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“Feminism+”, or One-Drop Activism

There’s a class of criticism of Atheism+ that says, “Oh, they shouldn’t co-opt the word ‘atheist’. They should just call themselves what they are, ‘Feminism+’.” Or “We wouldn’t be so upset if they’d just be honest and call themselves, ‘Feminism+’.” We’re not really atheists, you see. Because we’re feminists. And if we don’t clearly label themselves as feminists–instead of atheists–we’re being dishonest and misleading the people watching them.

It took me a while, but I finally figured out what was so familiar about it. It’s the one-drop rule rewritten for our situation.

Now, before we go any further, let’s set out the limits of this analogy. Noting that these ideas have common intellectual underpinnings and implications does not mean that they have similar consequences or that the social milieus in which they happen contain similar threats.

What is does do is strongly suggest that “atheism” is a word that conveys certain…yeah, that’s right: privileges. It further implies that feminism is to be viewed as a taint that disqualifies one from claiming those privileges.

What are those privileges? I’m not entirely sure, as this atheism purity test has only been around a few weeks in its current, blatant form. I can make some judgments, though, based on the behavior of those who have always been around asking why bloggers don’t stop talking about feminism in favor of only talking about atheism (and science, politics, and logic, which apparently don’t taint atheism).

Surly-Ramics pendant: A Thoughtful Honest Ethical Intelligent Skeptical Thinker

When you’re an atheist.

Atheism confers the privilege to speak and be heard, obviously, because the taint of feminism removes that. It confers some right to consider one’s self superior to the “sheep”, or at least to be considered rational and thoughtful as a default. It confers the privilege of being treated with politeness and even deference by the untainted while simultaneously being abusive. It confers an absolute right to shape the future of our shared movement, irrespective of education or skills.

Atheism, as it turns out, is pretty kick-ass. I want to be an atheist.

Sadly, that will never be. You see, in addition to:

  • Hosting a radio show that represents atheists to our local community
  • Writing about the power dynamics of religion
  • Teaching college students about religious skepticism
  • Speaking about science, critical thinking, and secularism at conventions and conferences both inside and outside the movement
  • Maintaining membership in several secular organizations
  • Raising money for my local atheist group
  • Promoting the events of my local atheist group
  • Promoting actions people can take to make their voices heard by politicians
  • Making sure my political representatives know where I stand on issues of secularism
  • Working for and donating to political candidates who oppose the Right’s theocratic inclinations
  • Promoting other writers and speakers within the movement
  • Writing a blog where people can show up on a daily basis and feel a little less alone

I…where was I? Oh, right. In addition to all those things and some more that I got tired of typing out, I am also a feminist.

Therefore, I am not an atheist. I don’t get to speak and be heard, be assumed to be rational, be entitled to decent treatment, to have a say in how our movement progresses.

Greta Christina, with her popular book on the topic and regular features about atheism on numerous sites? Not an atheist. Jen McCreight, with her seat on the board of the Secular Student Alliance? Not an atheist. Ophelia Benson, with her multiple books and her knack for getting people to look at what is going on in Muslim theocracies? Not an atheist. PZ Myers, with his raft of conversions among readers of his blog who came to argue and stayed to think? Not an atheist.

No, you see, we’re feminists. No matter how much we do as atheists, we’re feminists. If we call ourselves “atheist”, we’re being dishonest. We’re lying. We’re hiding the truth from…whomever the self-proclaimed keepers of those privileges are who are so affronted by the idea that they might hand something to someone unworthy. Someone made unworthy by feminism.

Many of the people who want us to be more “honest” about atheism+ will tell-you they’re not anti-feminist. If that were true, feminism would hold the same place that philosophy or science or secularism has. Feminism is, after all, another common path to accepting atheism. Pointing out the misogyny of most organized religion is another means we use to justify fighting its influence. Important atheist thought and activism came out of the various waves of feminism.

Needless to say, that isn’t the position feminism currently holds within atheism as a movement. The idea of putting feminism in that place is what’s causing the current ridiculous commotion. And whatever people are saying about their feelings about feminism, their actions are telling this: Feminism, to them, is a contaminant. It is a disqualification from participation in atheism, because allowing the two to mix produces something that is no longer pure enough to be called atheism.

And they need us to be honest about feminism so they can continue their quest to push us out.

Image via Surly-Ramics. Used with permission. Some rights reserved.

Comments

  1. smhll says

    Could we make them call their atheism “Atheism Only” or “Atheism First” or some such?

    I wish people would interpret the “+” in Atheism+ as meaning “and”. Some seem to think it must mean “>”.

  2. Jenora Feuer says

    And, as you say, once they label you as ‘feminist’, they can then promptly lump you in with the strawman feminist in their heads and ignore you.

    Take a look at some of the comments on http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2012/10/10/gabba-gabba-we-accept-you/ which started with a link to Amy Mitchell’s article about the Good Men Project, and the rather… I wish I could say it was ‘unique’, but it isn’t… odd definition of ‘feminism’ that one commenter (anybody know Paul Durant?) is using to justify his other beliefs, such as the fact that the MRAs are the ones really fighting the patriarchy.

    Fortunately, the one person in question is mostly being treated like the ranting idiot he seems.

  3. fastlane says

    I’m going to stick with atheism+, and we’ll let them have the label of atheist fuckheads. ;-)

  4. tychabrahe says

    Why is no one criticizing Atheism+ for also wanting to be inclusive of minorities, gays, and trans members of the community?

  5. adriana says

    One interesting fact about this whole affair of rejection of feminism or the word feminism, is that a bunch of atheists (I don’t know how many, but they sure are vocal) think Western women, and especially atheist women in secular democracies, have nothing to complain about. Equality has been reached, according to those people, and misogyny eradicated. Therefore, any complaints of unequal treatment or misogyny are signs of bitchiness, basically. It’s funny how those same atheists love to throw around the word misogyny when it refers to atrocities against women committed by uneducated, unenlightened savage Muslims. For sure, the situation of women and girls in theocracies is far, far worse than it is for us in Western democracies, and it is our duty to fight to change that situation. However, this does not mean that we should shut up and stop complaining about gender inequalities and violence against women in our privileged Western world, because those inequalities, and that violence, still exists. Somehow a lot of people are missing that point. Feminism became a bad thing in the eyes of atheists who are convinced that they are already so enlightened, they couldn’t possibly be prejudiced against women; this is what Muslims or Christian fundamentalists do. Not them. If they are obnoxious, it’s because of stupid, whiny spoiled privileged bitches who don’t know how good they have it. The fact that supposed critical thinkers fail to see that this is the usual “blame the victim” strategy, is beyond depressing. It reminds me of white people who say that blacks should shut up already about racism or inequalities, because slavery has been abolished in the US a long time ago.

