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← Parallels between atheism and feminism?

Parallels between atheism and feminism? - Comments

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 1 by Stevehill

It's a useful parallel. I prefer the parallel with gays. We're not looking for equality with religion, we're asking for the removal of state-sanctioned privileges which make religion unequal.

Either way, we are obliged to complain vociferously at the attempt of theists (and accommodationists) to marginalise us, so as to protect their own privileges.

That is hate speech. I'm a fairly-thick skinned 56 year old but I will never forgive the Pope, the Vatican or Catholicism for Ratzi getting off a plane in Edinburgh and comparing - and he ought to know - most citizens of his host country to Nazis.

If they want to take the debate into the gutter, fine. We'll fight on their chosen turf if we have to.

Thu, 21 Oct 2010 22:44:08 UTC | #536977

Pom's Avatar Comment 2 by Pom

I would certainly not classify RD as part of Tuftedpuffin's 'second wave' and I suspect not many others would either, hence the term 'new' atheists.

I am most assuredly not seeking equality with toothfairyists, unicornists, xians, allahwallahs or any other group of religious crackpots. Nor am I seeking 'accomodation' with idiots who fly aeroplanes into buildings or burn people alive just because they express a different viewpoint from the pope or whoever.

I regard religious belief as the biggest danger of all to the continuance of such civilisation as we have; bigger than the threat of any virus, of any wayward asteroid, of any volcano or tsunami or of any man-made cataclysmic possibility.

Stevehill says "We'll fight on their chosen turf if we have to." I agree. I will fight the religious buggers (and I am using that term correctly) until my last breath.

Thu, 21 Oct 2010 23:42:30 UTC | #536991

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 3 by Schrodinger's Cat

Third Wave Feminism: The feminism of postmodernists, like Judith Butler. Third wave feminists believe that society ought not to differentiate at all between the sexes, and that the existence of a women's rights movement per se merely serves to reinforce divisions that lead to the discrimination such a movement is supposed to fight. Third wave feminists seek to break down the categories that they view as the root cause of the problems the other two movements fought.

The third wave signifies a bunch of people who've achieved most of their goals.....and are now sitting around bored wondering what to do, until someone has the brilliant idea of relabelling themselves 'postmodernists' and taking political correctness to new heights of absurdity.

If evolutionists ever reach that stage.....I hope we all evolve quickly into lemmimngs and jump into the sea.

Fri, 22 Oct 2010 00:53:56 UTC | #537011

Enlightenme..'s Avatar Comment 4 by Enlightenme..

Fourth Wave Feminism:

The brand of Feminism that seems remarkably quiet about the vast numbers of their sisters suffering clitoridectomies, living their lives under a tent, having acid thrown in their faces, being stoned to death, removed from school at puberty, prohibited from driving, denied access to family planning etc.

Fri, 22 Oct 2010 03:58:23 UTC | #537038

imnothin's Avatar Comment 5 by imnothin

I think the categories could be helpful, but it depends on how they are used, of course. I find comparing and contrasting movements can highlight important, useful things, like strategies, goals, obstacles, etc. But no analogy is 100%, and I think any discussion of the usefulness of feminist waves as a framework to think about atheism historically would benefit greatly from keeping this in mind.

Another way to think about those waves is to associate them with liberalism, multiculturalism, and postmodernism (roughly, I know multiculturalism came into feminism in response to a good portion of second wave feminism, but it did become important in feminism and not as part of third wave, as I understand it). Dawkins would not seem to fit in the third wave framework simply because postmodernism is a challenge to Enlightenment emphasis on things like science. But I can't say how well he would correlate with second wave.

I am also not sure about the characterization of Fourth Wave feminism above. I know these topics are of great concern in the feminist circles I frequent. The problem may be trying to present what a wave is - a time period, a strategy, a theoretical outlook. How do we determine membership?

These are things to think about if one is trying to categorize groups of atheists as well. Where are the categorical boundaries?

Another difference between the differing waves, whether feminist or atheist, may be the language used, the way topics are talked about, how things get framed.

Just some thoughts. I think it could prove a useful discussion. I hope it does.

Fri, 22 Oct 2010 04:15:48 UTC | #537041

jonjermey's Avatar Comment 6 by jonjermey

I think the 'first wave' of atheists can be identified as the accommodationists, who think if we're really nice to theists and don't ruffle their feathers, they might one day eventually come around to giving us some meagre proportion of the same rights and privileges that they now extend to anyone who is prepared to embrace irrationality out loud.

Fri, 22 Oct 2010 05:38:57 UTC | #537058

mmurray's Avatar Comment 7 by mmurray

So where in this list do you put the atheists in developed non-US secular countries who believed that religion would just fade away in a generation or to? In many countries that was a reasonable belief and if you ignore Islam and imported US evangelicals (big ifs) it still is. I don't think there is a parallel to that in feminism.


