’ve been in a few situations this weekend where I’ve felt uncomfortably like an outsider because I’m a man — but the thing is … that’s fair. I should be somewhat marginal here, because this is an event to try and correct the privileges I can usually rely on feeling at other events. So my internal conversation when I’m feeling that way is “OK, that was a bit weird. Shut up. Think about it. Do they have good reason to think that way? Maybe I should consider where they’re coming from more.” My plan is to listen and learn here.
What I think now is that even if Lindsay hadn’t said those objectionable things that so thrilled the Misogyny Brigade, he would have been wrong to speak at this event anyway. He objected to being told to “shut up and listen” and instead asserted his privilege as the head of the organization to lecture at the attendees…but shutting up and listening in this case was exactly what he needed to do, and speaking in the opening session was an extraordinarily impolitic thing to do instead.
It is perfectly legitimate to tell someone to shut up when you’ve heard their voice in a thousand variants many times before, and you need some small space in which to express yourself, too. This conference should be that space for the many who have been shushed.