Secular Woman Welcomes More New Board Members

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Kim Rippere, Secular Woman President: 404.669.6727 E-mail

Elsa Roberts, Secular Woman Vice President: 906.281.0384 E-mail

Secular Woman Welcomes More New Board Members

Secular Woman is pleased to welcome two new members to its Board of Directors: Becca Thomas, longtime human rights advocate and Secular Woman volunteer, and Julia Burke, a writer with an interest in social justice.

Becca ThomasBecca Thomas brings to Secular Woman over two decades of experience in advocacy, organization and fund development, as well as a passion for reproductive freedom. She is a former marketing executive and Sunday School teacher. Her journey from theism began in third grade while arguing with a classmate who insisted that if you do not believe in Santa, then you can not believe in God. Thomas continued delving into philosophical questions and became an avid student of world religions. In her late twenties, she made a break from the Church as well as the corporate world, and is now an adamant advocate for human rights. “Humanity would be better served by more compassion and less judgment, the very antithesis of what religion offers,” she says. Thomas will be leading Secular Woman’s project, @AbortTheocracy, a campaign to terminate the intersection of religious power over bodily autonomy and sovereignty by opposing religious influence in government.

Julia BurkeWriter and editor Julia Burke became a feminist at the age of twelve, when she visited her cousin, a law student, and found Susan J. Douglas’s Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media on her bookshelf and asked to borrow it. Atheism took a little longer; raised liberal-Protestant but exposed at a tender age to the fundamentalist beliefs of a reborn Christian relative, Burke was fascinated by faith but disturbed by its implications. She avidly researched several religions throughout her teen and college years before realizing that “none of the above” was not only a viable option but the only choice that made sense. While working as assistant editor at the Center for Inquiry she came to know and admire many prominent figures in the secular community, and became interested in the intersection between skepticism, secularism, and social justice. She joined Secular Woman in the fall of 2012.

“Secular Woman’s first year was filled with exciting growth and activism within the atheist community,” says Kim Rippere, president of Secular Woman. “With our expanding reach, increased infrastructure, and additional leaders we are looking forward to becoming part of other communities focusing on feminism and reproductive rights.”

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Secular Woman is an educational non-profit organization whose mission is to amplify the voice, presence, and influence of non-religious women. For more information about Secular Woman visit: www.SecularWoman.org.

Inmate Sterilization, the Continued Assault on Women’s Autonomy

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Kim Rippere, Secular Woman President: 404.669.6727  E-mail

Elsa Roberts, Secular Woman Vice President: 906.281.0384 E-mail

Inmate Sterilization, the Continued Assault on Women’s Autonomy

The Center for Investigative Reporting released a report indicating that nearly 150 inmates in two California state prisons were sterilized without state approval between 2006 and 2010. The tubal ligation procedures were in violation of prison rules, but according to a database of contracted medical services for state prisoners, the state paid doctors $147,460 from 1997 to 2010 to perform these sterilizations. Worse, former inmates interviewed for the story reported that prison medical staff coerced the women, allegedly based on their likelihood of returning to prison.

“This apparent targeting of women in prison and coercing them into sterilization––without state approval––is reminiscent of the eugenics practices of the early 20th century,” said Secular Woman President Kim Rippere. “These women have been manipulated and robbed of their reproductive rights at a time when they were most vulnerable.” The sterilizations echo a disturbing past for the state of California in particular. “Between 1909 and 1964, about 20,000 women and men in California were stripped of the ability to reproduce – making the state the nation’s most prolific sterilizer,” reports the Center for Investigative Reporting. “Historians say Nazi Germany sought the advice of the state’s eugenics leaders in the 1930s.” Racial minorities, the disabled, the poor, criminals, and the mentally ill were targets of compulsory sterilization laws in California and 31 other states.

