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TheBluegrassSkeptic

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Everywhere I scroll, I find many atheist and secular minded individuals with my same mindset. No God. No religion. Acceptance for all. On the television, it is always the same faces of Dawkins, Harris, Silverman, and occasionally Cupp. I run into the same issues on blog sites like Patheos, Freethought, Secular Coalition, and American Atheists. Same male faces and the dash of a female writer now and then.

 

I don't know about the rest of this movement, but I long for more outspoken atheist women to be contributing more openly to the dialog. Being completely rational in my frustration with the same rehashed points of view, I started nosing around even deeper. I KNOW there are many female atheists out there. I also know that there are plenty of us writing and blogging too, but none of us seem to find major organizations to pick us up. I'm thinking, "Just how male dominated is atheism right now?"

 

This is what I found.

 

On Patheos' website, under the atheism section, I found 25 bloggers. 5 are women. Now, in the website's defense, there are a lot of guest bloggers, but you wouldn't know it until you reach the end of the article because the website has a layout where the hosting blogger gets all the headline, and the guest author is noted at the bottom. It still doesn't eliminate the fact that out of the billions of people in the world, and you figure at least 50% are women, Patheos has not been able to find anymore than 5 qualified female bloggers? Seems like a lack of diligence in my opinion. It should be noted that Patheos is headed by a husband and wife, no women serve on the 3 member Leadership Team, 12 out of 17 members on the general Team are women. These general Teams are editors of channels, and it is one of the male members who handles the atheism channel.

 

Another site, 9 out of 27 bloggers are women on the female founded Secular Coalition. It should be noted only men have posted recently since May 22nd.... 6 out of 8 staff members are female, 7 out of 10 board members are female, 2 women out of 16 members are on the advisory board, which has the likes of Sam Harris, Aaron Ra, and Rushdie on it.

 

American Atheists has 3 women on staff out of 10 listed staff members, 6 out of 13 on the board of directors are women, 2 women hold state director positions out of 20. I wonder how O'Hair would feel about such low female representation on the state level. Another female founded organization is Freedom From Religion Foundation. FFRF currently has 5 out of 18 chapters that are headed by women, and only 3 out of 10 board members are female.

 

Finally, I did some digging around Ex-Christian.net. Dum Dum Dummmmmmm. Ex-Christian.net is hard to measure, but I instinctively knew this place is fairly diverse, and is part of the reason I prefer this site. There are no qualifiers or editors to prevent you from posting. Now, I decided to go by the numbers of most popular blogs on the site. Out of the only 24 blogs that received 10k views or higher, only 5 identify as female (2 of those blogs belong to me). This week's featured blog has 2 women bloggers out of 5. 1 out of 4 featured posts on the main page belongs to a woman.

 

So what does all this mean? Does this mean that men are holding the women back yet again? Does this mean that atheism isn't ready to hear the voice of its female members? Does it mean that atheist environs are hostile to female presence?

 

Of course not.

 

I noticed while looking through all the staff and blogger lists that women seem to participate behind the scenes more. I doubt this is a purposeful move by their male counterparts on staff either. Looking further into the atheist and secular cultures (yeah, I don't treat them as the same), I noticed that in social media, women tend to take a beating when we decry secular communities and their lack of addressing feminine issues in politics. Many women, like myself, find it difficult to accept that organizations like FFRF and American Atheists choose to focus on mandated pledges with the word "god" in them.

 

Why aren't they rallying by our side when women are having their bodily rights infringed upon based on religious morality? Why can they not stand up for us when we are being blamed for rape culture in this country?

 

There appears to be a desire to keep feminism separate from secularism, but by its own definition, secularism should embrace some aspects, and even stand up for, feminism in some aspects. One obvious principle of secularism is maintaining the right to be free from religious rule and teachings. And if in a state that is declared to be neutral on matters of belief, we are supposed to be free from the imposition by government of religion or religious practices upon us. Demanding we abstain from sex to avoid pregnancy is not secularism, yet our government representatives on the Right have that opinion and try to force it on us by making sex all about responsibility and not a "god given pleasure" that is innate to our humanity. SEX is our HUMANITY. How is it secular to deny us our humanity?

 

The response to this, of course, will have the usual run of the mill,"You risk getting pregnant when you have sex. Why do I have to pay for your risk?" Or my favorite,"If you would keep your legs shut, you wouldn't need birth control." Why do I have to pay to ensure you get your prostate exam? Why do I have to pay for your Viagra to be able to get your wife pregnant, but we can't get assistance preventing it, let alone also getting treatment for hormonal disorders?

