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!
I certainly agree that atheist women are an under represented population. I'm not quite sure why that is though. Perhaps it's to do with the whole 'stupid women are sexy' thing. Ugh, it grates me to my core.
I was brought up in a home where my mother was very headstrong and both my mother and father taught me that intelligence and the ability to question things is important, regardless of what sex you are. I never quite fit in as a girl when I was young and the boys never liked me because I was an ugly duckling. I still don't fit in with most girls, including my friendship group, as I prefer to go without make-up and wear what I feel comfortable in, rather than what I look best in. I occasionally like to be pretty and dress up, wear make-up, and put on nice summer dresses. This is for my own benefit to feel good about myself.
I am most certainly the only atheist in my massive friendship group of girls (and guys), so I tend not to discuss the topic (although I would love to). But when it comes to things outside of religion, my friends don't understand my perspective at all.
I was never a part of religion and always hated the way they treated women. I strive to rely on my own thinking rather than follow others and will most likely continue to do this for the rest of my life.
What are your experiences Belle?
Hey Teri, thanks for the response. I'm pretty new to Atheism. I haven't told my friends/family at this point. I can really identify with what you said about:
I am most certainly the only atheist in my massive friendship group of girls (and guys), so I tend not to discuss the topic (although I would love to)
I has stayed in an abusive marriage because I had previously believed it was my own consequence to be dealt with for marrying an "unbeliever." The Bible leaves little room to exit and the teaching of the Christian faith was all around redemption and trying to "look at yourself first..." I spend a long time looking at myself to the point of extremely low self-esteem, self worth and depression. I have now left my abusive husband and am re-building anew. It is a long hard road, but I feel freedom for the first time EVER, not only in my mind becoming an Atheist, but also in my outlook on life. If I had held on the the religious perspective that I was his "helper" I'd still be helping him hurt me. I took my power back. And now I'm on fire!
If I had held on the the religious perspective that I was his "helper" I'd still be helping him hurt me.
That's an interesting way of putting it, very accurate.
You have an amazing story, and good for you! A lot of people don't manage to get out of the vicious circle of abuse. Was your deconversion a part of your leaving your husband? I must say that the feeling of freedom is incredible and empowering to help yourself take control of your own life.
Was your deconversion a part of your leaving your husband?
ABSOLUTELY!!! You know I had spent the last year praying between two verses, one in the book of Matthew and the other in Ephesians...basically the idea of do I "submit" to him and lead a quite and reverent life?... or do I basically, "cast him out as an unbeliever"...(and leave him...) I was getting NOWHERE!!! and why is that? Because I was praying to the wall and not doing anything to fix my own life. I started looking for answers outside the Bible. It started with going to a "secular" domestic violence program. It opened my eyes to what was really happening and I learned a lot in a very short time. Then once I realized what was going on and how it was going to affect my child if I stayed in my marriage I began reaching out/crying out for help everywhere I could...Long story short...I became an Atheist in the process....It's been quite a journey. I guess this is why I posed the question to the crowd. I'm wondering if other women have had similar experiences and been "held down" by religion. I know I sure was. Now I'm free!
Personally (I'm a guy just so you know) I'd just be apathetic to all Christian "Morality" and "Societal Norms". My only advice would be: do whatever you want to do and anyone with the amazing genocidal book doesn't get a word in edgewise. Live as you dance; like no one's watching.
It's nice to see that atheism does so much good for people. Christianity says that their belief is like taking off the shackles and celebrating, whereas it's more the other way around.
Again, good for you to have the courage to change your life around!
Why does "[remaining] feminine, beautiful" have to be in conflict with being "strong and forthcoming" about what we don't believe in? That's an old way of thinking that needs to expire. And if they still must be in conflict, why would that model of femininity be worth holding onto? I'm more interested in being perceived as an equal human who speaks her mind than a atheist who cultivates an antiquated version of demure femininity.
As for your other questions...I ventured into a belief system encompassing gender equality before I embraced atheism. As a newby atheist with that background, I have been disappointed by the lack of understanding of women's issues and gender-based societal inequality within the atheist community. I hope that improves before more people are alienated. The process of rejecting traditional theism (first for Gaia-ism, then Deism, then Panentheistic Deism, then Agnosticism while considering the likelihood that all forms of deism are a construct) was personally liberating in light of the psychological effect accepting male supremacy on a spiritual level takes on a non-male person.
I have not totally rid myself of the social and religious thinking which limits women to the wife/mother role, or at the very least espouses that this should be a woman's primary role/identity. I sometimes feel guilty about my decision not to reproduce. But then logic prevails and I remember that I have made the correct choice.
On a side note...I had to edit this six times. Typing on an android tablet is hell. Flying Spaghetti Monster Hell.
Why does "[remaining] feminine, beautiful" have to be in conflict with being "strong and forthcoming"
You SO just said it right there....that's basically my point. I have for SO long been "submissive" and "meek" and "soft-spoken" and "compassionate" and "reverent" and "gentle" and "quiet spirited"...not that I'm a weak little thing. Incase you didn't notice...lol. But I guess I'm referring more to when I'm told to do something by a man, my husband for example, I've rarely said no and this I have reasoned down to the teaching of the church that a woman is to conform to this image. The image in the book of Proverbs, chapter 31. It describes a woman who is strong, she is an entreprenuer, a wife, a mother, a homemaker...she is everything to her family. This is the woman I've tried my damndest to become only to be trampled on. So now there's got to be a better way. A freer way. That's what us ladies need to explore with each other and hold on to. That's why I started this discussion. Thanks for keeping it rolling...
I grew up trying to achieve the persona you describe in the first three lines, so I can really empathize. I think the ideal you were taught to aim for is impossible. Nobody can be everybody for a person...unless that person is very sick. Also, how can you be for yourself when you are everything for others?
I'm very glad to hear you've separated from your ex-husband and that you're re-evaluating the best way to be. It is a journey!
Kairan, I absolutely agree with you that femininity is a strength in itself, and men are often jealous of it. Forget "penis envy", there is a "creation envy".
Yes, I think men can be jealous that they can't create life, and they can be jealous of the calm grounded strength that women can have. Also - let's face it - a bunch of women can be terrifying. It just has to be taken on the chin.
I know, I'm a guy. What do you think of this? (reproduced from here.) Surely men bear 50% of the responsibility for the general situation.
Alpha females are:
Sometimes a woman can be sweet, shy and retiring, and still be an alpha female. She can still have all the qualities I listed.