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We are a worldwide social network of freethinkers, atheists, agnostics and secular humanists.

Well THIS topic always stirs things up, always.  I found the comments UNDER the article, very interesting to read, as well.  Some famous names there, (unverfied) posting remarks.



New Atheism and the Old Boys' Club

Women are God-fearing and don’t challenge institutions. Men, on the other hand, are skeptical and rational, and go out of their way to publicly call bullshit on faith and religion—which is why today’s well-known secular thinkers, especially in the ranks of the New Atheism movement, are all male.

These statements should sound ridiculous because, of course, they are. From Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the founder of American Atheists, whose 1963 Supreme Court lawsuit brought an end to prayer in public schools, to Sergeant Kathleen Johnson, who started an organization for atheists in the United States military, to Debbie Goddard, founder of African Americans for Humanism, countless women have worked as successful atheist activists. They’ve penned books, run organizations, and advocated on behalf of religiously repressed citizens. But you might not guess that from the popular portrayal and perception of atheism in America, which overwhelmingly treats the contemporary class of non-God-fearing freethinkers (also known as secularists, skeptics, and nonbelievers) as a contentious, showboating boys’ club.

In November 2006, Wired magazine identified Richard Dawkins, Daniel C. Dennett, and Sam Harris as a “band of intellectual brothers” whose bestselling books on atheism, published between 2004 and 2006, heralded an era of 21st-century nonbelief. The media quickly dubbed this “the New Atheism.” What differentiates this movement from more old-school atheism (besides the mainstream media’s everpresent need to anoint, brand, and categorize thought leaders) is that New Atheists take a vehemently zero-tolerance approach to faith, mysticism, and even agnosticism. Though the basics are the same—nonbelief in a god or gods—the new system also calls for pushing nonbelief on others, almost to the point of abject proselytization.

In a sidebar titled “Faces of the New Atheism,” the article profiled a few other notable nonbelievers—Greg Graffin of the band Bad Religion, illusionists Penn and Teller, and writer Warren Allen Smith, with short tidbits illustrating how their atheism plays out in their lives and work. (Penn Jillette’s cars, for instance, feature license plates reading “ATHEIST” and “GODLESS.”) Shortly afterward, CNN followed up with “The Rise of the ‘New Atheists’,” a web story on the subject, which added to the clubhouse British journalist Christopher Hitchens, whose then-upcoming book was 2007’s God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. And Victor J. Stenger, an author and physicist, joined the bunch with the 2007 publication of his book God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist.

Attention kept increasing—and arguably still holds steady—for these men, who’ve collectively become the Michael Moores of nonbelief, garnering notice as much for pissing people off as for convincing others of the rightness of their stance. Socially approved public antagonists, they’ve debated religious firebrands like Dinesh D’Souza on national TV, as the mainstream media (never one to quash the ratings-grabbing potential of a fiery-tongued polemic) goads them on.

So is new-style atheism the sausage party that media coverage would suggest? Without getting into an impossible intellectual debate—the kind dealing with pinpointing exactly who was the first to come up with or popularize a particular idea—suffice it to say no, not hardly. Consider: In 2003, the intellectual historian and poet Jennifer Michael Hecht published Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson. The book traces famous nonbelievers throughout history, and advocates atheism on the grounds that these thinkers’ skepticism toward religious institutions fostered innovation in philosophy, literature, and science. It garnered rave reviews from the Los Angeles Times, which called it “marvelous,” and Skeptic magazine, which described it as a “stunning chronicle of unbelievers.” In 2004, journalist Susan Jacoby published the extensively praised work Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism, a book that drew on the history of United States—in particular, the significant role secular thinkers have played in reform movements—to make the case that staunchly nonreligious thought should be the main driver of public policy.

