Do you want to make a difference in the world?
Do you want to see positive change take place?
Do you want to find creative solutions to some of life’s problems without invoking prayer or super-natural ideology?
Do you want to make new, intelligent, rational friends?
Do you want to be part of a safe, supportive, secular space?
Do you want to be part of a group that values you for your contributions instead of what you look like or how much money you make?
Do you want to support projects that value women’s thoughts, voices and needs?
And I’m doing something about it.
Over the last few years, ever since Richard Dawkins made his now famous snipe at Rebecca, I have found myself feeling pushed out of certain spaces in the skeptic and secular community, online and sometimes in person, simply for remaining an outspoken part of this blog.
Over the years, I have been harassed, talked over and talked down to. I have been threatened, ridiculed, intimidated and lied about. I have been stalked, mocked, Photoshopped and had my home address posted. I have watched dozens of my friends silently walk away from organized skepticism, this network, and movement atheism because of the hostile environment they have witnessed. Some have left out of fear for their safety or privacy concerns and some have left because they simply didn’t feel valued or respected. Many others left because watching and reading about harassment and bullying directed at some of the women just, “isn’t fun.”
And I totally get that. It’s not fun.
Some of these women that I knew, some that I considered good friends, had the luxury of just walking away. Some other women I know didn’t have that luxury and even if they tried to leave this community, the harassment followed them. There are parts of this world and parts of the skeptic, secular and tech communities, and in particular in online spaces, that are literally toxic for women and more so if these spaces consider you a target. I have asked myself repeatedly, do I want to be a part of a community that has these sub-groups in it, at all anymore? Am I strong enough to be a women, with opinions, who speaks out? And if I am strong enough to withstand the constant abuse that being vocal and online entails, what good is it?
Well my answer to that is, yes. Yes, I am strong enough to handle it. I have for years now. I’m still standing. I’m still making art and I’m still part of this blog and I still care. And the good that comes out of that is the realization that I have learned coping skills that translate into experience and strength and with that strength, change is possible. Action is possible.
I owe a huge debt of gratitude to women like Rebecca Watson, Anita Sarkeesian and Lindy West and the many other fierce women who have stood strong in the face of torrents of abuse and have continued to create funny, interesting, creative, intelligent and poignant content. And it is because of those creative roles models that I find myself inspired to create a space where other women like them and like myself, can thrive and create. I can’t change the entire world (yet) but I certainly can attempt some positive action in my own back yard.
It’s official! I have formed the Los Angeles Women’s Atheist and Agnostic Group with the goal of fostering a safe and supportive space for those who primarily identify as women, who are leaving faith, or who already live a secular or atheist based lifestyle.
The group will serve multiple purposes. It will be a meetup group for making new friends and networking and it will also be a safe space that encourages creativity, art, education and positive activism that focuses on issues relating to women.
LAWAAG will meet the first Tuesday of every month at 7pm at The Center For Inquiry, Los Angeles. Along with regular monthly meetups, the group will also organize art, activism and outreach projects and work towards building community and support for women without faith.
The first meeting will take place on July 1st at 7pm at CFI West and I’d love to see you there. We already have our first activist art show planned, because one thing you can count on, if I am running a group, is that we will get shit done! And I’d love for more people to get with me, get involved and get active.
Together we can make the secular community better than it is, but we can’t be passive about it. We have to DO things. Please join me and please consider supporting the group even if you cant make it to the meetups. We welcome members from across the globe.
For more information or to donate to the group please go to our shiny new website at LAWAAG.com.
If you have any questions about the group feel free to contact me here or through the LAWAAG site. And I hope to see some of you in July!
We CAN make a difference!
All art in this post © Amy Davis Roth