I’m an atheist. I’m an atheist because the idea of a higher power seems, to me, absurd on the face of it. I find it downright impossible to believe in something like that. There are a myriad number of reasons for that, but this post isn’t about that.
I’m also a feminist… or, at least, I try to be an ally… as good an ally as a white, straight, able-bodied, cis-gendered man can be. I don’t think we have true equality in this world, yet, and so I am one. I am also a Secular Humanist, and left-wing Progressive (Obama is quite far to the right of me… extremely far to the right of me… basically, I’m a Socialist), and so on.
Back when I was religious, I was much more conservative. I was a fan of Bush II, I really did believe the bullshit that the Democrats were left wing (hint: they’re not even close)… and as I got more religious, I moved more towards the right, before identifying as a Libertarian. I was really big on free speech, and even wrote a song, Middle Man, about how I’ll say whatever I like and if you don’t like it, you can fuck right off (side note… I’ve kept the tune to that song because it’s awesome and catchy and has a sick guitar solo, if I do say so myself :D, but wrote new lyrics under the title of “Look in the Mirror”, directed at people whose response to mild and polite criticism is to scream and whine and cry).
But as I rejected first religion and then faith, I started moving more towards the left. I finally understood the lie behind the cliché “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”. To anyone with half a brain, the lie in the phrase is obvious: in many cases words can be more powerful, and more dangerous, than sticks and stones. There’s a reason for the other cliché “the pen is mightier than the sword”.
The worst of it, I noticed, was in religion.
I’m going to stick with the Bible because it’s what I know best, as I’ve read it more than once.
The Bible is undoubtedly one of the most racist, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic texts ever published by the human species. It demands the death penalty for homosexuals, it constantly rags on “outsiders” and how “unclean” they are, creating a phobia out of “mixing” with “outsiders” (while ignoring the fact that there are no outsiders… not only are we all human, but all life on this planet, both plant and animal, is connected by a common ancestor some 3.5 to 4 billion years ago… and everything that exists in this universe is made out of the same elements, all of which are made in stars)…
The Bible’s treatment of women is one of the worst things about it. To those horrid, bigoted cavemen who wrote it, women were the possessions of men: first their fathers, then their brothers, then their husbands. Women were not allowed, or even shown to have, their own personal agency and independence, unless they were in sin. It starts with Eve (for the record… how in the hell could she have “disobeyed” if she didn’t know any better in the first place?… after all, she had no understanding of right and wrong, so how could she know that disobeying God’s command would be wrong, if she didn’t even know what “wrong” was?), goes all the way to Paul demanding that women be silent in church and only speak elsewhere with permission from their husbands and look to their husbands to give them opinions, and continues until this day.
And that’s the crux, isn’t it?
Continues until this day.
That misogyny… that vile and sick treatment of women in the Bible… is still around today, and not just in third world countries, but in first world countries, like the US, as well. And not just with fanatics, either. The myth of virginity is still a popular thing. Some very wide-spread and popular pictures of women show everything from the neck down, completely dehumanizing the woman by removing her face. Gendered slurs are still in common use. Slut-shaming is still a thing, as is the blaming of rape victims. Men are still very much seen as the default human, with women being the “other”.
But it isn’t just misogyny. It’s homophobia, too. Today’s Civil Rights movement is the homosexual movement; the fight for non-straight marriage, for basic acceptance… transphobia springs out of this biblical homophobia, because the Bible described and enforced two specific genders: male and female, man and woman, and there was no deviation from that binary.
Xenophobia, especially in the US, is yet another form of bigotry still widespread, especially amongst conservatives. Xenophobia seems to be the US’s foreign policy what with all the utterly unnecessary army bases we have around the world, and our constant need to start worthless wars.
All of these things are things I rejected after I became an atheist.
Why would I tolerate them in secular society?
