Religion Is Dangerous to Women

Last week, the legal news service TrustLaw released a poll of the most dangerous countries for women. Based on a survey of 213 experts on women’s issues from around the world, the poll ranked countries on the basis of six categories: health threats, sexual violence, non-sexual violence, cultural or religious factors, lack of access to health care and other resources, and human trafficking. Summing these factors up, the top five worst countries to be female are Afghanistan, Congo, Pakistan, India (!) and Somalia.

Although this poll was an important effort, I found its methodology to be frustratingly opaque (it would have been nice to see the runners-up), and certainly questionable in some respects. For instance, India’s willingness to be transparent about crimes like human trafficking, female infanticide and dowry violence probably earned it a worse ranking than countries that cover up the extent of their problems. Personally, I was amazed that Saudi Arabia didn’t make the top five – if religious and cultural factors that oppress women are being considered, how much worse could you get than a country whose every female inhabitant is legally enslaved and imprisoned in her home?

Still, this is a valuable reminder of how dangerous it is to be a woman, even today – and not just in anarchic failed states like Somalia, or war zones like Congo or Afghanistan, but in allegedly modern, democratic countries. In tribal societies governed by village councils, when two families quarrel, the gang rape of a woman belonging to one family by the men of the other is often considered a legitimate means of settling the dispute. In some cultures, if women spurn men’s advances or defy arranged marriages, they may have acid poured on their face or have their noses and ears cut off, if they’re not murdered outright by male relatives seeking to cleanse their family honor from the shame of a disobedient female. (This isn’t limited to Third World slums; it almost happened to an actress from the Harry Potter movies.) And there are millions of women subjected to human trafficking – which is an antiseptic phrase for what it really means: women abducted or sold into slavery and forced to be prostitutes, usually with “persuasion” in the form of drugs or beatings.

But these headline-grabbing acts of violence, shocking as they are, tend to overshadow a more mundane, yet more deadly, reality of everyday discrimination and neglect that takes a constant toll. In poverty-stricken regions lacking access to modern medical care, death in childbirth is still a routine occurrence. In cultures where women are considered less valuable, daughters may be starved or denied medical care because their parents don’t want to spend the money to take good care of them. Lack of education, lack of literacy, lack of legal protections, and lack of any control over finances also conspire, in countless subtle ways, to degrade and shorten women’s lives.

I recount this litany of horrors not to plunge you into despair, but to emphasize how far the world still is from true gender equality. Over the last hundred years, the feminist movement has made enormous strides, but even those great achievements are just the first step in a long journey that still remains to be walked. Therefore, let no one deceive you by saying that the battle for equality has been won, that feminism as a movement has outlived its usefulness. It’s still an urgent cause for all people of conscience and reason to support.

And here’s something the TrustLaw survey didn’t dwell on: in nearly all cases, especially among the worst offenders, misogyny and violence are rooted in religious beliefs about the lesser worth of women. Ever since the first Jewish scribe wrote that menstruating women are unclean, ever since the first Christian priest preached that it was women who brought sin into the world, ever since the first Muslim imams preached polygamy and the veil, religion has been used as a weapon to keep women in subjection. (These are just the examples from Western religions; there are just as many from eastern belief systems like Hinduism.)

By contrast, in which country does religion make the status of women better? I doubt there are any that can make that claim, which is why the spread of atheism has the potential to be a huge boon for feminism – and vice versa. As I’ve speculated in the past, the misogyny of religion is probably rooted in religious leaders recognizing that controlling reproduction is the key to perpetuating their own beliefs, which means that the success of the atheist movement and of the feminist movement are inextricably linked. By defending both godlessness and women’s rights, we can fight the brutality of patriarchal faith on two fronts.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Meghan

    Thank you for your support. Thank you for benefiting both genders by working to tear down the walls between them.

  • ArtyB

    Man-made religions will always vilify women. Ultimately, someone will have to take the blame for the ills of the world and women always are the targets to blame. These men are never at fault because God made them perfect. This I-am-better-than-you creed points to the fact that religions were made by men and also the reason why god is a man and not a woman.

  • Doug Kirk

    I agree entirely. All feminists should be atheists for no other reason than self-preservation.

  • http://www.janierezner.com JANIE REZNER

    Thank you for your wonderful article; I’ll post it far and wide. In spite of how it looks, I believe patriarchy is in it’s final throes. It is articles like yours that awaken people to the repression, the hatred and violence perpetrated against women,and their children, against the earth, the mother, against life, really. However, the Sacred Feminine is arising in many women’s and a few men’s hearts, all around the world, along with the awareness that we are all children of one great Mother and that all life is sacred, May it be so!

  • http://the-goddess.org Morgaine Swann

    Actually, patriarchal religion is dangerous for women. Matriarchal religions revere women as the source of life and promote an egalitarian, rule by consensus system that benefits all members of society. I know this is an atheist site, but it’s not fair to lump Goddess religion in with the Abrahamic patriarchies. We’re nothing alike.

  • http://superhappyjen.blogspot.com SuperHappyJen

    All women should be atheists and all atheists should be feminists. Sadly, neither seems to be the case.

  • Emburii

    Even matriarchal religions can still be harmful. There were female-run goddess-cults in Greek and Roman times, for instance, who purchased girls and enslaved them for ritualized prostitution. ‘Vestal virgins’ were punished by other women if it was decided they were impure. These were atrocities committed on women by women, without male culpability unless you’re a believer in second-wave feminism (which is pretty corrosive and shares some disturbing talking points with the far right). Goddess worship, for instance, either maps people to very rigid physiological roles (men are the warriors, women are the nurturers) or, if it’s more ‘reformed’ theology, dissolves into a formless welter of nonsense. (‘Well, of course not all men are meant to fight and women don’t have to have children, and the deity is both genders and none and She, er, It just wants to love you because she’s kind except for that part where nature is terribly bloody and cruel and ultimately uncaring, but…She loves you!’)
    Unexamined beliefs and unproven assertions are harmful, no matter what shape or gender you wrap them around. ‘The Goddess wants us all to be nice to each other’ is just as much a cop-out as ‘Jesus loves you’, and I say this as a secular neo-pagan.

  • Ariadne

    Modern western atheism (Dennet, Dawkins etc) may no longer be openly misogynist, but it still embraces many patriarchal capitalist ideas such as resourcism, mechanistic reductionism, rugged individualism etc. When these patriarchal shibboleths are also rejected together with patriarchal theism, and when nature is accorded an ecologically-founded spiritual respect — as found in many traditional and more matrifocal and sustainable societies — the resulting religion is a form of ecofeminism. It treasures women and consensual social process. Varying views of “divinity” (“Goddess”) are possible, ranging from non-theism to pantheism and panentheism, but generally evolutionary process is seen as the very substance of Goddess.