The number of incarcerated women is increasing at nearly double the rate of men in the United States, with a high number of nonviolent, drug-related offenses; female inmates have disproportionately prevalent histories of physical and sexual abuse. African-American women are three times more likely than white women to be incarcerated, while Hispanic women are 69 percent more likely to be incarcerated. In the context of these alarming numbers, these recent findings of coerced sterilizations in California prisons seem to be  merely a continuation of California’s dark history of eugenics.

Secular Woman decries this abuse of women already in the vulnerable position of incarceration; we support every woman’s right to body autonomy and are gravely concerned at this attempt to control reproduction by selectively sterilizing groups considered to be unfit to procreate. Tubal ligation is a major surgery for women under the best of circumstances––much more invasive than vasectomy for men––requiring general anesthesia and, also, unlike vasectomy, is irreversible. Reports from former inmates indicate that many were coerced into sterilization while under sedation, in labor, and often based on inaccurate advice regarding their risk factors––for example, based on the idea that women who have had multiple C-sections should be sterilized. “Dr.Carolyn Sufrin, an OB-GYN at San Francisco General Hospital who teaches at UC San Francisco, said it is not common practice to offer tubal ligations to women who’ve had one C-section,” the report stated. “She confirmed that having multiple C-sections increases the risk of complications, but even then, she said, it’s more appropriate to offer women reversible means of birth control, like intrauterine devices or implants.”

This attempt to selectively control women’s reproductive choices has extremely disturbing social and medical implications; furthermore, shaming women into a serious and permanent medical procedure that will impact the rest of their lives is the height of unethical behavior. Secular Woman hopes that, as a result of these findings, swift action will be taken to ensure transparency and proper acquisition of approval for medical procedures in U.S. prisons, to prevent unethical physicians from taking advantage.

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Secular Woman is an educational non-profit organization whose mission is to amplify the voice, presence, and influence of non-religious women. For more information about Secular Woman visit: www.SecularWoman.org.

Statement on the Supreme Court’s Voting Rights Act Ruling

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For more information, please contact:

Kim Rippere, Secular Woman President: 404.669.6727  E-mail

Elsa Roberts, Secular Woman Vice President: 906.281.0384 E-mail

Last week, the Supreme Court overruled Congress and struck down section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, putting voters’ rights in nine states and several more jurisdictions in potential jeopardy and removing legislation that has prevented racial discrimination in voting laws since 1965. Secular Woman holds that all women are entitled to full and equal participation at all levels of government, and we are concerned that this ruling opens the door to discriminatory activity such as district redrawing and voting legislation subtly aimed at undermining the voting rights of minority groups.

“Voting is a right of citizens in the United States,” said Secular Woman President Kim Rippere. “It isn’t simply a matter of having the legal right; voting must also be equally accessible between polling places, and each vote must count the same.” Established in 1965 in response to violence against voting rights activists fighting to prevent discriminatory voting laws and practices, the Voting Rights Act prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race. Sections 4 and 5 require six states with a history of discriminatory voting procedures––Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Virginia––as well as Alaska, Arizona, Texas, and several jurisdictions––to obtain advance approval before passing voting laws to determine whether they have the potential for discrimination or disenfranchisement. The Supreme Court held that section 4 of the VRA was unconstitutional because it violates equal sovereignty of states and because, in the eyes of the Court, the improvement in equality in the states affected by the VRA means that section 4 is no longer warranted.

The Court cited vast improvements in voting equality since the 1960s, acknowledging that the number of black voters has increased significantly and that there has been a one thousand percent increase in the number of elected officials of color  since the VRA was enacted. However, as Justice Ginsburg noted in her dissent to the 5–4 ruling, the fact that the VRA has worked is hardly a reason to abandon one of its key provisions. “If the statute was working, there would be less evidence of discrimination, so opponents might argue that Congress should not be allowed to renew the statute,” she pointed out. “In contrast, if the statute was not working, there would be plenty of evidence of discrimination, but scant reason to renew a failed regulatory regime.”  She went on to note that racial discrimination in voting can be much more insidious and subtle than the acts of violence of the 1960s, citing as an example the redrawing of districts to ensure white majority. Indeed, in 2012, it was the Voting Rights act that prevented Texas Senator Wendy Davis from losing her seat when Republicans attempted to redraw her Fort Worth district to dilute the Democratic voters that helped elect her. Now that section 4 of the VRA, which had the singular advantage of requiring oversight to prevent discriminatory voting laws before they were instated, has been struck down, unfair legislation and unfairly elected leaders could be in place for years before a case can be brought against the laws that helped elect them.

