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!
This is an interesting topic. I'm surprised no one has engaged it yet! Though, I have to admit that I've never even considered it – even coming from a very religious Latin family, with very precise notions of femininity (“Make sure your knees touch when you walk.” “If you don't go to college, you'll never find a rich man to marry you.”) Perhaps it has never occurred to me, because I've never considered that my own femininity is bound up in my religious or cultural background. Which is weird, because... obviously. And I do tend toward the extreme end of the spectrum of femininity, at least physically and interpersonally speaking – in the way I relate to people, the way I mother my kid, what I wear. Even my voice is soft and childlike (what comes out of my mouth may not be!). In other words, being a Total Girl seems natural to me. But who knows whether that would be the case if I had not been raised the way I was.
I notice, that I tend to be extremely gentle with my own very religious family. If they want to talk to me about God, I'll listen for ever. I'll engage them on their terms; I'll go to church with my mother. But, I do have my limits, and when I draw the line, I tend to be razor sharp and thorough. For instance, when my aunt told me that I needed to pray out loud in front of my son in order to heal him of a serious disorder he developed, implying that he wasn't getting well because of my lack of faith, I put the hammer down. So, she knows where the line is, now. Is artfully picking one's battles a feminine characteristic?
I think, though, that the one big difference between my before and after is that I'm less likely to hide my brain or dumb down. And I'm more likely to trust my own mind, which I did not as I was growing up. I'll tangle with anyone who picks a fight with me, because I'm confident. On the internet, this has driven people (men and women) to speculate that I am some kind of human warthog, because I certainly wouldn't be embarrassing them intellectually if I could get a man.
My nails are painted. I feel naked without earrings. You'll more likely find me in a skirt than a pair of pants. I'm soft-spoken. I love to feed people. I wear flowers in my hair all the time. Perhaps my feminine demeanor is a holdover from my upbringing. But, I don't see any need to try to untangle that, at this point. Perhaps religious notions of femininity codified the extreme end of an already natural spectrum – as certainly there are more women who naturally fall more toward the middle than those of us who occupy the fringe.
This is just my experience as a very femme woman having grown up in a culture that reinforced and rewarded that. I would love to hear from women with different experiences, because they are certainly more prevalent.
Thanks for the response!!! It is an interesting topic, and it proves my point exactly. I notice there aren't as many women compared to men on the main forum either...is it that we're shy to speak our minds? What do you think?
Thanks for sharing... I too am super feminine...I wasn't raised in a Latin family but I do speak Spanish and I identify very strongly with their culture. I am Hispanic biologically, but was raised in a German/Swiss/Irish family...(adopted) My family is not religious. I became religious over the course of many years/experiences and lived it...I believed it with all my heart and I was/always have been the "black sheep" of the family, first for my rebellion in earlier days, then after my "conversion" I still have yet to redeem myself for many choices I made earlier in life. So my experience as an Atheist now is very short. (only the last couple of months...) I cannot pinpoint the day I became and Atheist but it's happened rapidly. I only know of one other woman in "real life" who is an Atheist...Otherwise I'm surrounded by Theists. So now I'm trying to fit in to my world. I think I too will tend to still talk about God with those who believe in Him and not raise a fuss about it. I'm not bold enough to oppose anyone yet. Nor do I think I should have to be. Maybe that will change with time, but I'm not out to deconvert anyone. I do however not believe is standing aside and watching harmful things happen as a result of someone's crazy religious ideas. But again...opposing such things while trying not to come across as a total bitch is a delicate balance...I think.
I do wonder why we concern ourselves with the opinions of people we think are delusional or abusive. Why do I care that some random numbskull thinks I'm a bitch? I don't know, but I have often found myself in abusive relationships, questioning my own judgment and believing some crazy sonofabitch's opinion of me.
One thing that concerns me a lot about my interactions with religious or very conservative people is my tendency to tiptoe around them. I can't shake the sense that it's not a fair fight -- like taking on my religious friends or family would be like blowing out the candles on a little kid's birthday cake. I'm not sure if that has to do with femininity, the fear of being thought of as a bitch, if it is patronizing, or if it is genuinely compassionate.
I can't shake the sense that it's not a fair fight -- like taking on my religious friends or family would be like blowing out the candles on a little kid's birthday cake.
Hahaha I feel the same! I recently got into a debate with one of my friends boyfriends on evolution. I walked all over him. His best rebuttal was 'evolutionists still can't agree because some say we come from the ocean and some say we come from monkeys'... facepalm. It got so bad that my friend stepped in an posted a link to some woo essay claiming why evolution isn't true, which I then debunked as well.
It isn't fair if they don't know what they are talking about, which most of them don't.