  6. Pteryxx says

    It’s funny how those same atheists love to throw around the word misogyny when it refers to atrocities against women committed by uneducated, unenlightened savage Muslims. For sure, the situation of women and girls in theocracies is far, far worse than it is for us in Western democracies, and it is our duty to fight to change that situation.

    IMHO, it’d be a lot easier to do something about fighting misogyny in completely different countries halfway across the world if we could, y’know, get more women and marginalized people represented in the sciences, business, media, and our own government, so they’d have enough power to actually influence those other countries.

  7. says

    It’s funny how those same atheists love to throw around the word misogyny when it refers to atrocities against women committed by uneducated, unenlightened savage Muslims. For sure, the situation of women and girls in theocracies is far, far worse than it is for us in Western democracies, and it is our duty to fight to change that situation.

    I’d say that “those atheists” don’t give a quarter of a damn about oppressed women in Muslim countries/communities. It is often simply a convenient club with which to beat people who they are bigoted against.

    And I also think that’s a big component in the whole “feminists aren’t atheists” thing… feminist atheists turn a critical eye inward towards the community they belong to. For some atheists, the critical eye is nothing more or less than a weapon to attack people outside of the “tribe.” When it is used as a tool to improve the “tribe” from within, it is unacceptable and must be purged.

  8. says

    I dislike the “well, they have it worse, so shut up” rhetoric.

    It seems akin to a person telling me that I shouldn’t complain about him dumping his trash into everybody on the street’s backyards because two streets down the neighborhood has to deal with an oil spill in their backyards.

    It’s still wrong, and it’s something I can try to fix directly.

  9. LeftSidePositive says

    Not to mention, have you noticed how Christian fundamentalists are just as aghast at how Muslims treat women, to show the Christian fundamentalist’s moral superiority?! I find the atheists who do much the same sort of tokenism and appropriating of women’s rights to bash an outgroup distasteful, especially when the atheists go apeshit over having harassment policies, and the Christians want to force rape victims to carry their pregnancies. But as long as you’re not stoning anyone–congratulations! You’ve attained the highest possible echelons of respect for women’s rights!

  10. dgrasett says

    This has been my problem. I am an atheist, yes. But that has never been all that I am. I look at Humanists, and I see a high tolerance for Woo. And while I have played in the Woo garden, (hasn’t everybody?) I grew up. Woo seems to be, well, distasteful, like you can hope things better. I hope I am wrong, but . . .
    I have been a feminist since I could talk, think and/or read. So how come my brother would get the goodies, and I didn’t. And ‘because he is the boy” didn’t cut it then, and wouldn’t cut it now. I not only knew that it wasn’t fair, I made sure my daughters knew it wasn’t fair.
    I never did believe that the colour of someone’s skin should make a difference in how they are treated. Really, judging someone on the first millimeter you can perceive? Which is as bad as deciding that you like protestants and dislike catholics – how can you possibly tell the difference?
    Sceptic? Well, duh. Logical brain and love of mathematics. But why do self-proclaimed sceptics omit applying their reason to themselves? Shouldn’t scepticism, like charity, start at home?
    Trans, GLBT? Sorry, I have no experience, or so little as not to count. But we are all humans, surely. I tend to take people the way they present themselves until they prove otherwise.
    I could continue, but I think I have expressed my self. I hope.
    This is why I feel Atheism+ is a rather important idea. Or, call it the Beta culture.
    We need an acknowledged idea that covers the range. I am hoping that this is it.
    I am also asking forgiveness for spelling and other errors. The preview section does not appear to be working on my machine.

  11. agapornis says

    I think the issue is not one of “you are not an atheist” but that by augmenting the term “atheist”, which many people associate themselves with, without consent or consensus, it is an action that instantly alienates many who were, by default, not included in that decision. The term is “hijacking”.

    So your position may be beyond justifiable and it may be utterly based in great ideals and “correct” thinking (whatever that may actually mean :) but you have managed to create a division where none need exist by co-opting a label you (as a group) had no ownership too.

    This is very, very basic social psychology.

    Instead of (in-)fighting about it, it would probalb make a lot more sense to step back, drop the “Atheism+” monicker in a show of good faith and take another run at it with a less top-down approach that looks for (and will almost certainly receive) buy-in.

    I am an atheist, but simply by watching the fighting this has inspired on both sides of the fence, I am certainly *not* an “Atheist+”, despite agreeing with the underlying tenets.

    I am very supportive of things like feminism, LGBT rights, etc. (and in my own communities where I have some influence have worked hard to ensure these issues are given the serious attention they deman), but this whole anger and negativity streak borders on the rediculous and leads me to consider simply not following FTB anymore.

    You can echo chamber all you want, you can debate with those who disagree all you want .. but are you achieving the goals you wish? Or are you unnecessarily (and I assume unintentionally) allienating those that do not need to be?

    The thinking, humanist, rational society is not like other aspects of our cultures in that we don’t have to take up arms and get angry and shove shit into each other’s faces to get things done. That isn’t how the ideas of science (e.g. evolution), atheism and secular humanism came to be in this world, and there’s a good reason for it. We are not the old society of religious wingnuts, and so we do not need nor deserve the treatments generally required to get those in such modes of being “on-side”.

    I’d also suggest you don’t need the 2-5% of people who you can never convince. You need the 50%+ that get put off by trying to hard to win the unwinnable 2-5%.

    Just some spare thoughts .. hope they are helpful or at least interesting. If not, feel free to ignore. :)

    Cheers …

  12. F says

    Aye. I do find this to be a reasonable assessment and explanation of some of the phenomena you (we) have encountered.

  13. mildlymagnificent says

    I might be trivialising here. But “Dear Muslima” and all those similar comments reminds me too much of the classic parental line.

    “You must eat all the food on your plate. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like it. Think of all those starving children in some-hellhole-or-other. They’d be glad to eat anything.”

    Transpose words and concepts from any mansplainer telling us that women are better off ‘here’ than somewhere else.

    Yes, it’s about food/discrimination in both places. But it’s not the same here as there. It’s not about other people in other places with different problems. It’s about how you treat me here and now.

  14. Sassafras says

    you have managed to create a division where none need exist by co-opting a label you (as a group) had no ownership too.

    Atheists who support atheism+ have exactly as much right to the term as any other atheist.

  15. mildlymagnificent says

    If that were true, feminism would hold the same place that philosophy or science or secularism has.

    And since when was feminism or the role/status of women not been a line of inquiry in philosophy?

    I suspect that part (only a part) of the opposition to feminism is its political as well as its personal implications. My casual observation is that there’s a very big overlap between those who want to “keep feminism out” of atheism and those who really, truly want to keep skeptical or scientific approaches away from economics and politics.