In a clear example of the dangers of this ruling, Texas legislators have already said they plan to instate a voter ID law that was struck down last year because federal judges ruled it would be discriminatory. The legislation requires prospective voters to present certain types of photo ID; a federal court ruled that the law would be “ the most stringent in the country,” and “will almost certainly have retrogressive effect: it imposes strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor, and racial minorities in Texas are disproportionately likely to live in poverty.” Responding to the Supreme Court decision removing VRA section 4 last week, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced that the voter ID law would  “take effect immediately,” adding that “Redistricting maps passed by the Legislature may also take effect without approval from the federal government.”

Fortunately, the Court’s decision included a suggestion that “Congress may draft another formula based on current conditions” in the United States. Congressmen Mark Pocan and Keith Ellison have introduced an amendment that would reverse the Court decision and make voter suppression laws illegal; learn more and consider signing as a citizen co-sponsor. Secular Woman hopes that Congress finds a solution to the disturbing ramifications of the Court’s ruling; we are adamant that any discrimination by government, in voting rights or otherwise, is too much.

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Secular Woman is an educational non-profit organization whose mission is to amplify the voice, presence, and influence of non-religious women. For more information about Secular Woman visit: www.SecularWoman.org.

#ShameLESS, a Campaign to Help End Abortion Stigma

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Kim Rippere, Secular Woman President: 404.669.6727  E-mail

Elsa Roberts, Secular Woman Vice President: 906.281.0384 E-mail

#ShameLESS, a Campaign to Help End Abortion Stigma

Secular Woman, through its latest project @AbortTheocracy, is launching a new month-long campaign aimed at reducing abortion stigma and encouraging people to talk openly, shamelessly, about their abortion experiences. The campaign is, appropriately, called #ShameLESS. And, in July, we will be sharing your stories about abortion through memes which you can share via social media, as well as articles on abortion and reproductive health and rights throughout the month.

This campaign is a response to the fact that even though approximately one in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime, many women and people designated female at birth (DFAB) are silent and ashamed about their abortion. When we are silent we are alone.  It is possible that the peson sitting next to you has had an abortion and never told their sister, mother, best friend, or anyone – this collective silence disempowers and isolates us.  Just as domestic abuse victims were alone and isolated in the 1970s before talking about abuse became more acceptable. When women find their voice and use it to tell their lived experiences they change our lives, the lives of future women, and society.

Abortion is a medical procedure, and, like other medical procedures, a woman (or person DFAB) and her doctor should be making the decision without interference or intervention from religious groups or any governmental legislative body. One of our goals for this year is to “advocate for women’s bodily autonomy and sovereignty”; this campaign is an integral part of that.

This campaign will launch with a story from the co-founder, Kim Rippere who says, “I am Shameless and I’m ready to tell my story.” Storytelling is a powerful force for change, with each story told this month another woman will find her voice and other women will be empowered to be #ShameLESS and unafraid.

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Secular Woman is an educational non-profit organization whose mission is to amplify the voice, presence, and influence of non-religious women. For more information about Secular Woman visit: www.SecularWoman.org.

@AbortTheocracy is a project focused on the intersection of religious power over women’s bodily autonomy and sovereignty, dedicated to terminating that connection by opposing religious influence in government.