 

Basically, women bloggers, who are out there putting their views to the public are beaten down. Slut shamed, threatened, being told we are making ourselves a burden to society. We cannot trust our emotional, and sometimes physical safety, from our other atheist members. PZMeyers and his Watkins debacle, and Amazing Atheist are some great examples of misogyny and misrepresentation within the movements. And what is worse, even when they are called out on their behavior? They refuse to see how they were truly wrong.

 

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Still, there is another reason why there are not as many outspoken female bloggers who get a Dawkins' level of following. Women are not recognized as a force within the spectrum of atheism, though we have done TONS to move it forward. When my favorite author Hecht's book "Doubt" was published, she made it clear that works by atheist women are usually "individualized". There isn't a larger recognition of an academic wave of enlightenment amongst women. At all. Everything is person to person, but amongst the men, there is a brotherhood status.

 

Women need to be pumping up their fellow sisters like the men do with their own. Though, I think it would be more effective to advertise no matter the gender. Dawkins did give Hecht an acknowledgement in his book "God Is Not Great", though he still doesn't speak on her. The now late Stenger, while referring to Harris' work something of a dawn of a new age in atheist thought, never once mentioned Hecht, or even Gaylor or McCreighty. He did acknowledge though that these authors were in print during an interview, but publicly? Giving them free press? No.

 

Atheism in the media world is a sell out folks. I think women have realized that and have abandoned themselves to the desk work and boardrooms.

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The Amazing Atheist and The Drunken Peasants are prime examples of dude bro atheism amongst the younger crowd. Personally, I listen to DP podcast and will occasionally watch the AA's videos. However, I don't think he or his ilk have much to offer the ladies in their crowd. Women are not their demographic and they will lose face amongst their immature, pothead followers if they start apologizing to anyone publicly.

 

I keep thinking that someone, somewhere will start a blog, subreddit, youtube channel or SOMETHING that will appeal to women, draw a crowd of ladies or at least something that addresses some of the sensitive topics like sex and relationships from a female POV. Part of the reason why there isn't such a thing already imho is that reddit and youtube are both male-dominated sites. The dude bro culture is strong in both cases and there always seems to be a troll or 5 lined up to decry the efforts or drive the discussion away from productive areas.

 

Even here on ex-c forums, the discussions of feminism usually crash and burn. Our community is majority male (i'm speculating here, but i'd say it's probably a 60/40 or 70/30 split amongst currently active members.) That's not terrible or anything. The guys here on ex-c are great for the most part and they aren't total trollbags or asswipes like a lot of the guys I've encountered on reddit or other forums I've been active on over the years.

 

Anyway, I agree that women need to have a bigger voice in the atheist/secularist/humanist community. How do we get there, I couldn't say.

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We have our own little anti-feminist troll squad here on ex-C. It's useless to post anything about feminism because they just descend with their feminist strawman gender-fundie flametrolls.

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I still wish we could ignore the bias and trolling. I know two members in particular who clearly regard women as inferior and hysterical. I just ignore them now. Some women that enter the fray on larger levels have had threats of harm on other sites. I count us fortunate here at Ex-C overall.

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There are 4 of them. If we could organize the feminists, we could drown them in a thread. It would be fun, actually, but we need 8 people to do it.

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I guess what I am getting at is why participate in their game to begin with? One does not "lose" in a discussion because they choose to not engage in a senseless battle. A discussion is not a debate. Do not allow the debate by straight up ignoring the flame throwers and continue meaningful discussion.

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I'm generally not an observant person, and in the scheme of things being a guy probably means I am even less likely to notice the lack of a female presence in a variety of things. As an example, I found it interesting the point you were making in this blog. I thought to myself "Well, I'll be damned; I can't think of any well known female atheist".

 

I also found it interesting the points you made as to potentially why there are less women involved in this sphere (e.g. the holding of two different agendas which overlap, but aren't treated as such). It made me realise how ignorant I am of the difficulties women can face in a variety of fields. Something for me to think over for sure.

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Wow Jaded. Glad I succeeded in making someone think about my own wonderings out there about women in atheism. I am also glad you realize I am not laying it all at the feet of men. ;) I think women need to step up more as well as their male counterparts.

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