This is why I believe atheism leads to fighting for social justice. I would not be a feminist, or a progressive, if I did not first become an atheist. When those faith-tinted glasses were removed from my eyes, I saw all there is to see.
This doesn’t mean that I think atheism is feminism. Indeed, I’m an advocate for the dictionary definition of atheism precisely because any other definition of atheism (specifically: the doctrine or belief that God does not exist) only contributes to negative stereotypes of atheists. “The lack of belief in a higher power or powers” and “not a theist” set the tone for a conversation that very simply makes more sense. Atheism has no doctrines, no beliefs, on its own. Since (I contend that) everyone is agnostic about the question of the existence of a higher power or powers, regardless of their protestations to the contrary, I am very much an adamant supporter of “dictionary atheism”.
But that doesn’t say very much either, does it? Such a generalized and vague definition of atheism likely increases the percentage of USians, and humans in general worldwide, who would identify then as atheists by a lot (side note: it’d be fascinating to see the Pew and Gallup forums conduct a poll asking “do you believe in a higher power or powers” or “do you consider yourself to be a theist, in that you believe in a higher power or powers?” and qualify that with “note that I’m asking about what you believe, not what you know”… the numbers from that poll would be amazing to see). So I don’t think one can just be an atheist.
This is why I support Atheism+, and further, don’t think the name is all that bad. Anyone with a lick of common sense knows that plus means “in addition to”, not as in the grade A+. And I do think there’s a difference with Secular Humanism, because Secular Humanism is open to theists. I have no problem with that, of course, but I am not a theist. Hence Atheism+ allows me to say that I’m a feminist and a social justice advocate because I’m an atheist…
Does atheism explicitly lead to progressive politics and social justice advocacy, including humanism? Judging by the amount of MRA Randians who are also atheists, I guess not. But it certainly did for me, and I’m proud of that, and I support it.
So I of course support the Deep Rifts™ that have opened up within this… what… atheosphere, atheist movement?…, also, because I simply don’t want to share a movement with Men’s Rights Activists and Free-Market-worshipping Randians. I don’t want to have anything to do with these assholes. I also don’t want to share a movement with people who think it’s okay, even funny, to say that activism is “a guy thing”. I don’t want to be represented in the public sphere by people who don’t think women can be funny, and who post rants to twitter about how the Sociological definition of racism is “wrong” because it means that white people can’t be victims of racism (hint: because of the classic power imbalance in the West such that white people have been the ones in power for a couple hundred years at least, and that “white” is seen as the default in Western society, we can’t be the victims of institutionalized racist oppression, because we’re the ones who make up that institution).
The idea that atheism leads to social justice advocacy exists for a reason. Even if you don’t fight for the rights of women, people of color, trans*, homosexuals, etc, you are fighting for the rights of atheists simply by declaring yourself to be an atheist… so if you’re an atheist, because you’re part of an underprivileged class in world society, you’re a social justice warrior whether you like it or not (hear that, S.E. Cupp?).
Commenting note: I’m going to engage in blatant censorship on this post. If you want to call it an echo chamber, be my guest, because I don’t give a fuck. I’m a-okay with dissent, but I will not tolerate: intellectual dishonesty, disingenuous bullshit, name calling, and ad hominems. So take note: if you are a known troll and/or have been banned from FtB, the A+ forums, Skepchicks, and so on, I will not allow you to post here, because I simply don’t want to. As this is my blog, I don’t need to provide any other explanation that that. If you have a problem with that, then go make fun of me on the Slymepit or wherever it is you like to be an asshole, because I don’t give a shit. If you do have some honest objections and wish to engage RESPECTFULLY and IN GOOD FAITH, then by all means… comment. I’ll approve your post and we can have an honest discussion.
And if you’re wondering what criteria I’ll be using to make these judgements, they are my own subjective criteria, which I have every right to use on my personal, private blog. This blog is not owned by the US Government. I do not have to abide by the first amendment of the US Constitution.
And I won’t. So don’t expect me to.