Yet though Hecht’s and Jacoby’s books both came out shortly before Wired bestowed its “New Atheist” designation on the likes of Dawkins and Harris (whose The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reasonwas published the same year as Jacoby’s Freethinkers), neither woman is invoked in the mainstream media’s anointing of atheist thought leaders. Is it that “rationality”—the bedrock of New Atheist doctrine—is historically gendered male, while women are considered more emotional? Is it that their books are too conciliatory toward religion, too well balanced, too, you know, womanly? Nope. Both women are accomplished, strong-voiced scholars, and are no more afraid than their male colleagues to call out religion’s injustices in a public forum—that is to say, not afraid at all. And as for those whose knee-jerk response to the abundance of critical acclaim accorded male writers over female ones is the classic “Maybe their books just weren’t as good/original/ambitious,” nope again. Indeed, Hitchens recognized Hecht’s influence on the bestselling God Is Not Great, writing in the acknowledgments section: “Jennifer Michael Hecht put me immensely in her debt when she sent me a copy of her extraordinary Doubt: A History.”

Nevertheless, a statement on Stenger’s website identifies Harris’s book as the bellwether of contemporary atheist thought. On a page promoting his own book The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason, Stenger writes that The End of Faith “marked the first of a series of bestsellers that took a harder line against religion than has been the custom among secularists.” In an e-mail interview, Stenger acknowledged that female atheists do exist—name-checking Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wendy Kaminer, Rebecca Goldstein, and Michelle Goldberg as well as Jacoby—but the “New Athiests” referred to in his book’s promotional materials include none of these women.

Tom Flynn, editor of the secular humanist journal Free Inquiry and executive director of the Council for Secular Humanism, agrees that there’s a strong gender skew in the atheist movement. Though organizations like his have worked to recruit and retain female members—with mixed results—he’s aware that more men are recognized as atheist leaders. That said, he won’t necessarily concede that there’s sexist intent behind that recognition, saying, “The numbers [of atheist authors] are so small, it’s largely coincidence that these authors who are all men emerge as superstars.”






READ ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE---->  (as well as COMMENTS under the article)

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But mostly he eats plants, and a few rocks.

I haven't seen mentioned in this discussion the name of Eugenie Scott, Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education. She's a strong defender of evolution and top opponent of teaching creationism/intelligent design in public schools.

GOOD POINT, Eduardo,

but Eugenie Scott DID make the list here: (only living female prominent atheists are listed, btw)


that is a link i'd mentioned i had lost, and Adriana provided it.  Ms Scott is brilliant.  We need more like her.

There are quite a few women out there "helping the cause", many are just "hidden". A substantial group, and most valuable in my view, are women in natural science. As you read books by "good ol' boys" on this subject, you'll find the inevitable references to work done by women. Some are the authors themselves. And I think nothing contributes more to reason and helps debunk superstition than explanations found in natural science.
I'll digress a bit now but let me refer to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, probably the most unlikely person you could think as a prominent atheist: she's a woman, she's black, she's Somalian, and she was raised under the most rigorous version of Islam (mutilated genitalia, hijab, forced marriage struggle included). Yet at the age of 23 she managed to escape the insanity and migrated to Holland where she became an atheist. Ten years after she arrived to Holland she became a member of the Dutch Parliament. She then wrote a script for "Submission", a film denouncing the treatment of women in Muslim society and soon started getting death threats (her producer didn't just get threats, he was murdered by a fanatic). She now lives in the US.
My personal take on inequality is that it's deeply rooted in the beginning of history. And I'm talking hundreds of thousands of years and probably going back to ancestral forms. Quite probably with a biological base. So to expect sudden and absolute equality seems a bit unrealistic. I read of other cultures or go back just one or two centuries and I see how much wider the gap was compared to the present in western society so there is hope, but shaking inequality completely from all aspects of all societies will be a long and arduous task. And it is particularly tough in some regions of the world. In some, it will be an ant trying to overcome obstacles the size of planets.

OH i have Ayaan Hirsi Ali in my list of My Heros on my page, she is an amazing woman.  Her story can not be told often enough.


I agree with your points.  Even in some 'primative' cultures only recently discovered (i posted a thread on them somewhere on AU) women in *most* of those cultures, untouched by the outside world, women are submissive/seen as second class, yet, they do the bulk of the work in most of these societies.  One of the socieities however, seemed fairly equal-ish, with polygamy being the norm, only in reverse of typical polygamous societies, with women having multiple husbands and more voice in the decisions made in that tribe.

