Skip to content

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


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Canadian Atheist

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2019/04/20

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.


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: