I came into the office today to find a number of emails pointing me to an article in Ms. Magazine slamming organized atheism, and American Atheists in particular, for being both racist and misogynistic. The author actually implied that there was some kind of secret bigotry in atheism, because her research yielded more Dawkins than Hirsi-Ali.
Given the immense harm many organized religions inflict on women through outright violence and institutional oppression, it seems women may have more to gain than men from exiting their faith. Yet no women are currently recognized as leaders or even mentioned as a force within the movement. The lack of lady presence is so visible that Conservapedia commented on it by noting that Dawkins’ website overwhelmingly attracts male visitors.
One study-supported theory is that there simply aren’t as many female atheists as there are male, while another is that new atheism is “off-putting” to women. Earlier this year, journalist Sarah McKenzie suggested that women aren’t socialized to defend their beliefs with the same vigorous and “militant” zeal expected of atheists, and proposed that the movement make space for traditionally feminine characteristics like “story-telling [and] empathy.”
I wrote a comment, but the editors apparently don’t like actual conversation or communication, rather opting for one-sided misguided broadsides against allies for equality; they didn’t let my letter post.
Good thing I have access to a blog too.
I write in strong objection to this article.
At American Atheists we are very proud of our diversity and our efforts to increase the presence of women and minorities in the movement. Yes, we have room for improvement, but this does not imply intent — quite the opposite is true.
We were founded by Madalyn Murray O’Hair, who was succeeded by Ellen Johnson. Today, we have four strong outspoken women on our board, one of which is our Vice President, and none of whom are interested in telling stories (sheesh!!). We are all here to support atheists and protect the separation of Church and State (NOT, as the author states, to “to proselytize so that others join their disbelief”).
Had the author done more research before typing this article, she would have seen that indeed our January, April, and July issues of The American Atheist Magazine prominently and proudly featured women on the cover, and that our upcoming April convention in Des Moines boasts a diverse roster of speakers from across the movement.
Women have always been, and always will be, a VITAL part of this movement. As the new president of American Atheists, I personally look forward to the day when the number of female members equal their male counterparts, and the number of minority members is commensurate with the general population. I am committed to this ideal. Until we succeed, please present us honestly as champions of reason and equality, instead of recasting our progress as bigotry.