Why there aren't more female atheists...
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29-07-2013, 11:23 AM (This post was last modified: 29-07-2013 11:37 AM by ridethespiral.)
Why there aren't more female atheists...
Here is the article that popped up on my FB feed today:

http://www.alternet.org/5-reasons-there-...en-atheism

I agree with the article that we need more female Atheists but from there our views seem to drift...

This is probably going to get me in so much hot water but I want to disagree with some of these reasons and offer some of my own... and before I do I must say that I realize that I'm about to speak in generalities as this is the nature of the article to begin with and that doesn't mean I think these points are true for all women (I'm looking at you Amy). In fact since the women on this board are already part of the Atheist movement I'm not even really talking about you gals at all, because obviously you have already embraced the movement...although it goes without saying that I do value your opinions highly since you are all closer to the subject matter.

For those who would say "Why risk female ire to post this spiral? Why is this your business at all as a man?" For me it's about understanding demographics and growing the community not passing judgement, belittling anyone or doing the whole battle of the sexes thing....I just think the author is taking a really narrow view of the problem and that is what I want to discuss.

Now that the formalities are taken care of...The article cites 5 reasons for a lack of female Atheists...

1) Because Women are dependent on church charity for getting by.

I have no qualm with this, but it only affects those who are less fortunate and we all know they have a higher correlation toward devote theism across gender lines anyway.

2) Cause Atheists are sexist.

Sure of course we are somewhat sexist, we are dealing with a broad spectrum of people from around the world and we tend to entertain discussion but the argument is akin to "all water is somewhat polluted, therefore I might as well put my well next to the chemical plant." It is really hard to espouse any type of anti-female agenda around here and keep your head for very long.

3) Cause Men rule the media and won't have a female Atheist on TV.

Not the media I watch, you might need to turn off faux news. I dunno if you have ever watched Rachel Maddow but it's not exactly a masculine show (she's brilliant BTW). If Ann Coulter can preach her ignorance, I can't believe that there is no place for female pundits. You can't expect a network to pass on Dawkins or Krauss and you can't expect Dawkins or Krauss to not go out and do what they do... and further more why does it matter who is espousing the view if the view is positive for women?

4) Cause patriarchy

Again I'm calling BS, saying that men rule every organization and then citing nothing but financial institutions and events that occurred hundreds of years ago as examples? Yeah big money is still a mans world but I don't think that is indicative of todays culture, and there are many female lead movements and I think Atheism is very embracing. I lack the backing/clout to be a leader in the Atheist movement but that does not bar me from participation.

5) Because they are too busy being neo-feminists.

Okay I dunno why you can't be an Atheist feminist...last I checked humanism was in line with women's rights. This just feels like a cop out.


No I think what is going on is a lot simpler, I think the pool of atheistic women is just smaller than the pool of atheistic men for a number of reasons...

1) I think women tend to more family minded and thus fearful of being ostracized from the extended family. There can be all sorts of reasons for this like the need for an extended family to help raise children, but I think it is undeniable that women more vehemently maintain the family structure, and you can see in cultures/ethnicities where the extended family is very strong so is religion.

2) Science and math have a huge female deficit for whatever reason (I won't argue that our society doesn't/didn't push women toward the arts/humanities) Regardless of why, freethinkers are born in the wake of science understanding and less women in science = less Atheist women.

3) I think women are far more embracing of woo, ceremony and mysticism and far less likely to abandon or feel the need to abandon it. I see far more women falling prey to new age 'woo' then their male counterparts. Ancient religious beliefs and ceremonies are supposed to have been conceived by women (and then taken over by men once they realized there was power over others in it) after all. I think women hold a higher reverence for the mystic and sacred, I think they consider the emotional aspect of life far more than men. *This is based solely on observation and maybe I'm ignorant to think so, so feel free to burry me in contrary data if I am wrong.

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29-07-2013, 11:38 AM
RE: Why there aren't more female atheists...
I have noticed there seem to be a lot more men on this particular forum. But this isn't the only forum dedicated to atheistic topic discussion and I really can't say for certain the ratio of men to women on here. I've not done an indepth statistic study on this. (Although, I know a couple other forum members started something similar awhile back.)

Anyway, I don't think it's possible to say why exactly there may be more men than women who identify as atheists. And there is another thing we must keep in mind:

There are plenty of people who don't believe in a god or gods or any of that jazz but they don't PUBLICLY state it. It's akin to homosexuals, for example: Just because they are "in the closet," and nobody knows their sexual orientation, does that mean they are not homosexual? No.

