Fugitives from Fundamentalism

The Musings of Adult Missionary Kids (MKs) & Former Born-Again Believers

Why I am a feminist

Posted by Ann on August 20, 2010

“Feminism was established to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream.” –Rush Limbaugh, notorious misogynist and ugly man

Do we argue that racism and oppression in the world is a reality? Why is it that sexism and misogyny in our society is ignored and treated as a myth? Reminds me of religious belief and the way people who hold strong belief in general blatantly ignore any evidence that doesn’t support their belief system. Christianity specifically promotes the belief that women are inferior, portraying time and time again throughout their holy book that women are “the weaker vessel” (1 Peter 3:7). I argue that sexism is as strong a menace in the world as racism and fundamentalist religion. To quote a famous movie line, I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more. And why should I? After all, females make up at least half of the world’s population. It’s a fact that being a feminist doesn’t equate with being masculine, or translate into a woman being a lesbian, or mean a woman is taking things over the top, experiencing penis envy, or being too rigid. And jokes like, “Next thing you know they’ll want unisex bathrooms”, are obvious red herrings and demeaning to the idea of feminism. Being a feminist is about being honest and understanding the truth as based in evidence–women are mistreated and devalued in every society of the world simply because of their sex. And because sexism in the US is more covert than in many other societies doesn’t make it less real.

Here’s the fact of the matter: sexism exists today as indicated by the evidence. To ignore it is to lie to yourself. To say that women are biologically different in some intrinsic mentally deficient way is a lie. True, women are born with some basic biological brain differences, but the evidence does not indicate women are unable to conceptualize the world as men do, are less intelligent, less capable, or have an inability to be logical. And to ignore this truth and diminish or trivialize sexism is just as much BS as the idea that being black makes a person inferior. I laugh as I write this now because I’m taking a strong stance, but I know I have the evidence on my side. I find that any man who views me in an inferior light because I’m taking a stand for feminism, frankly, smells bad.

The atheists of the world, despite their claims to realism, are not free of sexism. Men who think women should not be or are less likely to be atheists because of some biological basis are flat out wrong. Women are socialized differently from men. This is a fact. And it’s a fact that many women buy into cultural sexism which lends to the world conceptualization of women as less capable and intellectually inferior, intrinsically less assertive, less logical, and more emotionally swayed humans. At least a few of the more clear sighted male atheists have open eyes. Thank you male atheists who acknowledge the reality of sexism and are willing to embrace the idea of feminism (which is only as necessary and real as the label atheist)–for example, John Loftus as indicated on his blog Debunking Christianity, and Ken Pulliam on his blog Why I De-Converted from Evangelical Christianity, and my husband, primary author on this blog. The manufactured idea of women as inferior to men and mentally deficient seems to me an echo of the perspective that people from other “races” (another made up idea that is not based in biology) are inferior and different mentally. Adam Lee of the blog Daylight Atheism writes specifically about the issue of sexist atheists:

While I agree that women are underrepresented among prominent atheists, I don’t think it’s the case that it’s because women are put off by confrontational skepticism. Rather, I think it’s because there is sexism, and tolerance of sexism, in the atheist community, to a greater degree than I’d like to admit – and women are quite capable of sensing that. It’s small wonder that they don’t always feel welcome. And what makes it worse is that this problem is self-perpetuating: often, men who notice this gender gap assume it to have some biological basis, as if women were “naturally” more prone to be religious than men – and this kind of baseless, unfounded just-so story exacerbates the problem still further.

18 Responses to “Why I am a feminist”

  1. Paulo said

    I always remember this video when I hear the word “feminism”:

    … and Ali’s troubled expression when he finally realizes the full meaning of something his uncle Jamaal likes to say. Lol

  2. Ann said

    As if there is something wrong with a man who likes it in both pipes. lol. From what I understand it feels good for the people who like it in both pipes. Oops, is that sinful to say or think?

    This part was great: “Would you feel safe, though, if you knew a woman was flying your plane?…Would you not be scared though that she would start nattering or whatever, or start thinking about things and then forget to fly the plane, or get angry with somebody?” OMG!

  3. JN said

    I think a lot of guys subscribe to the “survival of the fittest” alpha dog mentality. I know dudes who would feel humiliated if a woman bested them at anything. They are like roosters, roaming around the barnyard with their wings arched out and spurs kicked back. Their dance is absurd, but some hens still dig it.

    • Ann said

      Yes sir e. What’s up with those alpha dog roosters. It’s like they know they’ve got it.

    • Ann said

      2nd more serious response:

      Most people don’t like to be bested, generally speaking, so I can understand how a man who has internalized sexism would feel especially humiliated if bested by a woman. It’s disappointing, quite honestly, that men don’t see women as their equals this way. They take the differences between the sexes to a whole other level where they expect less from women, or see them as less (and touting them as “more” or idolizing them is most frequently a mask for these feelings–so much for the great casanovas). On character and logic issues especially. Where a man is proud, the woman should be humble, and other rot like that such as the idea of sexual opposites (without basis in biology just ideology).

      I wouldn’t want to be in a relationship with a man who didn’t see eye to eye with me on religion especially. It would be humiliating for me as a woman knowing what I do. I see no way around the sexism inherent in this kind of relationship, since a truly self-respecting atheist or agnostic woman would not want to be in a relationship with a man who was incapable of being with her fully on a mental level (I’m not referring to intelligence here). As I wrote before, it’s expecting too little. I think I can safely say most atheist/agnostic woman can go there with me. Although I understand, in the reverse, how religious women can still validate themselves with the idea that there is always the possibility of conversion or God/Universe “knowing more than I do about such things” or with some kind of mercifulness of God idea…plug in the rationalization. Atheist/agnostic women simply don’t have that luxury.

