Women all over the world are seen to be getting more and more active, even in areas which were said to be men's bastions. Why then are there far fewer women atheists compared to men? Are women more religious? Are they still dominated by their men? Or by religious authorities? Are they too busy in their domestic affairs or are they simply not concerned? What is it? 

MADHUKAR KULKARNI.

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I played. I grew up, in part, in Royal Oak, Mich.

That's where I learned to play hockey! In Michigan, where I went to college many years ago. Calvin College. Yes, as in John Calvin. :? Oh well . . . .

"...too busy in their domestic affairs or are they simply not concerned? What is it?"

Well asked, MK.

Happily, things change. Unhappily, they change S  L  O  W  L  Y.

During my dating years (the 1950s), I wondered if girls were by nature masochistic. The thought distressed me no end because I knew I would be unable to play the sadist for more than a few seconds.

The silence I knew continued during a marriage. While in counseling prior to a divorce, my wife said I hadn't responded when she'd said she wanted sex. Amazed, I asked "When did you say you wanted it?" She insisted that she had said so; I insisted that I hadn't heard her.

A 1970s education in real-politics opened my eyes and I became able to see a majority, women, treated as if they were a minority. At a party, to a woman who'd told me she wasn't a feminist, I said, "You don't want equal pay for equal work?" She said she did want pay equality and I said, "You are a feminist!" I began seeing a machiavellian use of silence: whoever in a relationship says less has more options than the one who says more. And I began to see that my deceased mother had been something of a feminist but decided that 1970s feminists would have frightened her. I put hundreds of hours into the campaign to add the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. Most men agreed. A few said I was crazy; one man called me a traitor.

During the 1980s, while answering phones at San Francisco Sex Information, young women who called asked for ways to tell their boyfriends they wanted sex. "At long damn last," I told myself and others who were taking calls, "they'll be saying so."

Now, for years there have been more women than men studying law and medicine.

Where will the changes take us?

Tom - interesting - I'm not quite sure how you felt about all - as you are stating points without reference to your personal thoughts or feelings on the matter.  It seems I'm missing half of your story.

I agree things do change slowly - but they do change.  I suppose everyone is different - and we all make up the whole which is culture - but you'll always get exceptions to cultural norms.

Are you saying that you think in time there will be more atheist women?  Or that in time more atheist women will come out and state that they are?  Or are you saying something else?

Alice,

My "The thought distressed me so...."; and "At long damn last...." left you unsure how I felt?

You now know why I write non-fiction rather than fiction. In a fiction piece, each of those two assertions would have required at least a page.

I am often in writing groups or classes and about the two I regularly opine that fiction is for people who want to get away from their realities, while non-fiction is for people who want to get closer to their realities.

In time more atheist women will come out and say they are. I've been a political activist for forty years, and activist women I meet assert themselves. I like that they do because I have never read minds well.

Tom - I agree - you did have emotional content in your passage - I think perhaps it was context I was missing - I know very little about dating in the 1950's, or feminism etc.....

I have found that with people of a certain older age do have some much assumed knowledge when they talk - which is fine when talking to peers, but when talking to the next generation - that assumed knowledge is missing in their minds.  I have it to some extent when speaking to my children - they miss the joke because they don't have the same level of knowledge that I do.

This is my round about way of saying that you must know heaps more stuff than me - and would you be so kind as to fill me in a bit :)

I think there are less openly atheist women because of intersectionality.  There's already sex-based discrimination going on, and choosing to admit to being an atheist is like willingly subjecting yourself to yet more discrimination.  What if you're also poor, black, disabled, lesbian?  Coming out as a minority on all fronts is difficult because it opens you up to so much hate from all sides - even from people whom you used to consider allies.  That's why I think the most outspoken atheists tend to be well-to-do white men who don't face other sorts of discrimination.

The atheist emphasis on rational thought also rubs some people the wrong way.  There are still pervasive gender stereotypes about how women are more emotional/less rational than men.  Until we knock those down, there will be women who feel justified in their irrational beliefs because they're women, and that's how they're "supposed" to be.  And that plays right into the hands of the religious leaders who seek to keep them complacent and obedient that way. 

I do consider myself a feminist, but I'm frustrated by a lot of feminist discourse.  "The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house", and the tools in question for some women are apparently logic and critical thinking.  They reject them because they are traditionally considered "male" or "patriarchal" domains when (IMO) they should be embracing them as things that all humans are capable of.

But yeah, incoherent rambling aside, things will slowly change.  I'm part of a campus group where half the board members are female.  There are probably more male members in general, but women are just as outspoken as men during discussions.  That's just what it's like in one group on one campus in one city, but I think it's part of a trend.

You make a good point about discrimination overload.

I've met activists who burned themselves out campaigning for too many causes.  Eventually they have to scale back and choose to focus on the one or two causes they feel are most important.  Unfortunately, any skeptics group that they're a part of is usually among the first to get cut.

By the way, thank you for the invitation to this group! :)

Yeah, women only have so much energy. We're forced to choose our battles.

So true Ruth!

men too - and animals etc.... we've all only got some much time and energy in life......  it really just seems like a random thing at the end of the day - in all the half baked things that go on.....

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