My point is, that not everyone is OPEN about being an atheist, but that doesn't mean they are not TRULY an atheist.

I think, if we want to encourage others to come out and join the "movement," we must just group all atheists as atheists, rather than focusing on gender. We could then break it down into specific demographics later on to help encourage more people to be comfortable with being open.

Good topic, by the way. I'll contribute more later, I'm sure; This was just my immediate thought.

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29-07-2013, 11:43 AM
RE: Why there aren't more female atheists...
I'm going to generalize about SOME women, not all and probably not even a majority, but it could be. That said, here goes.

From the women, I've gone to school with, been friends with, dated, been raised with, been raised by and experienced throughout my life in social circles, I've found women to be emotional beings. Nearly everything in a woman's life, will hold some kind of emotional attachment.
From the shampoo she loves, to the period she hates, to the shoes that look great but give her blisters, to the makeup she adores that brings out her internal beauty.

Women are seen as the creators of life. Men can't do it and without women, the human race doesn't get very far.

So given emotions, social standing in a community, family and creation of life, it's no wonder that SOME women will cling to the religion of their community and family.

Atheisitic women are a rare breed and I love it when I meet them. They are a breath of fresh air in a stale world.

I wish there were more.

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29-07-2013, 11:57 AM
RE: Why there aren't more female atheists...
(29-07-2013 11:23 AM)ridethespiral Wrote:  Here is the article that popped up on my FB feed today:

http://www.alternet.org/5-reasons-there-...en-atheism

I agree with the article that we need more female Atheists but from there our views seem to drift...

This is probably going to get me in so much hot water but I want to disagree with some of these reasons and offer some of my own... and before I do I must say that I realize that I'm about to speak in generalities as this is the nature of the article to begin with and that doesn't mean I think these points are true for all women (I'm looking at you Amy). In fact since the women on this board are already part of the Atheist movement I'm not even really talking about you gals at all, because obviously you have already embraced the movement...although it goes without saying that I do value your opinions highly since you are all closer to the subject matter.

For those who would say "Why risk female ire to post this spiral? Why is this your business at all as a man?" For me it's about understanding demographics and growing the community not passing judgement, belittling anyone or doing the whole battle of the sexes thing....I just think the author is taking a really narrow view of the problem and that is what I want to discuss.

Now that the formalities are taken care of...The article cites 5 reasons for a lack of female Atheists...

1) Because Women are dependent on church charity for getting by.

I have no qualm with this, but it only affects those who are less fortunate and we all know they have a higher correlation toward devote theism across gender lines anyway.

2) Cause Atheists are sexist.

Sure of course we are somewhat sexist, we are dealing with a broad spectrum of people from around the world and we tend to entertain discussion but the argument is akin to "all water is somewhat polluted, therefore I might as well put my well next to the chemical plant." It is really hard to espouse any type of anti-female agenda around here and keep your head for very long.

3) Cause Men rule the media and won't have a female Atheist on TV.

Not the media I watch, you might need to turn off faux news. I dunno if you have ever watched Rachel Maddow but it's not exactly a masculine show (she's brilliant BTW). If Ann Coulter can preach her ignorance, I can't believe that there is no place for female pundits. You can't expect a network to pass on Dawkins or Krauss and you can't expect Dawkins or Krauss to not go out and do what they do... and further more why does it matter who is espousing the view if the view is positive for women?

4) Cause patriarchy

Again I'm calling BS, saying that men rule every organization and then citing nothing but financial institutions and events that occurred hundreds of years ago as examples? Yeah big money is still a mans world but I don't think that is indicative of todays culture, and there are many female lead movements and I think Atheism is very embracing. I lack the backing/clout to be a leader in the Atheist movement but that does not bar me from participation.

5) Because they are too busy being neo-feminists.

Okay I dunno why you can't be an Atheist feminist...last I checked humanism was in line with women's rights. This just feels like a cop out.


No I think what is going on is a lot simpler, I think the pool of atheistic women is just smaller than the pool of atheistic men for a number of reasons...

1) I think women tend to more family minded and thus fearful of being ostracized from the extended family. There can be all sorts of reasons for this like the need for an extended family to help raise children, but I think it is undeniable that women more vehemently maintain the family structure, and you can see in cultures/ethnicities where the extended family is very strong so is religion.

