Ask Annie Laurie 2 – Secular Women’s Leadership and 21st-Century Men

by | April 20, 2019

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Annie Laurie Gaylor is the Co-President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) with Dan Barker. She has been part of the fight against the encroachment of religion on secular culture, and human and women’s rights for decades. Here we talk about secular women in leadership and 21st-century men.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Building on the former responses of the first session, who have been important voices of men for equality of the sexes and genders?

Annie Laurie Gaylor: John Stuart Mill, a freethinker who wrote The Subjection of Women in 1869 (with aid of his wife Harriet Taylor Mill), Robert Dale Owens, the great Frederick Douglass, who was a participant at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, Robert G. Ingersoll, the agnostic orator and writer was a firm advocate for women’s rights.

Jacobsen: As the 21st century has progressed, what seems like modern, unique issues for men – emergent ones – in the secular communities?

Gaylor: I guess you’d have to ask men.:)  Perhaps: learning to share the power, the podium, to adapt to a changing world where women and people of color are as invested as they are in espousing secularism.

Jacobsen: With women’s voices heard more into the late 20th and early 21st centuries, what have been the distinct forms of women’s leadership emerging in the secular communities? Why have they formed in this way if distinct?

Gaylor: Certainly the 19th and early 20th century women freethinkers almost all shared, as a rule, a commitment to the importance of this world, the only world we know, and improving life here on earth, instead of wasting time, money and energy on an imaginary or speculative afterlife. Women freethinkers tend to be very practical. We have faith in ourselves, our rights, the potential of humankind and in the natural world.

Today most women freethinkers are deeply committed to equality and reproductive rights for women; it’s often a shared passion with freethought. I don’t know if I can comment on distinct forms of female leadership, but the commitment to freeing women is solid, and this is true on an international level. The women unbelievers in Morocco or Bangladesh or from Poland cannot escape the heavy hand of religion on women. 

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Annie Laurie.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott:

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Other Resources: Recovering From Religion.

Image Credit: Freedom From Religion Foundation.

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