The secular community is having a #MeToo moment. Some say it's about time. Others say not so fast.
In 1915 the American suffragist and writer Alice Duer Miller published a slim and delightful book of poetry titled Are Women People? In one poem, simply named "Feminism," Duer Miller writes:
"Mother, what is a Feminist?"
"A Feminist, my daughter,
Is any woman now who cares
To think about her own affairs
As men don't think she oughter."
The book is over 100 years old, yet the poem still rings darkly true in the era of #MeToo, a movement against sexual harassment and abuse that exploded nationwide over the past year and which has, unsurprisingly, created a comparatively fierce backlash from people pushing a million half-baked reasons why it has gone too far.
It's frequently said that the movement took off after news reports exposed the long list of allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, but really, the rage boiled up in women across the country after Donald Trump was elected president despite a widely publicized tape emerging during the campaign where he bragged about kissing and groping women against their will.
As a movement, #MeToo is still struggling with the basic questions that Duer Miller's sarcastic book title and poetry was written to address: When will women finally be accepted as equals? Because, as the endless drumbeat of stories of sexual harassment has shown, women are all too often treated like shadow people who have to endure sexualized abuse at the hands of powerful men, and we're all too often expected to be silent and grateful that men tolerate our presence at all.
The humanist/atheist/skeptic movement had its own #MeToo moment this past winter, when Buzzfeed published a lengthy and well-sourced piece about the repeated allegations against Lawrence Krauss, the popular physicist who's made a name for himself in skeptic circles with his outspoken atheism. The article described his actions as "groping women, ogling and making sexist jokes to undergrads, and telling an employee at Arizona State University, where he is a tenured professor, that he was going to buy her birth control so she didn't inconvenience him with maternity leave," as well as an accusation of pushing a woman down on a bed and fondling her against her will.
The article also noted that Case Western Reserve University and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics "have quietly restricted him from their campuses." These decisions were made, respectively, ten and six years prior to the Buzzfeed article, though Krauss challenged the Perimeter Institute's claim that he's been disinvited permanently.
Krauss dismissed the multiple allegations against him as either factually incorrect or as a series of coincidences stemming from his fame. The latter is the sort of argument that skeptics should see right through--and yet, for many people, that didn't happen.
On March 9, 2018, the American Humanist Association (AHA) announced its decision to remove Krauss from its pool of speakers and presenters and to review an award that was given to him by the organization in 2015.
"When a prominent humanist's commitment to reason, compassion, and...