    However, the “atheist” boys generally consider this ecofeminist spirituality “just as bad” as Christian theology. One therefore gets the impression that their “atheism” is a fight between one male elite and another… just another power-play in the long history of power-plays that is patriarchal religion. Women don’t have a horse in that race. Apparently the “atheists” think it is time for the black-robed guys to go away so that the white lab-coated guys can take over. Their new priesthood is presumably going to be made up of biotech entrepreneurs.

  • Ariadne

    By the time of the Roman Vestal Virgins, we are deep into patriarchal state society. They represent only the most distant memory of matriarchal religion.

    For an older, stronger draught, but still one drawn from inside patriarchal state society, read Enheduanna.

  • Max Dashu

    Emburil, if you think Greco-Roman society represents “matriarchal religion,” then you don’t know much history. By Classical times most priestesses were appointed from elite families and men were taking over some of those offices as well, in deeply patriarchal societies. (It did get worse, though, under Christianity women were driven out of the priesthood altogether, and goddesses were banned.) “Ritual prostitution” has been debunked as a Herodotean cum Victorian myth (see work of atheist Stephanie Budin). Vestals were not punished by women, but beaten with rods by the pontifex, or buried alive by same. The open antifeminism of some of these comments has some common ground with the pope, might want to look at that. Also, the global condemnation of all religion as patriarchal ignores the Indigenous religions or equates them with the dominance-based doctrinal religions. Not the same thing!

  • Katie M

    The USA, for all its faults, is a veritable paradise compared to the likes of Saudi Arabia. I’m free to be a literate, non-religious, voting woman.

  • Emburii

    I’m looking into both Enheduanna and the background of sacred prostitution now, and will get back to you on them. I will, however, address some of the more general points:

    Women are people, with the full range of emotion and action from cruelty to compassion. To argue that all bad things are male and that matriarchal societies would be perfect is just another form of tokenism and fallacy. Women are some of the staunchest adherents to tradition; FGM is often carried out by women, on direction from female members of the family. They don’t even necessarily invoke fear of men or male direction, but tradition about how this was what their mothers did ‘for’ them. It’s not even really bound up with patriarchal Islam, since that particular procedure isn’t called for anywhere in the theology. It’s part of the human tendency to cling to patterns even when they’re harmful, and women aren’t immune to it. To excuse them of any flaws is actually misogynistic in its own right since you’re removing their agency, saying that they’re not making their own choices but just acting as slaves of the patriarchy any time they do something you disagree with.

    Ariadne, why does it have to be feminist? How about we concentrate on being humanist, with every person given respect and hope regardless of gender? How about we concentrate on sustainable living because it makes sense, rather than because people make presumptions on what a deity wants or not? For that matter, it’s a little naive to assume that if there’s a deity, it must be interested in preserving the same range of nature we’re used to. The ‘Goddess’ as a creator figure set up the physics for acid rain. Volcanoes, natural events, produce an incredible amount of pollution, to the point of sometimes causing die-offs and negatively impacting eco-systems for years afterward. Droughts happened long before we started messing with the global temperature. For that matter, there are some Christians who totally go into the Earth stewardship movement as well. They also defend their beliefs by saying there’s a wide range of specifics and actions. From an atheist perspective, the structure of your claims means little more than any other believer. That’s not misogyny, that’s logic.

    I’m not issuing a ‘global condemnation of all religion as patriarchal’, I’m saying that, regardless of the gender of their claims, they make the same assumptions that they can’t prove. When was the last time praying to Diana protected someone from a rape? Has anyone produced results that praying to Astarte alone with no other factors helped them conceive? Can a worshipper of Demeter cure cancer? Catholic popes have also accepted evolution; so if we want to look into similarity of claims you might want to pull out a magnifying glass.

  • Emburii

    I will, however, concede that on further reading the proof on female culpability for sacred prostitution or even its Greek and Babylonian veracity does seem to be lacking. Thank you for the suggestion to look into it.

  • Ariadne

    Emburii,

    We live in a deeply patriarchal society. I will, as the bumper sticker says, be a post-feminist in the post-patriarchy — not before.

    You also make many theistic assumptions that I do not share. The best one-line statement of Goddess spirituality I have ever encountered is Alice Walkers “Goddess sees through your eyes & is your hand”. This line expresses an immanentist process thealogy, not a transcendent theistic one. If we want to do something about global warming, it is not up an external deity to do it. It is up to us to do it, and our doing it would be an expression of our participation in the sacred.

    As for FGM, I suggest you look a bit deeper than the standard long-exploded patriarchal propaganda that “women do it to themselves”. A good place to start is the book by Alice Walker and Pratibha Parmar, “Warrior Marks: female genital mutilation and the sexual blinding of women”.

  • Emburii

    I consider myself a feminist as part of the subset of equal rights and social justice, so I understand what you mean.

    You misrepresent me, though; it is not ‘women do it to themselves’. It is ‘people (and woman as people are included in this) act unjustly to other people (which, again, might include other women)’. Yes, women often tear each other down for the sake of patriarchal norms, but at the same time they are not immune to malice or ambition and may actually hurt each other for their own reasons, including religious passion. To presume that women are automatically better, smarter, wiser, more compassionate, is objectifying. We are no less in any of these things, either, but to assume that any powerful matriarchal system would automatically be better is naive at best.

    As for taking care of the planet it is up to us, because a/the Goddess that could do it for us does not exist except as a social construct and anthropomorphic representation of reality. To invoke it as faith or reason to do ethical things has the same problems as any other religion in existence; Greta Christina’s criticisms on the armor of faith apply, for instance. The arguments against Paul Tillich’s overly vague ‘God as the ground of all being’ also apply. In the end most of the ideas in more matriarchal religions can and should be stripped of their mystical claims and just addressed as ethics; when there is unfairness and unequal treatment, as exists in most modern cultures, we should try to correct it. When there is a threat to resources we all need, we should work together to preserve and allot those resources fairly. People are responsible for their own actions, though we should keep in mind extenuating factors and act accordingly. But then again one could do the same to Christianity, or Islam, or Hinduism; there are women who have ‘reclaimed’ these patriarchal religions as feminist. In the end, what makes your vague godess-concept more compelling than their tamed ‘white Christ’ or religion of peace or vibrant rethinking? At that point, doesn’t it all boil down to the ethics rather than the gender anyway?

  • Emburii

    By the way, in looking at what pictures and videos are available of FGM procedures, it’s mostly women holding the little girls down. One clip has the women of a Sierra Leone village carrying a little girl into the bush for ‘picking the ripe mangoes’. They’re cheering. Admittedly un-’circumcised’ girls have a much harder time of getting married, so it’s a mix of of male culture and female custom. But to absolve the woman holding the knife of all responsibility when a little girl who’s been butchered dies of sepsis later? Is barbaric. To say that she doesn’t know what ahe’s doing because some man told her otherwise? Is condescending. At that point we might as well also absolve every man who rapes, because they don’t know any better in our patriarchal society.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    The best thing a woman can do to attain and protect her own human rights, as well as those of her sisters around the globe is to reject religion.

    There is no such thing as a religious feminist — this is an oxymoron if ever there was one.

