As a mother and Atheist ( for over 20 years) I've found the hardest aspect of being an Atheist and a parent - is finding community. Not just for myself - but for my children. Community and socialization are crucial in a child's development. I feel this in one of the most significant reasons there is less women in Atheism - because there is less family in Atheism. In meet-ups, they are predominately male - and usually at libraries.
True. I think the liberal Christians & Jews who I have had a ton of contact with in Maryland and Massachusetts... plus pretty much my whole extended family are all pretty accepting of science or even scientists themselves - my dad's sister's a nephrologist (kidney doctor) one of my mom's sisters was a patent attorney, etc. However my dad's cousin Alex Berk is REALLY scarily into altrnative medicine and actually sells all those crazy herbal remedies and stuff I think, he runs this blog:
Because he got diagnosed as having this HUGE tumor in his leg last year (he's a really tall guy, so he has really huge legs, but still) and felt like blogging about his treatment process... which partially includes promoting alternative medicine.
But I think those extended family members of mine maybe are more devout Jews than the ones I have a lot of contact with.
I just think most of the types of communities I've experienced have all been pretty secular and pro-science.
And even the online vidding "community" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vidding has a TON of believers among it, which is apparent in rare cases when God is brought up, but most of the time it is a great secular community that I love being a part of, I talk to fellow vidders on twitter and YouTube every day. ;)
A community for family fun or something just has to have a secular theme but it has to be in a place where people don't talk about God as much, where it isn't so much of a norm for everyone to have religion in every single aspect of your life. That seems unfortunately impossible in the Bible Belt unless it is a group specifically for atheists because otherwise practically everyone is the type of religious person who can't help but bring religion into every conversation. That really sucks. But it appears to be the reality.
I don't mind them saying things about God - it's about having community with like minded people. It's about being included rather than excluded. We don't have support for one another physically that we previously had and lost. I think it requires previous community involvement through church to fully grasp what I'm talking about- otherwise you wouldn't know to miss that. having somewhere to go with certainty, belonging , be needed, friendship - that laugh, hug... the connection. That's what brings women to church more so than men... that's what is hard to give up and replace.
There as been countless articles on this , including the recent study released by Harvard on the secret 'ingredient' to religious attendance and happiness... friendship and socialization. During the week the attendance is mainly women 70-80 %. Events are mainly women. Men mostly hold 'official' positions in leadership. Women run the daycare, bake-sales and generally every other aspect of church. Men are in poor attendance - so much so they are trying to get them by guilt or by more 'manly' events. It's not workin'...
Exactly. I just left Mormonism and then God all within about a year. I live in Utah and all my family and friends and neighbors are Mormon. It was literally my life blood. All my social activities, everything everyone talks about...was based on Mormonism and the community that that brings. Now that I'm out it's hard to find that sense of belonging. All my neighbors talk about their church activities and programs all the time and god and crazy god stuff and I'm not included anymore by choice. Though, since I do live in Utah, there is a high PostMormon community that is pretty family friendly, but still as my son gets older it won't provide him with what my old church provided me when I was a kid. But it's true...it seems that through tradition women are the ones that hold the religious ideals together due to that sense of community and belonging...many still stay at home (me included). We're socialized differently (at least in my opinion) while growing up different than boys. Do we start our own "church" where we pay membership fees and organize classes and activities...where we can celebrate births and where we can have funerals? It's a toughy. Thanks for addressing this issue. It would be nice to have that sense of community again with like-minded people where we could feel comfy again.
First off at Matt- several have had issue with you- you fail at comprehending the subject of the post...
The evidence if available by common sight and experience- I posted a blog as to the evidences as well as my own personal experiences and the experiences of my fellow female Atheists. You were dismissed by me from the conversation because, to be blunt- I find you to be part of the problem, and only out to argue or not have meaningful discussion. You have nothing to add of benefit other than contempt.
It's the last reply you'll get from me...
It must be quite a talent to make such observations about a person based only on a few comments on the internet. And contempt? Wow - just for disagreeing with you? A snide part of me would say that is possibly why you don't fit in where you live. Lucky I'm not terribly snide, huh?
