I'm posting this here because I'm confused and hurt, and because the fucking comment system won't post a reply.

I love Feministing.com. It's my favorite blog. But the recent post Can you love God and feminism? has a couple of truly fucked up comments on it right now.

I made a post (look for SaynaTheSpiffy's comment) saying that I found the two incompatible, and I said that religion has been basically the worst and most oppressive force against women in all of history. I said that many religous books are filled with inexcusable sexism and atrocities against women and cited examples from the Bible, Book of Mormon and Quran from the Skeptic's Annotated Bible site.

Here are some of the responses I got:

"Honestly evangelical atheism is the WHITEST bullshit around. Sure religion is evil. Tell that to any African American who lived through the civil rights movement."

"THANK YOU. Every time I see one of these swaggering Rudyard Kipling Throwback kids trying to save us all from the backward religions of the evil Middle Eastern brown mens (because really that's what it all comes down to - pick apart the argument of any evangelical atheist, and you'll see that they're some of THE the most prejudiced, colonialist, orientalist, uninformed little cretins...and totally blind to the hypocrisy of their attitudes too)."

Oh, how fucking dare I question your religion?! I guess I'm a racist and a colonialist now? What if some cultures think you're a racist and a colonialist because you don't tolerate how other cultures treat women?

Have I done or said anything wrong in my comments? Do any of you know why this person would make such accusations against me? Seriously, I'm absolutely insulted and hurt that fellow feminists could be so disrespectful and shitty towards me.

Tags: anti-feminism, atheist stereotypes, bigorty, feminsm, hate, hypocrisy, racism, stereotypes

Views: 90

Replies to This Discussion

I suppose that explains it, but I'm still really upset. Maybe it's because I feel silenced by the fact that Typekey isn't letting me reply?

Honestly, I don't think it's fair at all for people to assume I'm intolerant or some kind of supremecist just because I challenge religion. Am I wrong? Does it make any sense at all?
Becky-

I sincerely thought your posts were really good and truly, rather innocuous (as per the whole thread). As I read through the responses I was dumbfounded and slightly confused.

They are so mistaken in a claim of 'evangelical atheism' here and to put your post on par with "think -like-me' christians is ridiculous. If anything, your posts were more about thinking for yourself and questioning the belief system that supports and encourages the patriarchal bias.

I can totally understand your hurt and frustration. The attacks were unwarranted and especially vicious, they seriously speak to the responders ignorance. Don't let em get to you...just like the fundies, we (atheists) run into, some will just never 'get it'.

My heart goes out to you, I know how much it can hurt to be attacked on a site that you've come to trust. But hot-headed, angling for a fight, cretins ( ;) ) are legion, unfortunately.
Ugh, I understand completely. I've found myself really irritated with Feministing recently. Especially some of the comments related to how race intersects with feminism. I guess feminists really can be just as uninformed and hateful as everybody else. Oh well, something to keep working toward.
I really like what Greta Christina's Blog had to say about race, gender, and atheism:

http://gretachristina.typepad.com/greta_christinas_weblog/2009/09/r...
http://gretachristina.typepad.com/greta_christinas_weblog/2009/09/r...

The issues Greta Christina points out might inform you in trying to understand some of the anger apparent in the critiques of atheism by women of color.
Somehow I don't think Neil Degrasse Tyson or Ayaan Hirsi Ali feel marginalized among atheists...but, if atheists do want to reach out to minorities and women like Christina is advocating, one way they could do this is by emphasizing that influential historical figures such as Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony were atheists.
Atheism has nothing to do with racism. More atheists are white. That's all I can really say racially about atheism. You could say it has to do with class privilege, but so do a lot of things, and that doesn't mean it's wrong to believe or act a certain way, it just unfortunately means that others haven't had the exposure to something or the same options. (For instance, maybe it's class privilege to own a car where some people ride the bus, or to go to college when some can't afford to. That doesn't mean you have to stop doing it, although people should realize when they are fortunate.)

