While preparing for my trip to the Empowering Women Through Secularism (EWTS) conference — thanks to a fundraiser graciously promoted and funded by supporters — I failed to notice any type of anti-harassment policy listed on the conference’s website and am thus quite befuddled. I praise conference organizers for not implementing an anti-harassment policy, but cannot help but note inconsistency within some speakers at this upcoming conference.
According to a select group of bloggers and their commenters, anti-harassment policies in various flavors are required for women to feel safe, welcome, and invited at conferences throughout the secular community [and beyond] because, as they claim, conferences are unsafe places for women. The secular community is allegedly rife with misogyny and only with anti-harassment policies may women be protected from sexual harassment and ‘creepy men’ which are allegedly common at conferences.
At least three individuals who have been fiercely engaged in rhetoric surrounding the necessity of anti-harassment policies will be speaking at this conference and, as far as I know, they have made no objections concerning the lack of an anti-harassment policy although other conferences and conference organizers have been under extreme fire – characterized as “anti-woman,” “not caring about diversity,” “not caring about women,” “siding with harassers,” “misogynistic,” “sexist,”etc.
One particular EWTS speaker — according to a recent interview — established two requirements for her speaking at conferences: at least 35% women speakers and an anti-harassment policy.
Perhaps because EWTS is a conference primarily concerned with women there is no need for an anti-harassment policy? Not so…at least when considering the recent Women in Secularism 2 conference which heralded its prized conduct policy — trumpeted by and invoked by speakers scheduled for both Women in Secularism 2 and EWTS — included on the conference’s main page.
In October of 2012, Atheist Ireland, one of the organizations responsible for and/or working to make EWTS possible released a statement noting another organization — Atheist Alliance International — instituted an anti-harassment policy and encouraged member organizations to adopt similar policies…but there is no policy at the EWTS conference nor does Atheist Ireland, as it seems, have such a policy.
Since EWTS has no anti-harassment policy, why is it the case that — since anti-harassment policies, according to a select group of bloggers and their commenters, are so important — there has been no outrage directed at EWTS and its organizers although outrage was directed at other conferences and conference organizers?
How can speakers objecting to the lack of anti-harassment policies at other conferences, and even refusing to speak at conferences lacking anti-harassment policies, be ethically justified in speaking at EWTS and saying nothing about the lack of an anti-harassment policy? Why the double standard? Perhaps flights from the United States to Ireland, fame, and speaking to audiences are enough to compromise principles?
I must, though, applaud organizers of EWTS for not falling into the ‘anti-harassment policies are necessary for women to feel safe from ‘creepy men’ and the secular community is rife with misogyny’ false narratives.
Instead of infantilizing women and demonizing men by instituting a bogus, worthless, and pandering anti-harassment policy which provides an illusory safety net, women are left to be empowered by their own assertiveness, Irish laws, and venue regulations…unless the intrepid and suspiciously-placed security team/personal bodyguards which were rumored to have been put in place by Melody Hensley at Women in Secularism 2 because of “concerns” due to my Washington D.C. appearance may mysteriously appear in Ireland.
The conference which was home to the alleged ‘elevator incident’ has no anti-harassment policy and the woman involved in the supposed ‘elevator incident’ — although she stipulates that conferences she speaks at must have anti-harassment policies — is scheduled to speak at this conference lacking an anti-harassment policy with no complaints. Inconsistancy, irony, and intrigue indeed.
As always, feel free to add your thoughts below.