    And, I am so sick and tired of the “women are the ones perpetuating the patriarchal, tribal, religio-cultural traditions” argument that I could spew.

    So? Changes nothing.

    I am all about holding women just as accountable for their human rights abuses as men. There is no victimhood get out of jail free card.

    And, I am all about expecting women to stand up for themselves and claim their human rights.

    “Religious Women Hate Their Children”

    That’s the title of the next piece I’m working on.

  • Emburii

    Sarah, I’m not entirely sure why my arguments would make you want to spew, considering that you seem to agree with them? Unless your ire is more directed at the other side of the comments?

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    Emburii,

    No worries. Was just a general comment directed toward “those who say such things to justify religion.”

    Just because it is done by a woman’s hands does not make it feminist.

    You and me, we’re like peas and carrots.

    I’m not down with the Goddess either. Tribalism — dress it up however you like; it’s still in group / out group divisive nonsense. Not to mention the whole adulation of delusional belief thing.

    Do I think we would have been better off (we’ve already had this discussion once upon another thread) if we had stuck with the pagan/nature religions and skipped the whole monotheistic, Abrahamic, patriarchal, desert tribal cults?

    As my grandpa says, “You betcha.”

  • Emburii

    Ah, good! That’s what I figured.

    It’s also depressing how Goddess-worship is so tied up with Newage woo. Crystals for healing energy, black candles to invoke Hecate; it has exactly the same evidence as crosses or holy relics curing cancer, or prophets preaching hellfire. There are plenty of women who believe these things and some of them use it on their children, proving that credulity and negligence have no gender.

  • Ariadne

    Emburii,

    Feminist spirituality is not an “explanatory theory”. It is a spiritual praxis with political and ecological aspects. We will have cognitive biases no matter what we do. In fact, cognitive psychology would deny that thinking is possible without them. But it makes a great difference for our long term welfare — and even survival — whether those biases favor domination and control, or nurturing and cooperation.

    Spirituality is the use of techniques for deliberately altering cognitive and emotional biases over time. It is folk psychotherapy, with roots that go back into prehistory. It can be done in ways that promote feminism, social justice and ecological sustainability — hence “ecofeminism”. It can also be, and often is, done in ways that promote xenophobia, homophobia, privilege, and authoritarianism. It can be, and often is, used manipulatively — to create a population who can easily be fleeced.

    But the solution, in my opinion, is to understand the techniques through practice, to use them consciously and deliberately and with (feminist, in my case) community discussion of goals. Then it will be much more difficult to be controlled by mullahs, advertising agencies, and political hacks exploiting these techniques.

    Ariadne

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    I have a longer comment to follow later, but I just wanted to say:

    Modern western atheism (Dennet, Dawkins etc) may no longer be openly misogynist, but it still embraces many patriarchal capitalist ideas such as resourcism, mechanistic reductionism, rugged individualism etc.

    …”resourcism”?

  • Ariadne

    Candles and crystals, oh my, oh my!

    So you have never, ever, enjoyed a bath with a candle & a glass of wine (or tea)? Poor you! :-)

    And if you *have*, then you have unwittingly indulged in a Forbidden Feminist Pagan Goddess Ritual!

    Oh noes! Call the Epistemology Police!

  • Alex Weaver

    How can a “matriarchal,” or any “[subgroup]archal,” culture be “egalitarian?”

  • Alex Weaver

    Candles and crystals, oh my, oh my!

    So you have never, ever, enjoyed a bath with a candle & a glass of wine (or tea)? Poor you! :-)

    And if you *have*, then you have unwittingly indulged in a Forbidden Feminist Pagan Goddess Ritual!

    Oh noes! Call the Epistemology Police!

    What.

  • Ariadne

    Resourcism:

    Is the view that nature consists purely of economic resources. A resourcist would, for example, reject an argument that anything in nature ought to be respected or protected unless it produces a economic benefit for some human(s). E.g. the only value of a forest is its market value as construction materials and fiber. You can’t say e.g. that forest is so old it is sacred and ought to be left alone. That would be Woo. Only money is not Woo.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    Ariadne,

    Your position is soooo fatalistic. Talk about capitulation. That is not a humanist position.

    We have to choose bias, so choose mine, because it’s better (more moral) than the others.

    I reject your premise.

    Your comment reminded me of when I was sitting with the Senior Legal Counsel to the PM of Ethiopia, one of the primary drafters of Ethiopia’s Constitution, and he said to me (almost verbatim quote), you will have tyranny, no matter your course, you have only to choose between tyranny of the many or tyranny of the few, and we have chosen tyranny of the many.

    I will tell you what I told him — that despite your New Age woo and delusional thinking,

    You lack vision.

    I’ll take vision over a bath with a candle any day.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    And,

    manipulation, or, as you put it, deliberately altering cognitive and emotional biases, to your own ends, is still abusive manipulation, no matter how just you think your ends might be.

  • Emburii

    Ariadne, I identified earlier as a secular Neo-Pagan specifically because I enjoy such rituals. I have five different versions of ‘We All Come From The Goddess’ on my mp3 player. I’ve even had dreams and spiritual experiences of a Goddess figure (and a horned male figure with her). And I love candles. :p Nothing unwitting about it. But praying to the Bright Lady doesn’t produce any more results than blind chance, so I treat the entire situation as an interesting story and a psychological quirk; it’s far more likely that ‘Her’ impression in my mind is the standard human fallacy of personification. If I don’t accept a Christian telling me about this time God totally talked to them, I’m not about to assert my neural artefacts as some universal truth.
    Approaching nature and our impact on it with respect is good. I also people enjoying cultural or historical narratives and bonding according to what elements speak most to them. It becomes a problem, though, when people use their ‘spirituality’ to replace proof and logic. You claim that Goddess-worship is not an explanatory system, but there are probably people who see it as exactly that in terms of their worldviews. If part of their spirituality involves praying to Demeter, for instance, and refusing vaccines for their children because ‘the Goddess will keep them safe’, well, that’s their spirituality. What would you say to them?

  • Ariadne

    So cognitive science goes out the window if does not support your prejudices?

    This is why I reject “atheism”. Atheists pick and choose the “science” that supports their pre-existing prejudices. I’ve known atheists who thought that global warming and even ozone depletion were communist conspiracies to destroy the west. I’ve known an anti-feminist atheist who started http://www.patriarchy.com (now thankfully defunct) because his wife left him.

    Atheism is a process of self-delusion which convinces the practitioner that his or her prejudices are Rational, and that any one who thinks otherwise is Irrational. It is a closed belief system, once it has done its work. It also appears to breed dogmatism and intolerance.

    And it’s an unsellable product, filled with bile as it is. I will put my trust in candles and joy :-)

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    That is such tired and asinine tripe.

    I don’t even believe that you believe what you just wrote.

    I think you’re in a corner and you’re falling back on the “oh, really, well, atheism is a religion too” crap.

    With a dash of pseudo-scientific religious justification thrown in for good measure.

