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Re: [bostonatheists] Is Slate Magazine Right that Sexual Harassment is Rampant in Our Ranks?

From: kenneth a. t.
Sent on: Thursday, August 8, 2013 4:29 PM
To me the charge of sexism is mystical, and unspecified, esecially in the atheist community.
And as a black male, I especially find the charge of sexism a tactical diversion from racism, especially that racism aimed at black males.
Very best regards, Kenneth A. Thomas.

From: Zachary Bos <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Thursday, August 8,[masked]:39 AM
Subject: Re: [bostonatheists] Is Slate Magazine Right that Sexual Harassment is Rampant in Our Ranks?

"I simply reject the notion that misogyny enjoys a special place within atheism and freethinking."
I suspect that the *manifestation* of misogyny, in any sub-culture or community, takes a form that follows from the mores and communicative modes that distinguish that sub-culture or community from the larger cultural space around it. The *forms* of rationalization and dismissal I've encountered in the secular movement, I'd say, are flavored by the notional currents of "rationalism", "will to intellectual power", and "intellectual enlightenment" that many folks in our crowd are caught up in. I don't have any reason to think that the incidence rate of misogyny is higher in our community than in the larger culture; I don't have any reason either to think it is less frequent or widespread, either.

As a group leader, for my part, I'm committed to *denying* misogyny enjoys any special place in our community. And that holds true regardless of the incidence or form of misogyny we encounter.

Since December, our more long-term members -- sometimes called the steering committee, sometimes called the board -- have been in discussion off and on with Josiah (president pro-tem) about the process for transitioning our group from an informal leadership structure to a formal one. What's clear so far as it that this will involve a capital-B Board, a bank account, and elected positions voted upon by members in good standing. One of the reasons I'm looking forward to this new organizational structure of the Boston Atheists, is that when it comes time to adopt an official position against such toxic occurrences as misogyny (or racist or classist attitudes, or anti-social behavior, or ...), then that policy will be articulated by, and enforced by, leaders that can be said in every meaningful way to represent our community. As opposed to being the personal views of individuals like myself, who have been involved in the group for a long time, but were never elected and so don't enjoy any kind of communal endorsement.


I'm sensitive to the fact that I'm going on at length about my views on misogyny, in view of the question of whether the Boston Atheists organization is doing or will be doing everything it needs to to ensure that our events and community are free from intimidating or even unwelcoming forces, and I'm myself a male. I'd like therefore to step down off the soapbox and invite our female members to share their views, and their suggestions for ways of being responsive and pro-active in the face of concerns of harassment, sexism, and other undesirable ills.

- Zachary

_ _ 

PS: I suggested to the President of the Atheist Alliance of America that he work with his convention planning team to get an anti-harassment policy created and publicized in advance of Labor Day. He replied: "Great idea!" And I understand he's working with his website team now to get that done.

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