I’ve been an atheist for quite a few years, but raising kids didn’t afford me the time or leave me with the energy to do anything but “be” an atheist. I knew there were others (besides Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov), but I assumed that other atheists were unobtrusively living their quiet, isolated lives, giving others the space to believe whatever nonsense was flapping inside their brain cavities. It wasn’t until quite recently that I learned, not only are there plenty of free-range atheists, they have been flocking together.
I try not compartmentalize myself or others, to distill anyone into an easily sorted whole, but as a society breaking off from a larger collective into smaller, more elite blocs seems to be an evolutionary necessity. Calling ourselves “The Blue Team” is too broad, we are naturally drawn apart into shades of blue. The atheist community is a rainbow of blue and I am, for my own education, attempting to differentiate the subtle variations. At the moment I’m learning about AtheismPlus.
Here’s what I’ve gleaned so far:
AtheismPlus is a very young movement that identifies itself as a “new wave of atheism” which aims to mollify the old atheism by focusing on social justice, specifically the “misogyny, racism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, ableism and other such bigotry inside and outside of the atheist community.” The primary catalyst behind AtheismPlus seems to be a new wave of feminism, an ism that has been vilified, with varying degrees of severity, since women fought for the right to vote (or, as some would argue, the beginning of time).
Throughout history (I’m guessing, I’m not that old) a movement driven by the passion (or anger) and arrogance of youth is bound to be a teeny bit self-righteous. “We may have discovered the wheel all over again, but this wheel is better! Let us tell you why your wheel sucks…” For that reason alone I will not confront (at this time) the underlying message that all other atheists don’t give a shit about anyone but themselves. Instead, let’s talk about misogyny, a word that is being overused to the point that it’s losing the full impact of it’s true meaning: a hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women.
Gender discrimination and the sexual objectification of women are social ills, not abject misogyny. For example, a man (Richard Dawkins) may be an insensitive, arrogant bastard who has no qualms about talking shit about a particular woman, and still not be a dyed-in-the-wool misogynist. A man (Richard Dawkins) may flippantly dismiss a young woman’s feelings of being treated as a possible sperm receptacle without believing that she somehow asked for the advance and deserves whatever happens. I know this from experience: as a young woman, at one time or a hundred you will be objectified. A socially retarded guy who hits on you isn’t necessarily a brute who can barely conceal his hatred of women. He’s just a socially retarded guy. Every human being can be a total asshole at one time or another. Most men don’t hate women, they simply weren’t taught how to be respectful of another person’s space or feelings. Don’t waste your time being pissed at the sexually frustrated, insensitive fuckwits who leave vicious comments on your blogs. If the goal of AtheismPlus is to counter true misogyny, make sure you’re fighting the real thing, otherwise you’re doing the entire atheist community a disservice.