Sexism in the Atheist Movement

Sexism in the Atheist Movement

The sexism that dominates the atheist movement, through its leadership, public events and in private communications is profoundly disturbing. Anyone following Richard Dawkins’ Twitter will have some insight. Mark Oppenheimer’s article charts misogyny within the broader atheist movement on a coordinated level:

“The reality of sexism in freethought is not limited to a few famous leaders; it has implications throughout the small but quickly growing movement. Thanks to the internet, and to popular authors like Dawkins, Hitchens, and Sam Harris, atheism has greater visibility than at any time since the 18th-century Enlightenment. Yet it is now cannibalizing itself. For the past several years, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and online forums have become hostile places for women who identify as feminists or express concern about widely circulated tales of sexism in the movement. Some women say they are now harassed or mocked at conventions, and the online attacks — which include Jew-baiting, threats of anal rape, and other pleasantries — are so vicious that two activists I spoke with have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. One of these women has been bedridden for two years.” #socialscience #sociology

7 thoughts on “Sexism in the Atheist Movement

  1. You’re spot on there Ferrari Emiliano​. Dawkins has behaved hideously this year, saying outlandish this about rape and anything and everything else as well as attacking several women in STEM Fir daring to question him. I wonder if in his case it’s inflated ego – check out his blog where he makes hyperbolic posts about being persecuted on Twitter.


  2. Funny you should say this Ferrari Emiliano I have a post coming out about the role of social science in influencing Darwin and how Darwin in turn influenced social scientists. It’s a murky history used to justify colonialism and eventually leading to eugenics, which unfortunately social scientists also played a role in. ​


  3. It’s almost as if a bunch of white men perceive the only set back to their experience of privilege to be religious gate keeping. So they want to do away with that, but at the same time maintain everything about the bully paradigm that has suited them.

    As a woman who grew up with old white men telling me what to do and think I’m not interested in the Atheist movement.


  4. Great comment Jane Satan Rakali​. I like the phrase “bully paradigm.” Perfectly captures how these high profile atheist leaders behave: gatekeeping secularism as a bastion of White male privilege. It’s beyond irony given those same men use examples of non-Christian religions as being the epitome of oppression for women, as Dawkins has done in the past about Islam; really just an excuse to berate Muslim women. And yet they cry “humanist” ethics to say feminists aren’t welcome when they raise issues of sexism. Appalling business!


  5. The “bully paradigm” label is how I think of the particular social values that drive the meta-narrative. Everyone’s stressed, tense, sleepless and confused, trying to keep their heads above water. But the whole thing is a consensual hallucination. It is only true so long as we all agree that it should be true. But it’s pretty obvious now that it isn’t true, it isn’t right and it isn’t sustainable.

    The media organs of the meta-narrative love to promote those particular Atheists because that’s what suits the mill owners. To present the only options to religious belief as just another bunch of self interested bigots.

    Of course humanity has many more options than that.


  6. Very true the media loves to hold up the old White dudebros as the best of public intellectualism Jane Satan Rakali​. Meanwhile the women these men steamroll along their path pay a heavy price. Just another example of violence and misogyny happening in plain sight.


  7. Truly, misogyny. Also the whole white colonialism power trip. And it’s not as if the Celts, the Norse and the Irish didn’t pay a huge price when the Holy Roman Empire took the reins in Europe.

    I trust you haven’t overlooked the way Murdoch promotes Catholicism?

    For the past couple of days it’s been on my mind that there is a kind of white indigenous peoples. White isn’t only colonialism. All it takes for “us” (who appear white) is to recognise how the gate keepers and colonial power has so abused the planet and all her peoples, we can join proudly into the push to respect all life, collectively, mutually.

    Caveat: By “life” I mean all living beings, not the ridiculous fetus fetish thing.


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