Women In Secularism 2 – Rebecca Goldstein


by Jason Thibeault

Rebecca Goldstein wrote out her speech for this conference for the first time ever, agonized over whether to for the first time examine “the gender issue”. To examine whether her behaving as though the world doesn’t care that she’s a female was a good behaviour.

Rebecca is often described in her writings — her science and her novels etc — as being “coldly cerebral”, basically of writing “not like a woman”. “Wanton subjectivity rules in literature.” Authors are treated differently based on their gender. Biases hold sway, criticism of literary works have these biases creep in. Being a woman increase likelihood of being misconstrued, mocked, sidelined, etc.

People ask women if they ever experience biases when speaking — the big problem is often being invisible, that your point is ignored until a man picks it up and says it. Compared to the “more violent” manifestations of misogyny like acid in faces and genital mutilation, it’s easy to dismiss what “privileged women” experience, call them petty for voicing complaints, made to feel ashamed when complaining of microaggressions.

Psychologists cite evidence that microaggressions take more of a toll over time than overt attacks. It’s easier to deal with overt “because no guesswork is involved”. The unconscious and unintentional biases do more damage overall, especially if you’re not quite sure about them.


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