Fri, 22 Oct 2010 05:47:53 UTC | #537060

alphcat's Avatar Comment 8 by alphcat

enlightenme comment 4 perhaps you could also add to fourth wave feminism the young girls who now think a boob job will be more useful to them than A levels or a degree, the ones throwing up before they digest to attain some mythical body shape or the ones engaging in practices they really do not enjoy purely to appeal to boys with the zoo/nuts mentality. I can't think of a parrallel for that in atheism unless you look at some of the comments made in the evolution of the eye thread judging the scientifically qualified, professional and very personable presenter purely in terms of her looks.

I think the two are diverging. Atheism is, thankfully, growing and becoming more confident and feminism is dying a slow death.

Fri, 22 Oct 2010 08:24:15 UTC | #537079

Pete H's Avatar Comment 9 by Pete H

It makes sense. Not sure it’s useful though. (Because of the lotto bias: the illusion of meaning as a mere consequence of handling data.) It might be better to have new words rather than feminism or atheism version 3.

Your stages are relevant to anarchists too, who don’t believe in the kind of people that usually get elected. A 3rd wave ‘new’ anarchist would not describe themselves as an anarchist – merely lacking the prevailing irrational confidence in the supernatural capabilities and motives of political gangs and their pseudo-scientific economics commissars. Anarchists just go one god further than the average atheist. (A religious anarchist would be a contradiction.)

The idea being that there should really be a special word for such irrational believers (aka the rationally ignorant) instead of for the ones who aren’t like this. Perhaps it also applies to any kind of a-whatever.

Most people who don’t belong to political parties might find they’re anarchists if they thought about it. Just as people who don’t take church that seriously are probably de facto atheists, given that beliefs drive actions.

People sometimes claim to believe in various wacky things, from UFO’s to Christianity to Democracy (in increasing order of silliness) – but their actions in not joining in, whether SETI, churches, or political parties, reveals otherwise. A man who generally treats women normally these days might technically be a feminist by the standards of the early release versions. But as they say: if a man says something in a deserted forest where there's no woman around to hear him, is he still wrong? (We'll know we're at stage 4 when this is no longer funny.)

Fri, 22 Oct 2010 10:50:42 UTC | #537139

SaganTheCat's Avatar Comment 10 by SaganTheCat

I think any group that has identified themselves as being suppressed or marginalised in some way by the establishment would make a fair analogy.

as above I kind of prefer the gay analogy but I don't think it matters too much.

Christianity would make another good one, all those christians that were marginalised before it bacame the religion of the ruling classes. I just use that one to piss christians off though

Fri, 22 Oct 2010 11:02:34 UTC | #537149

Dirty Kuffar's Avatar Comment 11 by Dirty Kuffar

I'm not sure that I, as an atheist,secularist and libertarian would wish to be associated with much of feminism. Whilst I agree 100% with equal pay and opportunities etc, I dislike much feminist theory for the same reason that I dislike religion ; its censorial and moralistic totalitarian outlook. Lastnight on Channel 4 "News" they had a clip about Bob Guccione's death (the founder of Penthouse magazine) and saw fit to include a clip about the new feminists going around newsagents covering up top shelf mags -what right have they got to decide what the rest of society should read ? Heaven forbid that men and lesbians should enjoy admiring rude femininity ! The same program also featured the sad death of the Slits lead singer Ari Upp - they were a very groundbreaking all girl punk band from the 70's who I saw myself - and were famous in their time for expressing their own sexuality by doing such things as appearing nude and smeared with mud on their LP cover etc. Channel 4 saw fit to airbrush this aspect of contemporary social history out of their "report" however.

Fri, 22 Oct 2010 11:27:25 UTC | #537167

alphcat's Avatar Comment 12 by alphcat

Dirty Kuffar comment 11, I think you need to realise theres now a world of difference between mature adults or adolescents looking at Penthouse or watching the slits in the 70s and the kind of abusive, unpleasant porn that fairly young and immature boys can now access and the sorts of behaviour it is generating. The problem of sexual bullying is now very real in some schools, from grafitti and verbal abuse to sexual assaults. There is also a growing trade in women sold against their will for sex. The issue feminism and you are ignoring is not a few harmless top shelf mags or films-it's genuine abuse.

My rights end where yours begin and vice versa. I would never interfere with your right to view the women (or men straight women have rights too) in magazines as sexual objects in private because I suspect you have sufficient maturity not to extrapolate that behaviour to all women in all contexts. However once that right impacts on a girls right to go to school without abuse or to think that an education is more valuable than surgery, then then something has gone wrong and I'm not clear what. As I've never heard of the Slits but have heard of the Clash, Dead Kennedys, Sex Pistols I'm guessing their fame rested more on their nudity then groundbreaking music which I suspect is why channel 4 ignored it.