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Looking Forward by Looking Back, Secular Woman’s 1st Year Anniversary

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Kim Rippere, Secular Woman President: 404.669.6727  E-mail

Elsa Roberts, Secular Woman Vice President: 906.281.0384 E-mail

Looking Forward by Looking Back, Secular Woman’s 1st Year Anniversary

Today marks the one-year anniversary of Secular Woman, the first and only organization composed of and focused on atheist, non-religious, and secular women. Secular Woman launched with the vision of a future in which women without supernatural beliefs have the opportunities and resources they need to participate openly and confidently as respected voices of leadership in the secular community and every aspect of American society.

Secular Woman is proud to look back on a productive first year. Our advocacy has spanned multiple topics of concern to women, from an Equal Rights Amendment Task Force and participation in the secular movement’s Heads meeting to our @AbortTheocracy campaign, an unapologetic project focused on the intersection of religious power and women’s bodily autonomy and dedicated to terminating that connection by opposing religious influence in government. We have provided funding for women to attend secular conferences and related events in the United States, working toward a secular community in which women have a strong footing and an opportunity to be heard. Secular Woman has established itself as a voice for secular and intersectional feminist activism and we are proud of our position in the secular movement.

“I am continually heartened by the reception within the community, by the strides we are making, by the progress we are achieving, and by the way we are facing our challenges,” said Secular Woman President Kim Rippere. “Secular Woman and its membership have made a difference in our community, and thanks to our growing support we have no doubt in our ability to meet the challenges ahead.”

The millennial generation is less religious––fully one in four millennials is religiously unaffiliated, reports a Pew study––and more progressive than the population as a whole, and Rippere says the secular movement is at a crucial juncture, especially in its relationship to activism and social justice. “I am cautiously optimistic that we are reaching a turning point within our community,” she says. “I hope that human rights and women’s rights will become an integral part of the community and inform the projects and developments that galvanize us; that women’s reproductive rights will stand beside science education in importance to the secular community; and that we as a movement will come to see, acknowledge, and fight to end the debilitating force that millennia of patriarchal and religious-based ideology have exacted on women.”

Secular Woman is hopeful that our positive influence, activism, and inclusive social justice stances will be a model for new secular organizations as we grow our community. We are excited for what the year will bring as we continue to focus on our mission of amplifying the voice, presence, and influence of non-religious women by working to achieve our goals for the year to advocate for women’s bodily autonomy and sovereignty, promote secular women through networking opportunities and providing connections with other women in the secular community, and increase the financial stability and ensure the longevity of Secular Woman.

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Secular Woman is an educational non-profit organization whose mission is to amplify the voice, presence, and influence of non-religious women. For more information about Secular Woman visit: www.SecularWoman.org.

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Moving Our Community Forward

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Kim Rippere, Secular Woman President: 404.669.6727 E-mail

Elsa Roberts, Secular Woman Vice President: 906.281.0384 E-mail – See more at: http://www.secularwoman.org/Statement_of_Objection#sthash.YyE3QrNS.dpuf

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For more information, please contact:

Kim Rippere, Secular Woman President: 404.669.6727 E-mail

Elsa Roberts, Secular Woman Vice President: 906.281.0384 E-mail

After CEO Ron Lindsay’s remarks at Women In Secularism II, Secular Woman released an open letter detailing our objections to much of Dr. Lindsay’s speech, which we also communicated to the board of CFI. We were not alone; many of our membership and readership, as well as several prominent feminist and atheist leaders and writers echoed our sentiments. After several weeks of waiting, the CFI board of directors issued a non-committal response which we were far from satisfied with as it failed to address the concerns detailed by so many. Our response was to wait and see if further action resulted, as we saw how our entire community was fracturing and didn’t want it to become further divided.

So, we were pleased when we saw that Dr. Lindsay had chosen to issue his own apology for his remarks during his opening speech at Women in Secularism II. Apologies, in particular, public apologies are both imperfect and a challenging thing to engage in, but they are vital to healing hurt communities. Dr. Lindsay chose to be authentic in his apology, showing an understanding of the hurt caused and a willingness to listen to us and others who wrote to him with our concerns. We thank Dr. Lindsay for beginning to address our concerns and are hopeful of continued dialogue and understanding.

