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Will Misogyny bring down the atheist movement?

(96 Posts)
Spero Tue 04-Nov-14 15:12:40

It's a long article, but quite interesting about the problems some skeptics/atheists seem to have with women and asks why a progressive, important and intellectual community can behave so poorly towards its female peers.

I quote: The roots of today’s crisis can be found in the post-war history of the movement. The groups that make up the broader freethought community — atheists, who don’t believe in a god; agnostics, who are unsure; secular humanists, who seek to replace god-centered religion with a man-made ethical system; church-state separationists, who just want religion kept out of public life; and scientific skeptics, who work to overthrow superstition and pseudoscience — have two things in common. First, they oppose the hegemony of religious, including New Age, thinking in American culture. And second, they all have roots in very male subcultures.

So am I being naive in pledging allegiance first to humanism rather than feminism? Are the problems in male subcultures so deep rooted that my energies should be first directed at tackling those?

Interested to hear what other atheist feminists think.

King1982 Tue 04-Nov-14 15:18:17

I'm not sure that misogyny is deep routed in atheism in particular. I believe less so and certainly, No more than any other area of society

Shallishanti Tue 04-Nov-14 15:24:36

well- I would call myself a humanist not an atheist (and a feminist, obvs). I thought this would be about something stupid that Dawkins had tweeted. I haven't looked at the link. But I'm not sure there is such a thing as a 'broader freethought community'. All the groups mentioned seem quite disparate to me, though I grant they may be linked by opposition to the privileged position some religions have. But I don't see that they all have roots in very male subcultures.
I don't feel you have to pledge allegiance. I suppose, if I think about it, feminism flows from humanism- if you value the welfare and rights if people (in general) you will naturally be be interested in any group/class whose welfare and rights are not upheld. So you would be a feminist.

King1982 Tue 04-Nov-14 15:46:08

I think the author struggles to hang it on atheism. He highlights 3 people that represent atheism and tries to make them representative of all atheists. One example he gives is that Penn uses the word 'cunt'. He could equally say magicians are misogynistic. I haven't read the hitchens article but not sure if the headline is ironic or not.
He then clunks a paragraph about social media, which I agree with, but it doesn't relate to atheism. It relates to social media in general.
I think you could find examples within all movements/groups to make an argument about misogyny. You could find 2.5 examples to pigeon hole feminism in a poor way, which would be inaccurate on the whole.

Shallishanti Tue 04-Nov-14 15:59:26

have now read the article- it reminds me of various occasions (some that involved famous people others that were just local scandals) where left wing (or otherwise countercultural) men behaved like sexist shits. This just indicates the pervasiveness of patriarchy- really it would be surprising if some powerful men in any social movement did not abuse their position- they have grown up as male.

Graendal Tue 04-Nov-14 16:09:56

I think you may have a point.

Look on dating profiles. There is a certain section of men who fit the bill.

Socially awkward atheist with a fedora. Tends to use phrases such as M'Lady when speaking to women believing themselves to be the utmost gentlemen. Lacks boundaries and will blame women for their failure to have a relationship. Sometimes referred to as a 'neckbeard'.

Tend to be very outspoken atheists.

Spero Tue 04-Nov-14 16:28:44

Shallishanti, that is interesting you say feminism flows from humanism. That is the thing I struggle with the most, what is the distinction between the two. I always say I am a humanist rather than a feminist.

And yes, what is it about the fedora? This has now become a kind of meme or cultural shorthand for a man who is likely to be misogynistic.

YonicScrewdriver Tue 04-Nov-14 16:58:06

Thanks Spero. Need to get the kids now so will comment more later.

FloraFox Tue 04-Nov-14 17:04:23

All male-constructed cultural groups place women as a lower status than men, whether they are progressive, left wing or whatever. Why would atheism be any different?

Spero Tue 04-Nov-14 17:05:25

King1982 - I agree that you could easily find examples to portray any group in a bad light and probably this article is too long and waffly to make the point as well as I have seen it made elsewhere.

But I remember following 'Elevatorgate' when it all kicked off - was it 2008? - and being shocked by the reaction of predominantly male atheists. Rebecca Watson collects their comment on her 'Page o Hate' - I will see if I can link it. Basically comment after comment saying she should be raped and/or killed.