Now from memeory where did I argue with you? I asked you questions. I gave you some information about myself. But just because I don't buy into your victim complex I'm don't have anything valid to offer? There's that snide part of me rearing it's head again.
To be honest I really don't care if you reply or not. The POINT I was trying to make is best summarised in a PM I sent to Fred. Hopefully he won't mind me requoting it here:
"As I indicated in my followup post, the whole point I was trying to make is that people are people, no matter their faith or lack thereof. If a person does not feel like a part of a community because they are different in some way - how does it help to exteneuate those differences by having your own little club?
I remarked in her post that I feel very much alone in regards to my atheism, my political views and my interest in philosophy. There is literally two people in this entire city that I trust enough to have a conversation with about those things. ThinkAtheist and YouTube are virtually my only contact with the atheist world. But I do not feel like I am socially disadvantaged or socially poorer for that. Why? Because I make my social interaction, my community involvemnt, about something else. I make it about the things that I DO have in common with the people around me.
So I can't really apologise for being male, and I can't really apologise for being an atheist. But those two things are not the entirety of me. I'm about so much more than that - and I bet SHE is too."
Maybe Fred is right. Maybe I just don't get it - but nothing you have said in this thread (and I have read all 10 pages) leads me any closer to getting it.
Being an atheist though for over 20- it's rare. The closest one to us is all males - no children in sight. They meet at a library to discuss philosophy and SURPRISE, religion. I've tried- think that's another part of the issue. It's not lack of trying or attempt - it's lack of cooperation from others. It's like pulling teeth. I'm trying to find a 'secular' group in Florida ( LAUGH) or even a pagan community now...
No- they're all males. There is no children or wives present. They aren't going to go do a family thing with us - when they have none or at least never made them subject. They've made it more than clear they pursue 'intellectual' conversation and exchange. I was going to do meet-ups- decided against paying for friends. Me offering to organize isn't an issue - I am the organizer of most events we attend whether it's charitable or etc. I do charity work all the time, including artwork, hosting and the drive itself...
You must live in an awesome area , up north? - I'm in Florida - very conservative.
I went on meetup - the usual group shows , 78 members , monthly meet up at library , 4 attend. When I searched your area - The nearest is 85 strong, founded in early 2009, has had a total of 20 meet-ups. The rest around the state are similar. This is the end of 2010... There is no way that 20 meetings are ever going to fill that gap. This is why I said women are most likely not going to leave their community, where they've been in most cases their childhood; where daycare and all activities are structured for ease of access and ease family ability. Have you developed strong, sincere, bonds in motherhood and friendship within those 20 meetings? Has your children acquired solid, meaningful relationships, friends for spend the nights and weekly interaction with the children in the group? Do you take turns doing daycare ? Do you bake together and hold big meals or something- every week? Do they come to your home, you theirs, and break bread together in friendship ?This is why I say you see less mothers willing to leave community, provided by church to one that offers either nothing - or scant. I see mothers in atheism - just not many. I see women atheists - just not many mothers. Generally all the mothers, you're an exception, agree with the 'elephant ' in room no wants to admit to. I think the majority of them have experienced church community and see the difference between the two groups as I do. Atheism prides itself on its independence, on it not being organized- however it is that organization for family, socialization and friendship, that I suspect- more than theology, that keeps women in church. Harvard released their study that says the same.
It's always been noted women are not as vocal in Atheism as men - I had to post the top women in atheism on my page - after polling and no men could name one! Not even Hirsi came to mind for them. They got very defensive and gave many excuses , including women suck at science & math.
I don't think the solution is saying, ' hang in there!'...Nothing gets resolved. There is going to have to be a change - a new understanding of Family & Atheism. A serious attempt at someone bringing them together, for regular interaction and development.
I don't expect my meetup to fill my entire need to connect with humans in general.
