The secular blogosphere is running amuck with allegations and truths of sexual harassment. The lack of concern among secularists about sexism in the movement and especially organizations like CFI and JREF over the last couple years has finally blown its top and many women are coming forward with litigable accusations of harassment.
It was really great to have women involved in the secular movement and the movement blew it.
Secular Sexism has a certain panache to it. Maybe we could market that for secular tea party types.
As Greta Christina often says “how can we get something positive out of this?” I know. We can outline a way to kill volunteer organizations and ensure their masculine flair! Sorry, Greta and Dennett (he says not to be snarkey in “Intuition Pumps”), the positivity is bleeding out of me like young boys from the church, uhhh, women from the movement. It’s a reverse positivity point.
How to Kill a Volunteer Organization in 10 Steps with Secular Sexism (any resemblances to many organizations are likely)
- Start with a legacy group and charismatic leader. Have that leader get old or retire, requiring new leadership.
- Seek new blood, new funding, and an expanding membership.
- When a member or employee complains of sexism or harassment, deny it, protect the company, shield the harasser, and belittle the victim. Ignore it as a personal issue. This removes any incentives for other people like the victim to wish to belong to the volunteer organization. Whatever you do, don’t suspend or fire the harasser immediately and make a profound apology. It’s better to err on the side of the harasser cuz you know victims love to be victimized.
- As accusations inflame, discontinue listening closely and insist the organization is rational and the membership is emotional with the hubris that the organization knows best. Doesn’t even need the members. Insist the membership is overreacting even as they band together to protect the victim.
- Seek other members to defend the harasser from the membership, fragmenting the community. Insist that the victims have more power than the harasser. Thunder the women away! Virtualize and intellectualize their complaints! Demand the victims now talk about it in informal tribunals where they are good and afraid to squeal and complain as they are wont to do.
- Admit minor guilt with lame-ass apologies and slap-on-the-wrist punishments should the organization actually have to defer for fear of lawsuits. Make it clear you are only doing this because you have to, in condescending kindness. Insist that these harassers do so much good we shouldn’t be too critical.
- Spend considerable rhetoric discussing the inevitability of harassment because that’s the way it has been and victims need to toughen up. Use free speech to cover any crap you spew. This really helps volunteer morale and encourages more women to join. Cuz it’s just so fun to be a member.
- Have a complacent board that is intent on circling the wagons rather than clearing the air. Insist that no wrong was meant, it’s all good, and let’s get back to business at hand. There are far bigger issues in the world. Hmm, would that be alienating more members on a global scale?
- Having failed to contain the flames, bring it on to the wider public so everyone can get involved and deal with the pathetic situation from factoids, blog rants, and legitimate gripes. Blame the victim for spilling the beans. Be sure to appeal to authority the harasser is famous and too cool to do anything really bad. Besides that’s just what men in power do and that’s just how women respond. As Eeeyore says in chronic despondence, “It’s to be expected.”
- Find a sacrificial harasser to execute and try to carry on hoping no one will notice the many other transgressions. Be angry that women are fleeing the membership and claim you don’t understand why. Better yet. yell “good riddance” to them as the go cuz they just don’t understand.
Postscript: think of this as an opportunity to explain to religious people how sexism is normal and typical everywhere. Claim religion is inherently immoral and then claim immorality is inevitable.
Yep, it’s a volunteer organization and members have to have non-monetary incentives to participate. Treating a member like they are wrong, naive, overreacting is not going to keep them active. When I asked Ophelia Benson how to get my partner to come to secular meetings: “Tell her, they’re fun.” No fun, no membership!
And the boys once again get to play with themselves and wonder where the women are!
Jim Newman, bright and well