The first person has half a point that a lot of people found comfort in religion during civil rights. Yes, MLK also studied Gandhi, and yes, religion was also used to defend racism, but it doesn't mean that a religious organization can't ever help with social action. Still, the person said it like an ass, and rather racist. (Think of the uproar if you'd said something or other was "some of the blackest bullshit around"?)

The second quoted jerk completely dodged the actual issues you were talking about and took this opportunity to scream "RACIST". It was ridiculous considering that you not only talked about Islam, but also about Christianity, including Mormonism, a religion predominantly white, which even has implications of racism.

I hate this accusation of racism any time a person criticizes a religion or practice that happens to be done by a minority. People have called it racist to be against female genital mutilation for fuck's sake. (I just may post the article claiming that.) If that's true, then I guess as long as people are not white they can do whatever they want without question. Criticizing a religion, even if "a lot of" the people are of a certain race, is not racist. I don't even think criticizing a cultural practice is racist. It is part of honestly discussing a culture; it is not claiming that one race is intrinsically superior or inferior. These same people criticize Western culture right and left, and who calls them racist? Islam is just as racially diverse as Christianity, yet how many people have been called racist for criticizing Christianity?

I'm sorry, but if a religion or culture includes honor killing of your daughter for having a boyfriend, or public executions for gay people, then I don't care if it's coming from "Middle Eastern brown mens" or any other race; that shit is backward.

I don't get too deeply into the different theories of feminism. I just think both sexes should be free of gender roles and treated as human beings. It's pretty simple. People can be so touchy and PC and all this deconstructing can get so divisive. Besides, absolutely everyone calls themselves feminist anymore. It's like anything else: whatever interest you have, get to know others involved and you're guaranteed to find some people you can't stand.
I fail to see how that makes any sense-- particularly since religion has ALSO oppressed races. Does anyone remember burning crosses, theories about the race of Cane, and maybe a country founded "under God" that failed to recognize Blacks as a whole person?

Not to mention, that has nothing to do with what you're saying. At all. I find it questionable that a person can accuse someone randomly of racism when they're accusing an entire demographic of atheists as "prejudiced, colonialist, orientalist" etc etc etc as if that's not blind bigotry and hate!

It's completely misled. I've never met a racist Atheist, and while I'm sure they exist, I fail to see the connection between them. Funny how people with belief in God can be so cruel to others as if they're not aware of their own mortality.
Feministing and Feministe are jokes, the epitome of third wave LOSERISM whose goal is to advance the world's underdogs on OUR(women's) backs.

Repeat after me....

Not only am I NOT a victim, I find the mentality disgusting.

I will never put power aside for the sake of others as that is what allowed the various patriarchies to subjugate women in the first place.

I am not a tool to be used by self-described feminists to advance positions that do not benefit me as a women

I am a power in and of myself....and behave accordingly.
Here's another suggestion that I hope some fellow readers here can find helpful:

Rather than just assuming that the commenters who responded to you are only being defensive because you've challenged their religion, I suggest you think about some of the criticisms they're raising. I think it would do the white atheist "community" well to take such criticisms to heart.

The post you made said that religion was the most oppressive force against women in all of history. The first reply raised the completely valid and correct point that in the United States during the struggle for civil rights (and earlier, I might add), black women AND black men were more oppressed by white supremacy than by their own religious practices. That commenter sounds like someone who knows the history of civil rights and knows this truth: black churches were a source of strength, hope, and dignity for many, many people.

It's true that racism and colonialism are and have been the cause of so much horrific violence against people of color. Claiming that religion is the most oppressive force in history can be insulting in that it doesn't listen to that experience. So it's not surprising to get some responses that are not the most friendly.

And atheism in the US is largely white. It will remain that way if more white atheists are completely unable to listen to and think deeply about the points raised by people of color when they say in no uncertain terms that we need to check our privilege at the door. We need to listen and respect the real concerns over past and present injustices that white supremacist societies have inflicted against communities of color.

That, to me, is not being "PC," a term I loathe. Calling something too PC is a convenient way to end a conversation without really responding to the valid points that someone is raising. It's a cop-out-- easier to call someone irrational or bound by some code of "political correctness" than it is to recognize a valid critique.

