You Write for Who?

I am the most recent addition to the A-News team. I am also a feminist. Why is this blog-worthy? I have no idea. I was involved in a conversation recently however that struck me as odd and was somewhat enlightening. So much so that I have put a couple of actual news stories on hold to deal with this. If I don’t it will prevent me from finishing those anyway.  It seems that by simply using A-News as a place to post stories about real news that effects life outside the cyber world of atheism/skepticism that I am going to be seen as taking sides against my fellow feminists. I’m going to come back to this however because there is something about this that, frankly disturbs me more.
The cyber-realm of the skeptic community has what appears to be an immense ego. The reason I am not seen in much of internet-atheism (or feminism) is because I spend a lot of my time in the real world. I attend school full time, I am raising kids, and when I can fit it in I often get involved with protests, marches or even writing to lawmakers to get things changed for the better. What I don’t do is spend all my time arguing with other people about whether or not they fit into my ideal of the labels they choose to use…or inventing words to make me seem like a expert in the matter.
Yes, I am a feminist. What I am not is anti-man. If we look at Merriam-Webster “feminism” is defined as “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” What it does not do is say that only people who were born with a vagina can be feminists. I getting really tired of people redefining words to justify their anger. I’m also getting tired of being lumped in with people who would turn away support from someone just because s/he was born with a penis. No one made anyone on the internet today the feminist police. As a matter of fact that position doesn’t exist, and for good reason. There is no cookie cutter feminist. We come in all shapes, sizes, genders, creeds, and races. This includes men and it certainly includes trans* allies.
The fact is that some feminists are falling extremely far from the point of feminism, or worse, using the title for some petty agenda. No, I will not be posting links or quoting specifics. If you are active on the internet within the community you already know. If blasting me for not spreading the stuff that’s already out there is all you have to complain about then you can save your typing. Frankly I don’t really care and I likely won’t be responding to it anyway. Digressing…
The first feminists were not out to shame men for being men, they were fighting for the same rights that men have. They fought for the right to vote, as one example. Astoundingly, according to the Center for American Women and Politics in 2010 less than half of the eligible female adults actually cast a vote. 46.2% and that’s not even all of the registered woman voters, although that number isn’t much higher. Women actually endured violence, arrest and in some cases death so that women could vote and they aren’t even doing it. That is what you should be upset about and trying to fix. Need another thing to be mad about?
How about equal pay? Now, ordinarily I am wary of using Wikipedia for a reference however in this case they cite over 150 sources for information so for all intents and purposes it will do for this blog. According to Wiki, “In 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported women’s median weekly earnings to be 81% of men.” Despite the fact that every day women fight for equal pay we are still earning a check that’s almost 20% lower than that of a man. You can work as hard as you want, but the industry will still only see you as 81%.
How about fe/male genital mutilation. Yes, I intended it to be that way because I am against genital mutilation of either sex. There is no reason to rally against one while ignoring the other. This is a perfect example of how everyone can fight for equal rights and still be fighting the same fight. Incidentally, some interesting things are happening in the medical world with FGM. There is actually a doctor having success with repairing the female sex organ to where she can actually regain sexual pleasure after having endured mutilation. For more information about this you can search for Dr. Pierre Foldes in France. What’s unfortunate about this however is that men will likely never get the opportunity for anything like that since the entire foreskin is removed.
What’s my point? Simple. First, there are real-world issues that need to be handled. Boots-on-the-ground work that needs to be done. Laws need changing. Rights need to be balanced. Second, rather than worrying about inventing new words to insult the men who would be allies (seriously, mansplaining? dudebro? I just threw up in my mouth a little), help educate them. Remember that there are many men who were raised by other men who weren’t understanding and may need some patience as they work through that sexist or bigoted upbringing. Rather than scorning trans women for being born to bodies different than yours embrace them as the beautiful women they now are. Instead of hating trans men for “abandoning their sex” accept that they can alter their body to fit their gender and yet still be a feminist. The fact is that there is no mold that we come from. We are all humans and need to learn that no matter what shell we walk around in, underneath we are all the same. It’s just that some require a little more patience than others.