    You see ‘feminist’ included in the list of undesirable political notions – greenie/communist/socialist and, in the US, ‘liberal’ – far too often for it to be ignored. The resistance to discrimination/harassment regulation in employment often comes as part of a package including distaste for regulations of any kind in banking, environment, housing, smoking, anything at all.

    There’s a significant minority lurking in the anti-feminism brigade who see it as a stalking horse for other political ideas. If they can resist this one, they can keep the others at bay.

  16. dgrasett says

    As a Canadian, i really want to know what is so undesirable in
    “greenie/communist/socialist and, in the US, ‘liberal’ ”
    Also as a Canadian, just what is the matter with regulating “banking, environment, housing, smoking . . .” Seems to me that all the pejoratives in the first contain the regulation so disliked by the second. All of which seem to make life better and safer.
    Heck, you might as well be against universal health care.

  17. agapornis says

    “Atheists who support atheism+ have exactly as much right to the term as any other atheist.”

    Correct. That means they not only have no less right, but also no more right to the term.

    For a small group to take the word and decide not only that it needs “plussing” but what that “plus” means is taking more ownership than they have. Yes, they *can* do it, but that doesn’t make it either “right” or successful.

    By creating an “atheism, only better” concept it immediately, and unavoidable, created a social gap, a multi-tiered system of value between “atheist” or “atheist, only better”, with those who coined the phrase as arbiters of that judgement. That may not have been the intention, but adding “plus” to the word? Well, that’s what it translated to.

    This is an ironic juxtaposition to the ideas of equality espoused by those involved with Atheism+.

    Whether anyone likes it or not, or wishes it was different, one relatively small group of people hijacked a word that is not owned by any particular subset of people who identify as “atheist” to embody an additional set of concepts and values without consensus from a meaningful number of those who identify as “athetist” and managed to do so in a way that communicates innequality. I won’t go so far as to say this was “wrong” of them, but it was short-sighted and misguided.

    I think the ideas behind the idea are laudable .. it just needs a better implementation to succeed.

    As it is, it’s making Free Thought Blogs’ feed unecessarily onerous to wade through, creating tensions I never wanted to see under the topical banner of “athesim” (and I hope I’m not alone there) .. and it’s all avoidable.

    What I keep hoping for is people to realize it was a well-meant but botched attempt and for someone to try a second revision. It’s more noble to try a second time and succeed than to keep pushing the first failure.

  18. says

    agapornis, what other words do you try to tell people how to use? And what reaction do you expect from them when you do?

    You do not get to dictate what is done with a word. You sure as fuck don’t get to tell people their terms don’t mean what they use them to mean and then whine at them about the definition you’ve decided to attach to them. That would be you creating that division out of whole cloth. Or your sense of inferiority. Or something. I don’t particularly care what.

    You want atheism to be your word? Go off and use it for something.

  19. LeftSidePositive says

    I think the issue is not one of “you are not an atheist” but that by augmenting the term “atheist”, which many people associate themselves with, without consent or consensus, it is an action that instantly alienates many who were, by default, not included in that decision. The term is “hijacking”.

    I’m sorry you’re too fucking full of yourself to understand what a “+” sign means.

    Also, why the fuck do you “own” atheism? Why is your “consent” necessary for us to refer to ourselves with one trait we may have in common with you (which, last time I checked, you didn’t buy or copyright!) and showing that we’re adding to it?! Why is augmenting “hijacking”?! Look–I’m a foodie. I’m also a Democrat. If I decide to band together with Democratic foodies, I am not taking away the state of being a foodie from non-Democrats, nor am I preventing Democrats who aren’t foodies from being full Democrats. How is either term “hijacked” by my saying I care about more than just one?! Do I have to care that you feel alienated, O non-foodie, by the fact that I prefer to hang out with foodies!?

    Also, I have no intention of seeking consensus with people who call me a cunt. That is just not going to happen.

    it may be utterly based in great ideals and “correct” thinking (whatever that may actually mean

    Violating people’s boundaries is bad. Threatening people is bad. Thinking less of people because of their race, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or past consensual sexual behavior is bad. If you can’t tell that these things are correct and their opposite is wrong, I don’t want to fucking deal with you.

    but you have managed to create a division where none need exist

    Go read Greta Christina on who REALLY created a division. Yeah, there doesn’t NEED to be a division, but as long as there are atheists welcomed within the movement who call women bitches and cunts, who post their home addresses when they speak up, and who declare women’s boundaries don’t matter to them, there ALREADY IS a division, whether or not you like it.

    by co-opting a label you (as a group) had no ownership too.

    You have no ownership of it either, douchebag. I can’t “co-opt” it any more than you can.

    drop the “Atheism+” monicker

    Yeah–that’s a great idea! We’ve got tons of momentum and people passionate about our cause–let’s just drop it in favor of what some random guy in a comment section thinks we should do!

    Fuck. That. Shit.

    in a show of good faith and take another run at it

    I don’t owe a show of good faith to those who threaten to rape me.

    with a less top-down approach

    How exactly did you determine who the “top” is? Guess what? A+ is a forum, and anyone can join. The whole idea was started by commenters swapping ideas beneath a blog post. It is literally the least top-down thing I have EVER seen in movement atheism.

    It was also started because of the blatant failure of people at the traditional “top”–people like Richard Dawkins and DJ Grothe–to actually do anything about our needs.

    that looks for (and will almost certainly receive) buy-in.

    That is FUCKING BULLSHIT. Really–you ought to be ashamed of yourself. Just how stupid do you think we are?! Thunderf00t and pals couldn’t even stand the thought of harassment policies at conferences, which like every organization since like 1995 already has–even sex conferences have harassment policies! People who think it’s okay to send women rape and death threats, people who think it’s okay to look up a woman’s home address in a trademark registry and post it in a forum of people frothing at the mouth with hatred for her, and people who think women talking about harassment are too ugly to be raped or are engaging in “irresponsible messaging” are NEVER going to buy-in to women’s equality. They are deeply, philosophically opposed, and we don’t have to get their fucking permission or approval to call ourselves whatever we damn well please.

    I am an atheist, but simply by watching the fighting this has inspired on both sides of the fence,

    Well, the important thing is that you’ve found a way to feel superior to both!

    I am certainly *not* an “Atheist+”, despite agreeing with the underlying tenets.

    Guess what? If your values are so weak they can be thrown off by a little outspokenness, then I’m not going to waste one damn second seeking your approval.

    I am very supportive of things like feminism, LGBT rights, etc.

    I’m sure you think you are, but your defensiveness here speaks volumes.

    but this whole anger and negativity streak

    If you’re so in favor of people’s equality, why do you judge their self-expression and their emotion so much?!

    borders on the rediculous

    Don’t accuse people of being ridiculous when you can’t even spell “ridiculous.”

    and leads me to consider simply not following FTB anymore.

    Bye!