If more atheists would think just as critically about colonialism and white supremacy as we do about religion, I think atheism could become a more welcoming ideology for those who find it alienating.
Calling something racist, bigoted, etc is also a "convenient way to end a conversation without really responding to the valid points that someone is raising".

Maybe if someone had said it in the way that you did, it would have been different, but the first commenter called it "the WHITEST shit around" (emphasis theirs). There's the privilege to put down white people (b/c of something their ancestors may or may not have done--I don't know about you but my ancestors had their own problems), while knowing that if a white person made such a comment about minorities, they would never hear the end of it. The double standard is usually trivialized or justified b/c some white people oppressed other races in the past or b/c some white people have a better economic situation than some other minorities.

The second person basically only screamed racism because someone dared to criticize Islam. This was totally defensive as I didn't see that much in the article about Islam. This person was basically deflecting the fact that Islam is one of the most oppressive forces against women today by accusing someone of being prejudiced. This is the same tactic used by Islamists--when your behavior is questioned, cry racism and deflect the current behavior of Islamic fundamentalists by blaming it on colonialists from a few centuries ago.
Yes, I said it nicely.

By why should a person of color have to watch their tone? Why shouldn't they be angry when white person after white person refuses to listen, but instead insists upon being right?

The problem with racism and colonialism is that they are not just something the ancestors have done. Blatant racism, unexamined racist bias, and racist micro-aggressions affect the lives and life chances of real people today.

The history of racist and colonialist oppression is important because it has structured our current world order (wealth concentrated in the ranks of the elite within the former and current imperial centers, exploitation of people and resources in the colonized regions.) Past injustice has real, continuing effects in the present.

Add religion into the mix. Imagine that a religious space is one of the few positive places where a person of color can escape the racism of society, relax and be themselves within a compassionate community of friends of family. Then here comes some white person trying to claim that X, Y, Z religion is the root of all oppression. Is said white person being insensitive? Yes. Offensive? I think so. Racist? Maybe. I would listen very carefully if that's actually the language that a person of color is using. Why?

Because based on my experience in discussions about race and racism-- and yes, discussions in which I've been called out for my own unintended racism-- I have a pretty good sense that "putting down white people" is not the goal. What you see as defensive anger is the result of innumerable frustrated attempts to communicate when white people just won't listen. And calling out the offensive nature of an unintentionally racist comment is not exactly a privilege. It's often quite painful and difficult. What you don't see is that it's often done very reluctantly, even if it doesn't seem that way.

Lastly, I think it is much easier to criticize a religion and disparage a whole group of people who practice that religion than it is to engage in productive discussion across difference. Imagine how differently discussions might flow if one were to start with a question "What is your experience and what are your concerns as a woman of X religious faith?" than they do when one starts with an attack based on presumed greater knowledge X religious faith.

That's my 2 cents.
KC, I appreciate your response and believe yours is the most sound. I'm Native American and I've had several "well-meaning" whites with liberal attitudes say something that ended up being insulting. They don't know it and are hurt when I explain it. Any debate that includes statements of "it wasn't me, it was our ancestors" or claims of reverse racism are short-sighted or cop outs. What is not realized is that this is White Establishment and is taken for granted by most white people. The System and all its institutions are white biased.

So what does that mean in social terms, it means that minorities are aware of the white bias and when "well-meaning" white people try to engage in open dialogue with minorities, it is very easy for whites to sound patriarchal or paternalistic.

Another point is to view it from an understanding of cultural genocide. A people, having been raped of all its traditions, languages and natural religions will protect what they have, even if it is the religion of its oppressors. This is the case with my own people and it's frustrating, infuriating and sad for me to know this but I know what I'm up against when engaging in religious discourse with other Native Americans.

So yes, often times I feel like a white person has an attitude of doing me a favor by telling me they feel bad or guilty about what happened to my people. I don't want that favor. Nor would I want them to tell me another thing about my culture that they consider bad or wrong. The latter is most likely the feeling of the women who were hostile to Becky.

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