1)  Make Skeptical Events Across the Country Less Alcohol Centric

Imagine you’re a 20 year old who is passionately invested in skepticism.  You really want to meet others who feel the same way you do and have enlightening conversations with them!  You go online and do a quick look-up of skeptical events held in your area.  “Oh hey, Skeptics in the Pub!” you exclaim to yourself.  Then it hits you: in the pub… You’re not 21.  “Well fuuuck.”

Young people aren’t the only ones pushed to the side here either.  Some people don’t feel comfortable in bars.  There are a multitude of potential reasons for wanting to avoid this kind of environment.  Whether you’re a woman who doesn’t like being harassed by drunk men or a recovering alcoholic, you should be able to find a skeptical event to attend that doesn’t involve alcohol.

I also wonder if men wouldn’t behave better towards female attendees as a whole if alcohol wasn’t a central component of many skeptical meetups.  Obviously drunkenness doesn’t excuse poor behavior even if it contributes to it, but it’s a thought none the less.

2)  More Anti-Harassment Policies

As More Than Men previously covered, The Amazing Meeting’s anti-harassment policy has resulted in some controversy.  A couple of people have even threatened to boycott the event.  It’s incredibly depressing that we’re part of a community where people think being told not to harass other people is somehow unreasonable and cause for threats of non-participation.  There’s a damn good way to change this though:  make anti-harassment policies universally prevalent in our movement.

We should double down rather than back away.  Getting this done would be as easy as passing around a petition and handing it off to the leaders of every skeptical organization out there big and small.  When this becomes the norm, we’ll be much healthier as a movement.  Men attending skeptical events aren’t being told not to express their interest in fellow attendees in a conscientious manner, all that’s being said by these policies is this:  creepiness can get right the fuck out.

3)  We Need More Prominent and Diverse Female Leaders

It’s great that a large number of high profile female skeptics are friends and co-activists like the folks at Skepchick, but there are plenty of great women out there doing their own thing who need recognition too.  Providing a vision of monolithic feminism, tight female activists, or anything else just makes it easier for the assholes to generalize and marginalize the role of women in Skepticism.

Have a woman blogger you know of who writes about scientific and skeptical concepts on her own?  Help promote her!  Pass around word of her involvement through social media.

There’s a danger to having all of the diversity in our movement clustered together in one place, we need more widespread variance.

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devianttouchApril 30, 2012 9:48 am

This is the first I have heard about the TAM anti-harassment policy, and a search of the TAM website didn’t bring it up. Do you have a link to it?

donovanableApril 30, 2012 11:27 am

Agreed with Benny here…I know I’ve heard it before, but I’d like to have a link.
Also, wonderful article. As an atheist activist, I’m consistently gritting my teeth when events I’ve been super excited for are last-minute located in pubs. I’m a young university student, so it’s especially irritating that my peers will can still attend when I can’t.

SashaMay 2, 2012 10:34 am

The TAM policy was communicated in a blog post and, as far as I can tell, hasn’t made it onto the main site: http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/jref-news/1354-with-tam-right-around-the-corner-some-important-announcements.html

I was really pleased when this post was submitted. I’m starting up a secular feminist group here in the SF bay area and we’re having our first meeting in a restaurant so everyone can attend.

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