  • Alex Weaver

    Ariadne, you also consider “rudimentary intellectual honesty” a “patriarchal” value?

    Because otherwise, perhaps you ought to be practicing it.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    If you don’t have anything better to offer than that, I have better things to do with my time.

    Have a good night.

  • Emburii

    Atheism is a process of self-delusion? HOW? It specifically strips away delusion by demanding proof. Furthermore, you’re broadly over-exaggerating if you think it’s a ‘closed belief system, once it has done its work’; many atheists at least on the subject of deities and their existence are very willing to look at the evidence. There’s just one problem; it isn’t there for anyone, the ‘Goddess’ included. If you have consistent data that is only supported by a female deity and cannot be explained otherwise, I’ll listen. Funny how rather than presenting such information you resort to name-calling, though. How…patriarchal.

    (Oh, oh! How cute that you insinuate that we can’t possibly have joy in our lives! I’ve heard that line before! It’s just usually from men talking about how as a feminist I have to be bitter and unhappy because I can’t possibly enjoy anything in life. Again, how…patriarchal.)

  • Ariadne

    Emburii,

    I’m sorry, I didn’t see your earlier post about Neo-paganism. I agree with you that there are people who genuinely think that a candle ritual might stop something that needs to be checked by a doctor ASAP. I have met a few such people. Needless to say, I would urge the doctor visit first, and the candle ritual for additional relaxation… as a supplement to whatever treatment is medically indicated.

    Similarly, a ritual that relieves anxiety and makes you feel more protected can be a very nice thing, but I wouldn’t suggest replacing your pepper spray, if you carry it, with a tiny statue of Kuan Yin.

    This I think is a educational problem. I am studying bioinformatics at grad level and have a good deal of educational background in science and math. So my spiritual teaching weaves evolutionary biology, astronomy etc in with mythic goddess material. I try to “spiritualize” the account of evolution biology gives — to give “Goddess” a body made up of the biological tree of life and living through ecological processes. That is what I try to convey. But I know that sometimes this does not get through to people who have no educational background for it.

    Ariadne

  • Ariadne

    “Atheism is a process of self-delusion? HOW? It specifically strips away delusion by demanding proof.”

    Cog sci again: it’s impossible to have “proof” for everything you believe. We think through heuristics, and the vast majority of them are unconscious.

    What happens to many atheists is that they *convince* themselves that everything they believe is proven. When that is challenged, as I am doing now, some of them flip out completely. Not all do, but many do. That’s the same sort of reaction you get when a fundie who believes that the Bible is the Literal Word of God meets someone who starts telling them about Hinduism.

  • Emburii

    We can’t prove everything, but we can put together a hierarchy of those facts that are most useful and have the most chance of being true. Heuristically, religion has less of a chance of being true and more of being an artifact of cognitive bias, primitive pattern organization, and cultural exposure. It is not that I know there is not a god, but that the evidence is too weak and contradictory to actually support any meaningful deistic hypothesis.

    Oh, and now it’s about education! Obviously I’m just not smart enough to agree with you, huh?

    So you’re taking what we can prove and adding superfluous elements of projection and anthropomorphic fiction. Why ‘spiritualize’ it? I understand completely what you’re doing and why, but you still haven’t managed to convey how that actually helps the material. The first single-celled organisms didn’t even have gender! There is no sapient progressive agency behind ecological processes (i.e, predators declining to snack on young animals when hungry to help preserve the prey population), either, other than the ones humans have inserted themselves into, so again the comparison is baseless at best.

    Fuck you and your condescending attitude. I’ve heard that line, too, again from men who haven’t actually proven their arguments. ‘I have a degree in Economics and the CEOs deserve their millions after they’ve defrauded their workers’ pension funds, but of course you couldn’t possibly understand what I’m saying.’

    Again, FUCK YOU. For someone who hates the patriarchy, you’re certainly hitting most of its bingo squares.

  • Ariadne

    Embruii,

    My apologies. I did not mean that you personally are incapable of understanding. I see that I did not write clearly. I intended to say that, in the past, I have taught feminist spirituality to others and attempted to weave in materials from evolutionary biology.

    BTW I know biologists who are (closet) Gaian-style spiritual people. None of them believe that evolution is “conscious” in any human sense of the word. They just feel it is *wise* — filled with a genetic wisdom that has been honed for 4 billion years of “experience” of biological opulence and survival.

  • Emburii

    You don’t seem to mean a lot of things, and yet you keep pushing your foot down your throat one toe at a time. Maybe it’s a sign that you’re just a little off-base? For that matter, why talk to me? I’m a ‘close-minded atheist’, remember? The ‘work is done’? Or am I just not one of those nasty men like Dawkins, so I can’t possibly count? You dismiss atheism as this purely patriarchal thing, and yet you’re the one insulting another woman and presuming that she’s not capable of thinking things through. You are the man in a feminist website’s comment that talks about how women really are less intelligent and they’re just do /defensive/ about it. Please, please, check your privilege.

    BTW, there are biologists who are Creationist Christians. It doesn’t make them right, and it doesn’t support their view of the world. Nature is breathtaking in its complexity, but it isn’t ‘wise’; the grafting of human nature and values is still baseless and even misleading.

  • Ariadne

    “manipulation, or, as you put it, deliberately altering cognitive and emotional biases, to your own ends, is still abusive manipulation, no matter how just you think your ends might be.”

    Yes, I agree. It is abusive when it is done for a teacher (or therapist’s) own ends.

    That is why we believe in teaching the techniques so that people can use them themselves, for their own chosen ends.

  • Ariadne

    Emburii,

    I don’t know anything about you beyond what you have written in this one thread. I will leave your space now, and I wish you peace and hope that you continue writing.

    Thank you,
    Ariadne

  • Emburii

    You didn’t know and you didn’t stop to think, because in your closed loop belief all atheists are old white men like Dawkins. Women can’t possibly have come to the same atheistic conclusions for their own thought-out reasons, right?

    I wish you growth and learning, especially from this experience.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    Ariadne,

    So are you teaching these techniques, so that people can manipulating themselves or others?

    And, if someone purposefully wishes to use these techniques of manipulation on others for their own ends, ends which you would most likely, from what you’ve stated above, deem immoral?

    This is such drivel.

    You admit that your Goddess religion is not true.

    You admit that your Goddess religion is a system of social control and manipulation.

    You admit that, in your worldview, the best we can hope for is to be a manipulative authoritarian master, one of the hopeless, duped masses, or a part of a dog eat dog system in which each is attempting to either self-delude (I’m not sure to what purpose) or to manipulate everyone around him/her to his/her own ends.

    And, you suggest that this is justified scientifically, because of universal skepticism? Because we can never be 100% sure of anything?

    I have to be honest. I’m not really sure why you thought you could come on a website filled with rationalists, scientific naturalists, freethinkers, atheists, materialists, etc., etc., and get away with this nonsense.