Disclaimer: This does not mean that we should exclude violent offenders or people that just don’t want to understand. I’m not trying to excuse anyone for reprehensible behaviour. Sometimes people are assholes and there is simply nothing you can do to help. However there is no reason to approach everyone of a different gender as if they fall into that category. I also do not intend to imply that every feminist out there falls into this category either. I also do not want to be shoved into a side-taking category simply for choosing this as a place to post my articles and the odd rant/rave. The fact is that I don’t want to be on any side and certainly don’t want to be recruited. I speak only for myself and the views expressed here are my own and may not necessarily reflect those of the rest of the A-News team. Also, I am not going to poll the rest of the feminists on the internet to see where I am not going to offend by putting it. If people are going to judge the articles I write (not this rant, but actual writing) based on location rather than content then I’m not interested in “joining forces” anyway. I’m more impressed by substance than rallying angry mobs.

Also Posted at A-News

Just another political party

I considered using this platform as a way to vent my anger at the current Executive Board for the obvious misrepresentation of me in their Press Release this morning. Anger and hurt and, frankly disappointment. However what I didn’t feel was surprise. After all, this Party has proven over and over and over again that they have all the potential to be shady. Now that I am writing it though, I have decided to do this a different way. I would rather explain how exactly I got to this point. Don’t worry, I’m not going to rehash my entire life for you. Just what is somewhat relevant to the current events.