    You can echo chamber all you want,you can debate with those who disagree all you want

    Is it just me or are you denouncing us for simultaneously engaging in mutually exclusive actions?!

    but are you achieving the goals you wish?

    YES. The Reason Rally showed vastly more diversity than previous atheist gatherings. Most conferences have instituted harassment policies. Men in the secular movement are speaking up about harassment. The Atheism+ forum has over 2000 members and is still growing. That hateful troll Justin Vacula got told he was not fit to represent us. Women feel they have people they can turn to and have their concerns taken seriously. Women in Secularism has been a huge success, and more and more women are being recognized as authors and speakers. Secular Woman is an exciting new organization. So, all in all, yeah. I’m pretty damned pleased.

    Or are you unnecessarily

    Please substantiate how you determined “unnecessarily.”

    (and I assume unintentionally)

    You are assuming very wrong. I am INTENTIONALLY alienating those who send women rape and death threats, and who lie about prominent women. I am also, frankly, perfectly happy at this point to alienate those who care more about tone than social justice.

    allienating those that do not need to be?

    Who are you to decide who does not need to be alienated?

    The thinking, humanist, rational society is not like other aspects of our cultures in that we don’t have to take up arms and get angry and shove shit into each other’s faces to get things done.

    Please provide evidence to support this claim.

    That isn’t how the ideas of science (e.g. evolution),

    Actually, science depends on vigorous debate. And, evolution was quite contentious in scientific circles back in the day.

    atheism and secular humanism came to be in this world,

    Tell that to Dave Silverman. Tell that to Madalyn Murray O’Hair. Tell that to Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Tell that to every civil rights activist who has had to get loud and active for their cause to gain traction.

    We are not the old society of religious wingnuts, and so we do not need nor deserve the treatments generally required to get those in such modes of being “on-side”.

    Being passionate about something is not the same as being dogmatic about it, and I suggest you learn the difference. (Hint: it has something to do with evidentiary support and ethics.)

    I’d also suggest you don’t need the 2-5% of people who you can never convince. You need the 50%+ that get put off by trying to hard to win the unwinnable 2-5%.

    Wait, WHAT THE FUCK!? First you criticize us for alienating people, and then you say we’re trying too hard to convince people?! This seriously makes no fucking sense. We are declaring that we’re moving on from those reactionary, backward assholes who are hurting women. They’re pitching a fit about it.

    Also, please provide some evidence that 50% of atheists (or anything even CLOSE to that number!) are “put off” by a firm commitment to social justice.

    You’re also failing to account for the people we ARE attracting–people who were atheists but didn’t like the exclusivity of the Old Guard, who now have an inspiring group for their activism and their values.

  20. LeftSidePositive says

    For a small group to take the word and decide not only that it needs “plussing”

    We are entitled to have whatever opinions we damn well please about the needs to improve our culture and our movement. You know what? The Founding Fathers decided the colonies needed some “plussing.” African Americans decided freedom needed some “plussing.” Women decided the franchise needed some “plussing.” Laborers decided their working conditions and compensation needed some “plussing.” Gays and lesbians decided marriage needed some “plussing.” I could go on, but you need to get it through your head that EVERYONE has the right to say “This shit isn’t good enough and I demand better!” In fact, that is the driving force behind human advancement.

    but what that “plus” means

    You know, you might be marginally more successful if you claimed we were presumptuously co-opting the meaning of “+”, rather than “atheism”!

    is taking more ownership than they have.

    I think you need to review how addition works.

    By creating an “atheism, only better” concept it immediately, and unavoidable, created a social gap, a multi-tiered system of value between “atheist” or “atheist, only better”,

    You know what? I am not the least bit apologetic about the fact that it is better not to send people rape and death threats. It is also better not to stand idly by and/or defend people who send rape and death threats. It is better to consider women, minorities, disabled people, et al, full human beings and full members of our movement, and denigrating them is, in fact, worse. I’m sorry there’s a social gap between decent people and the apathetic or hostile…no, wait…I’m not sorry at all! There’s an easy way for you to remedy that social gap–treat your fellow human beings with basic decency. That’s it. You don’t even have to join any group or like any name–just uphold some standards of basic human decency in yourself and your peers. You’re not confined to a lower status because of some intrinsic feature of who you are–misogynists and bullies are being held accountable for their shitty behavior, and that has social costs.

    The fault is not in your stars but in yourselves that you are underlings!

    with those who coined the phrase as arbiters of that judgement.

    There’s an open forum. If you have some actual insights into what makes actions or ideas, and by extension the people who perform or espouse them, “better,” then by all means make your case for it.

    This is an ironic juxtaposition to the ideas of equality espoused by those involved with Atheism+.

    Equality means having the same legal and social rights. It means having the same intrinsic human value. It does NOT mean that people’s different behaviors and accomplishments cannot be assessed and differentially rewarded.

    one relatively small group of people hijacked a word

    You have still failed to substantiate how adding to something is hijacking. You have failed to substantiate how our creating our space and our compound term for our interests takes away from the dictionary definition of a word or your ability to identify with that word.

    to embody an additional set of concepts and values

    pssst! That’s what the plus is for!

    without consensus from a meaningful number of those who identify as “athetist”

    Just out of curiosity, what would a meaningful number be?

    Also, I’m pretty sure you’re free to call yourself an “athetist” without any risk of being confused with A+. I assure you we haven’t laid any claim to that one.

    By the way, does American Atheists have to seek out the consensus of a meaningful number of atheists before they put up a billboard or make a public statement on a court case? Why not?

    managed to do so in a way that communicates innequality.

    You know what? You have every opportunity to be a valued member of our movement, if you want to be. You choose not to. You frankly seem hostile to the very IDEA of us communicating what we want to, which does speak for some severe moral failings on your part. Us criticizing you is not “inequality” and it is not a violation of your human rights.

    but it was short-sighted and misguided.

    Why?

    And, on a strictly practical level, I can’t think of a good reason why trying to be more welcoming to some large and influential demographics that are gaining numbers and social influence in the US could possibly be called “short-sighted.” Now, entrenching the privilege of old white dudes? THAT is short-sighted!

    I think the ideas behind the idea are laudable .. it just needs a better implementation to succeed.

    And how do you know it’s not succeeding?!

    As it is, it’s making Free Thought Blogs’ feed unecessarily onerous to wade through,

    I cannot even begin to describe my horror at the suffering you must be enduring. Truly, words fail me.

    creating tensions I never wanted to see under the topical banner of “athesim”

    And, of course, what you want to see is really what we ought to be prioritizing!

    and it’s all avoidable.

    Tell that to the people sending rape and death threats.

    What I keep hoping for is people to realize it was a well-meant but botched attempt

    Says who?

    and for someone to try a second revision.

