More atheist women needed

Sarah McKenzie points out that religion and atheism both need smart women.

Part of the problem, I think, stems from the brand of atheism that is dominant today. Many people, especially women, might find it intimidating or unappealing…Atheists must be prepared to actively defend their non-belief, a process that by definition will offend many believers.

While there is most definitely a place for this so-called “militant” atheism, it is little wonder that some women might find it off-putting. After all, girls are taught to be sensitive and emotional, to not cause trouble or be particularly forthright with their opinions.

Some girls are. I can’t say that I remember being taught that, and if anybody really did attempt to teach me that, it obviously didn’t work. If anything it’s the other way around – I’m a woman, and women are seen as weak and placating and ingratiating, so I owe it to the gender to be abrasive and obstinate and contentious. That’s not it, of course…it’s not a matter of owing anything, it’s a matter of a visceral loathing of that image, and of wanting no part of it. I refuse to be weak and placating and ingratiating. So I get called a lot of hard names by a lot of threatened men, but I also have a good time. And maybe, who knows, I’m clearing a little ground for other women.

McKenzie seems to think so, much to my surprise. Kiran Mehdee pointed out this article to me, saying it mentioned me. I turned an unbecoming shade of puce when I found it was true.

All of this is not to say that there are no vocal or intelligent women out there talking about the role of religion, sharing stories about their own loss of faith and generally waving the atheist flag. However, we rarely hear the names of Dutch activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali or author Ophelia Benson mentioned alongside Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens.

There’s a treat! Putting me in that company. Excuse the narcissism, but…well you see I’m a shy blushing violet really, despite all the above, so I don’t expect this kind of thing, so when it comes along I have to boast about it as loudly as possible. Right? Right.

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