Take Our Survey

The new year is a traditional time to look back at what we’ve accomplished in the last year and forward to what we hope to accomplish in the next. Secular Woman would like your help doing that this year.


We’ve been quiet recently, but we’re trying to get better about bragging about our accomplishments. 2017 started with our president, Monette Richards, attending a meeting of secular organizations to represent the interests of women in the movement. We won’t say it was friction-free, but we made points that would otherwise have gone unsaid. The year ended with an update to our website and back-end systems to improve functionality and make updates easier in the future.


In between, we continued to host interesting discussions on our members-only Facebook page, ran the Secular Women Work track of workshops at Skepticon, and got mouthy when the secular movement decided our interests weren’t important. We also added two new board members to help us accomplish more in 2018. Please help us welcome Sam Farooqi and Stephanie Zvan!


We’ve already started working on projects for 2018, but we want your input on how we can do more. Please fill out this survey on what you’d like to see from us this year.


While you’re at it, please consider renewing your membership to Secular Woman. Your membership helps us help you (and keeps us from sending you another email soon when we run our membership drive).

Interview with Ania Bula

Ania Bula is an artist and member of Secular Woman. You can shop for her items at Ania Onion Creations. She will also have a table at Women in Secularism 3 where you will be able to view and purchase her work.

SW:  What is your creative background?
AB: I became interested in art in part due to my best friend when I was 5. She was five years older than me and I worshipped her. I wanted to be just like her, and so I started drawing and sketching. I got pretty good over time, and particularly got interested in sketching portraits. I also dabbled in painting to feel closer to my aunt Grazyna in Poland, who is a celebrated artist. This past Christmas, since we were desperate for money and really couldn't afford to get everyone great gifts, I decided to paint some simple wooden boxes with Fantasy themes and give those away. I had a great time and people seemed to love them, so I decided to try selling them. After that it was only a matter of time before I moved over to canvas and started painting more than just boxes.

In addition to my visual art, I have also always been a writer. I used to tell stories even as a child and always promised myself that I would write books. I am in the editing process of my non-fiction work "Young, Sick, and Invisible: a Skeptic's Journey with Chronic Illness" which is a book detailing my life with disability as well as essays on the intersections of feminism and atheism with disability justice. I am also working on a Fantasy themed novel which I hope to actually get done someday.

Although I did study English literature at university, I never officially studied art.

SW: What is the inspiration for your work in your Etsy store (Ania Bula Creations)?
AB: I get inspiration from a lot of different sources. A lot of ideas come from when friends post photos and my mind immediately creates some sort of fantasy portrait from it. I also get some of my ideas from fantasy novels I read, as well as just ideas that pop into my mind. I like making people think and also breaking some accepted ideas. For example, a lot of portraits, especially in fantasy, deal with white characters. While some of my portraits do have white female models, I am also working on finding a lot more women of colour and using them as models for my work. To wit, this portrait of Heina Dadabhoy

Colorful Portrait of a woman
and this one of a woman whose picture I found at a PoC slam poetry night.  
Colorful portrait of a WoC with Waves for hair

SW: How does your secular feminist perspective impact your creativity and final product?
AB: I like to subtly critique religion in a lot of my work. One painting is of an angel holding an apple with fire in his hand, on a sunrise background. To general appearance, the painting looks like just an angel, but knowledge of religion paired with the title light-bearer would let those familiar with abrahamic religions realize that the subject is actually Lucifer, God's Light Bringer and the Devil.

I have another painting with a woman wearing a blind-fold made entirely out of bible pages.

A lot of my models for my fantasy paintings are secular women who do a lot of great speaking and social justice work. I love creating something beautiful using these incredible women. I also want to create more artwork that celebrates the amazing women in our community. I also love having religious paintings and fantasy paintings in the same exhibition, to show how the two are ultimately from the same source: human inspiration.

SW:  What are you most looking forward to about Women in Secularism 3?  
AB: I am definitely looking forward to the amazing talks and also the atmosphere of people who understand the need for social justice. I learn something every time I am there and it often feels like a safe space.  What I am looking forward to the most however, is the chance to see some of the people I love and care about in person. I don't get a chance to see them in person very often and this conference is one of the few places where I can.

SW:  I understand you are tabling at Women in Secularism 3, can you give a sneak peak of what you are bringing?
AB: I will be bringing everything that you can see in my Etsy shop. I am also trying to get some money to be able to print some of the paintings onto t-shirts. I am also making some soaps, lotions, and fizzy bath bombs. I am also looking into getting some note cards and buttons printed up. If you are going to WiS and you want to make sure that a T-shirt is available, you can order on Etsy (https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/AniaOnionCreations) and save on shipping by using code WISROCKS and pick up the order at the event. I would need the order ASAP. You can also donate to my fundraiser to help me earn money for T-shirts here: http://www.gofundme.com/8zanyc

SW:  What other projects are you working on?  [if nothing, let's not include this one]
AB: I would like to do more paintings of secular women in fantasy settings. I am prevented from doing as much as I want based on my money situation. Art supplies cost a lot of money, so until sales pick up I am limited in what I can do.  
Image of an Angelic Figure
I also want to finish a fantasy novel I am working on where the main character is a woman who has a mild disability and a bisexual man of colour.
Image of a blind folded woman

SW: What inspires you?
AB: Everything! A lot of my inspiration will come just as I am falling asleep, while I am reading a book, or even from other paintings I just finished. Sometimes when I am working on an idea, I come up with different versions of it, which I want to try. I choose my favourite as my first attempt and save the ideas for later when I have time and money to explore further. I get inspiration from my writing as well. Sometimes a story I am working on will have a really interesting visual that I want to paint.