    Why do I have a sneaky feeling that the opposition would be vituperative at that, too?

    It’s more noble to try a second time and succeed than to keep pushing the first failure.

    I’m still trying to figure out the criteria by which you assessed this incarnation a failure…

  21. agapornis says

    Taking just a few bits of your lengthy response. (Sorry i don’t have more time to respond more fully …)

    “Also, why the fuck do you “own” atheism?”

    Indeed, that’s the entire point. I don’t own it. You don’t, either. It’s a description many people identify with and none of us own it. As such, it’s not ours to take and tack on such value statements as “plus”. Yes, you can do such a thing, but that does not make it respectful of the rest of the people who are also atheist.

    Think of it for a moment: what if someone beat you to it and set up “Atheism+” as something random (not even offensive, just.. random) such as “Atheism plus is atheism coupled with support for micro-loans and other grass-roots poverty reduction efforts”. Well, yeah, we might (or might not :) agree with such concepts as micro-loans .. but what does it have to do with Atheism, why is it “plus” (which is a value statement) and why isn’t it something else .. and why should I now choose between “regular” atheism and this additional agenda?

    “Look–I’m a foodie. I’m also a Democrat. If I decide to band together with Democratic foodies, ”

    If you called the group “Democractic foodies” that’d be fine, I’m sure, as that is clear in its identification. But what if you called it “Democrats+” or, probably even more contentiously, “Foodies+”?

    “If you’re so in favor of people’s equality, why do you judge their self-expression and their emotion so much?!”

    Noting that there is negativity and anger is not a judgement in equality. We can be equals *and* angry at the same time. Further, observing that there are angry people and negativity being shared is not even a judgement, it’s just an observation. I don’t like that you’re taking issue with contrivances instead of the substance of what I wrote.

    “Is it just me or are you denouncing us for simultaneously engaging in mutually exclusive actions?!”

    It’s just you, because they aren’t mutually exclusive. They are modes of action that you can swap between, but perhaps I was simply leaving the door open to the full spectrum of possible actions to the various individuals involved doing their thing.

    “The Reason Rally showed vastly more diversity than previous atheist gatherings”

    You’re saying that the Reason Rally happened in the form it did because of Atheism+? That’s honestly news to me …

    “Please provide evidence to support this claim.”

    Every Dawkins speach, debate and book I’ve seen or read. Every peer-reviewed paper I’ve read. Full of energy and commitment? Yes! Uncompromising? Yes! But needing to, as I wrote, ‘ take up arms and get angry and shove shit into each other’s faces to get things done’? No.

    “Actually, science depends on vigorous debate.”

    Civil debate that does not rely on hijacking terms and other social manipulations. Well, that does actually happen from time to time in scientific circles, to be honest, but it is frowned upon and tends not to achieve much in the long run.

    “I am also, frankly, perfectly happy at this point to alienate those who care more about tone than social justice.”

    Fair enough. I differ in that I don’t think that’s a useful way of going about it, and I fear you may mistake people as caring for “tone” when they actually care about fairness; you may mistake people caring for those things as a lack of care for social justice. But I do respect that you can and will do as you see fit. :)

    “I’m sure you think you are, but your defensiveness here speaks volumes.”

    No, it doesn’t. Thankfully I don’t require you to affirm what I believe and what I do for me.

    “Wait, WHAT THE FUCK!? First you criticize us for alienating people, and then you say we’re trying too hard to convince people?!”

    Yes, you’re trying to convince people .. and in the process alienating good portions of them. (Not sure why that’s difficult to parse.) Those divisions are unnecessary and counter-prodcutive.

    Ah, I should note in case it wasn’t completely obvious that I pulled the 50% (and the 2-5% :) numbers from my posterior .. the real numbers could be smaller or bigger on either side.

    Btw, I don’t support people calling you (or anyone else) a “cunt” or whatnot. I did find myself cringing a few times reading your response, where you decided to tell me how I should be ashamed of myself, or that it’s “fucking bullshit”. Really?

    Let me spell it a bit more clearly for you: I get the issues around things like gender identity, sexual abuse and various other topics dear to you. I get them because I (unfortunately) experienced many of them first hand. But go ahead and continue to berate me as if I don’t understand, or tell me that feeling alienated by the usurption of the term “atheism” is somehow indefensible. :/ Frustration at what goes wrong in the world (and much does) should not translate into burning bridges within .. and that is precisely what these kinds of exercises results in.

    I do support things like codes of conduct, statements on personal boundaries for conferences (I’ve helped draft and institute both for groups / conferences I’ve been involved with) .. I just don’t support this method of going about it. Not that you have to care or agree; you can disagree and continue on. You don’t have to convince me, and I don’t have to convince you. We’ll both survive. :) Hopefully, though, we can share viewpoints and show some respect to each other while doing so.

  22. jhendrix says

    Let me start out by being clear – the idea that you can’t call yourself an atheist, or that you should call the movement you’re in “feminism+” instead is just bullshit.

    I think this is kind of a backlash against the fact that a sizeable portion of the community here at FtB went pretty hard down the feminist track in terms of the subjects covered. There’s no question that you’re all atheists, but if I’m going to read Almost Diamonds, Butterflies and Wheels, Skepchick, or even Lousy Cannuck – I’m about 90% sure the topic is going to be a whole lot more about feminism than it is about atheism. Maybe it’ll be related with a story about how yet another muslim country is doing abominable shit to women there (not to belittle said stories, it’s just pretty common to see if one reads here regularly).

    I fail to see how having your blogs dedicated to feminist topics more than pure atheistic topics is a problem. Dispatches is more about politics and the election than it is about atheism, or if it’s atheist related it’s more about how right wing conservatives are trying to take away religious liberty or are trying to do some historical reivisionism.

    If I want my hardcore counter-apologetics there’s Reasonable Doubts, or I can go to Patheos and read Uncredible Hallq. For more physics related stuff there’s Mano’s Blog.

    So…what’s the problem with having blogs that are tangentally related to atheism but focus more on specific subjects?

  23. LeftSidePositive says

    I think this is kind of a backlash against the fact that a sizeable portion of the community here at FtB went pretty hard down the feminist track in terms of the subjects covered.

    Of course, the great irony is that the trolls probably have more to do with that then they realize!!

  24. mildlymagnificent says

    Just overlooking all the moral pitfalls for a moment, I put away a deck of cards a moment ago.

    Guess what! With a pack of cards you can play snap or bridge or canasta or poker or a hundred kinds of solitaire. Games that use only numbered cards, or only high value cards, games with or without betting on them, you can play games that use all the cards including the jokers.

    All of this atheism should only focus on “core” issues of atheism sounds way too much like a group of bridge or poker players standing around a canasta table sneering that it’s not a “real” card game because the players use cards from the deck that they don’t use. Those cards are always available! It’s your own choice about what you use and how you play.

