What Kirby said was that, in her “years of being part of all this,” she has “seen nothing to suggest” that “women are being deliberately held back by the men in the movement” of atheism. That is not equivalent to saying there is “no sexism.” Far from it!Whatever it is, it certainly isn't far from it, and making this sort of claim betrays an obvious agenda. In any case, from what I’ve read of Kirby, she’s shockingly ignorant of sociological realities in business and in general, to the extent that I don’t know why anyone would take her particularly seriously on the subjects of sexism or feminism. What I’ve read is, to be sure, a limited sample of her writing, but many of these comments are those people point to in defense of her case.
I can’t believe anyone who’s been involved in these discussions over the past few years could agree that there hasn’t been a serious problem with women being held back in the movement. Oh, here’s a relevant example: Some of us have been bringing up the lack of diversity amongst speakers at atheist events for years, dealing with endless comments calling us conspiracy theorists, talking about how women aren’t interested in or as well suited to taking those public roles, and all manner of nonsense.** Over and over.*** For years. Making lists (gosh, look who's on that one under K, H, and S!).
If I recall correctly, some people were touting this Dublin event in part because, finally, after all of these years of our pointing to the problem even when we knew what would ensue, this one would feature a more diverse set of panelists (at least in terms of gender). Then they have a panel of women who all agree that they don’t see sexism as a serious problem in the movement. Well, isn’t that just swell. I feel like a union activist who’s worked for years to get recognition and better pay and benefits - going on strike, being harassed, and with the risk of being blackballed - only to hear someone newly hired talk in one breath about their great health care plan and in the next deny the need for a union. I am angry.
*I have no idea what OB is talking about here, but I’m tired of feeling like I’m fighting an uphill battle and never know what’s coming next. I appreciate that she’s posted on it, but don’t understand this tendency to make an argument and then suddenly accept these strange claims.
**Fully conscious, deliberate sexism isn’t necessarily a part of this, though there’s much of that. Nor does it have to be a conspiracy. This is a stupid strawman.
***Note that on this thread Richard Dawkins said his organization was setting up a speakers’ bureau. In 2008.