Secular Woman Membership Awards

Secular Woman would like to recognize individuals through our awards program who have shown their commitment to embracing and living the mission and values of our organization.  We believe that the secular community thrives on the passion of people who enthusiastically contribute through their activism. The winners were chosen by a board vote from a pool of nominations submitted by our membership, with the exception of the President’s Award given directly by our president Kim Rippere.

Woman of the Year
Sikivu Hutchinson
Sikivu HutchinsonSikivu Hutchinson was chosen as Woman of the year due to her being a radical humanist activist, educator, and writer who advocates for social justice within academic and atheist movement circles, while putting her theories into practice in her own community of Los Angeles. She is a beacon for secular women throughout the world. In 2013 she released her latest book: Godless Americana: Race & Religious Rebels.

She is an editor at blackfemlens.org and freethoughtblogs.com/blackskeptics/  She can also be found through her own website www.sikivuhutchinson.com and through the organization www.blackskepticsla.org.  Also, be sure to check out her previous book, Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars. Sikivu is also involved in the Women’s Leadership Project which is is a feminist service learning program designed to educate and train young middle and high school age women in South Los Angeles to take ownership of their school-communities.

Man of the Year
Ian CromwellThis award was given to Crommunist for his staunch, unwavering, vocal support of feminism, atheism, and social justice via his blog, twitter, and comments throughout the secular blogosphere. Crommunist supports the voices of women and works hard to educate those who tend to silence through maintaining the status quo.
Ian Cromwell (a.k.a. 'Crommunist') is a health researcher, musician, and blogger from Vancouver, Canada. Crommunist's chief area of interest is examining the relationships between religion, patriarchy, and white supremacy as a set of interconnected oppressive systems, and he explores the ways in which using the tools of skepticism can be used to understand the ways in which these systems operate. After spending 2 years at Freethought Blogs, Crommunist has returned to writing at his own platform at crommunist.com.

Activist of the Year
Soraya Chemaly
Soraya ChemalySoraya's action this year taking on gender-based hate speech on Facebook was mindblowing.  Very quickly she was able to gather huge worldwide interest, take action, and come out successful. Due to her diligence Facebook released a statement regarding an overview and change of their hate/harmful speech policies. Soraya fights for women's rights, via her writing, being extremely active and effective with social media, and participating in conferences.
You can find Soraya writing for various outlets such as the Huffington Post, Salon, and AlterNet.  She is also active in social media platforms like Twitter and Tumblr.

Blog of the Year
Almost Diamonds
Stephanie ZvanStephanie Zvan makes her voice heard through her blog Almost Diamonds. Her writing is consistently incredible: insightful, thorough, on point, and funny (when appropriate). Everything she writes is from an atheist, secular, intersectional feminist, and social justice perspective. This year has certainly been a busy one for social justice in the secular community. Stephanie’s posts tackle issues from multiple perspectives deconstructing and analyzing varied subject matter; her methodological and precise writing is educational, informative, and engaging.

Stephanie is a writer and analyst living in Minneapolis. She is the associate president of Minnesota Atheists and co-host of their radio show, Atheists Talk. As far as she knows, she's always been a feminist.

Member of the Year
Renée Perry
Renee PerryRenée has participated in so many ways in the growth and development of Secular Woman.  She has been an integral part of helping with our 501c3 application which will be felt for years to come in SW being established as a non-profit organization. Renée also provides a consistent voice in our Members Only discussion group and adds much wisdom to the conversation. In addition she has helped to craft the guidelines for that group.

Renée Perry is Director of Operations for Equality Federation, whose members are state-based LGBT advocacy organizations. Renée has been an atheist since she was 16 and became a skeptic through reading Martin Gardiner.

President’s Award
Mary Ellen Sikes
Mary Ellen SikesMary Ellen has been a quiet force in the secular movement for decades. As one of the founders of Secular Woman Mary Ellen helped to launch an incredible website; a large, detailed membership database; and a well thought out mission, vision, and value statements.  She was integral to the formation of SW in every way and continues to be a consistent advisor to SW and other secular groups. Mary Ellen is the definition of the unsung hero.