  25. says

    agapornis #12:

    Instead of (in-)fighting about it, it would probalb make a lot more sense to step back, drop the “Atheism+” monicker in a show of good faith and take another run at it with a less top-down approach that looks for (and will almost certainly receive) buy-in.

    Our approach is the “less top-down” approach. We are demanding that the privileged people in their ‘big tent’ ally with us and accommodate us. That’s not top-down.

    Top-down is people like you telling us to rip down our little tent because you need the fabric for yours, never mind that we need our goddamn tent.

  26. says

    Stephanie @19

    agapornis, what other words do you try to tell people how to use? And what reaction do you expect from them when you do?

    You do not get to dictate what is done with a word. You sure as fuck don’t get to tell people their terms don’t mean what they use them to mean and then whine at them about the definition you’ve decided to attach to them.

    This amounts to semantic anarchy you are invoking here.

    I usually have some sympathy when you folks moan about how someone is defining the term feminism in an unflattering way. I certainly won’t if it is you that is doing the moaning, instead I will wonder why you are disavowing them the right of defining the word however they so wish.
    Funny really, I was reading earlier a thread on the A+ forum where the regulars were instructing a ‘noob’ that only whites can be racist because racism means ‘prejudice + power'; and only men can be sexist because sexism has to involve a power element also. It didn’t occur to me that their argument could simply be countered with the line ‘I can have any word meaning whatever I damn well like’.

    Words are meant to inform, not mislead. Atheism+ sounds like a term for strong atheism, anti-theism or the kind of strident outspoken atheism of a Dawkins or Hitchens. I doubt a person alive who had not learnt the definition beforehand would guess correctly as to what it involves. Atheism+ misleads, it does not inform.
    So by all means, you can come up and market whatever ambiguous and wholly misleading terms you wish but realise you will get shit for it. I find it hard to believe that ‘feminism+’ would not receive the same unwelcoming reception if if it involved the potential for feminism to become confused with things which are not necessarily related (and quite rightly too).

    Ethical atheism, progressive atheism, liberal atheism, all absolutely fine and you would have invoked not a tenth the ire.

    PS: Wrt the original blog. It may well be so that some people see their atheism ‘tainted’ by feminism but for most of us (moaning bastards) that is far from the case.
    I myself was at pains right from the off to state that I embrace anyone and everyone who lacks a belief in a god from using the term – from the extreme far right to the extreme far left and everyone and anyone inbetween. What may be being confused here is the difference between not wanting feminists as atheists and not wanting a movement primarily about things that are not atheism to fly under a name that, to all but the most informed, is indistinguishable from atheism. I wouldn’t want fascists to co-opt atheism as a brand, neither communists, socialists, capitalists, MRA’s, zoophiles, mereological nihilists, naturalists or naturists or, yes you’ve got it, feminists. This isn’t a judgement call on feminism as you seem to hold it to be.

    However, in so far as anyone would want to deny feminists the right to self-identify as atheists, I could not be more on your side – both in a Voltairesque capacity and also because, whilst i don’t identify as a feminist I know that the basic declared goals of most feminists are the same as my own.

    Jim (np99)

  27. LeftSidePositive says

    I usually have some sympathy when you folks moan about how someone is defining the term feminism in an unflattering way.

    You are conflating making a NEW term that is compounded from an old one, with redefining an old term itself. It is perfectly clear in context that Stephanie is not advocating declaring open season on the dictionary–she’s talking about how “Atheism+” can mean whatever it wants, and that whining about what “Atheism” can only mean is nonsensical. This is not the same thing as changing the meaning of an existing term.

    Funny really, I was reading earlier a thread on the A+ forum where the regulars were instructing a ‘noob’ that only whites can be racist because racism means ‘prejudice + power’; and only men can be sexist because sexism has to involve a power element also.

    Citation very fucking needed. Guess what? Women can be VERY sexist, and minorities can be very racist–but the point is that these are reinforcing existing power against those who are not in power (i.e., diminishing other women and/or minorities). So, a sexist woman is one who judges other women, who taps into the power of the patriarchy even though she doesn’t derive *full* power from it. Sexism and racism simply do not mean “any time someone is mean to someone on the basis of race or sex”–it is a reflection of the systemic power than men have over women, and that whites have over other races. It DOES NOT MEAN that people of all identities cannot prop up those power structures, but someone who is mad at or uncomplimentary to those who do have the social power may be “prejudiced,” but they are not committing an “ism” against them. This is a problem with your ignorance, so why don’t you go over to the Information and Answers forum and make a good faith effort to figure out what these sociological concepts actually MEAN, rather than trying to play gotcha with a concept you clearly do not understand.

    Words are meant to inform, not mislead. Atheism+ sounds like a term for strong atheism, anti-theism or the kind of strident outspoken atheism of a Dawkins or Hitchens.

    And what exactly are those people adding TO atheism? Those people would be more accurately described with “Atheism!” but not “Atheism+” because there’s nothing from a new category there.

    I doubt a person alive who had not learnt the definition beforehand would guess correctly as to what it involves.

    You know what? I would never have guessed, had I been born and raised in a cave, that “Suffragists” referred specifically to women getting the vote. I would never have guessed that the “Civil Rights” movement referred predominantly to black people. Fuck it, I would never have guessed that “organic” food meant made without pesticides, since from basic chemistry, fucking gasoline is organic!

    So, guess what, you have to actually communicate with your fellow human beings and learn what they’re talking about, because that’s how language and society works. Fucking deal with it.

    Atheism+ misleads, it does not inform.

    Only if you’re a willfully ignorant jackass.

    Ethical atheism, progressive atheism, liberal atheism, all absolutely fine and you would have invoked not a tenth the ire.

    Fucking bullshit. For one thing, people would whine that we were insinuating that they’re not ethical. People are already whining that their particular branch of libertarianism can’t be considered “social justice,” just because they have no actual evidence that it would actually lead to better outcomes. And an A+ person doesn’t necessarily have to be “progressive” or “liberal” in all senses–they just have to care about being a decent human being and applying rationality to all aspects of politics, society, and philosophy (yes, it’s only some progressives and liberals who are doing that now in our current political climate, but this is situational rather than definitional).

    But all this is moot, because if “Guys, don’t do that” was too much for you, I can be pretty damn sure you jackasses would find something else to complain about.

    not wanting a movement primarily about things that are not atheism

    Who the fuck are you to decide what we’re “primarily” about?! Think about this: A+ people are atheists. It is the foundation of how we approach the world, it informs our moral judgments, it informs our actions and our opinions on the need for activism, and it reflects the larger community of which we are a part and that we are committed to changing for the better. The fact that our disbelief in god is so basic that we don’t need to talk about it much on a forum where everyone there already agrees DOES NOT MEAN that it is not one of the single most important foundations to our outlook and our identity.

    to fly under a name that, to all but the most informed, is indistinguishable from atheism.

