Salon Asks: Why Aren’t Women Atheists More Visible?

Salon, which has a habit of publishing pieces that treat atheists unfavorably, posted an article entitled “Five Reasons There Aren’t More Women in Atheism” by Soraya Chemaly (who is on the Secular Woman Advisory Council — way to go, Salon!)

As a “woman in atheism,” there were two thoughts going through my mind as I read the piece:

We exist!

1) I agree with the reasons she has listed here as they are undoubtedly true. Religion is tempting for women due to the supportive communities, sexism is pervasive in our society (and, therefore, our small microcosm of it), there is a lack of visible prominent (or otherwise) lady atheists, women are typically excluded from power structures, and there are consequences for women in our movement who speak out. The combination of all of these most definitely keeps women from entering the spotlight.

2) I don’t want to agree with these things. I want to be a part of a movement that sees the work of myself and my peers as valuable. I want more people to know more women atheists. I want the issues that I care about to be treated as valid and important by this movement. I don’t want to be excluded, marginalized, or harassed by my peers simply because I am a woman.

Women atheists have been a part of this movement since the beginning, and we aren’t going away anytime soon, which is part of the reason I’m sick and tired of hearing “Where are the women?” or “Feminism doesn’t belong here.”

We need a movement that is, simply put, better. We need to both encourage and foster a myriad of voices rather than (seemingly) just one — white dudes. No doubt we’ve been having these sorts of conversations both online and offline over the past few years, but it’s about time we start taking steps to make some changes around here.

We need more women to come out as atheists, and we want more of them to be visible leaders. We don’t want anyone to struggle to think of their names. We need a community that is supportive and embraces change. And if we can expand our community’s diversity in the process, even better.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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