That's the point in the post and discussion on church and community vs without church and community. On your needs or known theists :The theists or claimed that I know – especially ones who hold the idea of not mixing yoke or have become very close within the congregation– do specifically do all the majority of all activity through church. They attend 3-4 times a week. This is the point of the post. Most women do and have gotten dependent on that service – that support. This is what is being missed by people replying – well a few, in the post. Rather than discussing – some attempt debate, when there is nothing to debate or to prove existent. The point of post is to posit why women are less willing to leave their community – and my own experiences. Had I known people would get so defensive, I'd still have posted this *laugh*. It's been the same as if in fellowship and you bring up morality or ethics – the whole room gasps... How dare you question ! This has been the typical response- even by women , who feel it's an attack on Atheism.
If i was looking to ONLY socialize with other atheists, well, i imagine i'd have some lonely times.
Being that I'm an atheist , raising my children atheist – it is logical to seek like minded people and friendships. After all it's a prevalent behavior in animals and is exampled by most all species. It's the reason you joined T/A ,as has I presume everyone else – other than those out of curiosity or to argue. You sought to have rational discourse and mutual exchange of ideals with fellow Atheists. Why would you then assume it's less so for me or other other Atheist mothers seeking like minded families ? I'm not seeking primarily Atheists to socialize with – my photo albums( FB) depicts our activity , I'm referring to community as in people who share an intimate commonality.
//"Do you bake together and hold big meals or something- every week?"//
If your point is, atheists are not as organized as theists, you can save the ink, we'd all agree. I have baked and had big meals with my local group, but every week, no! I have no interest in seeing htem every week. I DO have a life.
I have a life as well – or try. Once again you missed the point. In church they do, several times a week , have interaction and build bonds. This is why I asked you several questions. The fact so many women belong to churches – and are the back bone – unarguably, of their congregation and facilitate these socials events – speaks largely of what the majority of women seek or need. This is, once again, the point of post... For some – this is their life. This is what they love, breathe and come week , after week for. This is why- not theology, that faith has retained numbers. It may be what causes Atheism to not... To relate, to grow , to connect, to bond – is very biological and a natural desire. To not – to me, is foreign. This group alone shows the need...
HOwever, you never answered my question earlier, if you offered to ORGANIZE a child friendly event. You told me you had suggested one, but, that is different than offering to organize one yourself.
I'll correct you – saying suggest does not remove an offer of organizing. I suggested I could organize one to minimize the anxiety they may feel at the task...
“Angela, you have a passion about this, and i hesitate to to argue with you much, because you mentioned earlier you felt you were being put on defensive, but, some of your remarks are sweeping generalizations, which detract from your very valid point, (that atheist groups should consider luring in families.”
Which ones? When someone uses sweeping and generalizations – I prefer they list them , so I can reply. If I didn't one could easily claim whatever they wanted.
//"It's always been noted women are not as vocal in Atheism as men - I had to post the top women in atheism on my page - after polling and no men could name one! Not even Hirsi came to mind for them."//
I don't know i'd agree with your sweeping statement ( how so – name me women who have reached hero status as Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris , Dennett, Rorty and the list of men goes on …) "it's been noted women aren't as vocal as men about athesim"!Have you tripped across Greta Christina? ( who I know as females is irrelevant – I'm a women.) I am fairly mouthy female atheist....lol.<-- you're not well known or a name likely to be written about... I'm as well – and I blog, but I'm not well known and certainly not hero status, certainly not televised and in cable sponsored debates. Women have been pivotal in Atheist activism- but not well heard and behind the scenes. An editor is not as recognized as the writer.
You didn't discredit my statement.
Many of the men here on T/A could name women atheists. Since we atheists are so few, and NOT organized, we should fight the temptation to generalize the bulk of us by the reactions or limitations of a few.
But you just did … you're using your limited experience with T/A to conclude the bulk of male Atheists do know prominent female Atheists. You haven't shown were I made a generalization. It's not disputed by the atheist community the lack of 'herofied' females in Atheism. Women, they exist – surely. Are they at equal status, as the men enjoy ? No.