    You thought this would commend your position to us? How is your position different than any other religion? Answer: it’s not. You just think it is, because you think your ends are the right ends. Well, guess what? Everybody thinks their ends are the “right” ends.

    It sounds an awful lot like every other religion I’ve ever heard of.

    And, it doesn’t really sound like there’s anything feminist about your “goddess” religion to me.

    Except for maybe the bath and the candles.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    Here’s a thought:

    If you want to take a bath, take a bath.

    If you want to light a candle, light a candle.

    But, don’t think that that makes you a feminist. Or a humanist.

    And, don’t think that that makes you right, or better than anyone else.

  • Emburii

    I don’t know if she’s reading anymore.

    Maybe next time she’ll remember there might be another woman behind the keyboard, since that seems to be the only way she’ll actually respect the other person’s arguments. Maybe she’ll even pay attention to what they’re saying, rather than assuming they’ve made their decisions just because they’re close-minded or stupid.

  • Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

    Emburii,

    I’m going to go take a bath and light a candle.

    It actually is quite relaxing.

    Have a good night. I wish you well.

  • Nathaniel

    Jesus. We’ve had Christianists here before, but I never that we’d get a drive-by from one of the Woo brigade.

  • http://kagerato.net kagerato

    I’m glad we have Sarah and Emburii around. I don’t even have to try :)

    It’s so odd, though, that the instigator always runs off right when we’re about to get to the heart of it, isn’t it?

  • Julanar

    Atheism is not a belief “system.” Atheism is the belief that there is/are no god(s) of any kind. Period.

    Atheists can be feminist, sexist, capitalist, socialist, rational, irrational, scientifically educated, scientifically ignorant, environmentalist, anti-environmentalist, rational, irrational, etc. etc. etc.

    None of these characteristics makes a person more or less of an atheist, nor do they somehow make atheism better or worse. The philosophical ideas that an individual atheist has are a reflection of the person and the philosophy, not of atheism itself.

  • Julanar

    I should be clearer as to what my point is regarding this argument that’s going on:

    If you want to argue about whether or not a religious/spiritual belief is harmful or stupid, go ahead, even though I personally think you should both just cut the crap and agree to disagree. But don’t break it over the backs of atheists – not only for the reasons stated above, but also because they make up a large portion of the audience here (the blog IS called “Daylight Atheism.”) And, judging by some recent comments, I’d say that most of the audience is ready to go to bed.

  • Syn

    I read through this whole comment thread and I was astonished at how nasty it got with how little reason. While I would put intellectual honesty as one of my primary values, I agree with Ariadne that using some metaphor & ritual (not her words) to help center your emotional and intellectual response to a terribly complex and disorienting social/political environment is a rational and sane thing to do, as long as it remains self-directed. I thought that characterizing her input as a “drive-through by one of the woo brigade (Nathaniel)” was completely unjustified.
    Middengeard is one complicated place, and people are animals, not computers.

  • Nathaniel

    I at least, didn’t object to her talking about participating in ritual. What made me roll my eyes was the implication that a focus on science and facts was “patriarchal” and New Atheists religion.

  • Emburii

    I didn’t mind her mentioning or using metaphor or ritual, either. I did mind when she started making blanket statements about atheism that were just as dismissive and harmful as the attitudes she claims to hate from the patriarchy. It’s one thing to put a human face on the universe as a cognitive handle and understand it as such but it’s completely another to claim that all atheists are old white men and that women can’t possibly be responsible for their own actions, the poor dears. She compared us to priest and called us close-minded and delusional because she somehow knew better than we did what we thought. How was it nasty to point out exactly what kind of damage she was doing, along the same lines as a patriarchal religion to another woman no less?

  • http://kagerato.net kagerato

    I didn’t read anyone objecting to “metaphor and ritual”. The contested points are these:

    [comment #8]

    (1) Atheism is patriarchical,
    (2) Nature requires “spiritual” respect,
    (3) Ancient pagan traditions have something to do with evolution,
    (4) “Matrifocal” societies lead to inherently superior outcomes,
    (5) The leadership and control of the atheist movement is consumed by men who are merely fighting “power plays” with patriarchical religion.

    [comment #9]

    (6) There was an “ideal true religion” of the deep past, which was already extinct and apparently unknown by Roman times.

    [comment #14]

    (7) That there is meaning to this concept of a goddess spirit which apparently has neither impact nor verifiable reality in the world.
    (8) Women don’t play a significant role in perpetuating traditions oppressive to women.

    [comment #21]

    (9) Cognitive bias implies we cannot know anything meaningfully. Presumably implying that it’s fair to believe anything you want, no matter how preposterous.
    (10) The ends justify the means.

    [comment #26]

    (11) That natural resources such as forests have inherent “sacred” value, completely independent of their utility in any sense to people. I support conservation and reforestation efforts as much as anyone, but not because trees are magic.

    [comment #30]

    (12) Atheists have some kind of especially selective interpretation of science that no other group and no other people have.
    (13) Global warming deniers, anti-feminists, and other far right activists are representative of atheists.
    (14) Atheism is a “process of self-delusion … a closed belief system … {that breeds} dogmatism and intolerance”. By implication, religion is something opposite this.

    [comment #35]

    (15) Mixing together random unspecified and otherwise irrelevant elements of bioinformatics, evolution, astronomy, and ecology together strengthens my position and makes me much smarter than you.
    (16) You clearly have no understanding of these subjects because you don’t agree with me. Nyah, nyah.

    [comment #36]

    (17) Can’t prove anything. Again.
    (18) Atheists are so self-confidently convinced that they can’t be persuaded. Why, they’re just like fundamentalists.

    [comment #38]

    (19) There is “wisdom” in evolution, even though it is not “conscious” or human in any sense. What that is even supposed to mean is left completely unsaid.

    [comment #40]

    (20) It would be abusive if people were to deliberately control others’ emotional and cognitive biases for their own ends. That’s why we’ll teach them how to do exactly that.

    Syn, go re-read the thread. You were clearly half awake the first time.

  • Alex Weaver

    While I would put intellectual honesty as one of my primary values, I agree with Ariadne that using some metaphor & ritual (not her words) to help center your emotional and intellectual response to a terribly complex and disorienting social/political environment is a rational and sane thing to do, as long as it remains self-directed.

    That’s not what she appeared to be promoting, it’s not what she straightforwardly said (to the extent she “straightforwardly said” anything), and it’s not a position anyone was actually contesting.

    And I’m reasonably certain you know it.

    Syn, go re-read the thread. You were clearly half awake the first time.

    Or lying like a rug about intellectual honesty being one of your values.

    kagerato, good summary, but I think the fact that she absolutely refused to respond to the points people were actually making in a germane, cogent fashion is worth some more emphasis. In fact, it was pretty much all this “I’m smarter than you” bullshit.

