Getting out of the Basement and Treehouse – By Kim Rippere
Guest post by Kim Rippere.
Martin S Pribble
What do those not in the atheist or secular “movement” think of it?
“They are just guys who are still in their mother’s basement.”
“They are boys protecting their treehouse.”
Whether this is reality or not; this *is* the perception. While I don’t agree to the blanket statement that perception is reality; it is true, in my experience, regarding human interaction and communication. If our goal is to make change, we must face up to how we are perceived and work to become more professional, effective, and mature. Nonsecular organizations have no desire to partner or collaborate with organizations and people that are immature and act without considering, without talking with partners, and without a plan.
To get a place at the table, we have to be perceived a worthy partners. If we are not at the table we cannot create change. Without change, theocracies and dominionism looms throughout the world. We cannot rise up from our collective disenfranchisement and shed religious apartheid without strong organizations that are viewed favorably both from the atheist/secular community and from the wider communities in which we live.
Consternation over what it means to be an atheist activist remains at the forefront of the movement’s internal debates(i). How can this be? This is a burning question? Honestly, it could not matter less to me. Not knowing about this searing debate; remarkably, I choose @ActivistAtheist as my twitter name! I am an activist and an atheist; I manifest these through work in secularism. End of discussion. Does any answer to this question help with making the political and cultural landscape into something more accepting of atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, secularists, and our ideals? No? Move on to something that does.
What does Paul Fidalgo think? “The atheist blogosphere, once perhaps the movement’s sharpest and most agile tool for spreading its message, has, in this writer’s opinion, largely turned inward, submerging itself in a morass of internal squabbles over academic questions and perceived slights.”(ii) Can we get out of the basement and the treehouse and focus on making change? I hope so.
One of my first reactions to atheist and secular community activism was that we have an expectation of intellectual rigor and honesty from religious folks; but have no such expectation for our own community.
I wrote a blog about an event and remarked that it was impossible to get anyone on the phone and that it look literally weeks to get a return call. A friend suggested that I not post the blog as it might be taken poorly and that I might be ostracized from the organization! Of course, just like the “bad speaker list” many in the community know about the problem with this organization. We just are unwilling to talk about it.
As for the “bad speaker list;” it is a list that is shared between women speakers. It is a list of male speakers that sexually harass women speakers! How can it be that virtually all the women speakers at Women in Secularism knew about this list and yet felt like they couldn’t say something aloud? Where is the rigor, where is the accountability?
“Someone was hurt before you, wronged before you, hungry before you, frightened before you, beaten before you, humiliated before you, raped before you… yet, someone survived… You can do anything you choose to do.” – Maya Angelou
What do you choose? What should atheist and secular organizations choose?
ii Fidalgo, Paul (2012-01-28). Under the Stained Glass Ceiling: Atheists’ Precarious Place in Modern American Politics (Kindle Locations 42-44). . Kindle Edition.