Also – T/A is a good size community( I hope it grows) – however I belong to forums and groups that have over 30k or more. On two of my pages I have over 15k. So when I look at issues – I look in a broader sense. This here has been a drop in bucket. I liked the fact it's smaller and more intimate. Generally when I write – I post to several communities, forums and etc to look at responses for comparison.
So, I will disagree with you using 'generalizations'...
We DO have many atheist mothers on this; site, have you looked at Parenting group?
Yes, 129 members. Petite group – but good to see one on here.
//"I don't think the solution is saying, ' hang in there!'...Nothing gets resolved."//
“nothing gets solved by those who give up, either, Angela”
Who said giving up ? Not with my nature.
sorry, i'm just not in a 'get pissed off' mood today.
Who wanted you to be ? I'm quite happy.
I hear you, but, i'm just not pissed off about it. But, i think your point, atheism is not as organized as churches is valid and true. STill, the atheist women that i know could not belong to any church (except possibley UU) jsut to have bake sales with other women who have dependent children. nope, they couldn't/wouldn't. Gag.
Bake sale is an 'x' , used as an example of an event. Women at church who don't have children actively take part in the lives of the families and children .. .It's called community; socialization for a reason. Why wouldn't atheist women do such things and with women with dependent children? I have prior to having my two youngest. I do things on a regular basis that have no direct connection with my own life and I certainly wouldn't dismiss a person from the desire of wanting to help or be involved in another's life due to it being unrelated to theirs. Children need nurtured by many different influences. So am I to agree that atheist women wouldn't ? No. I'm an Atheist woman , and I certainly would. I'm sad the women you know are so limited in their regard for other atheist women – which is kinda the point. You just lent my post an agreement.
I'd bake the best damn cupcakes they ever ate...
//"There is going to have to be a change - a new understanding of Family & Atheism. A serious attempt at someone bringing them together, for regular interaction and development."//
YOu make a good point, Angela. Feel free to pitch in, like i said, it IS up to us atheists to cause the changes we want to see happen. Offer to do the work to organize a child friendly event at your local group, if they flat out refuse to allow you to do this work, well, consider starting up your OWN local atheist family group.
You state it as if I haven't – wrong. I've tried several options. But maybe these atheist's are as you and wouldn't come bake with me, sew with me( which I don't do – just an 'x') or share my triumphs, failures and the joys of my life – perhaps they wouldn't or don't have interest because they've already raised theirs and feel no obligation to help me raise mine … perhaps this is the crux of issue with atheists. There is no obligation , want or desire for community – it goes against the grain of having no organization. If organization is what on large the populace seek – as exampled with theism and has helped make it so successful – then perhaps atheism needs to rethink the position.
You ever heard the say saying 'It takes a( village) community to raise a child ?” …
Pagan communities are not that bad, Most Pagans I know are very accepting of differences of opinions.
Some not so much but hey it goes the same way with any group.. Many of the ones that I know do not subscribe to a god or deity other than themselves as they are the creators of their own universe.
And even the ones that do can actually get together with out Religion being the center of everything.. I get together with a group in Lancaster from time to time, it is about an hour and 25 min drive, but well worth it when i am feeling the need for community..
Of course I have mentioned the UU church here I think. I have been to some of those that were very open, that were not centered around Christianity, They had a long range of different things that went on in the church from Pagan events, to Buddhist meditation, to secularism services, and just group discussions on religion and humanism. True to that though, the first one that I attended in the North, happened to be organized and geared more towards Christianity. SO I moved along from that one very quickly..
Having said that it was nice to meet people of many different faiths, and many different belief's or lack of them all in the same room, getting together and not tearing one another apart.. I have thought about driving a little further to a different one just to see how they gear their services?? They do gear their stuff towards community action, and families though.
It is just a thought, it was one of the places that I met people when I was living at home.. NO doubt I drove an hour and a half.. but it was worth it then..
Certainly nothing wrong with checking them out - I'm a little piqued in curiosity as well. I'm open ! Not so open I'll sit in a sermon:)
I'm trying to get a group together for a mud run - a bonfire and some filthy family fun. I'm going to do so outside my county!