Bonya Ahmed Connects the Global Dots on Religious Extremism
September 25, 2016


  Just as we finished our Reason Rally coverage with Bonya Ahmed, so we do again as she closes out the fourth Women in Secularism conference. Things have changed, even just since June. There was something quieter about her presentation at the Reason Rally, in this writer’s opinion, but today, she was fiery, newly invigorated, …

Katha Pollitt talks Abortion Opposition and the Erasure of Women
September 25, 2016


Everyone was excited to see Katha Pollitt today. She’s been at Women in Secularism conferences before, and she’s always been evocative, enlightening, and funny. This was certainly the case today as she was interviewed on stage by Annie Laurie Gaylor about getting abortion “out of the closet” and out of the shadow of stigma. “We …

“Humanism Taught Me to Fight” – Secular Women in Other Movements
September 25, 2016


“Humanism taught me to fight, and to find purpose and meaning. It influences me every day.” Those were some encouraging words from Kayley Whalen of the National LGBTQ Task Force. For the first session of Women in Secularism 4’s last day, CFI’s Stef McGraw moderated a panel with four activists on secular women whose work …

Fault Lines for Free Speech at Women in Secularism 4
September 24, 2016


The debate over free speech and safe spaces advanced with an impassioned, heated panel discussion at the last session of the second day of Women in Secularism 4. It wouldn’t be correct to say that there were “bright lines” between opinions, because the core values were broadly shared among the panelists, but the differences within those values …

Soraya Chemaly: The Internet’s Exploitation Marketplace
September 24, 2016


Soraya Chemaly is a veteran of the Women in Secularism conferences, and I remember first meeting her when she came to the first conference in 2012, not as a speaker, but as a journalist covering the event. Since then, she’s been a favorite go-to speaker and panelist. Today we were reminded why. Chemaly has emerged …

Rebecca Goldstein: We are Matter that Wants to Matter
September 24, 2016


Rebecca Goldstein, in conversation with Ashley Miller, recounted an anecdote from a party where one Important Male Academic saw another Important Male Academic across the room, and in order to get to him, physically lifted the diminutive Goldstein like an action figure, and placed her out of his way. In that moment, she did not …

Wendy Kaminer on “The Mistrust of Free Speech”
September 24, 2016


Wendy Kaminer comes to Women in Secularism to express a concern for the fate of free expression, not in places like Bangladesh or Pakistan, but on U.S. college campuses and in the broader discussions of social justice online, in academia, and elsewhere. A free-speech stalwart herself, authoring a magazine piece on atheism as “the last …

Annie Laurie Gaylor Honors Her Mom, “Lightning Rod” Anne Gaylor
September 24, 2016


There should be a conference just for presentations about how great our moms are. My mom, Cynthia Grzywinski, for example, is super great. She works full time in a really tough job with the FAA doing something so complex that I don’t even understand it, and she also helps care for her elderly parents who …

Gulalai Ismail: Blasphemy Laws Literally Govern Pakistan
September 24, 2016


Free expression is at the core of what CFI is all about. An ideal so simple, and yet in some parts of the world, it’s an alien concept at best, and a ticket to persecution and violence at the worst. The Women in Secularism conference got a first-hand account of the struggle for equality and …

Starting Early to Be Taken Seriously: Women of Science Discuss Perceptions and Pitfalls of Expertise
September 24, 2016


Get ’em while they’re young, and meet ’em where they live. If there’s anything to take away from a fascinating and wide-ranging panel discussion on women in science, it’s that any changes we hope to see in how women are perceived and treated in the practice or the communication of science, people need to be …