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!
'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!
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!