Jan 02 2012

The Most Influential Female Atheist of 2011

It’s the time again for top ten lists and random end of the year awards. Here at Blag Hag, it means it’s time to recognize the wonderful women of the atheist movement.

Why bother with a women-only poll? Because despite their accomplishes, women are still frequently overlooked when we acknowledge people in the atheist movement. I originally started this informal award because of end of the year “Top Atheist” lists that always seemed to exclude women. We’re certainly getting better: the gender ratio at cons is getting less skewed for attendees and speakers, and women’s issues are gaining more and more attention in the movement. But there’s still room for improvement. The main public figures of atheism are predominantly men, and calling out blatantly obvious issues of sexism results in the internet exploding (not to mention, you know, rape and death threats). And yet again, end of the year round-ups forget that women exist.

But this year we’re going to do something different. Instead of me giving you a list of women to choose from, you get to vote for whoever you want, and as many women as you want. This prevents the cries of “Why didn’t you include lady X?!” and “How am I supposed to choose between awesome person Y and awesome person Z?!” Just comment below clearly listing the names of who you vote for. Once the votes stop trickling in, I’ll make a new post announcing the results.

And of course, feel free to add why you’re voting for these amazing atheist women. What did they do in 2011 that made them noteworthy? What posts, or articles, or talks, or campaigns stuck out to you? How did they personally affect you?

Feel free to consult the Large List of Awesome Female Atheists. It’s sorely in need of an update, but I have a feeling this poll will help me with that.


Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    Voter D.

    I vote for Rebecca Watson and Greta Christina.

  2. 2

    Ditto. Influential in 2011? No question.

  3. 3

    1 vote for Rebecca Watson – By stating simple facts and making relatively benign criticisms, she (mostly inadvertently) set off (a) huge firestorm(s) that plainly displayed how much of a problem sexism is in the atheist and skeptic community.

    While this led to a lot of people digging in their heels and denying all the more vigorously that the issue exists at all, it also opened some eyes to a problem that seemed to run under the radar (at least, it did for a lot of men).

    1 vote for Greta Christina – for… well, I can’t even count the ways that she’s awesome.

  4. 4

    Rebecca Watson gets my first vote. Given your anarchist “rules,” I may be back to vote some more.

  5. 5
    Greta Christina

    For influential in 2011, I have to go with Rebecca Watson.

  6. 6
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    Most influential female atheist: for 2011, Rebecca Watson, for never fearing to make wave when it’s necessary, right until the very end of the year!

    Oh, and all the Skepchicks, especially Elyse, deserve a medal for their tireless pro-vaccination work.

  7. 7

    Rebecca Watson.

    You know someone’s influential when the mere mention of their name draws out The Crazy in record time.

  8. 8
    Allison Rose

    Greta Christina

  9. 9

    My vote is for Ayaan Hirsi Ali -a feminist activist, writer, politician, fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, and badass award-winning infidel.
    Also, Jessica Ahlquist for obvious reasons.

  10. 10

    Rebecca Watson. She was not only the most influential female skeptic/atheist of the year, she was the most influential skeptic/atheist of the year period.

  11. 11

    Rebecca Watson, clearly, for shaking things up around here.

  12. 12

    For me, it’s got to be Rebecca Watson. She’s done a great job of exposing misogyny and bigotry in the Atheist/Skeptic communities this last year, and she only had to make the mildest criticisms to do it… what would happen if she actually showed anger?

    I also want to give an honourable mention to Natalie Reed, who’s done a great job communicating transgender issues on Skepchick, and fast become on of my favourite bloggers.

  13. 13

    I vote for Jen. She definitely influenced me the most. I suppose if you measure aggregate impact, however, you have to go with Rebecca Watson.

  14. 14

    Make mine Rebecca Watson. She deserves it, if only for taking all that grief for just talking sense and not backing down one inch. She clearly touched a nerve that sorely needed to be touched.

  15. 15
    Philip Walterhouse

    Rebecca Watson all the way. She has played the largest role in raising my awareness of my male privilege. In a nutshell, she is bad ass.

  16. 16
    Momo Elektra

    Rebecca Watson

  17. 17
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    For ElevatorGate alone, it has to be Rebecca Watson.

  18. 18

    Ebbeca-Ray Atson-Way (I had to be creative SOMEHOW!)

