We, The Women Undersigned, Feel Welcome in Mainstream Secular, Atheist and Skeptic Groups
We, as women of the secular/atheist/skeptic community, find that our claims are weighed on their merits, rather than weighed on our gender. We believe such courtesy must be afforded to everyone, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, political/ideological affiliation, community ranking or social class.
We, passive aggressively, would like to imply that other people don’t do this, and that they ask and expect special treatment. We equate stating that those who have lived a life have a unique perspective on that life, with deferring completely to claims made by particular individuals and groups. We refuse to acknowledge any clarifications that reject our interpretations of those statements.
We’re unaware of the stark irony of saying that claims should not be weighed based on gender and then making people assert that they are a woman before signing this letter.
We do not find the community to be misogynist. We feel safe and welcome here. While sexism might occasionally show itself in isolated incidents, as it would in any community, we do not find such incidents to be in any way reflective of the wider movement.
We’re aware of statements made by women and others concerning sexism and personal safety. Instead of reacting to what actually has been said, we wish to react to accusations and hyperbolic statements indicating how those statements have been perceived.
We also have no problem assuming that the atheist community is special and that we don’t see the exact type of sexism found in other male-dominated fields and hobbies such as: the on-line gaming community, the sci-fi/fantasy community, the role-playing community, comedy, automotive, engineering, and marketing, etc.
We’d like to down-play the incidents that have happened and ignore them, but realize that if we didn’t acknowledge their existence in some way that it would be obvious that we’ve had a break with reality.
We believe the underrepresentation of women and minorities in secular/atheist/skeptic activism should be studied objectively and discussed openly, without reliance on ideological adherence or appeals to emotion.
We have no idea that the Secular Census actually did a study on this. Instead, we’ll imply that what is being said is wrong. Also, we believe that if someone becomes emotional about something (especially in a female-typical way) – they obviously are wrong about everything.
We believe that if detailed conduct policies are enacted at conferences, they must acknowledge all concerned parties without overstating the ubiquity of infractions. Policies must also include safeguards to prevent their abuse as speech-limiting weapons against criticisms of beliefs. Some of us do not expect policy protections beyond that already provided by law and the presence of conference staff: we feel empowered, as individual adults, to effectively respond to unwelcome behavior should it occur in a conference setting.
We’re going to ignore that this is a concern that has been voiced by some of the same people that this letter is attacking. We’ll ignore repeated clarifications of how these policies are being interpreted by the people enforcing them. We choose to interpret them in the most draconian way humanly possible in order to justify a continuation of those concerns.
We have found ourselves marginalized by certain actions and moral proscriptions emerging from Skepchick, Freethought Blogs, Atheism Plus and even Secular Woman. In regard to this sphere, we do feel silenced. This ideological camp claims to speak for women, but refuses to listen to us. It has also spoken hatefully of some people – women and men – without allowing them an opportunity to contest those claims. Examples include censorship of blog post criticism, frequent assumptions of guilt by association, and the popularity of a meme mocking communication efforts: “Freeze Peach.” This behavior creates a divisive, unwelcoming atmosphere which has a chilling effect on open discussion for women and men.
We do not see the irony in calling “Freeze Peach” a type of censorship. We will give no evidence of people actually not being allowed to contest claims, because that would make the irony extremely clear. We equate being blocked on individual blogs and twitter as censorship.
We also do not see the irony in accusing others of employing “guilt by association” in the same paragraph that we name four heterogeneous organizations before making blanket accusations.
We are aware that the silencing tactics, accusations, shaming and/or smearing campaigns employed by influential representatives of the Atheism Plus movement – particularly certain bloggers and speakers associated with Skepchick and Freethought Blogs – have included calls to interfere with the careers and personal lives of valuable contributors to the secular/atheist/skeptic movement. We are witnessing an effort to purge supposed undesirables from the movement, based on personal and political agenda. We do not condone this. Some of us have been directly targeted by these tactics, and others of us are afraid to use our real names online, let alone attend conferences, because we fear we may be targeted next.
When people actually document what has been said and done by us. It’s embarrassing. Sometimes it is so bad that when people that work with us find out, it causes problems for us. When a person making decisions doesn’t side with us, we become very angry and upset, and feel we have been ignored.
We hide behind anonymity in order to conduct ourselves the way we do without fear of repercussions.
We are aware of a campaign, headed by Amanda Marcotte and others, to remove Ronald A. Lindsay from his position as CEO of the Center for Inquiry. We do not support this effort. Mr. Lindsay has addressed women’s equality with benevolence and brains. We endorse his role as the CEO of the Center for Inquiry, and we acknowledge the risk he has taken in speaking his mind. Likewise, we acknowledge the risks anyone else may take in criticizing this ideological camp’s claims.
We’re not even going to TRY to defend the fact that Ron Lindsay skipped a fundraising banquet to attack one of the speakers on the official CFI blog while she was still at the conference that his organization was sponsoring. We’re just going to latch onto him as some sort of ally because he has annoyed some of the people that we’ve had conflicts with. We’ll also imply that one individual is stirring up trouble and we will exaggerate what is being asked of CFI and Ron Lindsay. We refuse to acknowledge that a large group of unrelated people commented on how unprofessional his blog post was, including Ron Lindsay.
To work together, men and women must continue to listen to and care for one another as individual human beings. Let’s all keep on moving forward as champions of scientific thinking, open discourse, and rational ethics. If we can’t do it, no one can.
We’re going to end with a platitudinous statement of unity to attempt to obscure the fact that we have actually been extremely divisive, lumped a HUGE number of people into the same pot and passively aggressively attacked them with implications and generalizations instead of details and evidence. We choose not to attempt to discuss issues on a case-to-case basis; such as writing a letter simply in support of Ron Lindsay’s actions and statements. Instead, we wish to attack large groups of people while simultaneously accusing them of being divisive.