Listen up. I have a bone to pick. We are an under represented population. (Women who are also Atheists that is.) In school we are taught to be nice and lady-like. (I know this is a generalization, but just roll with me here...) In the church, which we have now left, we are taught to submit to our husbands and keep silent. Once an Atheist...NOW WHAT? How do we break free from the constraints that religion has placed upon us? How do we remain feminine, beautiful, and yet be strong and forthcoming about our beliefs and why we hold them? I'm hoping to create some discussion around what it means to be Atheist for us ladies.
Ladies, what have been your experiences having left a male dominated religion and venturing into a belief system which truly defines us as equals when it comes to all human rights?
Do any of you still struggle with aftermath of religious thinking about yourself or your role as a wife/mother, etc?
Men: Feel free to chip in with your insights as well. This isn't battle of the sexes so I don't want to hear anything about that. Your insights are valuable to the discussion. Thanks!
There's this too. I tend to make a habit of these things.
BBC Radio 4 has the programme Woman's Hour. It's on Monday to Friday, I like to stay abreast of the issues. (you've got to give me that.)
I was also raised to be feminine, submissive and all that other stuff, but rebelled at a very young age (I don’t actually like to think of it as rebellion since that makes me seem petty, but more of me asserting my independence). I remember getting punished by my parents because my dresses would always come home dirty and often with tears and rips in them because instead of sitting off to the side with all the other little girls I would be playing whatever game that the boys set up. I hated dresses and even just getting me to wear them was a battle (I eventually won). As I got older this rebellion only became more pronounced. I refused to switch to the new Xian school my father’s church set up when I was in 8th grade, I dated someone who they did not approve of (because he wasn’t saved) and then much later married that same guy (but they then, they accepted him for the awesome person he is and thus thought of him as a Xian O.o).
One time, in high school, I was helping my father set up something at his church (I was still pretty religious back then) and he started talking about how I should break up with Sam because when the time was right he was going to pick someone out for me that would be perfect (I think he was joking). I told him that there was no way that was going to happen (also jokingly, but serious). Some lady who had walked by flew at me and said “NOOOOOOO! You must be submissive!” (Completely serious) I was taken aback but told her that, no, I did not have to be submissive in this case, or any other. She stared at me wide eyed and then left. My dad was embarrassed but he should have known me better to know that that wouldn’t fly. Later, he wanted me go to BJ for collage (even had an admissions officer call my house to talk to me and when I said I wanted to study Psychology the women said: “Well we don’t have that as a major, what about history?” I shit you not) or some other Xian school and I told him that I would not wear a skirt every day and went to a state school (another rebellion, I was the only child in my family that did not go to a Xian school at some point in their lives).
There was always a lot of pressure on me to be submissive but I just couldn’t do it, no matter how hard I tried. I knew that it was wrong for them to expect me to curb my behavior just because I was a girl when my actions would have been fine if I had been a boy. This has gotten me into a lot of disagreements with my family and still affects me to this day. There are times when we are with my family and one of the male members will say something about “a woman’s place” and I will rip them apart. I say all this because I believe that this independent streak has only gotten more pronounced with the development of my Atheistic beliefs. Reading this you probably would think that I’m always confrontational and bitchy but this is far from the truth, I think I’m a pretty nice person. I had to rewrite this twice because I felt that it was too attention begging. I’m not an ass…honestly. ;-)
That makes sense Amanda. I think that many women are not bitchy...but sometimes that's what we have to become to be heard....I've actually been learning a lot about being assertive...I think I could learn something from you. A lot from you actually. I think it's TOTALLY amazing that you stood your ground all of those years and didn't let them push you around. I'm sure it was hard but I can hear in your voice (typing voice, lol) that you withstood it all with a mature attitude and matter of fact manner that speaks volumes to your character. I also think it's awesome that you didn't give in to the expectation of where to attend school or what to study. A lot of people can fall into that trap and end up miserable later in life. You however knew what you wanted and went after it. Good for you! You go girl ;)
Aww thank you Belle! But, I'm sure that I wasn't always mature about it ;-) I was in high school after all.
Like your parents' belief that your husband is a Christian just because they like him, believers in my life, who like me, will insist/assume/lalala that I actually conform to their belief system but just don't yet accept/realize that I do. I'm too deluded or ignorant or simple, I guess -- but somehow innocent. Actual quote: "I could never be friends with a non-believer, so I know that you believe. You just don't realize it, yet."
There is nothing about what you said that should lead anyone to believe that you're bitchy.
Actually, regarding the term "bitch": I do not ever apply this term to women. Only men. (Also the "c" word. Only men.)
I know! It's even more hilarious because when confronted by my parents we have told them that we don't agree with what they believe (but didn't go into being atheists...did not want to go there yet) and they just brushed it off and forgot about it. Once again, xians choosing to believe something that they have no evidence for.
'A woman's place'
Three words that instantly get my blood boiling. Grrrrr!
'A woman's place'
Having broken away from religion so recently I can honestly say this didn't and still doesn't bother me....but I think as a Female Atheist it should....at least a little bit. I think that I need to take some of that strength you and other women have because for so long I have believed that we (as women) do have a role to fulfill as wife/mother first. I can honestly say that I now believe differently, but in my heart I'm still chained to this belief. It still encompasses how I live my life. I still feel inferior to men. Honestly. I know that I shouldn't but once it's been beaten in to you for so long anything else feels unnatural. I'm barely gaining my independence as a newly single mother and having to do a lot of things for myself that my husband used to do. Like checking the fluids in my car...or taking out the trash...or driving the car!!! My husband use to insist on driving everywhere because he said I drive too slow...Anyway....The idea that we are equals has not completely set in and I know intellectually that my "place" is not supposed to be below a man but at the same level...but I think it's going to take a long time for me to really get there. I wonder if I'm alone in feeling this way....?
'A woman's place'
I feel the exact same way Teri, I swear that I see red.
And Belle it will probably take a long time to really break those chains but that is fine. Also, there is no shame in wanting to do "motherly" or "womanly" things like caring for your children, cooking dinner, etc (biologically we are kinda set up for that, tend to be more nurturing and loving) as long as they are not held over your head and unachievable goals are placed for you. But the belief that you are somehow less than a man just because you are a woman is a form of brainwashing and based solely on religious dogma. You can do it. Keep strong.
Thanks girl :)
'A woman's place' .... on top of a man's face!
lol, yes I did!