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Blue Stripes

September 2012

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Blue Stripes

Sexism in atheism/skepticism, and its relation to dogmatic belief

See, here's the thing: for me, skepticism includes the right/duty to inquire into beliefs that are irrational and, worse, self-defeating, the latter as a priority.

And it can be made in many different ways, the rational argument against allowing sexism to rule within a skeptical movement in 2012. I trust the understanding of my readers to not need this argument made.

So...doesn't that make it not grounds for a schism, but rather grounds for lion(ess)ization, to call out such an irrational, dogmatic belief as the institutional and personal sexism which can be found (and defended so vigourously!) upheld and reinforced by a subset of the skeptical/atheist community?

Seems to me if there is any proselytization wanted in our community, this would be a hell of a place to start, if the goal of sexist atheists were actually to make the movement stronger: broadcast that the movement will be no longer tolerant of sexist behaviours or harrassment of any kind at atheist events. To say to women, to people of colour, to queerfolk, to trans people: hey, we know that the world treats you like shit, for all kinds of stupid, irrational reasons. We're gonna be a place where you can have some peace from that crap, be among the kind of freethinkers who don't subscribe to outdated dogma just because that's the way it's always been, or because it personally benefits them and screw* anything or anyone else.

The result? A much, much stronger atheist/skeptical movement, drawing from all parts of society, stronger than the sum of their parts for their ability to understand the position of other people who experience irrational oppressions. An atheist movement wherein all the members would have better chances, over time, of meeting and becoming possibly involved with someone who has similar ideas and values, without having to make the places and events feel like constant harrassment for by far the majority of humanity**.

It doesn't seem such an irrational argument, does it? And yet, a notable set within the atheist/skeptical community are throwing every kind of threat and abuse against anyone even mentioning it (see Skepchick, for instance, over and over and over). Defending the status quo with dogmatic fervour, while proclaiming their allegiance to the One True Skepticism***.

Okay, I went ahead and made the argument anyway. *shrug* It's late and I felt like it.

The quality of public atheism, these days, is so shatteringly poor, because of the time wasted on defending stupid old ideas. Time for a New Atheism, one that any- and everyone (who wants to) can be part of, says this old lady.

* Pun/horrible reference made with intent.

** Not just sexist, but racist and dogwhistle-Islamophobe arguments that attack all Muslims for the cultural practices of some, and atheists who support The Bell Curve, and so on.

*** The one in which all sexism, racism, homophobia, and other forms of oppression have ended because Obama, So There.