A little over a year ago I was just a random atheist. I wasn’t involved in what is [poorly] referred to as the “community” nor did I intend to be. I had moved back to my home state and was looking for work and something to fill my time until I found it. That’s when I stumbled upon what was then called the National Atheist Party. Ordinarily I don’t like political parties. I don’t vote any party line, and I abhor the two-party system. However this was a Party I could actually get behind. I read the charter and agreed with more of their planks than any other Party. So, I registered. At some point during this I made contact with Shannon Kietzman (no longer with the Party), who actually talked to me more about what the Party was trying to accomplish and what their goals were. I offered to fill the position of State Chapter Leader, at least temporarily since they had no one who in that spot. I had never worked with a political party, and didn’t really feel like I was qualified to do so. After an interview with her and filling out some paperwork I was official. Despite being extremely nervous about it, I went to work. I made contacts and joined groups and really dove in, sleeves rolled up. It wasn’t too long before I was gaining members in the state and started filling the other positions.
A few months went by and I was asked by Ryan McCue (who was acting as Vice President of Outreach) to take over the the rest of the Midwest as the Regional Membership Coordinator to help boost leadership. He apparently liked what I was doing for Missouri. I was thrilled that what I was accomplishing was actually being noticed. I agreed and became the RMC, which was in addition to SCL of Missouri. Around the same time I had offered to write for the blog that Flash Kellish and Erin Fortes were building, starting off my work for the Public Relations department. Sometime in early April, I was contacted by James Klawon (VP of Operations) about the possibility of being his Deputy VP. It wasn’t really going to add a lot of extra time to my load so I agreed. At this point I had already suggested someone to take over my spot as RMC, twice. Neither request had even been listened to, but I wasn’t going to abandon it. None of the positions required a lot of time individually. However I don’t go into anything halfway, plus I am an insomniac and have a lot of time to fill in. So, at this point I am sitting on three titled positions, helping with the blog, and working as secretary to Flash. The latter mostly entailed writing the odd PR, scouting bloggers, then when the podcast came up I was involved with that as well. In the meantime I am still trying to recruit members and find people to volunteer, if for no other reason at this point that to start filling the many positions that I was doing. Yes, I am pretty sure I am out of my mind.
As you are reading this, feel free to ask why the hell I am willing to do all this. I am donating all of my time, literally 18 hours a day for this Party. Why? Because I believed in what the Party was trying to accomplish. Despite what the majority of those who clicked the “Like” button on the page on Facebook, or actually took the 20 seconds required to register through the website thought, the National Atheist Party is not, nor has it ever been an atheist advocacy group. When Troy Boyle (and his co-founder, Mark…whose last name eludes me at the moment) started the organisation the intention was to have a party that would promote and fight for the separation of church and state. What it was not was a way to end all religion or prevent people from believing in whatever they want. Violating the First Amendment is not the same thing as wanting religion kept out of government.
When it came time for the new voting cycle to start there was a group of us who thought that the best thing for the Party was to change the name to something more inclusive. If there is nothing else I learned from the thousands of people I interacted with about the NAP, there were too many that flat refused to have their name attached to a political party  that was calling itself the National Atheist Party. I cannot tell you how many times I had people loving everything I had to say about what we stood for only to have the name scare them off. “If only it was called something else. You know, without ‘Atheist’ in it.” We had decided that in order for the party to move forward, or anywhere it needed a new name. This would potentially open the doors for any secular person to join, not just those who didn’t believe in a deity. After all, being secular doesn’t necessarily mean you are an atheist. Nor does it require you to be.
So, we worked hard on a commercial. We recruited from within those that we thought would actually promote the name change, since it would require more than just agreeing it was necessary. Flash recruited the likes of Hayley Meyers and Aron Ra hoping to attract more attention to the cause. Both of whom, in addition to several others also appeared in a commercial that we used internally to promote the upcoming vote. It was all slowly gaining steam and we were thrilled it was going well. We even used the podcast to alert people that the votes were coming up and blasted the commercial there.
Sometime within this period, problems started happening internally. Erin and I were spending more time combating Ryan about the lack of support whenever problems came up. We were questioned and on more than one occasion told we were overreacting and wrong. Erin eventually stepped down. With Susi Bocks already gone, this left me the only woman on the board.
Then it came time for people to actually vote. At this point there are something like 3,200 registered voters. That’s everyone that has ever registered, except for those who have specifically asked to be removed from registration. Let me restate that. That’s everyone who has ever registered, whether they have ever actively participated in, responded to or even opened an email from the Party. Realistically, are 3,200 people actually expected to vote? Not for anyone sane, no. However, I will continue. It was in this time that I got into my last row with Ryan. I was frustrated by the fact that a lot of the ballots that weren’t being sent out were people who had information that needed to be verified. During a discussion about this I was called a subordinate, told that it wasn’t necessary for me to get all emotional about it and that my anger was misplaced. I notified Ryan that I was quitting the Party. There was no way I was going to continue to work next to him while being berated by him in these long diatribes. I notified the board that I would finish handling the voting, since Jim was at work but once I posted the final counts I was done. However we will come back to this. With Jim being busy with work I handled sending out the ballots and helped resend to anyone who hadn’t received one. I wanted to make sure that everyone who wanted to would be able to vote.
I know there was some question raised about the percentage needed for the vote to pass. Let me clear that up right away. Two voting cycles ago, while Troy was still with the party a proposal was raised to change the necessary percentage from the original 90% to the 75%. The claim that it was only supposed to be 75% was genuine. It was in place even before the last name change vote (when someone was trying for American Secular Party as the change) leaving something like 6% shy of that change.
Ballots were sent out. People were voting. It wasn’t just the name change. There were like 6 different proposals, including one to make Ryan’s position as VP of Outreach official (he had been acting VP since Jacob had vacated the position several months earlier). It came down to the last hours on the last day. This is when Flash panicked. I was contacted about my willingness to help fix the vote. I turned him down. I didn’t even want to know about it and yet there it was. Knowing it was going to happen I knew at some point it was going to come out. I’m the one who sent out the ballots. It was publicly known that I was the one to go to if a member hadn’t received their ballot. I had just been fucked. I screen-printed everything. The photo of the 15 mocked emails was not the only one I got. There were several just like that. I wanted it known that I wasn’t the one responsible for it. At this point I had no intention of going public with this information. No matter how angry I was or how Ryan had treated me, I didn’t want to hold the members responsible for what had happened, nor did I want to set the Party back another step. Was that the right thing to do? Probably not, but it was my choice.
Fast forward to four days ago. I received a message that the story was about to break. I was asked about what I knew about it. At this point I have already helped hide a fraud. There is no way I wanted to lie for it as well. I was offered anonymity. No, thank you. Chris was going out there with his name on his chest, I would stand there with him. Chris is a friend. I had no idea that he was involved while it was happening. I’m glad of that. I’m also glad that I can once again look people in the eye…relatively speaking. I’m not proud of what I did. However I won’t waste my time with regret either. It’s not going to change anything. I believed in the Party. The fact is that the EB knew I was leaving, on the first day the voting started. I have other screen-prints showing that as well, including the conversation with Ryan that ended my time with the NAP/SPoA. It’s a shame that when the current board released their statement about it that they blatantly lied in the opening paragraph, especially since they released it after my conversation with Flash was posted. In the rush to show that they still have some sort of control, they put out what they thought was best. They were wrong.

I no longer believe in the Party.

Also Posted at A-News