(If you have not heard of Atheism Plus, you won’t miss anything skipping this post. It’s an internal discussion.)
I’ve already written two posts about Atheism Plus, the new movement, or resurgence, or emphasis, or lane, or channel, or (depending who you ask) clique in Atheism, proposed by Jennifer McCreight. But I never published them because developments are moving faster than I can write. In particular, even some of my friends think A+ is a simply terrible idea; a clique, a club, or even a new religion.
Including friends who support diversity and equality. So theoretically we’re on the same side.
I’m not good at conflict, at telling my friends their sincere opinions don’t match my own. It saddens me more than it inspires me, so my typing fingers come to a stop. I have thoughts, but I can’t get them out. Here, I am forcing them.
When I hear; “But we have always supported GLBT equality!” or “We’ve always welcomed women here!” it sounds to me like “But not all Christians are like that!” Well, of course they’re not. If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit. At least, acquit yourself.
When I hear someone complaining that A+ rhetoric is too exclusive or extreme, it sounds like “I’ll tell them when they’re being mistreated, and when it’s time to complain and how. Until then, they should shut up!”
But most of all – sorry if this is hard to hear – I hear privilege. I hear calls to courage from someone who is comfortable and safe.
We atheists are right to complain about it when one of us faces job discrimination, or has to listen to unwelcome proselytizing, or one of our signs get torn down, or someone threatens us. Or a Darwin Fish is torn off one of our cars or some church puts up a stupid sign. Once in a great while (in this country) there are actual acts of violence against one of us.
But just for perspective, something like one out of five women have been raped. Three women every day are murdered by their intimate partner. And those crimes don’t exist as outliers far away from other kinds of abuse. Adjacent to them is every kind of intimidation, condescension, discrimination and downright harassment imaginable that women face every day. Walk down the street? Get propositioned by someone who could kill you with his bare hands. Buy coffee? Dude stares at your chest. Get into an elevator? Make a high-stakes calculation first. Work in an office? Maintain careful distance from male co-workers because of multiple experiences. So probably three out of the remaining four women have been in some pretty dicey situations, looking for an exit.
A lot of misogyny is religiously based, but apparently a lot of it is cultural, too. When atheist women try to take part in atheist events and are threatened with rape, and their home addresses are published, there could be a good reason why they take it a scoche more seriously than we dangly d00ds do. Because we’d be crapping our pants if we had to face it. With our testosterone levels, we’d be packing heat and mace and a hatchet for good measure, and anybody who laid a hand on us would get it back gift-wrapped. But if women so much as talk about their experiences, they’re called liars and feminist bitches.
So, to my good friends who don’t support A+, I say this: You don’t have to. You wouldn’t be my friend in the first place if I thought you weren’t OK with diversity or if you mistreated people who have reason to be afraid. Good on you for that. But I’m putting my support behind A+. If women generally and GLBTQ minorities specifically seem just a little tetchy, I’m gonna consider how the world might look from their point of view.
I’ve got some friends whom I respect deeply who support A+. It may not be the perfect answer – heaven knows there’s been enough second-guessing from the safe and comfortable to sell it wholesale – but it’s their solution. The issues they’re highlighting have been weighing on my mind for a long time. I’m not anybody’s protector but I know how to stand alongside a friend when they’re doing something important.
OK that’s it. Publishing this one.
- Jennifer McCreight: How I unwittingly infiltrated the boy’s club and why it’s time for a new wave of atheism
- Grail Diary asks; Atheism Plus What? He’s searching for clues as to which side is probably right
- io9: The Great Geek Sexism Debate
- Greta Christina has taken on some of the major criticisms of A+ in a trio of excellent posts:
- Why Atheism Plus is good for Atheism, answering the criticism that A+ is divisive
- What Atheism Plus might mean for Atheist Organizations, some practical thoughts on conferences, online presence, and responding to the criticism that A+ is mission drift
- Humanism is great, but it isn’t Atheism Plus, on why we have A+ when we already have Humanism
- Any other guys tired of the idiot stuff you have to do to be a “real guy”? Assuming The Mantle