I’m flying off to Ireland tomorrow to pay rapt attention to the speakers at Empowering Women Through Secularism — you know that four FtB bloggers will be speaking there, right? Me, Taslima, Maryam, and Ophelia. I’ll be the one with the beard.
Now what could I possibly have to say? I’ve got it easy. I’ll be on the Secular Values in Society panel with Leonie Hilliard, Nina Sankari, and Farhana Shakir, and I’ll just point out that religion oppresses both men and women, and that secular values benefit everyone…but that of course, we see patriarchal values distorting the science and evidence in ways that particularly harm women, since much of their nonsense is contrived to regulate reproduction and sex in ways that benefit men.
Oh, dang, wait: David Grimes just said the same thing in The Irish Times.
There have been few debates on social issues in Ireland in which religion did not loom large; whether the topic has been contraception, homosexuality or divorce, theologically derived opinions have often been centre stage. Even now, in debates about abortion and same-sex marriage, these views are still heard. The threatening behaviour of the past may be gone, but it has been replaced by the more insidious ploy of misrepresenting research to lend credibility to discriminatory views.
The abortion debate provides numerous examples of such contrivances. In this paper recently, Breda O’Brien brandished a study by Ferguson et al (2013) and claimed abortion damages women. However, her championing of this study is textbook cherry-picking that fails to withstand even a cursory examination.
I hope Grimes will be at the conference, at least.