2) Science and math have a huge female deficit for whatever reason (I won't argue that our society doesn't/didn't push women toward the arts/humanities) Regardless of why, freethinkers are born in the wake of science understanding and less women in science = less Atheist women.

3) I think women are far more embracing of woo, ceremony and mysticism and far less likely to abandon or feel the need to abandon it. I see far more women falling prey to new age 'woo' then their male counterparts. Ancient religious beliefs and ceremonies are supposed to have been conceived by women (and then taken over by men once they realized there was power over others in it) after all. I think women hold a higher reverence for the mystic and sacred, I think they consider the emotional aspect of life far more than men. *This is based solely on observation and maybe I'm ignorant to think so, so feel free to burry me in contrary data if I am wrong.

Interesting -- sort of. I dunno -- I'm not totally open about my atheism, but I also don't really deny it either.

Maybe it's not that they're aren't many female atheists, maybe it's just they don't care about discussing it -- or considered seeking one out. I've belonged to a few secular type forums -- we would discuss kids, decorating, shopping -- but honestly, religion was only rarely mentioned and only in passing.


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29-07-2013, 12:52 PM (This post was last modified: 29-07-2013 01:07 PM by JAH.)
RE: Why there aren't more female atheists...
A comment on patriarchy.

We ignore the fact of it at our peril in all situations. The examples in the article linked to in the OP have great merit. Male dominance has been so ingrained in most societies that it is sometimes difficult for some to see it and understand its functioning.

A simple example from personal experience. I worked in a public agency for over 35 years as an engineer. When I started work the only females in the office were in clerical positions (there were two female librarians but they were only responsible for the files). By the time I retired the technical staff was somewhere near 20% female, progress but still not representative of the whole population. When I was in college I do not remember a single female in any of my engineering classes, I am probably not remembering correctly but that is my memory. As early as high school females were being selected (sometimes self-selected) away from math and science, my senior year math class was all male and I believe my physics class was also. Engineering is somewhat unique because of previous social conditions but I do think it is/was representative of male dominance.

Another example although more representative of ancient history than current conditions. My aunt was brilliant she graduated from college at 15 (if I remember correctly) circa 1925. This qualified her by the norms of that time to be a middle school teacher in Seattle which she was until she retired. My other aunt also graduated from college which qualified her to be a secretary for all her working life. My uncle who did not quite graduate from college worked for many years as a chemist and then an executive for a pharmaceutical company.

Examples of male dominance are all around us if we look for them. Some like mine are more historical than current but the historical vestiges still linger.

As humans we dismiss male dominance at the risk of loss of some 50% of the population. It plays a role in all aspects of society and culture. That it exists in the atheist community only points out its existence in almost all human activities.
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29-07-2013, 12:53 PM
RE: Why there aren't more female atheists...
Firstly, I am tired of people thinking one has to be into science to be an atheist. I am not particularly "into" science. None of my few atheist friends are. Just because you don't believe crap doesn't mean that you have to be a scientist. All you need is some common sense.

I have been an atheist for 50 years and this is the first atheist place I have ever made an appearance on. Why? Because there was no reason to.

I felt no need to discuss religion or science. I felt no need for a community. I was busy with other stuff.

I finally did come here because something happened that had religious people drive me bonkers and I came here to vent.

Perhaps women are a bit busier with their own lives? As care taker, your work is never done. All you do is jump from one task to the next. As business woman, you have to work twice as hard as men to gain recognition and get ahead.

And maybe places like TTA don't have all that much to offer to women. It's pretty much a boy's club here, lots of name calling and 4 letter words and attacking each other and threads about cameltoes and staring at breasts and and, and, and. It ain't no place for a lady!

Personally, I have worked as sole women among men most of my life and I am used to it. It doesn't bother me as long as I am treated with respect.

The thing is, a place that is composed of mostly men, and run by all men, is going to be male oriented and not particularly inviting to women.

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29-07-2013, 01:33 PM
RE: Why there aren't more female atheists...
(29-07-2013 12:53 PM)Dom Wrote:  Firstly, I am tired of people thinking one has to be into science to be an atheist. I am not particularly "into" science. None of my few atheist friends are. Just because you don't believe crap doesn't mean that you have to be a scientist. All you need is some common sense.