To further those objectives, we have some practical suggestions for moving forward as individuals and a community. We suggest that Dr. Lindsay and CFI continue to engage social justice on multiple levels, in particular focusing on core issues such as the concepts of privilege and intersectionality in a workshop or seminar; announce and commit to a WIS 3, a conference that women and feminists in the secular community highly value; and join Secular Woman in creating a joint task force focused on inclusion in the secular community.

We’re eager to see CFI grow into a leader in areas around intersectionality and inclusion within our community; developing the Women in Secularism conference was an exciting first step but there is so much more work to be done and so much yet to learn. This is an exciting and momentous time for our movement and CFI, so let’s build on the successes we are just now starting to make as a secular community and as feminists and social justice advocates within our movement.

Show others the path, help them take the first step, and help draw our online and in-real-life community together.

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Secular Woman is an educational non-profit organization whose mission is to amplify the voice, presence, and influence of non-religious women. For more information about Secular Woman visit: www.SecularWoman.org.

Secular Woman to Match Up to $500 in Donations to Humanist Homeschoolers Lending Library

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Secular Woman to Match Up to $500 in Donations to Humanist Homeschoolers Lending Library

KellyAnne and Jennifer are two homeschooling parents who recognized a need for affordable educational materials not containing a religious agenda.  Because of the large market for religious homeschooling materials, it has become increasingly more expensive and difficult for free thinking homeschooling families to find alternatives.  The Humanist Homeschoolers Lending Library hopes to fulfil this need by pooling resources and providing secular homeschooling curricula and supplies to families in need.

Secular Woman believes that the educational needs of free thinking children are of utmost importance.  We will be aiding secular homeschooling parents in accessing quality educational materials by matching donations of our members and supporters of this project up to the amount of $500.  Upon finding the Humanist Homeschoolers Lending Library, we feel that the idea of providing these resources on loan is an effective way to not only help in education, but also with families for whom the cost of new books may be out of the budget.

The Humanist Homeschoolers Lending Library needs your help in building this valuable resource.  Funds raised will go to purchase of books, building a database, maintaining a website, postage, and other maintenance items. We ask for our members’ and supporters’ help to ensure that children in the secular movement are provided with the materials best suited to obtain a quality education.

If you would like to help please donate to the Humanist Homeschoolers Lending Library IndieGoGo Campaign.  Once your donation is completed please forward proof of your donation to Nicole at [email protected] On the final day of the campaign, we will tally donations made by our members and supporters who have provided proof of donation to us and match these donations up to the amount of $500.

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Secular Woman is an educational non-profit organization whose mission is to amplify the voice, presence, and influence of non-religious women. For more information about Secular Woman visit: www.SecularWoman.org.

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Statement of Objection to Center for Inquiry CEO Ron Lindsay’s Actions Regarding Feminism

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For more information, please contact:

Kim Rippere, Secular Woman President: 404.669.6727 E-mail

Elsa Roberts, Secular Woman Vice President: 906.281.0384 E-mail

The Secular Woman Board of Directors, in consultation with our most active members and supporters, regrets having to express our organization’s deep concern over recent public statements from Dr. Ron Lindsay, Center for Inquiry (CFI) CEO, during and following that organization’s Women in Secularism (WiS) conference this past weekend.

Secular Woman promoted the WiS event heavily with our membership for months. During this period we raised $2190 that enabled seven women, relatively new to the secular movement, to experience an event they would not otherwise have had the means to attend. Based on member feedback, we estimate that another 25 of the reported 300 WiS attendees were at the conference because of Secular Woman’s encouragement.  Additionally, 57% of our Board of Directors was present.

Through Secular Woman’s @AbortTheocracy campaign, thousands of our fans, followers and members have been made aware of CFI’s efforts in the area of reproductive rights. In fact, CFI is the only organization to have taken advantage of this service announced to secular leaders on an internal list-serv for leaders in the secular movement.

