What would gender equality look like? That is the question the panel “Gender Equality in the Secular Movement” centered around at the Women in Secularism 2 conference. Of course to me “gender equality” is a dystopian nightmare; something that fortunately we will never see because humanity has enough resiliency to avoid sinking into such depths. If I was to be hopeful I would say that female political power will probably peak within 10 years time in the United States. The severity of social damage in the United States is probably already near its maximum point. Feminist campaigners however continue to bang the drum of “equality” hoping to extract as much parasitic benefit as possible from taking power away from men and giving it to themselves on the basis that however things are now is “unfair.”
Feminists always talk about “equality” as their goal but I am very suspicious. Feminists always ignore the aspects of law or culture that favor women and act like such advantages are perfectly natural or should simply be taken for granted. At the same time they always look at anything that favors men as a great injustice that must be overcome and must be made “equal.” Feminists have constructed a narrative where they are “oppressed” and “discriminated against” so that any advantage that women gain over men is just “making things more fair.” In this way any claim of superiority a feminist makes is justified because her getting her way is always framed as “overcoming oppression.” Of course the whole idea of women being “oppressed” or “discriminated against” is nonsense so this whole business about women being “oppressed” is just a ruse designed to take power away from men and give it to women. This then is female supremacy; what feminism is really all about.
The “Gender Equality in the Secular Movement” panel of course views “gender equality” in a different way. They view it as a kind of utopian paradise where all the harsh never ending gender oppression they face on a day to day basis will magically dissipate and women will be free and valued as equals at last!
Greta Christina, the moderator of the “Gender Equality in the Secular Movement” panel, asked the panelists the question “What do you think gender equality in the secular movement would look like?” to start things off. The first two panelists answered:
Gender Equality in the Secular Movement
3:55 to 6:52
“Stephanie Zvan: I do believe it means more than just numbers. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that when we have gender equality in this movement we’re going to be able to have a conference about our work and our goals and our concerns and not have it start with a statement that says “Those are all really good things but, for the sake of humanity, don’t take it too far.” (Applause) I’m going to say we have gender equality when we’re allowed to be as cranky as the guys are. I’m going to say we’ll have gender equality when we’re allowed to screw up once in a while without it hanging over our heads for years and proving that other women are not fit to be leaders in this movement. I think gender equality; it’s not a race to the bottom; but it means that we don’t all have to be as exceptional as so many of the women that I meet here, and that I really appreciate, but who can inspire so many more women to just get up there and work.
Ophelia Benson: Well to elaborate on Stephanie’s theme to begin with. One thing that gender equality would look like would be to be able to have a conference like this and, as so many conferences do, have an official hash tag that refers to the conference, without having it filled up with garbage posted there by people who hate the conference and everything it stands for. (Applause) Another thing it would look like would just be not having to still be arguing about it, being able to take it for granted, being able to expect conferences to look pretty much quite similar to this one, and to be covering a lot of the same subjects, with the same speakers and speakers like them, without it necessarily being called “Women in something.” It would just be folded into the larger movement and belong there and be taken for granted as belonging there and the issues that are being discussed being seen as completely central to the movement or [alternatively] disappearing because they no longer are issues. We would no longer have to battle religious discrimination against women because it would have, like the state under Communism, it would have withered away.”
I think these two answers are quite revealing regarding what feminists really want; what feminist victory would look like in their eyes. Basically gender equality means absolute power for the feminist agenda. When Stephanie Zvan says gender equality means others not telling feminists to not “take it too far” that means that gender equality means feminists getting their way no matter how extreme their demands may be. Women being allowed to be as “cranky as the guys are” or being allowed to “screw up” and not have it be held against them for years or used as a means of judging other women negatively; what this means is that people are supposed to ignore women’s negative attributes and pretend they are equal to men in areas where women are not in fact equal to men. The premise of this demand is that when women are emotionally negative they are “bitches” while men are “tough” or “having a bad day” and that when a man screws up it is because he took a risk and failed while the woman is just incompetent. The problem is these negative biases against women are based in reality; a cranky woman really is worse than a cranky man, a woman who screwed up really is more likely to be incompetent than a man who screwed up. When women in general are seen to be less competent that is indeed an indicator that women in general are less competent. The feminist demand that people ignore reality when reality contradicts the feminist agenda is totalitarian.