  19. 19

    I’m going to throw in my own votes now:

    Rebecca Watson – duh. Kind of in a league of her own for what she did this year, but there are other women I want to recognize too:

    Jessica Ahlquist – For serving as a wonderful example of what young people can do, and what the future of our movement can look forward to
    Elyse Anders – for her tireless work against anti-vaxxers
    Ashley F. Miller – For her fabulous TAM talk on emotion & skepticism and her recent prodding of Ron Paul fanatics
    Greta Christina – Because she’s always awesome
    Lyz Liddell – For all of her hard work behind the scenes at the Secular Student Alliance
    Maryam Namazie – For her constant effort against the misogynistic practices of Islam

  20. 20

    another vote for Rebecca Watson.

  21. 21

    Obviously Rebecca Watson, for causing the kind of shitstorm that educates and enlightens. I think, by and large, we’re a better community for having this argument. Also, I have to admire anybody who takes a big name like Dawkins down a notch.

    I would also like to nominate Natalie of Skepchick fame. For pointing out my misinformed beliefs about sex and gender. For me this has been my trans-education year, helped along greatly by her.

    And because all good things come in threes I’m going to toss out the Godless Bitches. It’s a wonderful show and wonderfully educational.

  22. 22
    Brad Emery

    Greta Christina and Amanda Marcotte. Indeed.

  23. 23

    Rebecca Watson first and foremost for Elevatorgate. Greta Christina for her Skepticon speech. No one else this year can come close.

  24. 24
    Jurjen S.

    Greta Christina, with Jen McCreight as runner-up. Which is admittedly based primarily on whose blogs I enjoy reading.

  25. 25
    Andrew T

    Rebecca Watson, for obvious reasons, but also Sikivu Hutchinson, who wrote an amazing book (Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars) that covered areas that I think are so far unexamined but in desperate need of it, and also founding and running the Women’s Leadership Project, a feminist mentoring program for girls in South Los Angeles. In short, because she is a gigantic badass.

  26. 26

    I can’t possibly measure anyone’s overall influence, so I can only vote based on how a particular person has influenced me. Any person who has made me change my mind, think about something that I haven’t given thought to before, or at least solidify my thinking on a subject, gets my vote. Here are my votes, in no particular order:

    No. 1 for me is Greta Christina, who has directed my attention to some of my blind spots on a number of issues.

    No. 2, Maryam Namazie, who shines a bright light on the dark and dangerous corners of an intolerant religion.

    No. 3 is Rebecca Watson, who has challenged my thinking in a manner similar to that of Greta Christina, but more importantly has also introduced me to a large number of other excellent atheist writers.

    No. 4 is Jen McCreight, who continues to write excellent points on all sorts of irrationalities, not just the religious ones. Jen, you were the first female atheist blogger that I subscribed to, and you continue to be entertaining, informative, and influential.

  27. 27

    Also our lovely Jen, Debbie Goddard and Amanda Marcotte are always influential to me.

  28. 28
    Andrew T

    I love Natalie! She writes fantastically and also has the best bio of anyone on the Internet.

  29. 29

    Rebecca Watson, with recognition of the personal price she has paid for shining a light on a whole lot of ugliness that needed to be exposed.

    Greta Christina, for comprehensive and insightful posts on said ugliness (not to mention the personal price of being on the receiving end of it also) and many other valuable topics. Others write very well also, but for my mind, Greta just nails it.

  30. 30

    I posted this on Staks Rosch’s open nomination page, but apparently he closed the process down the morning of the 28th instead of the evening. Pretty astounding sign of tone deafness that women couldn’t even get 20% representation on his final list – when people talk about the marginalization of women within the atheist movement, that makes a pretty good case in point. Anyway, here’s the list.

    1. Greta Christina – in addition to her consistently great posts, her speech, Why Are You Atheists So Angry, was an excellent addition to every lineup in which it was included.
    2. Maryam Namazie – for campaigning against faith based laws.
    3. Jessica Ahlquist – for her perseverance in the fight to remove a prayer from the wall of her high school auditorium.
    4. Rebecca Watson – for bringing the long overdue conversation about sexism within the atheist movement to the table, and helping to keep it there.
    5. Beth Presswood – for creating the Godless Bitches podcast – dealing with the intersection of feminism and secularism.