I normally don't take them on because of a number of reasons. One being that I don't think they could function without their belief because they would have no one to hand their responsibilities and problems off to. Another being that I don't want to loose my friends over a religious debate (which is quite possible). The last being that I generally try to avoid confrontation which is something I've learnt from my family, most of the time it's just not worth it.
Another being that I don't want to loose my friends over a religious debate (which is quite possible). The last being that I generally try to avoid confrontation which is something I've learnt from my family, most of the time it's just not worth it.
Same thing happened to me recently. Needless to say I could no longer care less if that friend were hit by a car. That idiot. And yes the conversation, more often than not, is not worth having. Not with people like that who have been indoctrinated. You're essentially trying to teach a zebra not to have stripes. I understand that none of us want to be alone, but at some point we have to pay the price for our common sense and intelligence. Sometimes that price is losing a friend, sometimes it's complete loneliness. But in the end we have to prioritize. I'd rather be alone than have a such dumbfucks be my friends. I don't want such people around me where I always have to pussyfoot around things that I know are false. I value my integrity more than their friendship.
I see where you're coming from, and if I could I would discuss religion till my ears bleed. Unfortunately with my friends if I loose one of them, I loose them all. They are those kinds of people. They recently rejected and ultimately kicked out a girl from our group because she was causing too much drama (granted, she had a lot of issues and caused trouble, but it was harsh and petty). My friends are great people, they can be at your side when you need them, but start an issue and they all turn their backs. I know that if I start discussing religion that they will all perceive it as an attack and possibly try to avoid me. So avoiding the topic is best for me and them.
I have been alone before. I have isolated myself and lived that way for 3 years. I never want to do that again. I know I'm a loner but everyone needs some kind of friendship company, family and partners just don't fill that gap.
Sorry just saw this post now.
So your not Anti-Social, your Anti-Stupid?
I don't think it has to be mutually exclusive.
I was raised atheist so I can't really comment on leftovers from having been a Christian, but I can tell you that a guy I was dating complained that I wasn't feminine enough. It didn't bode well for that relationship, I'm afraid. He tried to get me to wear dresses and grow my hair long, even though my hair doesn't look particularly good long. I found myself going along with it and almost believing that what he though was happening was true - that I didn't think enough of myself to try to be "pretty."
Boy was he upset when I broke up with him. All of the sudden his tune changed. I was more than feminine for him in the ways that were apparently most important to him. But to heck with him! I am who I am. Love me, love my Doc Martens. I am happiest when I've been hiking and I've got mud on my legs, and maybe some good scratches from picking blackberries.
I can say that even though I wasn't raised as a Christian, it's misogynistic nature is pervasive enough that even I got the message that, because I am female, I am somehow bad. I could never be as good as the Virgin Mary, and somehow I needed a (male) deity to forgive me so I wouldn't suffer eternally. Hmmm... W. T. F?
When I was exploring different belief systems, I became drawn towards belief systems that honored the feminine also. In the end, though, I don't care about any of them personally. I don't want to worship any god, male or female.
There is one aspect of Christianity that is surprisingly intriguing for me. While listening to gospel radio recently, I heard a lot of talk about marriage, relationships, and roles. It made me think about how I have conducted myself in romantic relationships. I could have used some of that information growing up. A lot of it I would have not wanted, but there is some good in the mix too.
Diane, Re your last paragraph: What information do you feel you could have used?
That is a very difficult question to answer, apparently. I could have used a lot more information about a lot of things, not just relationships. As I listened to gospel radio, I found myself feeling envious of folks whose parents, although I didn't agree with some of the actual messages they were given, at least provided guidelines for how to relate to others in a more functional way.
As I thought about this, I realized what I really wanted was to not have been raised by a mother with a severe mental illness who pretty much left me to fend for myself in most ways. It would have been good to have better known my worth. It seems that the messages that might have come from stable but religious parents might have been at least slightly better. Yes, I would have had ridiculous and damaging information thrown into the mix, but I might not have had to learn so many things the hard way.
Diane, I understand that completely. Most kids want/need boundaries and clarity; they want to know what's correct and what's not. I mean, consider they want to hear the same stories told over and over again, and will tell you if you skip something or miss a page.
I'm raising an atheist kid right now -- he's 11 -- and he's pretty headstrong about it. I mean, when he was 5, he asked me "Why did people invent god just so that they could be afraid of him?" But, last year, I realized that not having any sort of belief system was becoming unnerving to him, and he had taken to interrogating a Jewish buddy of his on a daily basis at school and reporting back to me what he had learned. He seemed to want to have the rituals and sense of community that his friend's religion offered him.