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Sexism at Regional Atheist Meet?

Posted on Monday, May 23, 2011 in Observations, Politics

David Eller speaks at Rapture RAM on May 22, 2011

Update: I’ve made available a longer excerpt of the original talk to provide better context. Also a transcription has been added.

Jen McCreight wrote about something that was said by author David Eller during his second talk at the West Coast Rapture RAM this past weekend in Oakland, CA. Eller has offered an apology following that posting.

The controversy? While presenting a slide listing different various atheist groups and contributors including Laci Green and Cristina Rad, Eller made the tongue-in-cheek comment, “Nobody minds pretty Romanian blondes… I watch a lot of her blogs to learn.”  This moment in his 50-minute speech was met with laughter, but some in the audience were apparently not laughing.

In her blog, Greta Christina also raised issue with a subsequent suggestion by Eller to have a repeat of “Boobquake“, an event that McCreight created last year. One audience member is heard saying “Boobs are good” in response. (This can be heard in the longer excerpt below.)

Having been there for the event, I captured the audio of what was said, both Eller’s comment in context of his talk and McCreight’s question/comment followed by Eller’s response. I present it below so you may hear and judge it for yourself. Do you think there is sexism here?

  1. David Eller Discusses Atheist Media (mp3) – longer excerpt
  2. Jen McCreight Comments And Eller Responds (mp3)

 

Transcriptions as best as can be determined are below (thanks to Jesse for helping out):

Presentation

Eller: We need more culture, more institutions. Student groups, like we’ve seen today, this weekend. And of course, all these culture things again: Atheist Experience, Atheist Viewpoint, all that, all those kinds of things and all of our, you know, heavy bloggers, and YouTube people. Especially, you know, the, uh, the funny ones and the pretty ones. Nobody minds, y’know, pretty Romanian blondes, that’s a good, you know, ad for Cris [referring to ZOMGitsCriss]. I watch a lot of her blogs to- to learn. [Audience laughter] Radio and Internet radio, of course, many many of these. I’ve been on some of these, probably many of you have been on or certainly listened to them.

[Some religious subversive and anti-religious movies are named]

Eller: Secular holidays, and maybe it’s about time, honestly, to add Rapture Day. Maybe by a different name. Maybe like Universe Day or something. And maybe Boobquake again, y’know, it could actually become an annual thing. Maybe not literally with boobs and all, but it could be something!
Man in audience #1: Boobs are good. [Audience laughter]
Eller: [repeating] Boobs are good.
Man in audience #2: Yay boobs!

Q&A

McCreight: I just had a quick comment that if we want atheism to be a social movement and accepting to everyone, we do be careful by how we refer to minority groups and not say that women video-bloggers are just great because they’re pretty and blonde. [audience clapping] ZOMGitsCriss contributes and she’s witty and intellectual. There are a lot of pretty blonde bloggers and people don’t follow just because they’re pretty. [“Thank you!”s from the audience]

Eller: If she doesn’t have smart, funny things to say, obviously, you know, the looks wouldn’t be enough. She’s a really smart person, she’s a really funny person, she does really high quality video, so absolutely, and I apologize if I in any way demeaned women with that, but I think that it doesn’t hurt, especially to get some of the men kinda interested, but obviously she’s got a lot more going on than that, she’s a very, very skilled atheist, and I’m proud to have her in the movement, absolutely.

  • allen barth

    Thankyou – very helpful to hear again.

  • http://purl.org/NET/JesseW/SundryStuff/ Jesse Weinstein

    Transcript of 2nd recording: “Jen McCreight Comments And Eller Responds”

    Comment: I just had a quick comment, that if we want atheism to be a social movement and accepting to everyone, we need to be careful about how we refer to minority groups, and not say that women video bloggers are just [unclear] because they’re pretty and blond. [clapping] [unclear] there are a lot of pretty blond bloggers that people don’t follow just because they’re pretty. [“Thank you!”s from the audience]

    Reply: She has smart, funny things to say, obviously the looks [unclear] she’s a really smart person, she’s a really funny person, she does really high quality video, so absolutely, I apologize if I in any way demeaned women with that, but I did — it doesn’t hurt, especially to get some of the men kinda interested, but obviously she’s got a lot more going on than that, she’s a very skilled atheist, and I’m proud to have her in the [unclear]
    ——
    Disclaimer: This is just what I heard, it may not be fully correct, etc. Thanks Justin for making the audio available.

  • http://purl.org/NET/JesseW/SundryStuff/ Jesse Weinstein

    Transcript of 1st recording, short version: “David Eller References Pretty YouTubers”

    … we need more culture, more institutions. Student groups, like [unclear] this weekend. And of course, all these culture things I get, Atheist Experience, Atheist Viewpoint, all those kinds of things. And all of, you know, our heavy bloggers, and YouTube people, especially, you know, the funny ones, and the pretty ones. Nobody minds the pretty Romanian blonds, that’s a good, you know [Some laughter] [unclear] I watch a lot of her blogs, to learn. [Laughter from audience] Radio, and Internet radio, of course, many many of these, I’ve been on some of these, many of you’ve been on, some listened to them …

  • Justin

    I’ve filled in the gaps in the transcription from what I can make out and added it to the original post. Thanks Jesse!

  • Justin

    Please add further comments to our Rational Valley forum. Thanks!