Here it comes

The pushback has started. Well you knew it would.

Catherine Dunphy has an article on the Women in Secularism conference at RDF – an original, not a link. There are sneery how dare you comments from some usual suspects (like Geoffrey Falk, for instance, who has been shouting at me for years for glaring faults like having no tits). It’s all so reflexive, you know? “How dare you say there’s sexism in the atheist movement, you shrill strident hysterical ugly bitch with no tits?!!”


  1. says

    The page loads without comments sometimes, for no reason I can see. It did it to me. Just reload, I think – at least, that worked when I tried it.

  2. Stewart says

    I’m seeing the comments. Have not yet decided whether to go back and look again later…

  3. Josh Slocum says

    Geoffrey Falk is predictable, but Miranda Hale is disgusting. Like Abbie Smith she’s carved herself out an identity as “the cool chick” that guys don’t feel threatened by. This requires throwing women’s issues under the bus, pretending not to see things she’s perfectly capable of understanding, and lying. I hope she finds it worth it years down the road.

  4. says

    Like Abbie Smith she’s carved herself out an identity as “the cool chick” that guys don’t feel threatened by. This requires throwing women’s issues under the bus, pretending not to see things she’s perfectly capable of understanding, and lying.

    This is what you call a sister punisher, a woman who turns on other women to gain favor of sexist men.

  5. Marta says

    Stephanie’s comment is very good indeed.

    I couldn’t be at the conference and I very much wanted to be. I’ve appreciated your live blogging, Ophelia.

  6. says

    Yeah – it’s puzzling. The payoff is friendship with…the kind of people who like that kind of thing. Score!

    Well there are some advantages. Franc Hoggle is the man to speak to if you like bizarre anagrams. Geoffrey Falk is the man to speak to if… well… just trying to think of some nominal virtue… perhaps… sorry can’t do it. Anyway, it can’t be all bad.

  7. says

    I know, it’s a hard choice. franc hoggle et al. on the one hand, and the people I spent the weekend chatting with on the other. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…just cannot decide.

  8. says

    It seems that I have kicked up a bit of a storm with my brief article on the RDFRS regarding the Women in Secularism Conference. Honestly I thought it was a pretty benign, though I did say two terrible things.

    First I used the word feminist. When I use that word, I generally understand it to mean “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes”, OED. Apparently I hadn’t realized that it was also code for a “whinny” woman.

    Secondly, I did not realize that many people were unaware of the pervasive sexism that exists in human cultures.

    When I said that “I wasn’t jumping at the opportunity to align myself with secular organizations who though most likely unaware, were perpetuating a subversive status quo.” I was trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, despite the fact that my encounters with skeptics in my local secular community were dominated by aggressive members of the Men’s Rights Movement.

    I have no desire to get into name calling or other petty behaviors; it serves no purpose. But I won’t diminish myself to appease the nay sayers who’s only goal seems to be to have me and other secular women retreat into the background.

    Despite the negativity, I hope at some point we can put aside this schism amicably – it’s a productivity drain and I think we would be further ahead as a movement if we could fairly and equitably close this chapter.

  9. says

    Comments on the post are now closed. I’d like to think it was because of the guy who called me a “whiny feminist with a massive chip on her shoulder”, but I doubt it. He’s a regular.

  10. says

    Hi, Catherine – nice to hear from you.

    Yes really; how dare you say such things. It’s an outrage.

    In many places the schism is being not so much put aside as mended. In one or two others it’s being dug deeper (can a schism be dug? probably not), but the people digging are talking only to each other.

  11. CatherineD says

    Thanks Opheila! I appreciate your support and I am happy to know that the schism in some areas is on the mend! There are many wonderful men in the secular movement who are helping to make that happend and we saw some of them this past weekend!

  12. says

    The word “feminist” conjures up some very strange visions in some people’s minds. I regularly attend Philosophy for All’s monthly Feminism Forum and I’ve not been eaten yet. However I have met a lot of men who think they are “not allowed” to attend or that they would be made unwelcome. I don’t understand why; Pfa’s publicity doesn’t say anything of the sort.

  13. says

    Absolutely, Catherine. I’ve just learned that one of them, Leo Igwe, is going to be at TAM this year – and I’m beside myself with joy because so am I, and I long to meet Leo.


  14. Josh Slocum says

    What I just sent to all the staff contacts I could find at

    Dear RDF,

    I’ll get right to the point: you have a big problem with the way you moderate comments. All manner of sexist nonsense is allowed through, and when the victims/targets of that sexism protest, your mods call foul with a false equivalence that acts as if the women protesting their treatment are equally at fault as the provocateurs. Here’s the premier example:

    And then you go and do it again—close comments on a post dealing with the women in secularism conference. No tap on the wrist for the sexist bigots, just shutting up the discussion:

    I’m not going to pretty this up or word it diplomatically or in a qualified way: shit or get off the pot. Make up your mind if you actually support principles of feminism and egalitarianism or not. Because it sure as hell looks like your moderators don’t care to make even the grossest ethical discrimination between victim and perpetrator.

    Lots of people are talking about this and in ways very much not flattering to That’s because you’ve ignored it despite repeated and reasonable pleas to address the issue. This is a problem you can solve, but you need to wake up and stop being silent about it.

    I’m not some anti-Dawkins malcontent. I LOVE your foundation and what you do. I volunteered for the Foundation at the AAI conference in 2007 and was delighted to meet Richard and other passionate secularists. But I’m extremely disappointed to point of being disgusted, at times, with the way the site has treated this issue.

    Do better.

    Josh Slocum

  15. says

    It is unfortunate, because it means they just let the feminism-haters shut down a discussion whenever they feel like it. That hardly seems reasonable.

  16. Simon says

    Thanks for the response Catherine-good to meet you at the conference. If you’re comfortable sharing, perhaps you want to tell people the location of your local skeptic community? My guess is that will give people an idea of who we are talking about.

  17. Luna_the_cat says

    FWIW, if Miranda Hale demands examples of sexist secular institutions or what-have-you again, by all means feel free to point her to my field, programming. If she wants examples, they’re not hard to find.

  18. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Color me completely unsurprised. I thought most people know that, if you’re interested in social justice vis a vis atheism, RDF is the very last place on the net to visit.

  19. says

    Maybe I’m being idealistic and naive, but is there some way that those most prominent (i.e. with the largest reach in the community) skeptic/atheist speakers on both sides of this debate could somehow come together, in person, and talk through the issues rationally and decide upon a fair strategy going forward? It ‘might’ help reduce the friction and negative sentiment. Plus, all the back and forth on blogs is only making it worse.

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