Did Someone Say Atheists are Sexist?

by P. Braithwaite

I came across this interesting USA Today article about Rebecca Watson, a popular skeptic blogger who received major backlash upon sharing a story about how, after giving a talk on Feminism at a European Atheist Conference, she was followed into an elevator by a male attendee. The stalker elevator companion then invited her to his room.

Who does that? After hearing her give a talk about feminism? Seems like poor taste to me.

Anyway, the article goes on to discuss the backlash she received after sharing this story. Several people commented that she needed to toughen up and get a thicker skin. Even Richard Dawkins got in on the action, telling her to “stop whining.”

Suddenly there was a new layer to this weird discussion, the new question became: are atheists, who are typically white and male, somehow more sexist and chauvinistic?

Excerpted from USA Today:

“I think the essential problem that women have in the
movement is that they are greatly outnumbered,” said Susan Jacoby, author
of “Freethinkers.” “When you talk about women atheists, there is
less of a pool than men. Women are more religious than men, therefore there are
fewer women active in this movement than there are men. So you are starting
with a smaller pool and that is a fact.”

But that is slowly changing. The 2008 American Religious Identification Survey found a 60-40 percent breakdown among men and women who say they who have no religion. Yet women make up 52 percent of the broader population.

While we can debate whether or not there is a propensity for sexism among atheists, to me, the more important question is this: Don’t ALL RELIGIONS provide fertile ground for the seeds of sexism? When I think of the gender roles and inherent inhibitions wrapped up in the Abrahamic religion, for example, one wonders if anyone can escape ideology seeped in sexism?

While you ponder that, I’m getting ready for tomorrow’s post.  I’m going to try to post my interview with Christopher Banks, a man who believes that God is a woman.