As an atheist the impression you've given of your attitude to women by the way is very traditionally religious-ie as objects. That's probably just be the way you've worded it though.

Fri, 22 Oct 2010 12:59:43 UTC | #537215

Rob Schneider's Avatar Comment 13 by Rob Schneider

Is the opposite of an "anarchist" a "narchist" ??

I prefer to look to the gay rights movement as a closer parallel, and a better model for change. It is interesting to see how feminism blossomed, diverged and had a backlash including women like Naomi Wolf advocating for using lipstick and being "feminine" in a sexual/appealing way.

I think it shows how important it is to maintain focus and maintain the fight. Whatever gains you make in one generation, or in one country, can easily slip back in the next.

As someone wise once said (Wikipedia attributions conflict) "The price of [insert your cause here] is eternal vigilance."

Fri, 22 Oct 2010 13:24:27 UTC | #537225

Al Denelsbeck's Avatar Comment 14 by Al Denelsbeck

Overall, I've never been fond of labels, and find that attempting to make distinctions often serves as a crutch on thinking.

It took me a while to determine what exactly "New Atheism" was supposed to be - it was primarily used as an epithet. Having finally looked it up, I'm not sold on it being a valid distinction, whether anyone approves of its use or not. There's hardly anything new about it, or different from atheism 100 or 500 years ago.

The thing with labels is, you don't define them, you get defined by them. That doesn't really help anyone understand your viewpoint, and actually works against it. How many times do we have to see people come into this forum, and others like it, and tell us that atheists are immoral and nihilistic? It never occurs to them to ask, because that's just what atheists are - that was the definition they were provided.

Richard Dawkins is Richard Dawkins. Sam Harris is Sam Harris. I am not either one of them, but I see positive aspects in both of their approaches. I'd just rather be judged by my own words and actions, not theirs.

Fri, 22 Oct 2010 14:43:47 UTC | #537271

locutus7's Avatar Comment 15 by locutus7

All movements and countermovements meet in the middle.

Take the cold war: capitalism versus communism. Capitalist countries like america are moving, reluctantly, toward communism insofar as universal social nets are being introduced and conformity is overtaking the american ideal of independence. Conversely, communist countries are embracing capitalism and the idea of private property. In approx 500 years all countries will have strong social nets and a degree of conformity, but retain limited property rights.

Feminism: women are gaining rights and clitoral lengths are increasing. Conversely, men are becoming kinder, gentler creatures and their sex organs are dwindling. The two movements will meet at the middle, in the androgynous state, in approx 500 years.

Race: people of color are being assimilated into the culture so that, in approx 500 years, most people will be a shade of caramel. Race will dissolve as an issue.

Sexual preference: In 500 years the majority of people will be polymorphously perverse, or in the vernacular, will roll every which way.

Religion/atheism: In 500 years roughly 93.5 % of people will hold reality-based worldviews (atheism), but some will attend church as a tradition, similar to christmas, but not for a moment beleiving a magical deity actually exists. Yes, 500 years from now a popular Halloween costume will be that of a priest. Scary.

Fri, 22 Oct 2010 15:52:57 UTC | #537322

Pete H's Avatar Comment 16 by Pete H

But you’re forgetting speciation – selection pressure causes all complex structures to evolve, including institutions, cultures, etc. There’s not much of tendency to converge but to diverge instead. With those diverging too far from long-term reality being selected out of contention.

You could assume that globalisation and communications might eventually meld all people and cultures but this is unlikely to continue at a high rate in present circumstances. Migration and communication might decline rapidly as fewer people can afford the travel or internet access. Events such as the forecast solar magnetic storm in the next few years might conceivably set back global civilisation by a several hundred years. It would be like Y2K x 911


I think anarchism is really an-archism rather than a-narcism. Archism would be the irrational belief in the intention and capabilities of leaders who, though they apparently exist, are surrounded by evidence that logically voids all justification for hope. In contrast with atheism where there's no evidence to dispute. All that’s left for the logic of theism is hope itself, in that belief is considered good because it might influence behaviour.

It’s interesting how the word anarchy has transitioned to become a synonym for chaos and failure. The downside of criticising powerful people. It’s possible that the word atheism could also transition to a synonym for evil – at least in the target market. Hence the perceived need to avoid depending on labels.

And speaking of libertarians and the achievements of feminism. Here’s a relevant quote from Lew Rockwell I read this morning:

Long term, our living standards have been eroded in fundamental ways that have a profound cultural effect. The American family once lived well on one income. Now, two incomes is the expected reality. That shift took place following the great inflation of the late 1970s. Many people saw this as the great news that the workplace was being opened up to women. More likely it was not a sign of liberation, but of a dramatic demographic adjustment required to maintain high living standards. And the state didn't mind: it added millions to the tax rolls. One wonders if "liberation" is really the right word to use for this change.

Fri, 22 Oct 2010 22:38:48 UTC | #537488