Given our support and the aims of WiS, we find it stunningly unacceptable that Dr. Lindsay chose to greet our members, our Board, and other attendees with his personal, ill-formed criticisms of feminism rather than welcoming us all to the conference we had promoted and paid to attend. Worse, he instead chose to personally welcome a man who has harassed and antagonized many of the speakers scheduled for the weekend, and who now has an interview about the conference on the front page of the website of A Voice for Men, which is monitored by the Southern Poverty Law Center for their misogynistic content.

We are incredulous that in a conference about women in the secular movement Dr. Lindsay was completely silent about the threats, harassment, and stalking that many atheist women have experienced at the hands of other atheists. Additionally, we are truly appalled by the tone and content of his blog post, “Watson’s World and Two Models of Communication,” in which he bizarrely compares Rebecca Watson’s writings to missives from North Korea, misuses a Secular Woman statement to his own purposes, and claims that those who are active feminists cannot be real reason-and-evidence based secularists.

Not having seen an apology, retraction, or other followup to these official communications, we are forced to arrive at several conclusions:

  • that Dr. Lindsay’s actions are endorsed by the CFI Board of Directors as consistent with its mission and expectations of leadership

  • that CFI supports ad hominem attacks on individuals who disagree with CFI staff

  • that CFI is content with its limited diversity and doesn’t value the support of Secular Woman or our thousands of members and supporters

  • that Dr. Lindsay’s, and by extension CFI’s, endorsement of the Open Letter, which Dr. Lindsay’s blog violates in every way it could, was a sham

As a result of Dr. Lindsay’s actions, the past year’s conflicts have been further enflamed, continuing to alienate the demographic showing most growth potential within the secular community – women – not just from CFI, but from the secular movement. Secular Woman is hopeful that Dr. Lindsay and/or the CFI Board of Directors will offer a formal, complete, and deserved apology and retraction to Secular Woman and secular women and feminists* regarding his “welcome” statement and later blog comments. We trust that Dr. Lindsay and the CFI Board will now, and in the future, actively demonstrate their intolerance of all who harass, threaten, bully, and work to silence women and feminists. Finally, Secular Woman seeks open and honest in-person dialogue regarding women, feminism, and the secular community with the CFI Board of Directors.

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Secular Woman is an educational non-profit organization whose mission is to amplify the voice, presence, and influence of non-religious women. For more information about Secular Woman visit: www.SecularWoman.org.

*Note: statement has been edited to remove “all” in reference to secular women and feminists deserving an apology. All women do not want an apology. The statement was intended to reference secular women and feminists in a general sense, not to imply that literally all women were in agreement on this issue. 

Welcoming Additions to the Secular Woman Board

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For more information, please contact:

Kim Rippere, Secular Woman President: 404.669.6727 E-mail

Elsa Roberts, Secular Woman Vice President: 906.281.0384 E-mail

Welcoming Additions to the Secular Woman Board

As the end of our first year as an organization approaches, Secular Woman is pleased to announce two new additions to our board: Charlotte Klasson and Nicole Harris. As our organization has grown, additional board members have been essential in helping us to execute our mission and goals to the fullest.

Nicole Harris was doubtful of religious doctrine and faith from a young age, questioning key concepts of Catholicism with inquiries like, “These are stories like fairy tales, right?” She honed her feminism in the riot grrrl scene of the 90s, making zines and exploring revolutionary concepts of gender roles. During this timeframe she also fell prey to pseudoscientific thinking while battling health conditions, but, after a treatment that went badly, she began doing her own research and developed a newfound sense of skepticism. Harris is also a fearless advocate for women’s bodily autonomy, putting her body between protesters who are seeking to limit women’s access to abortion, and as a clinic escort.

Charlotte Klasson didn’t grow up in a religious family and so did not have to struggle with the process of leaving a particular faith. In her adult life, she has been active as a secular humanist, in 2012 accepting the position of board president of New Orleans Secular Humanist Association. She is also actively involved in LGBT and women’s rights issues, having served on the board of the New Orleans LGBT community center and currently serving as a representative to the National Organization for Women (NOW) for the Mid-South region, as well as coordinating the New Orleans chapter of NOW.

