I recently came across an article called “Pink Atheist” by Nica Lalli, in which she says that atheism is dominated by the voices of men. (She calls them “Navy Blue Atheists”.) I will extend this to say that atheism seems to be dominated by the often strident voices of men and feminists (not mutually exclusive). There is a distinct lack of femininity. Most of the atheist blogs, books, and discussions I’ve seen are dominated by masculine voices– emphasizing reason, arguments, and proof. Most commenters on my blogs are men. On many atheist discussion boards, feminine traits or discussions are eschewed in favor of concrete, hard-edged arguments. I no longer visit the Richard Dawkins Foundation website because I just found its constant biting tone too wearing.
I am a feminist. I realize that feminism and femininity are usually considered at odds, but I am both, and I think they can be compatible. Atheism is usually accompanied by feminism, and therefore lacking in femininity, a lack that hurts us.
Masculine atheism is not a bad thing. In a way, I think it’s natural for the public face of atheism to be masculine, and feminist. I need and like that side of atheism. I’m a scientist, and I love talking about probability and the hard edges of God’s nonexistence. I think Leaving Eden, my first blog, is rather masculine in tone. And yes, I think it’s really funny to joke about eating young children.
But I need a feminine atheism too. I like talking about things like love and souls and feelings without having to pin them down and frame their perimeter with facts. When I go to the bathroom to have a cry because I’m really stressed out, what I need to say is “ow”. (Thank you, Helen.) And like Nica Lalli,
I have no interest in telling anyone what they should or shouldn’t believe in. What interests me is how people come to believe what they believe, how they got to where they are—whether they dwell in a place of religious belief or not.
Christianity, more than atheism, has a place for both masculinity and femininity. Atheism, being reason-based, doesn’t have as much of a feminine side, or a friendliness towards femininity, perhaps seeing it as antithetical to rationalism.
What I need is to hear and share personal stories. What I need is to explore all the things that I think, feel, and experience as a woman, within the context of atheism, and find a way to express and appreciate them naturally, not supernaturally. I can think of many different interpretations of what that might mean, and I really hope that other feminine atheists will speak out and say that the masculine voices that dominate the atheist scene don’t always speak for us. We have our own voices too, and if we can make a place for feminine atheism as well as masculine atheism, I think it can be really exciting.
Nica Lalli calls this “Pink Atheism”. I would call myself a Pink Atheist, except that I hate the color pink.