  • Syn

    Kageratu, I did go back and reread & you are right that I blew by some silly and offensive statements on Ariadne’s part.
    Since this thread was originally about how bad religion is for women (“the success of atheism and the success of feminism are inextricably linked”), it was inevitable that someone would point out that not all religion is patriarchal, and that there are plenty of patriarchal atheists.
    I think there is a big difference between understanding religion as a development of your own relationship with the world and understanding it as a statement of facts about the world. It’s a distinction that is easy to lose, because the language used to talk about both is similar. I think it got fuzzed up plenty in this discussion, by both sides.

  • Emburii

    Even as a ‘development of one’s relationship to the world’, religion is problematic. We’re not ‘fuzzing that up’ on our side, we just don’t agree that it’s necessary. One of the most annoying tactics religionists use is of accusing dissidents of not understanding their position, as it were inevitable that people would come around to their worldview if they did. It’s a familiar refrain but hardly a pleasant tune, and you can’t even sing it with passion.
    You also keep accusing both sides of being nasty or dense, but you haven’t yet pointed out concrete examples from me or Sarah. Please don’t try to ‘teach the controversy’, so to speak.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Possibly all the earlier participants are already gone, but I’d like to chime in…

    That mention of Enheduanna was interesting and new to me; she sounds like a person I should learn more about. Nevertheless, I think there’s a subtle No True Scotsman argument going on here. I mean, when I read comments like these in close succession:

    Matriarchal religions revere women as the source of life and promote an egalitarian, rule by consensus system that benefits all members of society. I know this is an atheist site, but it’s not fair to lump Goddess religion in with the Abrahamic patriarchies. We’re nothing alike.

    By the time of the Roman Vestal Virgins, we are deep into patriarchal state society. They represent only the most distant memory of matriarchal religion… For an older, stronger draught, but still one drawn from inside patriarchal state society, read Enheduanna.

    I’ve seen this in a post on communism as well: people who are insistent that real communism has never been tried, but equally certain without evidence that it would create a marvelous utopia. If even the empire of Akkad, over four thousand years ago, was already deeply invested with patriarchy, then there is no society in written history that was not a patriarchy. How on earth can anyone speak on behalf of matriarchal religions that no longer exist, much less presume to state confidently how much better things would be if they ran society?

    To argue that all bad things are male and that matriarchal societies would be perfect is just another form of tokenism and fallacy. Women are some of the staunchest adherents to tradition; FGM is often carried out by women, on direction from female members of the family.

    A very good point, Emburii. I can cite another, from Half the Sky: many of the brothels in India that sell trafficked women are themselves run by women. This isn’t to assign blame, just to show that the solution to patriarchy and brutality is nowhere near as simple as “put the women in charge”.

    The best one-line statement of Goddess spirituality I have ever encountered is Alice Walkers “Goddess sees through your eyes & is your hand”. This line expresses an immanentist process thealogy, not a transcendent theistic one. If we want to do something about global warming, it is not up an external deity to do it. It is up to us to do it, and our doing it would be an expression of our participation in the sacred.

    That’s fine by me, Ariadne, but then what do you gain by using the term “Goddess” at all? Why not just give the credit to the human beings who do these worthy deeds, and discard the theistic-sounding window dressing that adds nothing to your meaning?

    You might as well say, “Santa Claus exists, by which I mean the spirit of Santa Claus works through our parents when they buy presents and leave them under the tree.” You’re misusing words in a way that just invites confusion.

  • Alex Weaver

    That’s fine by me, Ariadne, but then what do you gain by using the term “Goddess” at all? Why not just give the credit to the human beings who do these worthy deeds, and discard the theistic-sounding window dressing that adds nothing to your meaning?

    You might as well say, “Santa Claus exists, by which I mean the spirit of Santa Claus works through our parents when they buy presents and leave them under the tree.” You’re misusing words in a way that just invites confusion.

    Given that phrasing, it suddenly occurs to me that this might be relevant.

  • http://forums.penny-arcade.com/ Jeep-Eep

    I really freaking HATE XKCD.

  • Alex Weaver

    I really freaking HATE XKCD.

    I literally can’t imagine why, but that’s unfortunate.

  • http://forums.penny-arcade.com/ Jeep-Eep

    Because it’s just arrogant nerd-wankery*, and SMBC does everything it does that is good better with better art.

    *If I wanted that bullshite, I’d read Something Awful columns. Pretty much the same thing, but with more hipster racism.

  • Emburii

    Huh. I’d actually gotten more of a hipster misogynist impression from SMBC than I do from XKCD, and XKCD does have that brilliant takedown of the ‘the next Marie Curie’ platitude.

  • http://politicalgames.posterous.com themann1086

    Of course, Zach (SMBC) and Randall (XKCD) are good friends and have guest-posted on each other’s sites.

  • Rollingforest

    @Emburii: Do you have any evidence to back up this “impression” of yours, or are you just making this assumption off of the fact that the author is male?

  • Emburii

    I don’t have specific circumstances or strips to list off, hence the wording of it as my impression rather than asserting it as fact. I’m not really sure how that merits a combative response complete with scare quotes, but whatever. It’s not worth trying to have a civil discussion if you’ve already decided that I’m sexist and irrational.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Rollingforest, given Emburii’s saying that she finds XKCD less sexist than SMBC despite their both being drawn by men, I fail to see the reason for your immediate leap to question her motives.

  • Rollingforest

    What I’m saying is that the word “misogynist” gets tossed around a lot in the atheist community, in many cases with little evidence to back it up. In many of those cases, a woman could do the exact same thing and not be accused, but if a man does that same thing, many people in the atheist community assume the worst. Calling someone a misogynist is a serious claim and I think it is very unfair to attack these men’s reputations unless you have very strong proof supporting those claims. Evidence must be paramount.

  • Rollingforest

    Though I will admit that perhaps I don’t read enough atheist blogs to get an accurate picture of the whole community. I know that blaghag.com, which I read for almost a year, did this all the time where, while there was often a legitimate non-gender issue, the negative assumptions involving gender relations were not proven by the facts provided and where the person accused wouldn’t have faced the assumptions if they had been a woman doing the exact same thing. The commenters were even worse (though this is true of all blogs I guess). PZ Myers does this from time to time as well. Jen and PZ mean well, but too often it turns into a witch hunt. I will admit that the few other blogs I read are more even handed, though there is the occasional commenter who makes the negative assumptions. Maybe the commenter above has reason to support their view, but they have to prove it before people just accept it on faith.

  • Rollingforest

    I haven’t spent much time on slacktivist, but from what little I did, I’ve seen the issue there as well. That might be due somewhat to the nature of the blog which seems to accept submissions from many different people so that no one has to build a reputation long term on slacktivist.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    Jen and PZ mean well, but too often it turns into a witch hunt.

    If that’s your opinion, fine. Immediately asserting that another commenter must hate men because she accused one particular man of sexist behavior, however, is not OK. At the moment, this is friendly advice. Please take it to heart so it doesn’t need to become anything else.

  • http://kagerato.net kagerato

    Maybe the commenter above has reason to support their view, but they have to prove it before people just accept it on faith.

