Friday, June 3, 2016

In Atheist Circles, What is the Opposite of "Feminism?"

I don't follow a lot of blogs or videos by lone atheists despite being one of those lone atheist bloggers myself.  My taste runs to those that inform about the battle between belief and unbelief in the world, or in the U.S. (such as FFRF)  and those that cover the battle between science & pseudoscience (including religious pseudoscience).

But on the fringes of my consciousness I'm aware that there is some kind of battle between (male) atheist commentators and people who represent feminism in some form.  This isn't Elevatorgate.  It's more of a long-running debate.

I regularly search "atheism" on youtube and filter to "today" to see what's being said by us and about us. One of today's results is "How Feminism Castrated Atheism" by Thunderf00t. I'm familiar with the name but I don't follow him, probably because of things like this.  I'm not an academic feminist, but I'm female and I don't want to be considered a second-class citizen of atheism because of that.  It's not that I don't want to be dissed.  It's more than that.  Humanity is a team, made up of two sexes (and some variants) and different skin colors, economic classes, etc.  Atheism should reflect that, and divisiveness doesn't help our cause.

Does atheism have testicles? Should it have testicles? Why would a movement need testicles? I'm confused by the title.

Also, does atheism have feminism? Should it have feminism? Why would a movement need feminism?

What "Atheism" needs is an attitude of respecting -- and even expecting -- differences within the ranks.  I really bothers me that people argue with each other publicly about these things because we are by definition bound to disagree about a lot of things.  So "New Atheism" as a ballsy movement that has been neutered is a very strange concept to me.  We were represented by men in the early 2000s but we have been represented by both men and women before that, so why not afterward as well.

Where would "the movement" be without Madalyn Murray O'Hair (founder of American Athiests) and Anne Gaynor (founder of FFRF)?  Thunderf00t may be making something of a name for himself via youtube, but will the New York Times publish an obituary about him?  (Link to Anne Gaynor's obit)  Well, Thunderf00t is bothered by Atheism Plus and Elevatorgate and he insists there was no sexism or racism in atheism before people invented it just to bully him.  He calls them "parasites."  And he thinks the Reason Rally's "conduct policy" is "castrating" atheism.  How can you castrate a movement he claims wasn't sexist?

So, I don't recommend the video but it brings up the issue of diversity.  It's been clear for years that women and non-whites were not proportionately represented in atheism.  The meetup group I went to from about 2002-2007 usually had ten men and just one or two women there (counting me), and no non-whites despite the city being very ethnically diverse.  That has changed as more and more of us "come out," but to say there was no unpleasantness in atheism is just laughable.  It would also be laughable to say that all the men are jerks, but fortunately nobody's saying that.

Since we only agree on one thing that we disagree on, we are probably the most diverse "movement' there could be.  I have encountered the following "types" since joining atheist groups online and in person:
  • Men
  • Women
  • Racist (only one so far!  *whew*)
  • Sexist
  • Anti-transgender
  • Ph.D. in science
  • 2-year degree in a trade
  • No degree beyond high school
  • Bitter people
  • Shy people
  • Happy people
  • People with kids
  • People who never want kids
  • 9/11 truther
  • UFO truther
  • Food nazis
  • Smokers
  • Drinkers
  • Pot-smokers
  • Sober non-smokers
  • People who believe in free will
  • People who don't believe in free will
Apparently Thunderf00t worries that feminism will ruin the Reason Rally, perhaps because 17 of its 42 speakers are women.  That's 40% -- and that's not even counting the members of the Wu Tang Clan and the Washington Gay Men's Chorus!  Among these women you'll find Anne Gaylor's daughter, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Julia Sweeney and five other humorists, four scientists, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and other women who have something interesting to say.  The male line-up is also diverse.

There is also a workshop for lobbying about sex ed in schools.  This is a secular issue.  The states with the highest incidence of teen pregnancy are those where the Religious Right has silenced sex education or substituted "abstinence-only" programs.

He doesn't think there needs to be a code of conduct for the Reason Rally.  This code basically says "Don't be a dick" (a commonly repeated moral code on reddit's /r/atheism sub-reddit).  It even includes religion as a protected identity: 
The Reason Rally Coalition does not tolerate harassment of or by participants in any form. Prohibited conduct may include—but is not limited to—harassment related to gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, religion, sexual images in public spaces (not related to convention sessions or materials), deliberate intimidation, stalking, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.
This protects us all from dicks and fundy preachers, and from nuts mentally ill anti-atheists like D.M./Mabus who stalked P.Z. Myers at a conference.

I had hoped to attend but it just wasn't possible.  It may seem extreme to some that there is such a strict code of conduct, but I would enjoy being in a place where people are nice to each other.  Also, not having to worry about fundies attacking us would be very liberating too.

So, if you go, have a good time and know that I envy you greatly.  We need to come together to show our best side to America and to effect needed changes, not be split apart over stupid shit.  We also need to laugh and sing because that's what life is about when you don't worry that some vindictive mind-reader in the sky will punish you for eternity for stupid shit.  Being asked by fellow human beings to be respectful to each other isn't repressive unless you're a dick.


5 comments:

Jack Vance said...

The issue of proportionality in the composition of atheist groups is an interesting one. At first glance, it seems that such groups should be 50-50 in terms of the number of women and men. Obviously, this rarely seems to be the case. If we look at the data, we find that 68% of people who identify themselves as atheists in the U.S. are men and 78% are White (see http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/06/01/10-facts-about-atheists/). Since it is difficult to imagine many people who do not identify as atheists choosing to be active in atheist groups, I wonder if it would be reasonable to expect that White men are going to be over-represented in atheist groups relative to their numbers in the population because they are the ones who are most likely to identify themselves as atheists.

LadyAtheist said...

Yes, true. Even as a child I felt more pressure to be religious than my brothers did. It was okay for them not to want to go to church but I went.

Human Ape said...

I'm convinced ladies are way superior to guys. It's not even close. Guys create all the problems in the world. Before I retired I had worked for a few female managers. They were the best managers I ever had.

By the way about a year ago I made my old blog private because I wanted to use it for private stuff. Recently I created a new version that is open to the public and also it allows unlimited comments and there is no moderation. Nobody knows about it. There is no censorship and no politically correctness at my new blog. https://hardcoreatheism.blogspot.com

Bruce Lindman said...

"But on the fringes of my consciousness I'm aware that there is some kind of battle between (male) atheist commentators and people who represent feminism in some form. "
Then you should also be aware that there are prominent female atheists that who oppose feminism. For example, Karen Straughan.

"Where would "the movement" be without Madalyn Murray O'Hair (founder of American Athiests) and Anne Gaynor (founder of FFRF)? Thunderf00t may be making something of a name for himself via youtube, but will the New York Times publish an obituary about him?"
I'm not sure what either of these individuals have to do with Thunderfoot. Thunderfoot is not anti-woman. He's anti-feminist.

"Thunderf00t is bothered by Atheism Plus and Elevatorgate and he insists there was no sexism or racism in atheism before people invented it just to bully him."
Does he???


"Apparently Thunderf00t worries that feminism will ruin the Reason Rally, perhaps because 17 of its 42 speakers are women."
Where in the world did you get the idea that Thunderfoot was opposed to women speakers? Please, you are truly failing with this post....shameful. You can do better.

Ipecac said...

Good post. Thunderf00t is an ass.

Believing in feminism means you believe that women should get equal pay for equal work. That women should be represented in society and business in the proportion they are of the population. That there should be no barriers to women because they are women. It's an acknowledgement that the deck has always been stacked against women and that that state of affairs needs to end.

To be against those things is to be a bigot. Whatever you call yourself.