I have been an atheist for 50 years and this is the first atheist place I have ever made an appearance on. Why? Because there was no reason to.

I felt no need to discuss religion or science. I felt no need for a community. I was busy with other stuff.

I finally did come here because something happened that had religious people drive me bonkers and I came here to vent.

Perhaps women are a bit busier with their own lives? As care taker, your work is never done. All you do is jump from one task to the next. As business woman, you have to work twice as hard as men to gain recognition and get ahead.

And maybe places like TTA don't have all that much to offer to women. It's pretty much a boy's club here, lots of name calling and 4 letter words and attacking each other and threads about cameltoes and staring at breasts and and, and, and. It ain't no place for a lady!

Personally, I have worked as sole women among men most of my life and I am used to it. It doesn't bother me as long as I am treated with respect.

The thing is, a place that is composed of mostly men, and run by all men, is going to be male oriented and not particularly inviting to women.

Yes!! When my kids were younger, what time I did spend on line (which wasn't much) was spent connecting with other moms -- the religion topic rarely came up -- if ever. We'd swap recipes, pictures and it was fun -- we didn't discuss politics much either.

It's funny because I'm still fb friends with most of them -- we've never met in real life -- over the years the conversation has evolved from sippy cups to college applications.

Do I get tired of some of the crap a scant few would post on fb? Yes. I realized a few were downright racist even -- something I never found before Facebook. Those I unfriended without regrets.

I think women connect on different levels...


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29-07-2013, 02:06 PM
RE: Why there aren't more female atheists...
(29-07-2013 12:53 PM)Dom Wrote:  Firstly, I am tired of people thinking one has to be into science to be an atheist. I am not particularly "into" science. None of my few atheist friends are. Just because you don't believe crap doesn't mean that you have to be a scientist. All you need is some common sense.

If I were to venture an explanation, I'd say there's a correlation between finding out how the universe doesn't work (ie, religion) and subsequently wanting to find out how it does.

Someone more interested in discussions of religion and atheism, though, is almost obligated to delve rather deeply, given how often bad science is brought up by the other side.

(29-07-2013 12:53 PM)Dom Wrote:  And maybe places like TTA don't have all that much to offer to women. It's pretty much a boy's club here, lots of name calling and 4 letter words and attacking each other and threads about cameltoes and staring at breasts and and, and, and. It ain't no place for a lady!

In some respects I think it's rather microcosmic for online communities and the internet in general (and the reasons for that involve a lot of gender theory sociology). But, while I approve of inventively crude language, for the most part we don't see too much back-and-forth slur swapping, do we?

I don't think the T&A threads are particularly useful to have around. Anyone reading one already has an internet connection, rather obviating the need to find anything along those lines here of all places...

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29-07-2013, 02:32 PM
Re: Why there aren't more female atheists...
I agree with Dom on this point. I like science but I'm not obsessed with it. Im an atheist because it just seems like common sense. I only joined the forum when the religious people started driving me crazy as well.

Perhaps women just dont care to discuss it and debate it as much.
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29-07-2013, 02:43 PM
RE: Why there aren't more female atheists...
(29-07-2013 02:06 PM)cjlr Wrote:  
(29-07-2013 12:53 PM)Dom Wrote:  Firstly, I am tired of people thinking one has to be into science to be an atheist. I am not particularly "into" science. None of my few atheist friends are. Just because you don't believe crap doesn't mean that you have to be a scientist. All you need is some common sense.

If I were to venture an explanation, I'd say there's a correlation between finding out how the universe doesn't work (ie, religion) and subsequently wanting to find out how it does.

Someone more interested in discussions of religion and atheism, though, is almost obligated to delve rather deeply, given how often bad science is brought up by the other side.

(29-07-2013 12:53 PM)Dom Wrote:  And maybe places like TTA don't have all that much to offer to women. It's pretty much a boy's club here, lots of name calling and 4 letter words and attacking each other and threads about cameltoes and staring at breasts and and, and, and. It ain't no place for a lady!

In some respects I think it's rather microcosmic for online communities and the internet in general (and the reasons for that involve a lot of gender theory sociology). But, while I approve of inventively crude language, for the most part we don't see too much back-and-forth slur swapping, do we?

I don't think the T&A threads are particularly useful to have around. Anyone reading one already has an internet connection, rather obviating the need to find anything along those lines here of all places...

What's a T&A thread?

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