Women In Secularism 2 – Amanda Marcotte liveblog #wiscfi

Women In Secularism 2 logo

Set up late after the 20-min break. Missed opening.

Amanda Marcotte – Skeptics Love Challenging Popular Beliefs

Standing up to patriarchy is not easy, does not make you popular. Anti-secularists make everything about gender, about sexuality, moreso even than school prayer etc. Theocrats spend 90% of their time on gender-related issues.

Skipped video by Rachel Maddow, no time.

Feminism sprung from enlightenment — Mary Wollstonecraft. Declaration of Sentiments — bit off the Declaration of Independence. Men and women are held as self-evidently equal!

Feminism has had an anti-theist history. Favorite antitheist feminists: Simone de Beauvoir, Emma Goldman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton. de Beauvoir gave existentialist theory of feminism that undercuts god.

Studies show that feminists are right in improving people’s rights and welfare by embracing feminist ideals, including U.N.’s 8 millenium development goals set aside just for women.

Feminism also supports the environment — need to stop overpopulation, and the best way to do that is to empower women to be able to choose how many children to have. Women tend to choose on average far fewer children. Over and over the biggest problem worldwide is that women’s rights aren’t being respected. Couple in Phillippines wanted two children, but family planning clinics were banned, so woman has eight children now.

Who’s to blame? [picture of the Pope]

Problem of overpopulation goes back to Catholic Church. They don’t believe overpopulation exists, and deny contraception.

Religion stops women from being educated — see Malala Yousufzai, being shot for trying to go to school by Taliban. Religion denying education leads to poverty.

Health care worldwide — Maternal mortality, infant mortality and AIDS can be fixed very simply by allowing legal/safe abortion, birthing kits, midwife training, contraception. But religion always tries to stop these pushes.

Skepticism and atheism without feminism can fight creationists, homeopaths, 10 Commandments pushers, etc. But WITH feminism we can fight climate change, sexual repression, poverty, sexual domestic violence… and paranoia about fake geek girls. 😀

Feminism and religion are mortal enemies. Quiverfull families like the Duggars (pic meme: Vaginas: Still Not a Clown Car) are influenced entirely by religion.

Plan B One-Step (for instance) — Was recommended by FDA panel fro OTC sales in 2003, Bush FDA rejected the application. Was sold without prescription for a long time, research showed it was safer even than Tylenol or Aspirin, but it was grossly restricted and politicized. Strictly religious reasons — crazy right wing paranoia, suggesting that there would be “sex-based Plan B cults”. Every time there was a job slot in FDA, Bush Admin put in a crazy right-wing religious person. Janet Woodcock deputy operation commissioner created an urban legend by decrying the “urban legend of teens making sex cults”.

“The Hysteria Continues” — oh that’s punny.

Finally in 2006 the FDA allowed sales of Plan-B, only with ID proving that they’re eighteen or over. But pharmacists were judgmental and religious and denied people Plan-B. Religious folks have actually intentionally gone into pharmacology specifically so they could deny people contraception. Ground game of religious right — this is a planned attack.

Obama said he’d put science first in his policy making, though the biggest exception is his treatment of emergency contraception — e.g. in 2011, the FDA said they would let Plan-B without restriction, after a study showing that even twelve year old girls could read the instructions (e.g. “put pill in mouth, swallow”). Katherine Sebelius, HHS secretary, overrode this, saying 11-year-olds aren’t proven to read it.

Plan B works like this: it is not an abortion, doesn’t kill fertilized eggs. Prevents ovulation. Research shows it does not affect sexual decision making. But Obama was up against magical-thinking anti-choicers itching to release ads saying “Obama gave ten year olds abortion pills”.

Judge Edward Kormen has been serially deciding against these restrictions, quotes like “largely an insult to the intelligence of women”. Irrational fears about female sexuality are repetitively conflicting with real science.

A quick word on the anti-feminist skeptics: pic of the “Feminazi stole my ice cream” video meme. These skeptics are almost exclusively attacking straw-women — the ideas that they’re attacking are never actually held by real feminists in the movement or outside it.

Close with an animated gif of a llama swinging its head with “haters gonna hate” and the tag line “don’t let the bastards get you down.”


Q1: Do you respect religious folks?

Insofar as I respect all people.

Q2: Why do you call the aforementioned issues “feminist issues” and exclude men? (this was apparently You Know Who)

Feminism is about dismantling gender roles and fixing expectations. It impacts on men, and men can be feminists, so don’t assume men are excluded. When trying to make policy changes politically worldwide though, it sometimes helps to frame them as “helping women”. (Nice handling of the standard strawfeminist trope, that helping women necessarily excludes men… pssh.)

Q3: what’s the appeal to religion for religious women?

Women are the “keepers of the hearth” as assigned by gender roles, so women are expected to do the scut work of religion (bake sales, filling pews). Women don’t necessarily feel they’ll ever get out of the subjugated wife/mother role, and church tells you that’s a dignified role, feel better “about the shit card you’ve pulled”

Q4: Is marriage necessary other than assigning who inherits property?


No wedding ring. Have a boyfriend. He agreed with Marcotte not using the word “privilege” through this talk.

Q5: something about Obama’s plan b drug fight — does that make him vulnerable?

Q6: Komen Foundation?

Missed the answers… sorry. :/

Women In Secularism 2 – Amanda Marcotte liveblog #wiscfi

7 thoughts on “Women In Secularism 2 – Amanda Marcotte liveblog #wiscfi

  1. 2

    Jason: thanks for going to all this trouble (and all this typing) to liveblog! It’s really helpful to figure out what in the heck Twitter is talking about. <_<

  2. 3

    Now Nate, fear of the name increases fear of the thing itself! (Dumbledore quote)

    Dammit, why was the spam blocker down? It took me all of 2 min to decide I needed to increase the level I’d chosen…

  3. 4


    Jason, re: “this was apparently You Know Who”

    I picked up on this; you are writing to the cognoscenti.

    (You sure that’s a good thing?)

  4. 5

    John Morales: it’s not necessarily bad, considering how very little of “me” I’m interjecting in these posts. It’s mostly live transcription with a small amount of rewording as I fall behind.

  5. 7

    Hmm, if you’re referring to a certain WiS2 attendee as Voldemort, then we should perhaps also acknowledge that there are a few ‘Ministry of Magic’ leaders who very slightly resemble Cornelius Fudge in being rather oblivious to the misogynist attacks aimed at women in this movement, and minimising the impact that harassment has. (And there’s the odd denialists like Pius Thicknesse whom I can think of, too!)

    That’s perhaps relevant to the earlier liveblog post on Ron Lindsay’s keynote, which while it hit many good notes (having blogged it on the CFI website, I’m aware of what he said), was not in my opinion entirely devoid of shortcomings either that are at least worthy of argument.

    Predictably though, the Death Eaters infesting the conference hashtag have seized on the objections as ‘controversy’, rather than being indicative of disagreement, because if they accepted that dialogue is possible amongst this part of the movement then it is also no longer possible to characterise it as being an ‘echo chamber’.

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