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Using the WiS conference to counteract harmful FtBfem faction behavior

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Using the WiS conference to counteract harmful FtBfem faction behavior

Post  jimhabegger on Wed Jun 19, 2013 7:38 pm

I have an idea about how to counteract the harm being done by the allegedly feminist faction associated with Freethought Blogs. I posted it in a comment on the Atheist Revolution blog, and I decided to post it here also.

First I want to say a little about the issues that interest me, in relation to online feuding between atheists.
1. Making social and work environments more friendly for more people.
2. Reducing and counteracting the poisonous effects of people promoting contempt and animosity towards others, on line and off line.
3. Harmful effects of FtBfem faction behavior on atheist communities and movements, driving wedges between atheists, and distracting and diverting them from the work of reducing and counteracting religious aggression and oppression..

The idea I'm proposing has some relation to all three of those, but I thought of it specifically in relation to #3.

Here's what I posted in a comment on the Atheist Revolution blog:

----

I have an idea about how to counteract the harm that the FtBfem faction is doing, and I don't see any better place to bring it than here. I'll start with an example.

Dr. Lindsay's talk at the WiS2 conference, and his behavior afterwards, looked outrageous to me, but as I see it that isn't what demoralized the participants the most, and undermined the benefit that the conference could have had on atheist communities and movements. As I see it, what demoralized the participants the most, and undermined the benefit that the conference could have had on atheist communities and movements, is all the attention focused on what Dr. Lindsay said and did, by the FtBfem faction and its allies and fans, instead of on the presentations.

Now, imagine this, and it might not even be too late to do it:
Imagine that you and other alleged enemies of women and social justice start discussing, in a friendly way, some of the talks that were given at the conference. For example Katha Politt's talk about sexism and religion, and Rebecca Goldstein's talk about the mattering map. There's a complete list of topics at http://www.womeninsecularism.org/schedule.html, and a lot of the contents of those presentations can be easily found with a Web search. Imagine that you find some topics in that list that interest you, and contents that you can respond to in a friendly way, even if you disagree. Imagine that you also discuss, in a friendly way, the background of some of the speakers, and what they've done for atheism.

As another example, imagine that you write a post discussing ideas about how to make atheist conferences more friendly to more people, people with disabilities for example. One of my ideas, for example, would be training programs for people who volunteer to try to help. You could also discuss specific examples of what everyone could do to make conferences more friendly to people with disabilities. A Web search might turn up some good ideas.

Ponder that for a while, to see if you can imagine how that might help expose the FtBfem faction propaganda for what it is, help retract the wedge that it's driving between atheists, help refocus on the work, and benefit the community, all at the same time. I know your to-do list is already too full, but if you're going to be spending time anyway trying to counteract the harm the FtBfem faction is doing, that might be a better way to do it.

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Re: Using the WiS conference to counteract harmful FtBfem faction behavior

Post  blondein_tokyo on Thu Jun 20, 2013 9:43 pm

As I see it, what demoralized the participants the most, and undermined the benefit that the conference could have had on atheist communities and movements, is all the attention focused on what Dr. Lindsay said and did, by the FtBfem faction and its allies and fans, instead of on the presentations.

What demoralized who the most is going to depend on the individual person. Those who were offended by Dr. Lindsey's remarks will say it was his remarks and his reaction to criticism of his remarks that demoralized them the most, and those who didn't see a problem with his remarks are going to say that the reaction of the feminists is what demoralized them the most.

Several feminist bloggers also commented that is a shame that the incident drew attention away from the presentations themselves, but I haven't heard anyone saying that the benefits of the conference were undermined. People still had a very good time and learned a lot. Of course, I wasn't there, so I can't know for sure, but I got the impression that most of the attendees didn't let the controversy ruin the experience for them.

Ponder that for a while, to see if you can imagine how that might help expose the FtBfem faction propaganda for what it is, help retract the wedge that it's driving between atheists, help refocus on the work, and benefit the community, all at the same time. I know your to-do list is already too full, but if you're going to be spending time anyway trying to counteract the harm the FtBfem faction is doing, that might be a better way to do it.

How can what you are proposing expose (what you call) the FtBfem faction propaganda? It seems to me that your stated goal is directly in line with what the feminists want- to make conferences more enjoyable for everyone.

One way I can propose to make conferences more enjoyable is to listen to the suggestions given by those who feel they were marginalized or who had other negative experiences at conferences. What do people who are disabled say they need? What do people who are in lower income brackets say would help them? What do racial minorities say they want? What do women say they want? The organizers of the conferences could put up a survey online, for example, and invite attendees to fill out feedback forms after the conferences.

I know if someone asked my opinion directly, I'd be happy to tell them what I thought. Sadly, I don't live in the US so it's quite doubtful I'll have the chance anytime soon to attend one of the conferences. Until I do get the chance to attend, I don't feel that I can really offer an opinion.

I'd also be curious as to how exactly you define "FtBfem faction propaganda". Can you outline exactly what this propaganda is?

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Re: Using the WiS conference to counteract harmful FtBfem faction behavior

Post  jimhabegger on Fri Jun 21, 2013 10:30 am

Blondein, none of that listening is going to do anyone any good, if no one is volunteering to actually do anything, to help. I don't see anyone volunteering. Do you?

I posted those ideas on vjack's blog because it looked to me like he was trying to help counteract the harm being done by the FtBfem faction, and I thought those ideas might help. Then I thought of posting them where other people might see them, who are trying to counteract the harm being done by the FtBfem faction. I only posted them for people to see, who might understand them. I don't want to try to explain them to anyone who doesn't understand them, other than repeating the harm that I see the FtBfem faction doing, just as much as the mobs campaigning against them:
- Poisoning themselves, their readers, and all of society.
- Driving wedges between atheists.
- Distracting and diverting atheists from working to reduce and counteract the harm being done in the name of religion.
- Distracting and diverting atheists from actually doing anything about the hostility and unfairness of some environments to some people, and other social issues, among atheists and in all of society.

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