Sent to the CFI Board of Directors via the Corporate Secretary, Tom Flynn (tflynn at centerforinquiry dot net)
Subject: WiS2: The “Welcome” Speech and the Event Itself
I have relatively little to say about CEO Ronald Lindsay’s “welcome” speech at Women in Secularism 2 that has not already been said elsewhere, but because I know you all have some discussions to have and decisions to make, I wanted to try and save you the legwork of tracking down all the commentary on this that’s been happening. There’s a link compilation here, sorted by day: https://dissentofawoman.wordpress.com/2013/05/20/women-in-secularism-2-breaking-news-even-at-wis-we-have-to-defend-the-purpose-of-wis/ (Full disclosure: I wrote this.)
So all that mess aside.
This is only the second secular conference I have ever been to. I only went to the American Atheists event last year because it coincided with the Reason Rally. I think I didn’t fully realize what last year’s Women in Secularism conference was all about or I’d have flown halfway across the country all over again just to be there for it, and I am still sad that I only realized afterward how phenomenal an event it had been.
This year I said, “I am gonna be there.”
I made it.
I was so thrilled. I was seeing names and faces of people I’d only ever known through their writing, but here we all were. I was getting to hear new voices, too. Goddard, Namazie, Goldstein… these were women I’d never really gotten much exposure to, and I think I will be a different activist forever because of the discussions that I got to listen to and participate in at Women in Secularism 2.
Consequently, I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that Lindsay did not ruin the conference, even if he provided a particularly convenient example to point to later for why we needed the conference in the first place. All the complaining doesn’t mean we did not appreciate WiS. All of the complaining is happening because we appreciated the conference so much that his dismissive and derisive attitude toward its organizers, speakers, and paying attendees was just… it broke our hearts.
He broke our hearts because we loved what we’d come together to do so much that it was a huge disappointment to discover that even here, even at a Women in Secularism conference, our points of view and our concerns were being cautioned away lest we speak too loudly or too forcefully within our own movement.
We don’t intend to let it stop us, though. I know that I have made a tremendous number of new activist connections as a result of WiS2, and that drastically changes my efficacy as an activist as well as everybody else I might now be in a position to support just a little. Whatever Lindsay’s attitude is/was toward feminism and indeed the purpose of the conference, it has done a great deal of good which cannot be undone by his apparent willingness to undermine us.
I am writing to ask for more.
CFI put a lot of time, money, and hope into this conference, and the good it did cannot be undone. We want more. We haven’t given up, so please don’t you give up either. Give us another conference next year and I intend to be there, just as jubilant to be with my community as I was this time.
Thanks for your time, and indeed for everything.