“I’ve always considered myself a feminist, but I used to be one of those teenagers who assumed the awesome ladies before me had solved everything. But Boobquake made me wake up.”
I am really glad that Jen McCreight has come around to seeing that Boobquake was not the best idea. (Holy fuck, don’t get me started on Boobquake.) I’m sorry that it took being treated how women who speak are always treated for her to see what some of us had been saying all along. That isn’t sarcastic–many of us have gotten to where we are via similar routes. Maybe her post can open up some brains and shorten that trip for others.
A little rant: Atheists can be more thickheaded and infuriating than religious folk when they uphold bigotry and oppression because, you know, we expect more from you. More open-mindedness and critical thinking skills. More respect for evidence. More rationality. I mean, we keep telling everyone that we’re good at that stuff, right? Yet in any discussion of the -isms out there, many atheists will uncritically accept so much bad science (that they may or may not understand as bad) and ‘conventional wisdom’ garbage to confirm their biases. Some of the most smug, self-satisfied people I’ve ever come across have been movement atheists, as if they have everything all figured out because they were brilliant enough to notice that the Bible contradicts itself or whatever. Congratulations, you can read! Being good at rejecting religious dogma and understanding the religious justifications for various bigotries doesn’t automatically make you a good person, or even a particularly clever one. If ultimately you don’t care about being a better person and improving the planet, then you’re an asshole and why should anyone talk to you? End rant.
I find it interesting that within the last year or so, two well-known internet skeptic women have been galvanized by the toxic misogyny and chauvinism in their communities to put feminism at one focus of their atheist activism. Will it amount to anything major within the movement? I don’t know. But I think it has the potential to be major, particularly for atheist women and other marginalized folks who have experienced hostility within the movement but hesitated to rock the boat. Making a decent and productive space for such people–whether that means fixing the communities that already exist or forming new ones with social justice as foundational principles–is what’s most important in the short term.
Anyway, it’s a great post and I was especially happy to see that McCreight wants there to be rifts in the community rather than tolerance of oppression. (A close reader of this post will notice that I keep vacillating between including myself as an atheist and casting them as a group I’m opposed to. The fact that I’m a rather ‘militant’ atheist who feels no community with movement atheism is not coincidental to McCreight’s post or this response.) I think there are places where she’s a bit overly optimistic about the speed at which atheists are getting our acts together, but that’s a minor complaint based on how often I’ve seen those sorts of comments devolve into circle-jerking and self-congratulation. We must all be vigilant about complacency and cautious with optimism, is all I’m sayin’.
In conclusion, this made me lol:
Now it’s time for a third wave – a wave that isn’t just a bunch of “middle-class, white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied men” patting themselves on the back for debunking homeopathy for the 983258th time or thinking up yet another great zinger to use against Young Earth Creationists.
30 August Edit: Here is the post JMP mentioned in comments, on atheism and communist theory. Good stuff!