I’m an atheist, but I have as yet played no part in a movement or any activism. One of the reasons I started this blog was to slowly get into this area, but the more I try to create posts about it, the less I know where to start. Well, I think I may have found a place to dip my toe.
A point for conversation has recently been brought to the fore by the neuroscientist and author Sam Harris. From a Washington Post article:
“I also asked Harris at the event why the vast majority of atheists — and many of those who buy his books — are male, a topic which has prompted some to raise questions of sexism in the atheist community. Harris’ answer was both silly and then provocative.
It can only be attributed to my “overwhelming lack of sex appeal,” he said to huge laughter.
“I think it may have to do with my person slant as an author, being very critical of bad ideas. This can sound very angry to people..People just don’t like to have their ideas criticized. There’s something about that critical posture that is to some degree instrinsically male and more attractive to guys than to women,” he said. “The atheist variable just has this – it doesn’t obviously have this nurturing, coherence-building extra estrogen vibe that you would want by default if you wanted to attract as many women as men.””
Harris’ words and subsequent blog post attempting to explain have been explored by others. I really have nothing to add to those critiques. I’m new here and those links explain it far better than I ever could, because I am still learning, and the women affected should be listened to.
But there is one blog post that perfectly answers the question Mr. Harris was asked by the Washington Post reporter. Libby Anne tells those who outsiders see as “leaders” of the nebulous grouping of atheists why and where they have screwed up.
Frankly, I feel used. These atheist activists are the sort of people who want to use my story as proof that religion is horrible to women but aren’t willing to listen to what I have to say about sexism in our culture at large. They are the sort of people who are eager to use the shooting of young education activist Malala Yousafzai by the Taliban to prove how horrible religion is for women but somehow fail to mention that Malala is a Muslim who speaks of drawing her inspiration to fight for gender equality from the Koran. This is not standing up for women. This is exploiting women as merely a tool in a fight against religion.
Her analysis is extremely clear and as sharp as an Exacto knife. I haven’t touched on Richard Dawkins’ hurtful Twitter musings, but Libby Anne’s post does, and they are equally sliced apart.
Aren’t we supposed to treat each other better?