Women are humans – Chapter 12,807

An image from the Reddit thread in question.

There’s a tendency among some egalitarian minded folks to blame the state of women — around the globe and in their own backyard — on religion.

It’s my opinion, however, that “religion,” as a discreet entity, doesn’t exist. Religions (as opposed to faith, and/or the existence of the Divine) are human social constructs, and thus cannot help but reflect the human societies they serve. In fact, it’s my opinion that the frequency with which religions serve as a vehicle through which we reveal our worst proclivities isn’t the impressive thing — the impressive thing is how frequently religion has inspired us to reach beyond our worst proclivities for our better angels.

And just as you don’t need religion to be a good person, you don’t need religion to be an asshole.

Witness the experience of a 15 year old young lady attempting to participate in an atheist group (or “subreddit”) on Reddit. She posted a thread named “What my super religious mother gave me for Christmas,” featuring a picture of herself holding a copy of Carl Sagan’s The Demon Haunted World — I discovered her story on Skepchick last night, and my hair still hasn’t come back down from where it got stood on end.

As writer and Ms. Skepchik herself Rebecca Watson says in the post:

What a cool thing to happen! A touching tale of religious tolerance. I’m sure the comments will be appropriately celebratory and, seeing as she’s 15, nonsexual. LOL.

Because yes. That is not, to put it mildly, what happened.

It took fewer than ten responses for an audience of grown men to start referring to the young lady’s bodily orifices, and from there the distance to suggestions of abduction and rape was very short indeed — liberally sprinkled, of course, with such bon mots as “relax your anus, it hurts less that way” and “blood is mother nature’s lubricant.” Not to mention “BITE THE PILLOW, IM GOIN’ IN DRY!” and “tears, natures [sic] lubricant.” And, just to add horrible to disgusting, these comments were roundly supported by the majority of the readers on the thread — as were the many insults hurled at this 15 year old girl for having the temerity to put her own face in the picture of the gift she wanted to tell people about (because — it was claimed — males don’t do that. Which, I suppose, makes it the better way to do things). (Aside from that claim being demonstrably false – a fact demonstrated amply in the Skepchik post).

Is hurling stomach-churning rape japery at a high school student as bad as sexual abuse, rape, or organized repression? No. Is it on the same continuum? You betcha.

Until we come to fully understand that women and girls are as fully human as men and boys, 50% of the world’s population will find itself at the mercy of those who would deny them their humanity. Religious creed optional.




Shave a hipster ‘stache – save the world!

Twitter pal, Chris D. Stedman

Here’s a ridiculous thing.

Ridiculous, or just plain sorry, I don’t know.

I have this Twitter pal, Chris D. Stedman, a stand-out fellow any way you look at it. He’s a writer, atheist-interfaith activist, public speaker, supporter of social justice here, there and everywhere. He’s also the Interfaith and Community Service Fellow for the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard University, and he’s funny and smart, to boot, my two rock-bottom requirements for calling anyone “pal.”

So he and the good people at the Harvard Interfaith Collaborative are working to raise $5000 to make 20,000 meals for food insecure kids, as part of a Thanksgiving humanist-interfaith action — and there is almost nothing that is not awesome about that sentence: Feeding hungry kids, at 25 cents a meal (!), marking the holiday of gratitude by giving back, and building alliances between different faith communities, including the community of humanists. In a word, this is holy work. (Ok, that’s two words. And it’s kind of faith-ist. But roll with me).

And to sweeten the pot, Chris has offered to shave his ‘stache if they make their goal. (I know!) (Though I must say, I’m kind of Team ‘Stache, myself).

But that is not the ridiculous thing. The ridiculous thing is that $5000 is a teeny-weeny-tiny amount of money. You and I both know that there are hundreds of thousands of people in this country who could write a single check for $5000 and not even feel it.

And yet off goes the Harvard Interfaith Collaborative, trundling down the Internet Super Highway, asking people for $10, $25, whatever they can give. Most of us who can’t write $5000 checks at the drop of a hat are already stretched a bit thin these days, and we are, of course, all any of us have to rely on most days. Because the folks with the $5000 checkbooks don’t often write $5000 checks in our vicinity.

So. If you would like to toss a little bit of dosh into the pot, please do — just click here, and you’ll even be able to read about Chris’s shaving plans! (Or, if you’d rather, cast a vote for Save The ‘Stache, by clicking here).

And if you happen to know someone with a $5000 checkbook? Please pass the word along.

How to support Muslims.

UPDATE: The “Today I Am a Muslim Too” rally (see #6) is now behind us (read about it here) but all of the rest of the following suggestions are still a go!

UPDATE #2: Make sure you read this post, too — it’s essentially a guestpost, someone else’s most-excellent letter to his Congressman.

In recent weeks, I’ve produced a couple of  posts in which I call on folks to respond to the decision of Rep. Pete King (R-NY) to hold hearings into the “radicalization” of American Muslims, but as we saw yesterday, King’s hearings are not the result of a single, narrow mind, but are rather reflective of a broader wave of anti-Muslim bigotry and hysteria that gripped the nation on September 12, 2001 and has been roiling our society ever since.

I firmly, genuinely believe that the fight for the full inclusion of Muslim Americans into mainstream American society is one of the two defining civil rights struggles of our era (the other being the fight for LGBTQ rights), and I further believe that it is incumbent upon all Americans of good will to stand by their fellow citizens. So today, I’m going to make that a little easier for you. (more…)

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