Recently, in chat, someone pointed out that there are fewer female than male Atheists.  That prompted a comment on sexual differentiation of intelligence.  I suggest that most women make the best choice for themselves and their children by opting for an 'outlook' that is not confrontational with family.

In other words, I feel that most women care less about whether or not there is a god than they do about whether or not they can maintain a harmonious relationship with their extended family.  In such a situation, what benefit would there be to adopting an Atheist stance - either psychologically or inter-personally?

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Once you've had children, you live 7 days a week for someone else - not just Sunday.  What happens when you are ill, what happens after you get divorced?  Even when it comes time for your kids to go to college - how many relatives might have a spare room in a University town?

Oh, but fuck the kids, right?  We gotta be our 'true' selves.  It's not like we're just internet personalities - right?

And you wonder why you don't get a shred of support.

stronger knees. :-)

For centuries women have been "under control" and objectified. It's turning around in some countries to the point of a man is just the idiot holding a BBQ Spatula or fucking up a plumbing job. Cultures are now at extreme opposition on such matters and the world has become explosive as a result.

What one thinks and what one projects to others is often not the same. To avoid family conflict it is often best just to adopt an attitude of "I don't know, what do you think?" Personally I have shed that approach and decided confrontation is more productive in this age of pushy theocrats.

Heather I think I agree with you.  My wife is ambivalent toward religion, she is probably closer to agnostic than atheist.  She knows my (definite!) views but has no interest in discussing them with me.  I think she believes 'there must be something' as in 'how can all those millions of people be wrong for thousands of years'?  She says that if people want to believe in god, let them.

When we were looking for senior schools for my children my extremely clever and academically gifted daughter was only ever going to go to the Girl's Grammar School, however my son is the polar opposite to her and did not pass the entrance exam to the Boy's Grammar School.  The rest of the schools in our area are not good, with one of the local faith schools (church of England) being the best of a bad bunch at the time.

For entry into the school a letter was required from the local vicar stating that the family were regular church goers and should be considered for entry.  My wife took my children to church at least twice a month for almost a year in order to be able to obtain a letter and apply to the school.  I could not be a hypocrite and went cycling and my daughter stopped going because she hated the conflicting and impossible trash of the sermons' contents. She wanted to stand up and scream at the congregation to get a real education!  (She is now in her final year of university studying for a degree in history.)

I recently ordered a couple of sheets of 'atheist' self adhesive labels for my car, bikes, laptop, etc.  My wife got quite angry, asking why I had to foist my 'beliefs' on other people.  What ensued was quite an interesting conversation that I will not go into here but I had to use all my powers of persuasion to convince her that it was right for me to support atheism.

In brief I think that there are several reasons why there are fewer women atheists:

  1. They don't think about it too much, they are more ambivalent toward religion and atheism (this goes for religious women as well, when did you last see a woman evangelist?)
  2. They are more likely to be believers, or at best agnostic.
  3. I find that women are more 'spiritual' in their nature, believing in astrology, mediums, religion, alternative therapies, faith healing, homoeopathy and the like.  Perhaps it is something to do with the 'miracle' of growing a life inside them and giving birth.
  4. I find that women are more likely to believe that there is a 'soul' that goes somewhere after death, possibly something to do with carrying a child to term and then caring for the child until adulthood and not wanting death to be a 'dead end'.
  5. There are fewer women in science and engineering, the industries where there are traditionally more atheists..

Not an extensive list, I am sure there are other reasons, such as religion itself discouraging women from thinking freely, and enforced by religious men.

@Alan - Yes, well I think your first and last points are the most pertinent.  I suppose a lot of Atheists here can't imagine 'not thinking about it' or 'not thinking it through', but we have thousands of issues in our lives that we likely never give much consideration.  That being said, if you are going to be a science/engineering sort, you likely find it necessary to think though a lot of things.  Superstitions can't hold up long when you make your living on evidence/results.

The better question is why would a woman not be confrontational in this day and age? Especially when women are striving for equality. I think it would be beneficial for women to stand up and confront others about their beliefs rather just be like "well I don't know and I don't really care, I have important things to do".

Part of being a rational or free thinker is your own self identity. I think women should definitely stand up and express their feelings and thoughts about who they are rather than taking a passive approach to it. I think in terms of equality in society and role of women, it would be better for women to be confrontational in situations like these.

I think for most women like the way we hide intellect we hide being atheist. There is a social pressure to be pretty decorations when we are young. WE get told by media from childhood what the perfect woman is. she is pretty, caring and dependent on the mythical prince. In school we are pushed to sidelines on education.  we show intellect we are called nerd or worse.

Being atheist requires us to accept all aspects of ourselves. Its okay to be smart and ask questions. It means that we let go of the conditioned emotional responses to apply logic. Add nature made sure to make us emotional by design, It becomes a bit harder to fight the emotion versus logic.

Things are getting better slowly girls are encouraged to think. As time moves on women will ask the questions that eventually will lead them to atheism.For now though society makes being different in any way very difficult. . Its going to take time. In the atheist community I have found most men to be accepting of women however there are those who do tell us we don't belong. So even once we make the leap to atheism we still have to deal with varying degrees of sexism. 

I would say I was fully Atheist by my early 20's.  That being said, I had no reason to bring it up.  I never 'came out' as Atheist until I happened to move to a small town full of people who were very religious and very weird.  Quite frankly, they creeped me out, and they only way to express why was to tell them that I found their beliefs and idiosyncrasies really bizarre.  That was when I came to identify as Atheist - in contrast to an incredibly religious, old fashioned environment.  That is also when I happened to join this site.

I was recently told that I was “such an Atheist all the time!!”

That's ok Reg, part-time atheists don't get full benefits.

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