Update: Unfortunately, life got in the way and I ended up reluctantly sitting out the conference. But I already have a hotel reservation for next year.
So there’s yet another “parody” website and Twitter account mocking the aims and methods (and ripping off copyrighted images) of prominent women secularists. I won’t mention its name or link to it — trust me, it’s not worth your time even for sociological purposes — but it’s had at least one probably unintended effect. I will now be attending the second Women in Secularism Conference in Washington, D.C. in May.
Was I opposed to attending in the first place? Well, no, actually I very much wanted to, having missed the first one last year. And the roster is once again a stellar one: Lauren Becker, Ophelia Benson, Jamila Bey, Soraya Chemaly, Greta Christina, R. Elisabeth Cornwell, Vyckie Garrison, Debbie Goddard, Jennifer Michael Hecht, Adriana Heguy, Melody Hensley, Teresa MacBain, Amanda Marcotte, Maryam Namazie, Katha Pollitt, Carrie Poppy, Edwina Rogers, Amy Davis Roth, Desiree Schell, Shelley Segal, Rebecca Watson, Stephanie Zvan. It’s a startling collection of speakers.
Do I agree with everything every one of these women has ever said? No (nor do they agree with one another on all issues), but I respect the hell out of each and every one of them. That’s a tremendous amount of intelligence, audacity, and creativity to gather under one roof. And each of these women has contributed in no small way to my life. To my understanding of secular values. To my feminism.
So why wasn’t I planning on attending?
Well, that’s my business, frankly, and I’m starting to find your rhetorical questions a bit impertinent. But a combination of personal, financial, and health issues had led me to the decision to sit this one out as well. The women have got this, I thought. It’s covered.
Tonight I tucked my eight-year-old daughter in bed and settled down to scan Twitter and see what I’ve been missing.
A lot has happened in the last year, some of it wonderfully inspiring and much of it dismayingly ugly. One of the things about privilege is that an ally can choose to withdraw from the struggle when burnout or shocked sensibilities request it. Not everyone has this option. It’s an option I was too easily prepared to exercise.
So thank you, guy with the sophomoric, nearly clever parody account. Thanks for a gentle reminder just when I needed it. I’ll make it work. I’m going. Not that I’m needed there, not that I’ll be directly involved or that my presence will in any significant way help anyone or even be noticed.
I just need to. It’s important, it matters, and I’m going.