Bridgett “Bree” Crutchfield is the Founder of Minority Atheists of Michigan, the Detroit Affiliate of Black Nonbelievers (2013), and Operation Water For Flint (2016).
Here we talk about women in secular communities.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What have been the major progressions and regressions for women in secular communities?
Bridgett “Bree” Crutchfield: Major progressions, women are no longer awaiting opportunities to arrive on a silver platter from men. Women are taking it upon themselves to survive this slowly evolving community. And in order to accomplish that- it takes a tenacious attitude, helluva thick skin and an equally strong support network. There are women secular groups, women podcasters, women scientists (Hi Sci Babe)-women who refuse to take shit any longer. It’s a beautiful thing to see. I’m a proponent of the quote by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, “Well behaved women rarely make history.” What appears to be ‘misbehavior’ by society was/is necessary for women to take our rightful place in society.
Major regressions: women in the secular are still not readily believed when claims of sexual improprieties against us/them are made. Patriarchy is still a stronghold.
Jacobsen: When you left the Jehovah’s Witnesses, what were the difficulties and dynamics for women and men leaving the faith?
Crutchfield: I had no difficulties as I was already angry at having been forced to sacrifice my childhood/teenage years by being a JW. Leaving at 18 was a rite of passage, if you will. Most children JWs leave at 18 because it signifies you’re an adult in addition to on some subconscious level-wanting to be respectful of your parents. In retrospect, I’d say the biggest dynamic I (and others experienced) was total rebellion against the Organization (nickname for JW religion). I had cussed, became a stripper, lived my life totally polar to that of JWs, still do. I do know of many women (men too) who experienced/are experiencing chronic resentment and depression after leaving the faith. This is particularly common among those who left later in life, i.e., 30s and older.
Jacobsen: Following the previous question, have those difficulties and dynamics changed over time? Or are they the same?
Crutchfield: In light of the power of the internet-the difficulties have changed-as it’s more public. People have taken to social media to share their experiences and in the same vein-the Organization also utilizes social media. That is hilarious as it hammered into us to not be ‘of the world.’
Jacobsen: You founded Minority Atheists of Michigan (2011) and Black Nonbelievers (Detroit) in 2013. What have been the major developments since 2011 and 2013? Does treatment as a woman leader differ than if a man leader in secular communities? If so, and if from experience, how, and why?
Crutchfield: Major developments: in 2011 you could name organizations on one hand. Not today. There are innumerable groups, organizations, podcasts, FB groups etc. Additionally, there were a handful of conferences held yearly. Today, there is a conference being held several times a month somewhere in the world and it makes my heart glad. The visibility we now experience is profound.
Yes treatment differs between women leaders/men leaders. Men are seen as consistent, stable and powerful. There is plenty of talk pertaining to being supportive of women (in the secular community), but little implementation. All the more reason, I perpetuate the idea of women taking their places in the community versus waiting to be ‘rewarded’ with the opportunities.
Jacobsen: There is more discussion about the inclusion of more women within the secular communities. Whether leadership or membership, what seem like positive ways to include more women in secular communities? What seem like negative ways in which to have more women in secular communities.
Crutchfield: Positive ways: listen to and implement ideas by women. Women create spaces for women due to not being taken seriously in the secular community. Also, those spaces are safer for women. Literally-SAFER.
Negative ways: having more women in the community in order to have them/us do the grunt work. Delegating work to women only. Taking over groups formerly lead by women.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Bree.
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: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.
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