But the other isolated primitive cultures, even in those, women were regularly beaten, had no voice at all, not even in who they marry, and yet, did the bulk of the work for the tribe's needs.   I got exhausted just watching their typical day, while the male's day looked way more fun/less strenuous/more variety in the type of day experienced. (documentary films were done on these various cultures). 


It'd be hard to tease out the why or how of this oppression happens, but i do suspect the dependency on others to gather food and other forms of assistance needed by those restricted by infant care *might* be a factor...(?) and women's generally smaller size/less upper body strength *might* be a component, in deciding who is "in charge"(?), and it goes on from there...(?) 


One of the things i find most frustrating is the denial of the existance of oppression, of ANY group.  Discussing the topic with others who ARE aware of oppression, is much less frustrating. 

//"So to expect sudden and absolute equality seems a bit unrealistic."//

I agree it may be unrealistic, yet when i compare even my grandmother's world, with my own, there is hope.

and i feel there is a difference between expecting something, and striving relentlessly towards it.  I can barely think of an oppressed group, that gained equality, even in part, without making noise.  Or, without at least some making the demands, complaining, pointing it out, pushing for change.  I think big changes in societies have to have a trigger, and sometimes, many triggers.


  I feel the more ppl know, the more ppl think about this cause, the less denial oppression exists and the more the cause may gain favor....and the greater the chances improvements can happen.


And you are sooooo right, Eduardo, it is hard to even imagine many of the world's cultures ever getting anywhere close to equality of the genders...{and for many of those, religion is used as an excuse/"reason" for the oprression. }


 {edit: oh, i don't have my list of heros up on my page anymore, with Hirsi Ali among them, so nevermind! ha.}



Yes, there are cases of matriarchal societies in which women have the upper hand. It's interesting also that there are species of baboons where males rule several females with an iron fist but there are also other species of baboons where the females lead packs. So it's not set in stone.
Like you, I wonder how big a role the physical differences play in defining the structure of human gender relations in different cultures. But I suspect a big component is "tradition". A set of rules passed on from generation to generation through history to maintain a certain "appropriate" code of behavior so that a society runs orderly and efficiently, even if at the expense of a certain group or groups. And boy, doesn't religion lend itself to great service in this respect! The perfect tool. Have a group fight your wars ("This war is in the name of God, you see?"), another group to service you domestically ("Well, it's in the Bible!"), another to do all the hard labor for free ("Not only the Bible says it's alright, but I'm actually doing you a great favor by teaching you my much more advanced version of superstition"), another to be exploited ("God put you on Earth to be poor and me to have it easy"), others to be pillaged for resources ("Those infidels don't deserve the Lord's Kingdom").

this thread was an oldie but goodie to me, at the time.  Ha, i posted this under my OTHER email address, and i have since lost the password to THAT profile! LOL!

(don't delete it, i like the pics of my dog..)

A pencil is better than a pen.  A pencil thought breaks when cracked doesn't dry out and becomes a worthless pen with dry ink. Atomizing nozzles for paint isn't new.  I used Pache low volume paint sprayers  when detailing models as a child. - Kind of strange that cosmetic companies are marketing that for 'make- up' for women with whatever dusting is sold.

Perhaps if men and women saw the inner beauty, or ugliness in each other perfume and cosmetics wouldn't be such a  money making industry.

I previously posted

How Much is your face Worth? American women average at $8 per day.

The article didn't include, perfume, hair care (dies), fingernail and toe nail painting, or the myriad of other things some people do to make themselves 'presentable, or beautiful?'

It seems to be common within society  that families and society raise girls to be more religious than boys.

Curious do religious backgrounds result in the insecurity that some feel a need to 'doll' themselves up?

"Atheism' is a continuum of enlightenment.

There is nothing new about that struggle.

To further it - there is no such thing as new atheists.


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