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I think one very easy way the atheist movement should promote women and minorities is to speak up when the mainstream media tries to reduce us all to the "four horsemen" (who are white and male). I've seen and heard many reports, about camp quest, the bus ads, etc, attributed in mainstream media to Richard Dawkins, when in reality somebody else was instrumental and Dawkins only involved in a late stage with money. In some of these instances, the real mover and shaker was a woman.

I am certain that the mainstream media has hidden the contributions of atheists of color in the same fashion-- it would be very easy for the atheist movement to say, well actually, I was NOT the person who did that, *she* was.

I even think the anti-atheist groups have an agenda here-- they want to portray the atheist movement as "just another religion" and the makeup of the leadership of every single religion out there is nearly exclusively male, and usually privileged in other ways too (so white, if their are at all enough white practitioners).

I do think that we should keep open the concept of intersectionality in privilege... being religious and being male is currently privileged in general society (not talking about the atheist movement here), so to chose to be open with their atheism is to open up women and minorities to *two* sources of discrimination in the rest of their life, and that these personal choices could explain some of the current demographics of the atheist movement.

I think keeping this in mind and talking about it would keep perspective in the minds of most white male atheists so as not to get it in their heads that white males are superior rationalists or some such nonsense. Thus, we will probably get less pushback from white male atheists when we propose that the atheist movement should be a welcoming place to land and things should be done to increase the comfort level and visibility of women and minorities in it.


I think there are actually a lot of unapologetic female atheists out there. They just need to be considered more often as potential speakers at these kinds of events. I think the mistake is that the speakers are often just limited to established scientists and leaders of existing organizations. There are plenty of interesting blog writers from rather mundane backgrounds that could probably put on a very interesting talk if given the opportunity.


I've just started the talk, and I came to the point about atheists' lack of meat-space social support structures to replace churches, etc.

As a lifelong non-participant in religion, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I've been to a church for ceremonial purposes. And since those are essentially all weddings, I'm extremely fuzzy about the social role of a church, and why someone would want to replace it.

After all, I've lived my entire life without missing it.

Maybe it's like trying to explain becoming deaf to someone who was born deaf, but is anyone willing to try?


Jemand: I am excited by your suggestion about pointing out women who do atheism-related things when people immediately attribute them to Dawkins (who is not just white and male: he is British!). Unfortunately, I am not sure I will have many opportunities to put it into practice.



After all, I've lived my entire life without missing it.

Not everyone has lived their life the way you have. Not everyone holds the same values and principles that you do. People have different needs and different ideas on what constitutes a fulfilling and satisfying (social) life.

I think it's absurd to deny that participation in a religious community doesn't hold any positive benefits for anyone. It's not giving a free-pass to religion to acknowledge the fact that humans are social creatures and MOST people tend to find emotional - and practical - benefits in a supportive community.

No, not every church/religion/crafting group/whatever is going to provide positive social benefits. Of course there are many, many abusive, cliquish, controlling, groups out there. However, to say (or imply) "well, *I* haven't experienced any so they must not exist at all" is just as illogical as religious people thinking atheists must lead angry, unfulfilling lives without god.

I'm a loner myself by nature but I can recognize that others aren't and prefer a more social existence.

I'm not a parent but I can recognize what it means and what the consequences are to have the immense responsibility of caring for another human being. I can see and understand the idea that maybe something like lack of good childcare at atheist/skeptic conference is a dealbreaker in terms of whether or not you can attend.

It's not so much to ask that one develops a bit of empathy for others.


I think Eclectic has a point. I didn't see his/her post as lacking empathy for others or lacking a complete understanding of that there are people for whom the social benefits of a church is important.

I too am a lifelong atheist, and never felt a need for a secular equivalence of a church either. I think it might partly be a cultural thing. It seems like churches in the USA often are the thing where people are being social with each other, and around which many of those needs are concentrated around. It therefore seems natural in such a context to speak about secular alternatives for this - as Greta are doing.

In my country churches has not really had this role for a large majority of people for a long time now. The churches here is mainly for weddings and funerals for most people, and some cultural activities (many churches are more like museums, many of them being medieval). They just do not play the same functions here for most people as they seem to do in the USA for so many people there.

Talking about finding a safe place for atheists to land in, and so on seems natural in that context, but doesn't at all in the same way here. I hardly ever even meet people who are very religious and go to church regularly, either for devotional reasons or for social reasons, or both.

These particular points do seem a bit irrelevant to me personally, and for most people I know, but that doesn't mean I don't understand a context in which it is obviously relevant.


Greta, I just wanna say that I think your a brilliant writer and speaker. I've enjoyed following your blog and watching the video that you posted of your talk.


(Sorry for the slow reply; I've been traveling.)


I think it's absurd to deny that participation in a religious community doesn't hold any positive benefits for anyone.

After disentangling the double negative, I fear you read something into my comment that was never intended to be there. Please re-read it; I was not attempting to deny the social usefulness of a church, I was just saying that I don't understand it, and asking if someone felt like trying to explain it to me.

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