CFI Board: You Owe Me An Apology

Note: This blog post was originally written for the CFI On Campus blog, however because I didn’t want to put any of the people who run the blog into an uncomfortable position, I am choosing to post it here.

I’m pissed off. I am not often pissed off. I generally turn all my pissiness inwards towards myself, and it takes a real shit storm of insult and cruelty to get me legitimately angry at another person or group of people. Oh I feel indignant about injustices fairly often, but rarely do I get this overwhelming desire to just punch things due to the boiling sensation of disgust inside me. And yet somehow the CFI Board has managed to inspire all of these feelings.
I’m not so much mad because of the stupid, inane, offensive, condescending remarks that Ron Lindsay made, or the ridiculous context he made them in, or the fact that he insulted one of my good friends in order to supposedly defend himself.

I’m not particularly upset that it took the board forever and a day to respond to the whole controversy, despite the fact that it took other organizations less than a day to respond promptly and appropriately.

I’m not even entirely angry that the board wrote a statement that said exactly nothing, and which my colleagues at CFI On Campus have already taken down in spectacular fashion.

No. What I’m really fairly enraged about is the fact that the CFI board pointedly ignored the opinions and positions of many of its constituents and has left us stranded with no good options. As many people have mentioned before, the opinions of the board do not reflect the opinions or actions of people like Melody Hensley, Debbie Goddard, or Sarah Kaiser. And yet despite the fact that the aforementioned people, as well as most of the volunteers, workers, writers, and members of CFI fully support women’s rights and actively work to bring about equality in the movement, apparently the board has little to no interest in the people actually involved in their organization. And that shows downright contempt for those of us who have put our hard work into making this organization good.

For those of us here on the blog, writing here was one of our biggest opportunities to get our voices heard. Many of us are just little college students trying to get a start in the movement and this was a platform that had supported us. We have good friends in Sarah Kaiser and Debbie Goddard. And now, we are all de facto left with the choice of whether we should abandon these friends and this platform or whether we should remain and by our presence be assumed to condone the actions and opinions of the board.

I am pissed off because CFI was a community that I was excited to be a part of. It was a place that I thought I could have support, clear thinking, and straight talking. I thought it was a place that I could feel comfortable and proud to put forth my voice and my ideas. And instead, I’ve had that community and safety pulled out from under me by a leadership that apparently doesn’t care that it’s ignoring the position of its employees, volunteers, and constituents, doesn’t care that it’s ignoring our work and our dedication, and doesn’t listen. It has taken advantage of those of us who work hard for it, and left us out in the cold with its spineless actions.

And so my fellow bloggers and I are left with our names on a brand we no longer support through no action of our own, after giving our time, words, and work to try to make it a brand that we could be proud of. Board members: you have done wrong by your employees, your volunteers, your writers, and your affiliates. If nothing else, you owe us an apology.

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Olivia is a giant pile of nerd who tends to freak out about linguistic prescriptivism, gender roles, and discrimination against the mentally ill. By day she writes things for the Autism Society of Minnesota, and by night she writes things everywhere else. Check out her ongoing screeds against jerkbrains at


  1. June 20, 2013 at 12:57 pm —

    I think we are seeing the last, dying, struggles of the old guard that was hoping feminism and certain other progressive movements would not notice them. The CFI (the national, US based version of it) was using a lot of talent to develop programs that served to raise funds from their long-time supporters. The problem is, I think, that the values and views of those long-time supporters (not all, but a good number) are actually in conflict with the talent they were using, and with some of the people they were attracting to at least some of their events as paying participants. This conflict has been showing through for some time now.

    I have to assume Ron Lindsay’s talk was something of a gauntlet being thrown down, very unwisely. And that is the kindest interpretation I can think of for that. A less kind interpretation is that Lindsay’s intent was to excise certain categories of people from the organization, in service to these long time supporters. An even less kind interpretation is that he’s a cranky old man that could not control himself, but really, I very much doubt that.

    The old guard, the anti-feminists and others, is not all generationally in one boat. There are plenty of younger folk in that camp as well, ranging from the outrageous sliymepitters who are easily identified, at least, as date-rape apologists, and a few others. I just read, and it was very very hard to read, JT’s post on his blog i which he tries to let everyone know that he really is a feminist, yet he also really agrees with Ron that feminists are doing it wrong. A word of advice for JT: You know that thing that people say, that if you act like a feminist the feminists will sleep with you? Its a joke. It does not really happen. You can stop now, JT. Anyway, he is evidence that while there may be a generational effect, we can’t just wait for the bad old days to go away by themselves. Rather, we have to keep on it. The price of feminism is eternal vigilance.

    The CFI board’s statement about all this makes it all very clear. I assume the board sat down, thought about this all, and made a decision. The decision they made was to throw the activist feminists who are part of the secular, skeptical, atheist, and humanist movements under the bus.

    I think the best thing to do now is to just not care about the CFI any more and move on. There are a lot of things to do. A period of vigorous commentary and critique is appropriate and that is happening now, but I hope that every time someone writes a blog post or commentary somewhere about how clueless CFI/Lindsay are, they are thinking in the back of their minds of what their next move is going to be, and that the next move is forward.

    • June 21, 2013 at 7:20 pm —

      I read JT’s post via Greg’s link and I disagree with at least a couple of JT’s points. First his, “I also think that most of the people who inhabit the slymepit are, well, slime.” I would say that at least the overwhelming majority of ‘pitters are slime. I can’t for the life of me think of a single valid reason why someone who does not actively support misogyny and/or harassment would frequent the site. I also think that JT is way way too nice when discussing Justin Vacula.

      That being said, I think Greg’s attack on JT is both pointlessly vicious and deeply stupid. Are you seriously suggesting that JT tried to fake his feminism to get laid? Or were you trying to be funny?

      The day JT is drummed out of the feminist/skeptical/secular community because he doesn’t pass Greg Laden’s “purity” test is the day this middle-aged feminist leaves for good. (I’ve already stopped supporting the JREF and CFI,) Believe me I can find some other use for my resources.

      • June 24, 2013 at 3:23 pm —

        Ehhh… tbh my opinions of JT are largely colored by the one time I talked to him at an SSA conference, and he spent most of that interaction telling a long, drawn-out anecdote about fucking women and stealing their silverware. I was the only woman at the table, and really everyone was too flabbergasted to call him out on it, but it was certainly a huge WTF for all of us sitting there. So, yeah, I have a hard time seeing him as a real ally.

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