  31. 31

    Rebecca Watson

  32. 32
    Daniel E. Ciora

    I vote for Jessica Ahlquist because of her courage in facing a school full of antagonistic believers every day.

  33. 33

    Rebecca Watson. Shamefully, I couldn’t name another that’s been influential this year, and can name rather few female atheists – that’s why I nominate Rebecca, for making me see how shameful that is, and how much privilege has blinded me. In 2012 I hope to have a much longer list.

  34. 34
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    Rebecca Watson
    Ophelia Benson
    Jen McCreight

    And special mentions for
    Libby Anne of Love, Joy, Feminism
    Vyckie Garrison of No Longer Quivering

    who may not be big names on the talk circuit or central to the atheist blogosphere, but who are certainly influential in combating the Christian Patriarchy movement.

  35. 35

    My vote goes to Rebecca Watson too. Little part of me wants to buck the trend but honestly it has to go to Rebecca this year.

  36. 36
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    Oh, and how could I forget Jen Peeples and Tracie Harris of The Atheist Experience? Together they are awesome squared.

  37. 37
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    Oh, and Anne Laurie Gaylor for starting The Clergy Project.

  38. 38
    PZ Myers

    1. Mary Gjerness Myers (not so well known, but she keeps me going)
    2. Rebecca Watson
    3. Maryam Namazie
    4. Amanda Marcotte

  39. 39

    I vote for Rebecca Watson and Greta Christina.

  40. 40

    1. Rebecca Watson. Rebecca blew the door off of everything last year. Twice. Awesome.

    2. Jessica Ahlquist. I’ve been following her stand, mostly at Friendly Atheist. Incredible, especially given her age – but also inspirational.

    3. Maryam Namazie. Her blog highlights some serious bullshit in the world.

  41. 41
    JT Eberhard

    Greta Christina.

  42. 42

    Greta Christina

  43. 43

    Greta Christina – She’s been the most influential atheist writer period (not just the most influential blogger) in my personal journey away from faith, which is still ongoing.

  44. 44

    Another vote for Rebecca Watson and Greta Christina. Jessica too.

    I also want to highlight some of the work that Natalie has been doing for Skepchick, raising the profile of the trans gender movement, and opening my eyes to the problems and the lack of skepticism around cis privilege.

  45. 45

    I *love* her bio!

  46. 46

    Rebecca Watson for fearlessly blowing up the internet several times, when it needed to be done.

  47. 47

    Rebecca Watson.

  48. 48

    Greta Christina for the win!

  49. 49

    Rebecca Watson and Julia Galef.

  50. 50
    Greg Laden

    Rebecca, of course.

  51. 51
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Rebecca Watson, hands down.

    (Though Greta Christina and Jen continue to be the ones who influence me the most.)

  52. 52
    JT Eberhard

    Also Jessica Ahlquist.

  53. 53
    Taylor Grenga

    I’m going with Jessica Ahlquist for trying to make my high school abide by the Constitution, as well as for inspiring other young activists.

  54. 54

    I’m going to go with Rebecca Watson as well, with Aliaa Magda Elmahdy a close second.

  55. 55

    Rebecca Watson

    Ophelia Benson

    Greta Christina

  56. 56
    Leo Buzalsky

    Looks like most people are already saying it, but I have to give my top vote to Watson, even if what she did was not meant to be controversial or special in any way, it sure brought into light how much growing up the atheist community has to do.

    And now seeing JT’s post, I think Jessica Ahlquist is also a good candidate.

    Vyckie Garrison had also been making a name for herself late in 2011, but she might instead be more of a “Rising star for 2012″ or something like that.

  57. 57
    James K.

    Watson, for the same reason.

  58. 58

    I’m voting for Rebecca Watson, Greta Christina, and Jessica Ahlquist.

  59. 59
    Stephanie Zvan

    As well as another vote for Rebecca, I have to throw some in for Debbie Goddard, Maria Walters, and Desiree Schell for helping to give activists the tools they need to succeed.

  60. 60
    Amanda Marcotte

    Thanks for the mentions, everyone.

    I cast my vote for the indomitable Rebecca Watson.

  61. 61

    Rebecca, she made see some things in me that I needed to see and change.