Ophelia Benson’s comment centers around the fantasy of absolute power. Gender equality means nobody opposing feminism, nobody speaking out against feminism, feminism being taken for granted, the atheist movement as a whole taking on feminist causes as simply part of the overall mission, feminism not being seen as a “woman’s thing” because everybody would see feminism as their cause and their purpose. Ophelia Benson’s fantasy of atheist feminist domination even extends to the religious sphere; gender equality would mean religion itself no longer “discriminating against women.” Benson’s reference to religious “discrimination” against women “withering away” like the state under Communism seems to me to be self-consciously ironic. Maybe Benson is aware she is drifting into utopianism as she talks about the imagined day of what gender equality would look like.
This issue of how to bring gender equality about in the atheist movement inevitably leads to talk of quotas. There are too many male speakers at atheist conferences! For women to feel welcomed in atheism there should be more female speakers! More prominent women in atheism! The fact that women are under represented as conference speakers or as high status members of the community means that women are being discriminated against! What strikes me the most about these feminist demands for greater power greater fame and greater glory in atheism as women is that nowhere do these feminist women feel like they should have to earn respect to possess respect; instead they simply feel entitled to respect and then demand respect and then achieve respect by simply throwing men overboard and usurping and claiming for themselves the positions men previously held. Feminist thinking is that I want therefore I deserve therefore I will steal from men what men have that I want and give it to myself and then I will have achieved equality! The equality I was always entitled to in the first place!
On the subject of who speaks at atheist conferences Debbie Goddard relates:
Gender Equality in the Secular Movement
40:49 to 42:37
“But I know several years ago there was only like 2 women on the schedule maybe [at TAM – The Amazing Meeting]? And dozens of guys. And people complained and they raised a fuss and I think like 2 years after that they had 50% women speakers at the conference [22 women and 47 male speakers at TAM 2012]. And that made a big difference. I think one shift I’ve seen in the 13 years I’ve been involved in this movement is that instead of just; and this comes from the atheist movement side of things and the skeptic movement side of things because there is a lot of overlap; it’s still the case that in the past we drew mostly from best selling authors, scientists, and professors from fields that would talk about things like atheism so a lot of philosophers of course and then some other fields; sometimes psychology and what not. . . . We’ll have a harder time in this movement if the people that we always want to feature are New York Times best selling authors and people with PhDs in philosophy who write books about atheism and scientists from certain fields. One of the shifts that we’ve seen at conferences; at all the regional conferences that have been popping up, all the really successful student conferences that have been popping up, and also at the national level; is that we see more educators, organizers, activists, and bloggers.”
R. Elisabeth Cornwell added this information about why certain speakers are chosen to speak at conferences:
Gender Equality in the Secular Movement
49:02 to 49:38
“You know, these conferences, people want to make money. As we heard from Melody [Hensley], this conference is not going to be a, you know, it’s struggling to meet its financial obligations. And so what I hear from people who have been together at conferences is “Oh God, please, can Richard come? It would make everything work. We will get people to attend.” So, that’s a real issue. That’s an absolute issue that cannot be ignored. And I don’t know how we get around that other than having [more women coming up through the ranks].”
I find the above quotes amazing. Before feminist pressure TAM, The Amazing Meeting, had 2 women speakers and 50 or something (“dozens”) of male speakers. This is because TAM was seeking the intellectual and proven success cream of the crop to make up their speakers list; people like New York Times best sellers, professors in philosophy that had written books about atheism, and scientists in certain fields. The feminists saw this and screamed discrimination! Not enough women! And so now in order to get more women speakers conferences are using educators, organizers, activists, and bloggers as their speaker material. The cream of the crop has now been replaced by self appointed loud mouths, run of the mill educators, and “activists” in order to boost the number of women included. There is a problem however. Conferences want to make money! Conferences want people to actually attend their conferences! Sexism is still lurking in the shadows!
Feminists have caused additional problems at conferences, TAM in particular ironically, by pushing sexual harassment hysteria and trying to force conferences to adopt feminist approved anti-sexual harassment policies.
All of this mischief that feminists are engaging in in the atheist community is premised on the bogus notion that women are discriminated against now and that women were discriminated against in the past and that therefore all of their self-serving demands must be acquiesced to or else you are a misogynist and an oppressor of women!
Men should not be putting up with all this feminist nonsense; they shouldn’t be tolerating feminist defined anti-sexual harassment policies at atheist conferences and they shouldn’t be tolerating mediocre women speakers taking over the conference circuit. Men are entitled to assert control over the public square and the leadership positions within atheism. Feminists have no business inserting themselves into the male sphere of the atheist community.
Women in Secularism 2
Held May 17-19, 2013 in Washington, D.C.