    You first. Someone stated their impression, purely as an opinion. I don’t read either of those comics regularly, so I can’t say much about it. However, your response reads very much as though you took it as a personal attack, which is more than odd.

    Then you go on to attack BlagHag, Pharyngula, and Slacktivist. All without presenting any of the evidence you demand of others.

  • Utopia Bold

    According Comment #16 by: Emburii | June 22, 2011, “it’s mostly women holding the little girls down (for genital mutilation) . Admittedly un-’circumcised’ girls have a much harder time of getting married, so it’s a mix of of male culture and female custom”

    As usual, MEN must blame the women (who are ground down under patriarch)y for their own degradation.

    It is ***MEN who require*** that girls be mutilated to destroy their sexuality to make them “acceptable” to marry. Over many generations, woman have been forced to internalize FGM as acceptable to save their daughters from prostitution (also required by MEN). Just as today, many mothers proudly let their children (mostly sons) go to war and even feel honored when their children are killed in war (started by MEN)

    In addition to patriarchal global culture (enforced with beatings, rapes and murder to control women) men drag out their mighty sky gods to control women spiritually.

    Globally, male supremacists still use their various “gods” like ventriliquist dummies when they wrote the scriptures of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Shintoism, and Buddhism. Organized religion was organized for men to cause women to obey.

    Since “gods word” was written by men, men don’t “play god,” men virtually ARE god! They even set themselves up as the “gods” of women! Consider the following cosmic BS:

    “Wives, submit yourselves unto your husbands, for the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church.”— Ephesians 5:23-24.

    “A woman must never be free of subjugation.”— Hindu code of Manu V.

    “Suffer not woman to teach nor to usurp authority over the man.” —Timothy 1:11-12.

    “God formed her body to belong to a man, to have and to rear children. Let them bear children till they die of it.”— Martin Luther.

    “Your women are fields for you to cultivate, so go to your field as you will.”— Koran 2:223.

    Read “A Women’s Book of Choices” and visit http://www.geocities.com/sister_zeus/. Learn to control your reproduction without having to ask permission of mens churches or laws.

    What is the real meaning of sin?
    As ex-catholic scholar Mary Daly said “Ever since childhood, I’ve been honing my skills for living the life of a radical feminist pirate and cultivating the courage to win.”
    “Women who are pirates in a phallocratic society are involved in a complex operation. First it is necessary to plunder–that is, righteously rip off gems of knowledge that the patriarchs have stolen from us. Second, we must smuggle back to other women our plundered treasures.”

    “The word ‘sin’ is derived from the Indo-European root ‘es’ meaning ‘to be.’ When I discovered this etymology, I intuitively understood that for a woman trapped in patriarchy, which is the religion of the entire planet, ‘to be’ in the fullest sense is ‘to sin.’”—Mary Daly

    Thus,”sin” is anything women do that MEN dont want them to do and “virtue” is what women who obey men do.

  • Alex Weaver

    What I’m saying is that the word “misogynist” gets tossed around a lot in the atheist community, in many cases with little evidence to back it up. In many of those cases, a woman could do the exact same thing and not be accused, but if a man does that same thing, many people in the atheist community assume the worst. Calling someone a misogynist is a serious claim and I think it is very unfair to attack these men’s reputations unless you have very strong proof supporting those claims. Evidence must be paramount.

    Though I will admit that perhaps I don’t read enough atheist blogs to get an accurate picture of the whole community. I know that blaghag.com, which I read for almost a year, did this all the time where, while there was often a legitimate non-gender issue, the negative assumptions involving gender relations were not proven by the facts provided and where the person accused wouldn’t have faced the assumptions if they had been a woman doing the exact same thing. The commenters were even worse (though this is true of all blogs I guess). PZ Myers does this from time to time as well. Jen and PZ mean well, but too often it turns into a witch hunt. I will admit that the few other blogs I read are more even handed, though there is the occasional commenter who makes the negative assumptions. Maybe the commenter above has reason to support their view, but they have to prove it before people just accept it on faith.

    Are you seriously trying to argue that pattern recognition is unethical?

  • Alex Weaver

    PS:

    PZ Myers does this from time to time as well. Jen and PZ mean well, but too often it turns into a witch hunt.

    The closest PZ has come to a “witch hunt” on gender issues is when he asserted that men who prefer their partners shave their pubic hair are probably all closeted pedophiles. Then asserted it again after a bunch of people explained that this wasn’t the case and what the actual reasons behind such preferences were. Jen is in fact a bigot – a horrible, seething, even violent misoarachnidist, no less – but mostly keeps it to herself, and is generally reasonable and illuminating on gender issues (both are possibly wrong once in a while – I’m having a hard time thinking of instances though).

    If you think either of those blogs’ discussion of gender is accurately described as a “witchhunt,” I’d be slightly interested to hear how you’ll smarmily dismiss advice to read up on the concept of “privilege” (you’re oozing it) and actually think about it.

  • Jormungundr

    @#73 Utopia Bold:

    It is ***MEN who require*** that girls be mutilated to destroy their sexuality to make them “acceptable” to marry.

    I took an international feminism and gender class a while ago. In it we learned that when African men in regions where FGM is common are polled, most claim that they are against it and would prefer a wife who has not been mutilated. What I learned in that class is the opposite of what you are claiming. The men don’t like FGM, but they have no choice in the matter. We read some stories of men who tried to keep their daughters from being mutilated, but failed to do so since their female relatives do it without their knowledge or consent.
    Either the course material of that class was very wrong, you are wrong, or both of us are working off of flawed or partial flawed information. I don’t suppose that you have some explanation for this behavior that involves the patriarchy and a ‘male supremacist’ conspiracy even though men generally don’t like FGM even in the regions where it is common?

    Apparently the “atheists” think it is time for the black-robed guys to go away so that the white lab-coated guys can take over. Their new priesthood is presumably going to be made up of biotech entrepreneurs.

    Is there really a serious problem among atheists of advocacy for a technocracy? Is advocating that we take our advice from scientists as opposed to priests a sinister or bad idea that atheists should oppose?

  • Alex Weaver

    Is there really a serious problem among atheists of advocacy for a technocracy? Is advocating that we take our advice from scientists as opposed to priests a sinister or bad idea that atheists should oppose?

    I see you’ve mistaken Ariadne for someone arguing in good faith.

  • Rollingforest

    Well, here is my response to the past couple of posts. I know this is a sensitive topic, but I’m not one to shy from debate. Hopefully I and everyone else can have a productive and enlightening discussion without any personal attacks or anger.

    @Ebon:

    I apologize for not giving Embruii the benefit of the doubt. It’s just that too many times I’ve heard nasty accusations made against men without evidence in situations where a woman doing the exact same thing would not be accused. I understand that women have faced great discrimination throughout history, but in the light of gender equality we must treat people the same regardless of their gender. That doesn’t always seem to be the case, even among those advocating gender equality. We must be careful that bias does not exist in either direction. One at a time, these discrepancies might seem harmless. But in a community like the Atheist community that takes woman’s rights very seriously, being falsely accused of sexism can destroy a person’s reputation. It seemed that it was happening again and I responded as if it might be. I should have let Embruii explain herself more, just as Embruii should have let Zach Weiner explain himself more.

