Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Paula Kirby on feminism in 'the movement'

I know that one of my favourite writers, Paula Kirby, is not a great reader of blogs, but since the rest of my readers are, and I know Paula wants her views on this topic to be heard by more people, I feel that it is my duty to bring your attention to them.

As she said on Facebook recently:

"My views on the question of women in Secularism are, I think, fairly well known. But I have mostly been keeping them to myself over the last year, in the hope that the nonsensical furore would die down of its own accord and we'd all be able to go back to doing what we're SUPPOSED to be doing: promoting science and rationality. But clearly that hasn't happened: on the contrary, the situation has deteriorated still further, and has recently reached depths that even I wouldn't have thought it capable of. Since keeping quiet has done nothing but create the false impression that most people in the movement think the way the mob do, I have decided that it is time to speak out. There comes a point where I cannot and will not simply stand by and watch in silence.

I know this is a divisive issue. I know some of my FB friends will love what I have written, others will hate it. But let me say this very clearly: I mostly use FB for fun, for chilling, for relaxation. I will have no FTB/Skepchick-style comments on my FB wall. If you hate what I've written and want to say so, or abuse me, or whatever, you have every right to do so - but do it on your wall, not mine. If you want to unfriend me, that's fine too. Thank you.

Well said Paula!

Just to decode some of the terminology:
  • 'Nonsensical furore' - a fuss stirred up by certain women in the skeptical/secular/atheist movement over the last year or so, discouraging women from attending the conferences because of alleged discrimination and because the men present might be sexual predators.  (Google for 'Elevatorgate' and 'Rebecca Watson' for more details - although I'm not necessarily saying that she is to blame for all this.)
  • 'FTB' - Free Thought Blogs, where some of the antagonists have their say, and perhaps get rewarded in cash for doing so.
  • 'Skepchick' - probably something to do with a 'personality' called Rebecca Watson.  A few of her friends and fellow Skepchicks (oh how I hate that word!!!) might not agree with her.
  • FB - Facebook (of course)

Now I strongly recommend you to go to this address to read the letter that Paula wrote, called Sisterhood of the Oppressed.

If you are a regular reader of Something Surprising, and understand my views about equality - that I'm all for it - you will almost certainly like it.  You will also understand why I have not spoken about it before, except in oblique references.  This is the type of topic that men can never be right about.  Whatever a man might say, one of 'the accused' might take issue with, and indulge in cherry-picking of sentences to turn it back on the man that wrote it.

This is why Paula's robust and feminine approach has to be lauded.

Now you might see why I thought she might be a candidate to be the fourth horseman in a recent post.

Small note: You might also imagine that this is linked to my small note that nobody called Rebecca was on the list.


LadyAtheist said...

Thanks for posting that. I'd never heard of her.

I think the problem with "leadership" or "speakership" in "the movement" is that one's professional credentials are the entree for the exalted roles. Most of those professions have been dominated by men (especially former clergy of course!) so most women who have "risen" in the movement have to have some kind of creds. Being a "feminist" is a kind of cred for "The Woman" in the group. We tend to forget that Madaline Murray O'Hair was a pissed off housewife who changed the world.

There are lots of us, men and women, who are just regular people who have embraced reality over fantasy. It's a steep learning curve if you don't have a background in cosmology, biology, psychology, neurobiology, ancient history, biblical studies, cross-cultural religious studies, philosophy or any number of -ologies that it seems one must be proficient in to "qualify" as a leader.

The "leaders" in the feminist/female side of atheism & skepticism have never posted to my blog or attempted to reach me in any way despite my blog tackling issues of substance for three years. I don't take it personally because I don't see them visiting the other blogs I visit, either.

Squabbles are of no interest to me, and I can't take time out of my steep learning curve to indulge battles between "stars" of the movement or factions.

Elevatorgate didn't exactly make me want to attend conferences, and I do believe women are still a minority. The meet-ups I went to in Washington, D.C., a city notorious for being skewed toward excess single women, usually had a 10-to-1 ratio of men to women. I didn't find it unpleasant though, because I'm a woman with balls. *grin* It's my opinion that women have more social pressure to believe in the supernatural, so by definition those of us who have dumped the woo are probably rather pusilanimous compared to "most" women. It's no surprise to me that there are a lot of outspoken women in "the movement," or that they'll take on men whether fairly or unfairly. Of course the men are freethinkers, so they don't like being told what to think any more than the women do. Then hilarity ensues. Pop the popcorn and enjoy the show!

Atheists agree on only one thing: atheism. It never surprises me when we have disagreements. One of the things that makes believers cling to their religion is having that sense of shared values that they can organize their community around. We don't have that yet we crave it because it's kind of an evolutionary need. We may just have to accept that we are a messy bunch with an anarchic "community."

RJ said...

I think you're optimistic in believing that only men would be smeared because "they don't get it". A woman who speaks up is a gender traitor and should be dismissed/abused for her opinion. Kirby is getting a share of abuse right now.

I don't really see any way to stop this rubbish - the response to Kirby's article has been absolutely insane.