I was asked to provide facilitation and a keynote address of sorts for “Violence and Trans Women of Colour: The Intersections,” an event hosted by Carleton University’s Carleton Equity Services, Graduate Students’ Association, Carleton University, and CUSA Womyn’s Centre as part of the university’s Sexual Assault Awareness Week. While my remarks during the event did not exactly match what I prepared, the original material is now here for others’ perusal.
This year will most likely be the last year that I attend the Ottawa-Carleton Institute of Biology’s yearly symposium. This small-scale conference is advertised internally, and draws its attendees almost exclusively from the two university biology departments that comprise the OCIB. As a graduating Ph.D., I’m unlikely to either get those advertisements or have the open schedule required to be present on subsequent occasions. It has served as a way for biology students at the two departments to meet and get to know one another, for people to become familiar with the research going on elsewhere at the Institute, to practice for higher-stakes presentations at larger conferences, and to attend curated talks from well-credentialed and diverse researchers in various related fields. I have never found attendance at the OCIB Symposium to be wasted, not even the year where they got that weirdo suggesting we start using Aristotelian teleological models to better understand parts of biology.
(For those not in the know, those models also underlie much Christian philosophy and therefore Intelligent Design.)
This year, though, was marred by two instances of tone-deaf, science-illiterate microaggression that only get to keep the “micro-” qualifier because I’m not prepared to accuse these two speakers of deliberately attacking the autistic and transgender communities. Yet.
An exciting thing is happening this year, or at least with your help it will be. As Women in Secularism takes a sabbatical this year, a group of enterprising people and organizations are putting on a conference for activists. It is being funded in part with kickstarter. If you can, you should donate. It promises to be an exciting event and hopefully you will see me there.
“We are proud to introduce the Secular Women Work conference, a conference by and for activists. Do you want to build strong non-religious communities? Do you want to change our laws and our culture to be more accepting and accommodating of non-believers? Join us in Minneapolis in August 2015.
We live in a society in which unpaid work disproportionately falls to women. Unfortunately, this means that volunteer work, including activist work, is too often undervalued. We’re here to change that.
The Secular Women Work conference is a celebration of the work of female activists who create and run projects and communities in the secular movement. And there is no better way to honor their work than by using their expertise to help us all become better activists.
At Secular Women Work, you will find workshops: both hands-on exercises to develop your skills and facilitated group discussions where you can share challenges and solutions with other activists. You will find panels on specialist topics, with panelists who can help you broaden the horizons of your activism. And when you’re ready for a rest, you’ll find speakers who will entertain and inspire you with stories and lessons from their own work. In between it all, you’ll find a conference full of other activists who want to make a difference in the world.
All workshop leaders, all panelists, and all speakers will be experienced female or genderqueer activists with demonstrated accomplishments and skills to share. We are excited to announce that Lauren Lane, co-founder of Skepticon; Mandisa Thomas, president and founder of Black Nonbelievers, Inc., and Desiree Schell, labor activist and host of Science for the People will be appearing at Secular Women Work. We are working now to add more speakers, so keep your eye on this space for announcements.
The conference will be held in the historic Humphrey Conference Center on the University of Minnesota’s West Bank. The center is ADA compliant and situated on light rail.
So, come join us this August 21st through the 23rd for the Secular Women Work conference, and help support the women who work to make these communities happen! Make your pledge now to secure your ticket to the conference, or pledge to build a better movement by helping us make more, and more effective, activists.
See you there!
The Secular Women Work conference is a joint project of Minnesota Atheists; Campus Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists; and Secular Woman.”
Last night, I had the privilege of being part of an on-air hangout with Ed Brayton of Dispatches from the Culture Wars to discuss recent US Supreme Court rulings, in particular Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. This ruling came with a lot to unpack, a surprising amount of which was not overwhelmingly bad news for secularists and those interested in social equality for women.
Women in Secularism 2 was an amazing event, and one whose various liveblogs I encourage people to read. The talks and panels were fantastic, despite being bookended by obnoxiously wrongheaded attacks on the conference’s very premise. Short review: would do again. And not just because fellow attendees and bloggers Kate Donovan, Jason Thibeault, Miri Mogilevsky, PZ Myers, and Ashley Miller kept the atmosphere awesome throughout.
Some things that were said, in particular by CFI-Transnational Director for Outreach Debbie Goddard, got me thinking. It’s no secret these days that organized atheism’s roots in predominantly white, male, well-educated circles has often made it tone-deaf to the different experiences, priorities, and demands of people outside those groups. It’s also no secret that some of these “outsiders” have far more to gain from abandoning religion than Western atheism’s white, male, well-educated old guard ever did or hopefully ever will.
Continue reading “Hispanic, Atheist, American, Me”