Last modified on January 18, 2020, at 14:43

Sexual harassment at atheist conferences

The Washington Post reported in 2012 about atheist conferences:

Other nontheists — both male and female — have shared stories of unwanted sexual attention at nontheist gatherings, including propositions for sex and unwelcome touching. Chatter has ranged from calls for more women to attend nontheist events to personal attacks on prominent female skeptics for discussing harassment...

The current hullabaloo can be traced to May’s Women in Secularism Conference, a first-of-its-kind gathering for nontheist women. On a panel examining feminism and nontheism, Jennifer McCreight, an atheist blogger, said women speakers at nontheist events warn each other privately about male speakers who make unwanted sexual advances.[1]

A 2011 portrait of Rebecca Watson

In an article about why she won't be attending an atheist conference sponsored by James Randi, Rebecca Watson wrote:

Over the past several years, I’ve been groped, grabbed, touched in other nonconsensual ways, told I can expect to be raped, told I’m a whore, a slut, a bitch, a prude, a dyke,..a twat, told I should watch my back at conferences, told I’m too ugly to be raped, told I don’t have a say in my own treatment because I’ve posed for sexy photos, told I should get a better headshot because that one doesn’t convey how sexy I am in person, told I deserve to be raped – by skeptics and atheists. All by skeptics and atheists. Constantly.

This is quite obviously not a safe space for me or for other women who want to be free of the gendered slurs and sexual threats and come-ons we experience in our day-to-day lives. But apparently, DJ thinks I am lying about that, since apparently my feeling that the freethought community is not a safe space is “misinformation.” I should apparently put on a smile and pretend it doesn’t happen, because by reporting on my treatment, I am creating “a climate where women — who otherwise wouldn’t — end up feeling unwelcome and unsafe".[2]

For further information, see: James Randi Educational Foundation former staff member on prominent atheists and misogny

Rebecca Watson wrote at Slate:

Then women started telling me stories about sexism at skeptic events, experiences that made them uncomfortable enough to never return. At first, I wasn’t able to fully understand their feelings as I had never had a problem existing in male-dominated spaces. But after a few years of blogging, podcasting, and speaking at skeptics’ conferences, I began to get emails from strangers who detailed their sexual fantasies about me. I was occasionally grabbed and groped without consent at events.[3]
See also: Post-Elevatorgate anti-sexual harassment policies

Jen McCreight, who founded the Atheism plus movement, stated concerning sexual harassment at atheist conferences:

When I first started going to atheist conferences, I was warned to avoid certain speakers because they were known for going after younger women. I was often approached after I gave talks, and people would make really lewd, sexual comments to me or basically be talking to my chest.[4]

David Silverman, who has been accused of sexual harassment, claims there is culture of casual sexual encounters at atheist events.[5]

See also

External links