    I did not mean to suggest that Embruii hated men. What I was trying to say (and please remember that I am simply trying to explain my past comment, which I hope I am allowed to do, not trying to remake the comment, so please don’t count this as another strike before I get a chance to explain myself) is that, if she made accusations against a man without evidence for something that she wouldn’t accuse a woman then she might have a bias. I’m not saying that that makes her a bad person. It is just something that may have been picked up along the way that needs to be watched out for. I would expect a woman to call out a man if he were doing the same thing.

    However, I must contrast your response to Embruii and your response to me. Remember that the word “misogynist” means “woman hater”. Embruii accused Zach Weiner of being a woman hater and you did not feel the need to respond to that. I asked (not declared. asked.) if her view of the situation might be bias based on the gender of the comic’s author and I get an official rebuke from you, the blog’s administrator. Why can Embruii or anyone else accuse Zach Weiner of being a woman-hater when he isn’t here to defend himself, but if I question the accuser’s motives, I am reprimanded for supposedly calling her a man-hater (even though that’s not what I said) and threatened with punishment? Why can Zach Weiner’s reputation be immediately bashed without evidence, but the accusers are defended from facing accusations of their own? And if a male commenter had called a female comic artist a misandrist and had a female commenter questioned whether he might not make those assumptions if a male artist had drawn the same pictures, would you have been so quick to threaten her with punishment? How are we supposed to have an honest discussion if certain suggestions are deemed to be off limits? I do not mean to be aggressive, but am just asking honest questions.

    @Kagerato:

    Would you find it odd if a woman took gender issues personally?

    But it is reasonable to ask for examples, so here you go.

    As for blaghag, there is the example posted on February 7th, 2011, when a woman criticized an Atheist panel for using the word ‘female’ (despite the fact that they had used the word ‘male’ extensively as well) and the panel and audience were less than receptive, the article suggested that the panel had rejected her simply because she was a woman, ignoring the fact that a man would have received the same or worse treatment for criticizing the panel on the use of the word ‘female’ (and would have been treated even worse if he suggested the word ‘male’ not be used). The panel might have been rude, but it is unnecessary to jump to the conclusion that they were targeting her based on her gender.

    Or how about the example from March 31st, 2011, where she criticizes Hemant from friendlyatheist when he posts a picture of Ricky Gervais and an interview with Kari Byron before joking that the whole post was an excuse to post pictures of Kari (something that all the readers got as a joke considering that the post focused on two different celebrities and included an in depth interview with Kari Byron). Joking that way about a male celebrity wouldn’t bring on criticism, but the assumption from blaghag was that the progressive atheist male community as a whole don’t respect women and aren’t able to understand that it was a joke, but perfectly able to understand if the same joke was aimed at a man. This, I think, is not an accurate description of the men in our progressive community.

    Or the example on May 22, 2011 where author David Eller commented that we need more Atheist cultural institutions and that funny or pretty Atheists often got the most attention, mentioning a specific one, Jen accused him for saying that girls are only valued for their looks (even though that’s not what he said). When Eller said “I apologize if I in any way demeaned women with that”, that he fully understood that the female blogger was professional and smart and that he was only commenting on the fact that looks do attract attention in today’s world (which is true), Jen declared it a “not-pology” and said that “when someone calls you out on something stupid you said that obviously upset the majority of the audience, stop at “but” before embarrassing yourself further” suggesting that she didn’t think anyone should be allowed to question her take on the situation and should instead just parrot what she said.

    Or the example on June 19th, 2011, where Jen declared that Rob Sherman, who was involved in a lawsuit to remove “In God We Trust” from the Pledge of Allegiance, was objectifying women because he said that some of the women he talked to were attractive. Never once did Rob Sherman say that he wouldn’t have talked with them if they weren’t attractive or that he valued what they said differently than anyone else. Nowhere in the post does it say that he ever made any inappropriate comments to them. If he had bombarded the girls with sexual references when they didn’t ask for it, that would be one thing, but he didn’t do that. All he did was later note that they were attractive. Because of that, Jen assumed that he was being dismissive of them as persons and seemed to assume that a man can’t respect a person and be attracted to them at the same time. If a woman atheist wrote that she talked to a handsome man, would Jen automatically assume that she had been disrespectful to him? No, it would be understood that she just found him attractive.

    As for PZ Myers, while discussing a gender related issue, he opened a thread saying that those who felt differently than him could “let the puss out”, because apparently he was disgusted that anyone would dare disagree with him on this issue. (I can’t locate the date it was posted right now, but I’ll try in the future)

    As for Slacktivist, the article I read was published on May 20th, 2011 and concerned the show “Supernatural”. The author declared to be a misogynist, woman-hating show, because the main character’s girlfriends get killed off and they mourn them (this despite the exceptions that the author points out). If the show had been created with female leads who have their boyfriends killed off and have to bury them, would that show be called a misandrist, man-hating show? No, it would be praised for being feminist because of its female leads. In most situations, we should try imagining situations where the genders (or races ect) are reversed and see if we would feel the same way. If not, then we have a double standard.

    But it is often the commenters who are by far the worst. You often hear it declared that anyone who disagreed with them is obviously a manspainer or a misogynist, case closed, no discussion needed, because obviously the commenters could never be misrepresenting the situation or have biases of their own. The prevalence of name calling and the lack of discussion on some of these threads is unsettling.

    Again, I’m not saying any of them are bad people. But I do think there is a bias in some of what is said, a bias that wouldn’t exist if the genders of those accused were switched, and it deserves to be pointed out just as much as any other bias or issue. My goal is not to call out specific people, but to comment on the trend as a whole.

    @Alex Weaver: You could say “There is a pattern, once you make corrections for population size, of blacks causing much more crime than whites. Therefore if a black person goes upstairs in your house, you should send someone up there to watch your valuables, while you don’t need to do that if a white person goes upstairs.” That is pattern recognition. It is also racist. Making negative assumptions based on a person’s gender is sexist. That’s my point.

    I never said that Jen is a bigot. I only said that she seems to have a bias. And saying “you just believe that because you’ve got privilege” seems little different from saying “I’m going to ignore what you said because it doesn’t fit my belief system.” (just like the Christians say “You can’t understand how real God is because you don’t believe in him.”) If I’m wrong, prove me wrong. You have to have more to your side of the argument than just my gender and the fact that I disagree with you.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    To anyone who’s curious about what the wrong response is in this scenario: that was it.

    I’m not going to use this thread as an occasion to rehash every single petulant and tiresome but-what-about-the-men argument from the past six months just because one person is still nursing grievances about them. Still less am I inclined to consider that massive regurgitation of a comment an excuse as regards that person’s conduct toward an individual who wasn’t even involved in any of those incidents.

    I’m closing this thread for now while I consider what to do about this.