Ladies,

  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!

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I'd like to preface my statements by saying that what I'm about to say should be in no way interpreted as an attack on women. What I am going to say however may not be comfortable for women to hear.

It is my observation that the real power which oppresses women (certainly in the more civilized corners of the world) is not male power. Rather it is female power. It is the fear of how your female friends and relations will react to your behavior that keeps you "in line".

No women I know (literally not one) is so submissive as to meekly bow their head and do whatever their husband or boyfriend tells them to. Every woman I know has an independent mind and can think and act for herself and if it was suggested to her by her male relations that she should shut up and do what her husband / boyfriend / father said every woman I know would tell the to F*&K off in no uncertain terms.

The same is not the case however when a woman asserts power over another woman. Here it seems to be that there has been no women liberation. Almost every woman I know spends a good deal of time and energy worrying what other women think and in particular what other women think of them. Frankly I see women being really horrible to each other all the time.

I'd like to know if you agree with this

The main reason that women have not had and in many countries still do not have equality with men is almost completely the fault of religion. With almost all religious leaders being males and having the power to dictate to the masses I would suggest that until at least circa the 1950’s most women were not empowered to exercise control over their own lives.

How some women react to each other in certain circumstances has nothing to do with the centuries of submission inflicted upon them by men. Some men may not know any submissive women but I am sure such men are living in parts of the world where women have fought for and won equality for themselves and not in the remaining 75% of the world where they have not.  I am sure the 14 year old girl whipped to death on the orders of her local Mullah last week for allowing herself to be raped knew little of women’s liberation for it certainly never happened there.

We are more than 50% to blame. In some societies males are 100% the blame for it. The religious leaders are always weak men. Any man afraid of empowering women is a weak man.  The sooner the stranglehold of religion is broken the better.

Here is another voice worth listening to.

That was a very courageous woman, in your link.  Thanks for sharing.

Wow. This woman is a Hitchensian hero. So many good points, so well-put. Very bold. The transcript of this should be some kind of creed or anthem. This is what leadership should look like.

"This is what leadership should look like."

I'd say that this is what courage looks like.

Reg -

"Any man afraid of empowering women is a weak man." 

That's pretty much it.  They don't realize that sharing power will make both sides stronger.  We all know the religions were created as patriarchies, and legitimized by "God".  Under these circumstances, it is somewhat understandable that people feel they have to adhere to tradition, so this ties people down and prevents them from changing.  I believe. 

Nice video.  I've downloaded it before it disappears again. 

They've got to take it on board.  It could only have come from an ex-Muslim.  She's right, but it's far from being the whole story, and other approaches are needed to follow through. 

This is interesting, Teri's comments about growing up believing intelligent women were "too intimidating" and kOrsan's about respect got me thinking. I actually remember a point not too long ago (maybe a few years) where I realized I was intimidated by intelligent women that I would otherwise be attracted to (not all intelligent women-- if I didn't find her attractive, it didn't even matter that she was a woman). Which was fairly surprising to me. It made me stop and think about a lot of things.

First, how in the HELL had I never stopped to think about this before?

Then, my confidence. My security in my own intelligence. I suspected that it might stem from insecurity. But simply addressing that provided the answer: I basically realized my intelligence wasn't being threatened at all. What's the worst that could happen, I learn something new and have to get used to humble responses of awe and gratitude, thereby bettering myself even further? How terrible!

Then I had to evaluate what I was attracted to. Being a 20-something male, that hadn't been a very short list of traits. Suddenly I'd discovered a new standard, and it shortened the list up noticeably.

I thought about how fulfilling the relationships that resulted from my previous mindset would have been. And found that the answer was "Not very." I realized that even relationships with the nicest girls in the world would always have an expiration date because a part of me valued something more.

Then, if I hadn't been intimidated by intelligent women who I hadn't found attractive, why should my being attracted to them make their intelligence intimidating? Physical attraction itself started to seem more and more... secondary. I thoroughly tested this at a number of college parties-- I suddenly had a second sight, and it would ruin random party girls for me forever (although this may have also been the result of a natural progression in my maturity).

So first, I now found the prospect of being with someone who could potentially challenge me and make me better not intimidating, but exciting.

And naturally, even without physical attraction being a factor, I realized that intelligent women were people I wanted to hang around. I had intelligent friends (some), more specifically atheist friends (a few), and most of them were men. I wondered why. It didn't make sense to me, so naturally I couldn't leave it alone. I decided to seek out and befriend atheist women. Kind of on principle.

I figured this shouldn't be difficult; after all, I had friends who were women, even if they weren't interested in things like atheism. Well, it proved to be a little more difficult than I'd thought. And I really felt it out. I started at the office, in group conversation. Three women in my office, three men. Of the men, one was "undecided" (I'd unexpectedly opened him up to atheism in that very conversation), one was Christian, and one was me. The women... all Christian. Over time I'd start leaning the conversation in everyday random interactions (trains, planes, friends of friends, facebook, parties etc). Dead ends, always.

I'm finding that in MOST cases it's a connection to tradition, albeit an invisible connection (which is to say, like their male counterparts, it's a brand they wear and they don't actually believe 2000 years ago a middle-eastern man walked on water and brought people back from the dead). So family can obviously be a factor. They find that what they're content with is "right" and so questioning it is wrong. There's just a whole lot of confusion to break down. And of course insecurity, defensiveness, "the walls"-- it can be difficult to really connect with someone, to say "Hey, I don't have my walls up. I'm not going to hurt you. You don't need yours up either," when you're questioning everything they've been taught. Basically, I've found that you can't poke and prod at it too intrusively or aggressively... which, makes sense I guess. You gotta find the parts that resonate with them the most and work those (I swear I'm not doing that on purpose).

As to finding atheist women (or men), I've recently started focusing on reoccurring themes in demographics. So, like right now, after deciding that the geekier the individual, the more likely they are to be atheist, I've been talking to geeky women. And I'm finding this has produced favorable results. So... look to geeky people?

(I'm very tired, none of this sounds right, I hope it makes some sense)

 So, like right now, after deciding that the geekier the individual, the more likely they are to be atheist, I've been talking to geeky women. And I'm finding this has produced favorable results. So... look to geeky people?

I'm pretty geeky so that's another one for your theory. I've really battled to find atheist female friends, and now that I think about it there are next to no geeky girls around here (none that I've met anyway). This is most likely why I am the only atheist in my friendship group, another reason why I don't fit in with said friendship group.

What video game is this? I think I need to get into that.

Mostly, I do not pay attention to numbers, but even here some men tend to be patronizing toward women who comment on a subject. Then I leave that discussion.

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