Monday, 29 December 2014

Katha Pollitt: "Atheists show their sexist side"

No one would argue that organised religion has at times been somewhat less than enlightened in its treatment of women. However, anyone who argues that atheism automatically leads to true equality of the sexes hasn't been paying attention over the last few years. Katha Pollitt, writing in The Nation points out the problems women in secularism have faced over the years:
At the grassroots level, women who speak up against harassment or sexism in the movement have been the target of disgusting attacks online, the sort of vicious obscenity and violent threats notoriously visited upon Anita Sarkeesian and other women in the gaming and tech worlds. If a recipient becomes angry or upset, that just proves she was weak and crazy to begin with. Let me tell you, I’ve seen a tiny sample of the missives directed at Melody Hensley, executive director of the Center for Inquiry–DC, and I can see why she suffers from PTSD. “I receive harassment all day long every day on social media. I also receive threats daily. I have had dozens of videos made about me, harassing me,” she says. “Everything I write online is compiled by my harassers. Even though I know the Internet is public, it’s eerie being watched every moment. I have had people call my home and tell me that they were going to kill me.”
This from people who pride themselves on being liberated from the shackles of organised religion. One needs to stress that many in the secular movement are well aware of this, and are striving mightily to make sexism history. The point however needs to be stressed - atheism does not automatically make one socially enlightened, and when some of the leading figures in organised atheism are regarded by women with something less than warmth, it is not hard to see why people such as Pollitt would say:
Why would women join a movement led by sexists and populated by trolls? If this is atheism, I’m becoming a Catholic.
Full article here.