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:
- Racist (only one so far! *whew*)
- 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
- 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
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.