In addition to her work with Secular Woman, Mary Ellen was an ACLU litigant in a lawsuit involving tax bonds benefiting a Christian school that openly discriminates in hiring. She founded Central Virginia Secular Humanists and led the group for six years beginning in 1995 and, in addition, served as Vice President and President of the Washington Area Secular Humanists. She’s been an advisory board member to American United for Separation of Church and State since early 2000s. She has lent her incredible technology skills to Institute for Humanist Studies, Secular Coalition for America, and the Secular Student Alliance. Currently she is the president, founder and sole developer of the American Secular Census, the independent national registry of demographic and viewpoint data recorded by secular Americans.


Awards and photos of awards by Amy Davis Roth.

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Members Speak Up About Ron Lindsay’s Actions

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Ron Lindsay, CEO of Center for Inquiry, opened his organization’s Women in Secularism2 conference, with an unwelcoming message. When faced with criticism, he did not act with grace and apologize. Quite the opposite.

Yesterday, we released our Statement of Objection to Center for Inquiry CEO Ron Lindsay’s Actions Regarding Feminism wherein Secular Woman outlined the conclusions we are forced to draw from the lack of apology or retractions concerning Lindsay’s statements and actions during Women in Secularism2. Today, our members are speaking up.


While some of the most notorious harassers and misogynists on the internet are rallying behind Ron Lindsay’s words, CFI’s supporters and donors, as well as the most of the organizers of this WiS–arguably the most successful and important thing CFI does all year–are furious and hurt; many donors are severing ties with the organization. As a former CFI employee I am ashamed and shocked. Until this weekend, Lindsay had ties with many of the most brilliant feminist thinkers in the movement. I fear his dismissive response to deserved criticism has ruined that. I hope Lindsay takes a look at the intellectual company he’s now keeping, and if that doesn’t concern him, it should concern anyone who wants to ensure CFI has a viable future as a relevant and truly progressive organization.

Julia Burke


“How disappointing to see Mr. Lindsay exploit an otherwise positive event for and about secular women. We looked for leadership and instead found divisiveness and arrogance – again.”



mr. lindsay, the reason many people took offense to your comments was because they were dismissive of the experiences of women.

this conference has a special focus on women.

if i and other people of colour are having a discussion about racism, and a white person pipes up with, “but latinos can be racist too!”, they are basically dismissing the experiences that we have had.

but the fact that a mexican kid picked on him in middle school pales in comparison to the persecution that people of colour in your country have endured.

when an event geared particularly towards women has a male speaker does the same thing by pointing fingers at women who have been meanies to a man, he is diminishing the experience of women who have received rape threats, death threats, outlandish sexual harassment and other attempts to chase them off from the movement that they have every right to be a part of.

i have found that when i shut up and listen is when i learn.

that is when i am more easily able to try and put myself in the shoes of someone else and gain the empathy that i need to work with them on any matter of social justice.

don’t get me wrong, i have also been told to shut up and listen.

but i can certainly understand the frustration that would lead someone to take such a stance, and i have found that by doing so, and when i say doing so, i don’t mean just shutting my mouth as i think of what to say next, but actually listening to the other person, the doors of communication have been opened on both sides.

Rogelio Tavera


Ron Lindsey-please re-read your opening remarks and think about whether you would have addressed a conference of African American humanists that way.

“Shut up and listen” does not threaten the free speech of white upper class men. Those men-men like you-have a disproportionate share of attention. You do not have to fight to be heard. You said on Friday that you had no problem with “listen”-your problem was with “shut up.” Lindsey-you can’t listen while you’re talking. How about you take “shut up and listen” as the ADVICE that it is.

Stacey Kennedy


I wasn’t at the conference, and I am hoping that perhaps next year I will be able to go. I look forward to meeting some of the folks that I have only interacted with online. I hear that it was a great time.

However, I saw that some attendees were “put off” by your opening speech. The focus, especially in context, was problematic. A few mentioned that they should discuss it with you. A couple wrote tweets or blog posts that they were disappointed in it, and engaged with what you said.

I felt that all of it was healthy discussion, until I read your subsequent blog-posts responding to the criticism which profoundly misstated the stances of the people you were responding to and were inappropriate in tone, especially considering your position. They read as extraordinarily defensive.

That was not a smart move.

Unfortunately, from my perspective as someone who engages primarily online, this situation seem eerily similar to other disagreements that have been allowed to escalate well beyond necessity, for all the world to see.

I request, with all sincerity, that you are introspective about what has happened in the last few days and take the time to charitably consider how others may have perceived your comments.

M.A. Melby


“Betrayed” is the only thing to come to mind, but I have Disnomia. It’s unfortunate how an otherwise awesome lineup of women was bookended with two speakers who made me regret spending the money to come here.



As someone who values CFI in many ways, I am trying to be charitable in how I understood your opening remarks. But your subsequent defenses make it impossible for me to do so. Dragging your critics into the hole you’re digging simply won’t help.

Please understand that there’s a difference between being told to shut up forever and being told to keep quiet long enough to listen with humility and compassion.

Michael Cluff