Do we really need to keep having this conversation?
Part of me feels like I shouldn’t care about a random “The 50 Most Brilliant Atheists of All Time” list on a website I’d never heard of. But it’s making the rounds on Facebook, and I cringe that it perpetuates the myth that female atheists done exist. I mean, really? You could only come up with three brilliant atheist women when you have all of written history to work with?
It’s especially aggravating when you look at the choices. Okay, I’m not personally a fan of Ayn Rand, but I’ll concede that one. But Katherine Hepburn and Jodie Foster? Don’t get me wrong, I love these ladies. But it seems like a slap in the face when you can only dig up two actresses compared to dozens of male scientists, philosophers, writers, and visionaries. Where are women like:
- Hypatia of Alexandria, philosopher and mathematician
- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, suffragist and abolitionist
- Susan B. Anthony, suffragist and civil rights activist
- Margaret Sanger, American birth control activist
- Ernestine Rose, suffragist and civil rights activist
- Ayaan Hirsi Ali, writer, politician, and activist
- Gloria Steinam, feminist, journalist, and activist
- Marie Curie, Nobel prize-winning chemist
And that’s just off the top of my head. I’m sure you guys could come up with even more brilliant atheist women.
Look, I don’t expect a list that’s looking at historical atheist figures to have a 50/50 gender ratio. It’s obviously going to be skewed male, since women have historically been oppressed and not as able to partake in intellectual pursuits associated with atheism. But when you have some obvious examples, don’t leave them off.