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!
Amanda, I can't believe your story. You had a lot to overcome and must have such a strength of character having resisted from such an early age!
Thanks so much Kairan. It was hard but, I had the love and support of a lot of important people and without them (my husband especially) I don't know if could have done it. That and Ive been told that I can be pretty stubborn ;-)
I'm a lesbian, so I've already shattered some expectations for me based on my physical sex. I've always felt pressure to be feminine, but that didn't exclude having personal beliefs outside of the cultural norm. The resistance to my being an atheist has always been a separate issue. Then again, I don't have pressures from a male partner to be a certain kind of woman. Don't get me wrong, the women I date do have expectations for me to be a sort of woman, too, but they expect the opposite of the submissive, feminine woman. I can't live up to either expectation, because that is not who I am, I am not just one kind of woman. I am more dominant than submissive, but not totally so, and I'm neither butch nor femme. I'm just me. It would be wonderful if I could one day be accepted for that.
@futilethewinds: Did you grow up atheist or did you leave a religion?
I'm just me. It would be wonderful if I could one day be accepted for that.
The cry of the female heart...
I feel you there. I'm not femme or butch. Just am who I am.
I am happy to see this discussion somewhere in the nation, the world. I do not feel that attending Catholic church until I was 16 affects me anymore (although it made it harder to understand my sexuality as a younger woman). My parents did raise me as an independent entity with a focus on individual success. Having been in the military and worked in Afghanistan I feel I have left behind any notions of inequality and am mostly surprised (I don't know why I should be) at the attitude many Christians have towards relationships. I experienced plenty of sexism in my travels and career but have found it easy to ignore in my self confidence.
I feel today my struggle is as a mother and as a community member. I made the crazy decision to move to an area of the country where Christianity is not only the norm but intertwined in most aspects of life. This is something I am currently racking my brain to try to come to terms with. I sign my son up for a city karate class and there is prayer before and after. My state legislature representative is a pastor. My son and I discuss the origins of the planet and life (he is only 5) and he has a fair understanding (for his age) of evolution and what constitutes as make believe. He comes home from school telling me how the kids are calling me stupid because he had a playground discussion about it (I encourage him NOT to discuss this at school). He brings home work sheets (from a public school) with bible stories and what seems to amounts to prayers.
I struggle with what to do. As a mother I want to protect my son from this kind of reaction. As an atheist I want to promote what I believe in and what protections we are "guaranteed". It is a very uncomfortable situation to be in. I want to educate my son and I often help him answer his own questions with linear logic and basic facts. I never refer to religions in a derogatory manner (to him!).
When I met his teachers (both wearing crucifixes) she brought up god. The school functions are always tinged with religious matters and it is fairly obvious to me that I am on the outside here. I don't want to go to the birthday parties or volunteer because of the way these other women talk about their religion. I even thought about pulling him out of school and homeschooling but the only support networks for that here are even more saturated.
I don't want to bring on any undue hardship on my son by voicing my opinions (I have never had trouble doing that before) but it is so hard to hear these things and keep quiet.
I suppose this may just sound like a long list of gripes. As a woman and atheist this is where I face the most challenge; figuring out how to grapple with a community doused in religion. How do I raise a son and be a part of a community like this? How do I respond when 5 year olds are telling my 5 year old that his mother is stupid!? Oh what a state, North Carolina!
It is not too personal! I grew up moving around the country and Europe and my husband grew up in New York state so we are accustomed to the more liberal areas. We are attempting to move to New York, somewhere in the woods and far away. We came home from Afghanistan with some money and no home. My uncle is from Ohio and moved here years ago. He convinced us he could get my husband a job and that NC wasn't REALLY the South. Wow! I don't know what rock he is living under. But we made a mistake and now we have to sell a house and find a job that could eventually transfer up north. So the move will happen, my hope is before the next school year.
My husband and I traveled from Toronto to Vancouver over 6 weeks and wow! I wish Canada was easier to migrate to. Everyone we met found it hard to believe we are Americans. With the usual example they hear about not surprising, eh?
Thank you for the book recommendation, I will definitely pick it up.
Yes you are under-represented, and when you are represented it's sadly by those feminazi tumblr dumbfucks. I'd love to meet an atheist girl my age, but alas, where I live any kind of atheist is hard to come by (Turkey).
I have a bone to pick too. I wouldn't know if girls get taught to be lady like in school. To me it seems more like they're trained to become manipulators and have everything given to them, at least if they're pretty, and thus never develop any kind of personality. But maybe that's what you meant by lady like.
So when I, as a 21 year old guy, sit in front of a girl around my age, they're always stumped that I don't give a fuck about their haircut or the inane mindrotting gossip they bring. And even when I, by some miracle, find what I think is a smart girl and say to myself "hmm she's actually pretty smart," she suddenly whips out her big hammer of idiocy and slams me with something like "so what's your sign? :)"
At that point I lose any respect I have for her and I might as well try and mate with cattle, because this is just bestiality now. Speaking on my on behalf here, I just cannot get attracted to irrational people. No matter how hot she is, if she's asking me what star sign I am or quoting verses at me, I go limp permanently.
What gets me really pissed off though is that these idiots still think and try to act all modern and I'm-a-free-woman like. I know girls who think they're free, autonomous women and try to show self-confidence, yet then they tell me they pray to Allah. Newsflash, you're a serf. You're a fucking mindless drone, who at the age of 20+ still believes in the boogeyman. How am I to respect any woman who tells me she's irrational? Being a woman and still defending religion is like being a jew and defending the third reich. I could spew so much vitriol right now but I lack the enthusiasm, forgive me.
How do we as a society fix this? And I'm not talking about Turkey specifically here because this place is beyond help.
You are most likely the only man alive who is interested in an intelligent woman. Bravo!
We are taught, through media and our societies, that being intelligent can be intimidating and that if we want to find a partner we need to dumb ourselves down. I know a lot of my friends do it, this is the reason I have nothing in common with them. I rarely get the chance to exercise my brain and intellect with them because all they talk about is mindless drivel. This is why I come here! Good luck with finding a girl like that, they are pretty rare. I know because I've looked for them myself too.
You are most likely the only man alive who is interested in an intelligent woman. Bravo!
I know there's lots of men interested in intelligent women. I think they're all over the place. But they're not usually where you expect them to be. lol