      • Ann said

        P.S. On the concept of sexual opposites–without being overly crude, I’m not talking about how one sex organ enters the other, the penis into a vagina. That is a biological difference with reproductive purpose.

      • Ann said

        And…Note: I’ve summed up decades of research on sexism in my post and comments here, and I’ve got the backing of the majority of the social scientists. If you are reading this stuff and disagreeing with me, maybe this would be a good time to investigate for yourself. This isn’t hardcore feminism or anything like that, this is now widely accepted as fact. Time to get your noses out of ancient books and ideologies. Man this sexism stuff pisses me off. Lol!

        • JN said

          Sons and Lovers, a novel by D.H. Lawrence, documents the story of a man’s relationships with his mother and his romantic interests. The main character’s father is a miner and somewhat of a brute. The father wastes a good chunk of his paycheck at the bar after work, and he always returns grumpy and semi-drunk. Paul Morel, the son, grows up detesting his father and idealizing his mother.

          Later on in life, Paul can’t avoid adopting some of his father’s attitude towards women. When he enters a relationship with a girl from a farm in the country, he stops short of giving it his all. While he enjoys ‘enlightening’ her with his ideas and teaching her things she doesn’t know, he is not willing to open up and to become vulnerable. He only enjoys his half of the relationship, only really wanting the girl for selfish reasons. He ends up dumping her for an affair with another woman, a relationship which both parties are not interested in a real relationship.

          I doubt most people set out to be sexist, but they end up perpetuating the family culture in which they were raised. I doubt my boss wants to communicate to his wife that she is stupid and incapable of doing anything right but staying home and caring for an empty house, but he does just that every time she calls into the office. He ends every call with a patronizing “I love you, dear.”

          He idealizes his mother. He idealizes the way he was raised. His mother idealizes her son. Everything is painted in rosy, happy shades. His wife thinks of him the same way the damsel in distress idealizes her knight in shining armor. I imagine his wife stares at him the way she stared at her father when she was young. It’s a mess. It’s a silly game of cock and hen.

          Family cultures need to change. Even a bit of progress can go a long way.

          • Ann said

            Sons and Lovers…I’m familiar with the book. Yeah, I don’t think people decide to become sexist any more than they decide to become racist. They just are. A product of socialization. Of all the real differences between the sexes, there is no excuse for the idea that women are inferior. It’s simply not logical or based in any kind of truth. And the patronizing…regarding family cultures, yes, that is where socialization begins. If you pass on your ideas to children, or model certain behaviors, they are more likely to internalize them. They are then exposed to peers who have had similar socialization by their families which serves to reinforce these ideas (religion and religious books only reinforce this more–C.S. Lewis, whom I’ve read extensively and is most notably an ardent hater of homosexuality, is not exempt). Not to mention the modeling they see in society, in movies, in popular music, on tv. And, the current research on public education in the US indicates our schools are bastions for conservative ideology–the primary orientation of students in our college education programs is conservative. Chances are, your children are being taught by a sexist educator (and probably a female–what chance do they have of being anything different than they are?).

            • Ann said

              Here’s a question for you…how many true female leads are in the movies. Unless it’s a chic flic, a romance where getting a man is the focus, or some kind of New Age movie like Eat, Pray, Love. The lead female character in the later learns to chant, I remember that part from reading some of the book.

              • JN said

                How many directors are women? How about screenwriters? It does seem Hollywood is dominated by men and sexy women. I imagine this is partly a reflection of where the money is, but it may well be an indicator of the expectations of our society.

                I really enjoyed The Hurt Locker. The movie is tough without being too macho or falling into some of the stereotypes of a war film. I think this largely in part to the directing of Kathryn Bigelow.

                Have you seen An Education? You might like that film. It’s about a young girl who gets sucked into the world of men, wanting to skip out on her parents’ desire for her to attend university. You should check it out, if you haven’t already. I don’t know if deals directly with this discussion, but it’s a good movie. Carey Mulligan should have probably won the Oscar instead of Sandra Bullock.

                • Ann said

                  Where the money is seems to be a pretty strong indicator of societal expectations. The Hurt Locker is already in my Netflix queue, I’ll add An Education. Thanks for the referrals.

  4. Paulo said

    On the subject of movies with lead female characters, G.I. Jane with Demi Moore, Elizabeth with Cate Blanchett, and The Messenger with Milla Jovovich come to mind.

    • Ann said

      This is the most common response to this question–they are out there. My answer is that the difference percentage-wise is massive.

      • Ann said

        But they do exist, and solid ones too.

        • JN said

          Here’s a list of 2010 Oscar nominees with female leads:

          The Blind Side
          An Education
          Julie & Julia
          The Young Victoria
          Bright Star
          The Milk of Sorrow
          Coco Before Chanel

          That’s more than I expected.

          • Ann said

            Well, maybe some progress, or maybe every movie that even resembled having a female lead got representation? Lol. Only two of them, The Blind Side and Precious (both really big movies for religious conservatives/fundamentalists–my family has referred me to both as excellent movies but I don’t care to see either) were actually big movies. I did see Julie & Julia and enjoyed it.

            • Ann said

              P.S. Bright Star and The Young Victoria are romances, don’t know anything about the other movies so probably not culturally very significant.

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