This is a very personal stand point, I will put that right up front. So get ready for an opinion piece.
It all started when an episode of Little Atoms went up featuring an interview with Kat Banyard called The Equality Illusion. I did not agree with many, if most, of the views expressed in this interview. So without giving a blow-by-blow account of how I felt about each topic covered I can safely say I had a reaction to its content that was not positive. Mostly what annoyed me was the absence of any debate. Feminism is a band wagon we must all climb abroad. Not just women’s rights, but a brand of feminism that appears to take issue with most facets of modern society. Not only that but takes some issues, such as body image, and makes them purely feminist. A stand point that can be put on shaky ground just by pointing out the existence of anti ageing cosmetics and cosmetic surgeries aimed solely at men.
Since then I have become more aware of ‘feminist’ blog posts on most of the skeptical blogs I would read on a regular basis, such as this one (I’d like to see a similar discussion on creepy girls too, if only to even things out). There was also a little hoo-ha on The Skeptics Guide to the Universe forum in which Hayley Stephens from the Righteous Indignation podcast was referred to as the ‘token female’. So it seems one cannot escape the gender debate within the ever expanding landscape of skeptical podcasts, blogs and forums.
Having been on of the two people who got Irish Skeptics in the Pub off the ground in Dublin, as a woman this annoyed me. On one hand being viewed by men or women as a ‘token’ or an oddity based on my gender alone (I’m odd, but not due to being a woman!) but secondly in a far worse manner. Namely the implication I need to be ‘spoken for’ in anyway. Up until this point I never thought of myself as a minority that desperately needed to be stood up for. I do not need another woman to tell me how I should and should not feel about my place within any community.
I will accept that perhaps I have been overly lucky in the company that I keep, or that perhaps I am blessed with manner that allows me to be oblivious to any form of chauvinist or gender biased prejudice. I refuse to go to a SITP meeting that I have organised and count how many women are at the table, or how many other perceived minorities might be in attendance and then use this a basis to measure success (whatever that means). In this I am what is referred to as a postfeminist. I fully acknowledge the sacrifices and hard work women in the past and today face in all societies, but I do not understand it’s place within the social and recreational boundaries of this community.
It has lead to all sorts of discussion about whether skepticism in pubs is a good idea, or in a park, a café, or in any number of gathering places people meet to socialise. The truth of the matter is no group can be all inclusive. I like the idea of events such as Ladies who do Skepticism but in light of the debates and viewpoints I have read lately I would be less likely to attend (let alone instigate) such gatherings. After all by having an event in a venue that puts a pressure on its participants to buy a beverage could be seen as discriminating against those on low or no income couldn’t it? Okay, I’m being facetious but you get me drift? Well maybe you don’t, but I felt something had to be said.
It had to be said because very few others seem to being saying it. I can only presume men fear reproach as much as some women might. I will state it now, I will not accept an argument that says that I am ‘betraying’ feminism. I believe all persons to be equal, to the point were no one should be made to feel different, not for their gender, sexuality, race, culture or any other category. No one should be made to feel like a minority by everyone turning around and pointing, then collectively wagging their fingers and tutting disapprovingly at what a shame it is there isn’t more like ‘you’ here.
I am a woman who watches Red Vs Blue, plays World of Warcraft, owns cuff links and does skepticism, so don’t make me feel any more odd than I need to…