    Frankly, I expect anyone who’s not the most willfully ignorant jackass to see the label and thing…”Hey, I wonder what the plus stands for? This seems to be a slightly different thing!”

    I wouldn’t want fascists to co-opt atheism as a brand, neither communists, socialists, capitalists,

    If any of these people decided to call themselves “Atheism$” I don’t think I would be beside myself with confusion.

    Moreover, you’re just completely fucking wrong that this is “co-opt[ing] atheism as a brand.” This is just fucking nonsensical and you know it. Saying “we’re based in atheism and we want to move on to X, Y, and Z” does not logically or empirically IN ANY WAY change the relationship that everyone else has to atheism, and it is just dishonest and faux-victim posturing to pretend it does.

  28. says

    Now we’re “hijacking” and “co-opting”. This is what I’m talking about in the post. “Hey, feminists. You have no ownership in atheism. You’re stealing it.” Bullshit.

    It’s mine. I’ve done plenty to earn it even beyond the very basic of not believing in gods. If you can’t share it, go back and tell your kindergarten teacher that you need to start school over. If you can’t share it with me because I’m an outspoken, active feminist, go take a long, hard look in a mirror.

  29. says

    It’s mine. I’ve done plenty to earn it even beyond the very basic of not believing in gods. If you can’t share it, go back and tell your kindergarten teacher that you need to start school over. If you can’t share it with me because I’m an outspoken, active feminist, go take a long, hard look in a mirror.

    This!!

    What the majority of the Atheism+ naysayers are doing is akin to telling me that I can’t call myself a socialist because I’m a member of the Socialist Equality Party and not the Socialist Workers Party.

    The commonality at the root of the Atheism+ movement is atheism; plain and simple. No one is telling anyone else that they can’t simply be an atheist without the plus. Nothing is being stolen or co-opted. If you can’t be honest about that, I wouldn’t want to be associated with you in the first place.

  30. LeftSidePositive says

    As such, it’s not ours to take and tack on such value statements as “plus”.

    One, plus is not necessarily a value statement. In this case it is, because some people in the atheist movement are being vile misogynistic shitbags and we’re not going to pretend their values are as good as ours.

    Two, adding something to how you identify does not mean you are taking ownership of the original thing. Get this through your head and stop bothering us with this utterly ridiculous, nonsensical, bullshit whining of yours.

    Yes, you can do such a thing, but that does not make it respectful of the rest of the people who are also atheist.

    But it also doesn’t make it DISrespectful, either.

    Think of it for a moment: what if someone beat you to it and set up “Atheism+” as something random (not even offensive, just.. random) such as “Atheism plus is atheism coupled with support for micro-loans and other grass-roots poverty reduction efforts”.

    So, what’s the problem? All it would mean is if I wanted to set up my own subgroup I’d have to think up a different name. Who the fuck cares?

    but what does it have to do with Atheism,

    Because the people doing it are atheists, you motherfucking idiot. I’m sick of your bullshit whining.

    why is it “plus” (which is a value statement)

    Because we stand for human rights, feminism, social justice, economic empowerment, education, disability rights, LGBT rights, etc., etc., etc., which we feel is better than the opposite of those things. If you want to make a case that they’re not better, go ahead and try! I’d find your flailing amusing.

    and why isn’t it something else ..

    Because several other names were suggested. This happens to be the one that people liked the most.

    and why should I now choose between “regular” atheism and this additional agenda?

    Yes, and you also have to choose between being a regular atheist and adopting the additional agenda of American Atheists–because American Atheists EXISTS! You have to make choices in your life. Deal with it.

    But what if you called it “Democrats+” or, probably even more contentiously, “Foodies+”?

    Then people who liked the concept would join. People who didn’t would just be Democrats or Foodies, respectively. No problem.

    Noting that there is negativity and anger is not a judgement in equality. We can be equals *and* angry at the same time. Further, observing that there are angry people and negativity being shared is not even a judgement, it’s just an observation.

    Bullshit. You are trying to suggest our anger makes us illegitimate, and you are trying to shame us out of our perfectly justified emotions.

    but perhaps I was simply leaving the door open to the full spectrum of possible actions to the various individuals involved doing their thing.

    So then what the fuck was your point?

    You’re saying that the Reason Rally happened in the form it did because of Atheism+? That’s honestly news to me …

    The ideals of diversity and inclusivity that A+ embraces have been around for longer than the name, and the people who support A+ have been working for those causes for a while.

    Every Dawkins speach, debate and book I’ve seen or read.

    You do realize, don’t you, that Dawkins is considered very contentious?!

    Fair enough. I differ in that I don’t think that’s a useful way of going about it,

    Okay, well when you’ve developed the model social justice movement let me know.

    and I fear you may mistake people as caring for “tone” when they actually care about fairness;

    And what exactly is unfair about telling a pompous idiot like you to fuck off?

    Thankfully I don’t require you to affirm what I believe and what I do for me.

    A textbook failure of self-skepticism.

    Yes, you’re trying to convince people .. and in the process alienating good portions of them. (Not sure why that’s difficult to parse.)

    Because you’re totally moving the goalposts in terms of who we’re trying to convince–first you said we’re trying to convince the people we can never convince–like the overt misogynists, and now you’ve backpedaled to “people,” and you’ve ironed over the distinction of who we’re trying to convince versus who we’re alienating. Stop wasting my time.

    Those divisions are unnecessary and counter-prodcutive.

    Prove it, motherfucker.

    Ah, I should note in case it wasn’t completely obvious that I pulled the 50% (and the 2-5% numbers from my posterior .. the real numbers could be smaller or bigger on either side.

    Ah, so you have no evidence and no point. Noted.

    Btw, I don’t support people calling you (or anyone else) a “cunt” or whatnot.

    I never said you did. But the fact remains these people exist in our community, and we are making a break for them, and you are shaming us for saying we’re better than the cunt-callers. Well, fuck it, we are.

    I did find myself cringing a few times reading your response, where you decided to tell me how I should be ashamed of myself, or that it’s “fucking bullshit”. Really?

    Yep. You are being held accountable for your bullshit. Deal with it. We do not suffer fools here, and being criticized is not the same as being slurred.

    Let me spell it a bit more clearly for you:

    Well, I’m glad that’s not condescending at all! Look, I perfectly understand that you think you’re enlightened and caring and blahblahblah, but that doesn’t change the fact that you’re an insufferable tone-trolling jackass.

    or tell me that feeling alienated by the usurption of the term “atheism” is somehow indefensible.

    Considering this “usurp[a]tion” exists only in your head and you have provided absolutely no rational justification for it, yeah it is indefensible.

    I just don’t support this method of going about it.