I know that trolls are trolls and pop up everywhere. I was just disappointed to see quite so many also flag waving for the atheist/skeptic movement. Kind of dents my belief that skeptics are just more intelligent/thoughtful than the religious.

Spero Tue 04-Nov-14 17:07:52

Warning: this is really nasty.

And the worst thing is, she has been subjected to this pretty constantly for about 6 years.

I suppose the next question is, why don't atheist men speak up and about this more? Or do they and I haven't noticed?

YonicScrewdriver Tue 04-Nov-14 17:11:14

Ugh, so horrible.

oneofthosenicemuslims2015 Tue 04-Nov-14 17:14:09

What's elevatorgate?

King1982 Tue 04-Nov-14 17:14:49

Spero - I think it's a dodgy opinion to hold that atheists are more intelligent.
I don't know the elevatogate. It sounds like it was in the US. Which is very Christian dominated society.
You will have misogynists in the athiest movement, you will have some misandrists in the feminist movement.
Anyway, I don't know of many movements that have been brought down because of its misogyny(not that I think atheism is more misogynistic than most)

King1982 Tue 04-Nov-14 17:18:24

Spero - I might be misunderstanding the link but are trolls supposed to atheists?

YonicScrewdriver Tue 04-Nov-14 17:18:57

An altercation between Rebecca Watson and Richard Dawkins in an elevator at a US conference. Dawkins is a famous British atheist.

lornemalvo Tue 04-Nov-14 17:19:53

Atheists do not rely on supernatural gods to explain life. They can be feminists or otherwise. There is no link.

YonicScrewdriver Tue 04-Nov-14 17:20:39

"left wing (or otherwise countercultural) men behaved like sexist shits. "

There is that. See the Liberal Democrat party and Lord Whatsit.

King1982 Tue 04-Nov-14 17:20:56

Who is Rebecca Watson?

YonicScrewdriver Tue 04-Nov-14 17:21:33

US feminist and atheist/sceptic.

Spero Tue 04-Nov-14 17:22:32

Sorry, backstory

Rebecca Watson was at some skeptic convention in the States. A man gets in the lift with her very late at night and asks her to come back to his room for coffee. She blogged about how uncomfortable that made her and how she wished men wouldn't do that - it wasn't the time or the place.

There was then an internet explosion of people attacking her for daring to complain about this polite young man - even Dawkins waded in and tweeted some nonsense. And it looks like the abuse has continued.

I guess I just had higher hopes for the sceptic community. Since that incident there appears to have been further rumblings - Dawkins certainly is not coming over particularly well and more and more feminists are saying that they do not find the skeptic community a comfortable one any more.

Berriesinautumn Tue 04-Nov-14 17:24:21

'Kind of dents my belief that skeptics are just more intelligent/ thoughtful than the religious.'
I have had feet in skeptic and religious camps.
The skeptics and humanist groups where I live I found to be a club for people who think the same things and have the same view on a collection of topics around the supernatural. I did not see a whole lot of critical thinking, free thinking or reflective thinking, and certainly no critical self reflection. What I did see was a bunch of people laughing at another bunch of people they thought they were superior to. It was a group for a self defined 'cool' club basically.
Know where I did see critical self inquiry and challenging of core beliefs? In the alpha course I did. There In The discussion groups I heard Christians really questioning and challenging their own beliefs. I respected that. I didn't respect the internal dialogue of the skeptics groups. That was just cheap sneering. I was disappointed. I thought a skeptical group would be, well, skeptical!

oneofthosenicemuslims2015 Tue 04-Nov-14 17:26:21

Ah Richard Dawkins. Why am I not surprised hmm

King1982 Tue 04-Nov-14 17:26:44

Isn't being an athiest very different to a skeptic?
It happens all over the place football fans sending death threats to beckham. One of their own community.
Plus Watson would be targeted by anti-skeptics, misogynists and general trolls.

Spero Tue 04-Nov-14 17:29:06

Sorry, I have unhelpfully assumed a lot of knowledge of the back story...

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