american atheists, atheist feminists, feminism, feminism in atheism, feminist atheists, ffrf, freethinker, gender equality in atheism, gender equality in secularism, notable female atheists, patheos, recognizing female atheists, secular coalition, secular equality, women freethinkers, women in atheism, women in secularism
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.
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 Hecht’s book “Doubt” was published, she noted that works by atheist women are usually “individualized”. There isn’t a larger view of a scholarly movement 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, and 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 called Harris’ work something of a dawn of a new age in atheist thought, and in his marketing never once mentioned Hecht, or even Gaylor or McCreighty. He did acknowledge though that these authors exist in an email 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.