    Your concern is noted. Now fuck off.

  31. julian says

    Funny really, I was reading earlier a thread on the A+ forum where the regulars were instructing a ‘noob’ that only whites can be racist because racism means ‘prejudice + power’; and only men can be sexist because sexism has to involve a power element also. It didn’t occur to me that their argument could simply be countered with the line ‘I can have any word meaning whatever I damn well like’.

    -_-

    That’s how the words are often used in sociology. Did you miss that part?

  32. says

    I don’t get why atheists get all hung up on this word being used. Just because a word is used in a label doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone that identifies with that word has to agree with the premise of the label or organization. Who would think that it must?

    When the 5Foot 9inch tall group starts talking about tall rights . . . I do not start talking about how they are using my height measurement in a way that I do not agree with . . . instead I simply see if they agree with my vision or not.

    We are very hung up on labels . . . I rather get up “hung up” on making change in our society and government.

  33. John Phillips, FCD says

    Stephanie Zvan says:
    October 13, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Now we’re “hijacking” and “co-opting”. This is what I’m talking about in the post. “Hey, feminists. You have no ownership in atheism. You’re stealing it.” Bullshit.

    It’s mine. I’ve done plenty to earn it even beyond the very basic of not believing in gods. If you can’t share it, go back and tell your kindergarten teacher that you need to start school over. If you can’t share it with me because I’m an outspoken, active feminist, go take a long, hard look in a mirror.

    QFFT

    There often comes a time when division is the only option, this is one of those times. For after seeing the horrendous treatment meted out to RW and others ever since she uttered what should have been the totally innocuous words, ‘don’t do that guys’, there are too many under the atheist banner who in no way can be considered allies, in fact, quite the opposite. So yes, Atheism+ is divisive, but only because it is now obvious that there is no other option if we want to try and change things in a meaningful way.

  34. carlie says

    I am quite happy to wrest the word “atheist” from people like The Amazing Atheist. If people like him don’t want to share the word with decent people, fine. THEY can go find a new one.

  35. Rodney Nelson says

    If Noeljim is an example of being a proper, non-atheist+ atheist then I take the Atheist+ label proudly. At least I’m not a pompous, peevish grumbler pretending that the + in Atheism+ somehow degrades my disbelief in gods.

  36. speed0spank says

    @Carlie
    Indeed!

    I find it so very amusing that someone would suggest that the big dividing issue here is naming the movement Atheism+. Really? Do you go to the slymepit and see threads going on and on about how we stole the word Atheism? Maybe once in a while. Do you see threads for fucking miles on women who are [insert gendered slur here]? Yes. Yes, you do!
    This argument about stealing the word or creating division has been utterly beaten to death already. I would guess that folks who still try to make that silly claim don’t actually read FTB (or the comment sections) like they say they do.

  37. danielimms says

    What a ridiculous post.
    To insinuate that people deny you the right to call yourself an atheist because you are also a feminist is either stupid or dishonest.
    In all the comments I’ve read on FTB, I’ve never read one that says you shouldn’t be considered an atheist. Only that some people consider the name ‘Atheists +’ to be misleading.
    I’m an atheist and a member of a football team. The team’s not called ‘Atheists + football’, it’s called ‘XYZ Football Team’. When I am there, I play football. In other areas I discuss atheism.
    If I were to get to the game on the weekend and instead of playing football and trying to win, I started talking about atheism, I think much of the team would be pissed off.

  38. danielimms says

    I’m halfway through reading the comments here, and just my view on what I’ve read so far.

    ‘Agapornis’ – reasonable, clear, logical comments. Very good, rational thought.

    ‘LeftSidePositive’ – rubbish comments. Fond of making assumptions and statements about others that are most definitely untrue. Making no attempt to understand alternative views, instead trying to dismiss them through lies and slander.

  39. says

    Agapornis, the notion that it is disrespectful for people to take the term Atheism and add a modifier to indicate their agenda is absurd. People make distinctions between brands of ideology all the time. There are many flavours of socialism, to take one example, or of Democrats, and the only folks who would take offense at this are dogmatic purists.

    Your argument is one that attempts to nullify those atheists who want to band together for social justice. It’s pure Pecksniffery. It resembles those centrist arguments we see employed against the US Left, which imagines there’s a cozy middle that must be mollified and comforted to be brought into the fold.

    Frankly, I’ve never found that argument convincing. For starters, I’m not certain that cozy middle exists and could be moved by accomodation. Furthermore, real social change (and some social regression, yes) has been resulted from loudmouths and rabble-rousers moving the frame radically away from where it was, not by accomodationists scared of upsetting a mythical middle. The latter is a recipe for inertia.

    Martin Luther King’s most scathing criticism was aimed at his would-be allies, who wrung their hands and demanded a middle-way. Mine would be aimed at hand-wringers such as yourself.

  40. says

    To insinuate that people deny you the right to call yourself an atheist because you are also a feminist is either stupid or dishonest.

    I insinuated nothing. I stated it outright. Don’t use words for their emotional valences if you don’t know what they mean.

    In all the comments I’ve read on FTB, I’ve never read one that says you shouldn’t be considered an atheist.

    Now that you’ve read the comments here, you’ve seen several people tell me I’m trying to steal this term that doesn’t belong to me. You’ll be retracting this whole comment then?

  41. danielimms says

    @Stephanie
    “Now that you’ve read the comments here, you’ve seen several people tell me I’m trying to steal this term that doesn’t belong to me. You’ll be retracting this whole comment then?”

    No. You’re either not reading carefully or not thinking carefully.
    To say that you can’t or shouldn’t call yourself an atheist is not the same as saying you can’t or shouldn’t use the term atheist+ to describe a sub-group of atheists (clearly). I haven’t read a single comment that says someone does not consider you a real atheist because of your feminism, which is what you have written in your original post.
    (Sarcastically I presume)
    “I want to be an atheist…..Sadly, that will never be.
    …..Therefore, I am not an atheist.”

  42. says

    Oh, I see. You’re incapable of doing anything but reading the words. You’re incapable of considering their implications. You can’t think about what it means to be “usurping” and “hijacking”. Got it.

  43. danielimms says

    @46
    Clearly you’re not understanding what others mean. Clearly you make no attempt to do so. And clearly you just don’t care. Rational thinking? I don’t think so.
    Emotional reactionism? You’ve got it.

  44. says

    Let’s see, how do we go about rational argumentation? Well, we could talk about what those words mean, and we could talk about the implications of arguments based on the meaning of those words, and we could notice that those words come up every time someone tries to make this specific argument, and we could talk about what that means.

    Or we just assert that someone is being emotional, which relies on knowledge of their internal thoughts and feelings. Yeah, that sounds easier.

    I mean, it makes you an asshole, but it sure is easier.

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