We are delighted to welcome Klasson and Harris to our board and are excited to be working hand-in-hand with them on our mission to amplify the voice of secular women across the country.

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Secular Woman is an educational non-profit organization whose mission is to amplify the voice, presence, and influence of non-religious women. For more information about Secular Woman visit: www.SecularWoman.org.

A Response to “An Open Letter to the Secular Community”

4/13/2013: UPDATED***

Today, the leaders of several prominent secular organizations published a document titled “An Open Letter to the Secular Community.” Our name is not attached, and our members may be wondering why Secular Woman declined to endorse this document. As a secular organization, our mission is to amplify the voice, presence and influence of non-religious women. We recognize that part of our mission takes place in online communities. Although promoting better online communication is a worthy goal, we reject the current statement’s conception of civil discourse because we feel that it gives equal voice to the sexist ideas and beliefs that have been perpetuated as differing “interpretations” of feminism.

The Open Letter contains a textbook definition of feminism.

The principle that women and men should have equal rights flows from our core values as a movement . . . We seek not only civil equality for everyone, regardless of sex, but an end to discriminatory social structures and conventions – again often the legacy of our religious heritage—that limit opportunities for both women and men.

It is confusing, therefore, that this same letter suggests that a significant problem with online communication is centered on the “debate” about the “appropriate way to interpret feminism.” At Secular Woman, the principle that “feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression” (Hooks, 2000, p. viii) is taken as a given, and not a topic for debate.

As a secular feminist organization committed to understanding and exposing societal constructs that contribute to the inequality of women and other oppressed groups, we have no desire to listen to, respect, or continuously debunk overtly sexist viewpoints. Just as most scientists are not interested in debating the beliefs of creationists, we are not interested in debating gender-biased, racist, homophobic, or trans*phobic beliefs. Although the document contains reasonable recommendations for increasing effective communication, some of these techniques have been used to silence women (and other oppressed groups). When people express opinions that challenge sexism ingrained in social structures and conventions they receive a significant amount of pushback and harassment. Those of us working to challenge systemic sexism should be under no obligation to listen to or be more charitable to our opponents.

Sincerely,

The Board of Secular Woman

Kim Rippere, President

Elsa Roberts, Vice President

Corinne Zimmerman, Secretary

Brandon Chaddock

Nicole Harris

Charlotte Klasson

Monette Richards

 

UPDATE (4/15/13):

1. The idea that “feminism is a social movement to end sexism” is a textbook definition. We are not interested in participating in diversionary conversations about ‘gender feminism’ or ‘equity feminism’ or whether the SCUM Manifesto represents our definition of feminism. It does not.

Feminism – defined simply as being against sexism – is one of our values. As such, it informs the way we approach the mission, vision, and strategic goals of our volunteer organization.

Proving that feminism is a valid worldview is something Secular Woman is not interested in pursuing. What we are interested in pursuing is the strategic goals that we have set for our organization.

2. Because of our Response  to the Open Letter, we have been criticized for not wanting to “listen to” or “be more charitable” to our opponents. This criticism suggests that we have shut down the dialog before even listening to the “opposing” side. The dialog concerning feminism and its role in atheism/secularism has been going on for some time now and we are aware of the great number of related conversations that have taken place in countless online forums, at secular conferences, and other venues. The formation of Secular Woman was a response to the ongoing “debate” about whether feminism has a place in the secular movement and community. We assert that it does. Because of this core value, we work from a viewpoint that takes the defining principles of feminism to be “self evident” (meaning we are not going to debate feminism’s validity; but are very open to discussions within a feminist framework).

Since conversations about the nuances of feminism are happening elsewhere, Secular Woman chooses to focus on its mission: promoting the voice and presence of non-religious women. We also choose to take the advice of Ron Lindsay (CFI President and CEO):  "Or, if one thinks enough effort has been spent on rebuttal, simply ignoring them."