    Greta for being a Very intereting writer on so many topics.

  62. 62

    Rebecca Watson, Greta Christina, and Jessica Ahlquist.

  63. 63
    Stephen Foster

    Second that.

  64. 64

    I was going to say Rebecca Watson, and a quick glance at the comments has her in the lead, but Greta Christina and Ophelia Benson are my favorite to read.

  65. 65

    My vote is for Rebecca Watson, who endured much over Elevatorgate. If we are talking about influence on the atheist community, albeit on a non-religious issue, she wins hands down.

  66. 66

    1. Rebecca Watson, for whom I cannot say anything that hasn’t already been said much better by people who know her (and know more of her) than I do.

    2. Maryam Namazie, for her brave and public leadership against the rising tide of radical Islam in Britain (and elsewhere).

    3. Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She is the most courageous person I’ve ever heard of, and though she didn’t do anything to garner much publicity in ’11 (which may well be a *good* thing, given the desires of the many people who wish to see her brutally murdered), her shadow looms large across the whole of skepticism. She sits astride the ‘respect’ the faithful demand, providing the ultimate counterexample to the fatuous bleating of ‘peace’ and ‘love’ mumbled so soddenly. Every day she draws breath is a victory over the medieval cowards who wish to see her destroyed for standing up and daring to strike off the shackles of ignorance that hold far too many people in bondage.

  67. 67

    I vote for Rebecca Watson and Greta Christina with a brilliant Jessica Ahlquist as a backup.

  68. 68
    Ben Crockett

    I will vote for two people:
    Greta Christina
    Jen McCreight

  69. 69

    Rebecca Watson.

  70. 70

    One more vote for Watson because of elevator-gate. She didn’t ask for it, but it sure got people talking.

  71. 71

    Rebecca Watson.

  72. 72
    Alethea Kuiper-Belt

    Rebecca Watson.

    Yeah, all the other people named are awesome, and I love them. But it’s Rebecca, no question. The biggest influence on atheism this year, by miles!

  73. 73

    Rebecca Watson!

  74. 74

    Rebecca Watson.

  75. 75

    Gotta go with Rebecca Watson.

  76. 76

    1st place: Rebecca Watson
    2nd place: Greta Christina

  77. 77

    Jessica Ahlquist, Greta Christina, and Rebecca Watson!

    My top vote goes to Jessica Ahlquist, because high school atheists have to stick together. :) Greta and Rebecca are amazing in their own rights, but high school is hard enough without having to defend the Constitution against the ignorance of an entire town.

  78. 78
    Anne Jefferson

    Dana Hunter, http://freethoughtblogs.com/entequilaesverdad
    For being an influential female atheist, kick-ass writer, and geoscience supporter.

  79. 79

    I’m going to be original and vote for Rebecca Watson…to be fair, this year she was one of the more influential female atheists.

  80. 80

    Rebecca Watson!

  81. 81

    Rebecca Watson is hands down the most influential atheist of this year (albeit perhaps all unasked-for…)

    In fact, if nominating demographics for an individual award is good enough for Time Magazine, it’s good enough for me… I’ll put in a vote for Elevatorgate’s Team Watson.

  82. 82

    Also, Greta Christina and Amanda Marcotte.

  83. 83

    Rebecca Watson Not only for lighting the spark of Elevatorgate, but for continuing (still) to endure the fallout from it.

  84. 84
    Chris Hallquist

    Greta Christina.

  85. 85

    My vote goes to Rebecca Watson as well.

  86. 86

    Rebecca Watson, but then I hardly need to explain why given that everyone else is voting for her.

    Skepchick Natalie for covering an area that has been more or less untouched by the skeptical movement until now.

  87. 87

    Jessica Ahlquist for standing up for the First Amendment.

  88. 88

    Been sent here by Pz myers, but he’s told us to be good.
    So instead of him… ahh there are enough americans:

    Maryam Namazie and Polly Toynbee

  89. 89
    screechy monkey


    (No last name needed; she’s reached Single-Name Status)

  90. 90

    Greta Christina

  91. 91

    AAAAAAAAAAANNND Rebecca Watson!

  92. 92

    Yes. Natalie has been humungously influential on me this year, so extra votes for her!

  93. 93

    I keep seeing more names that I need to include!

    Rebecca Watson
    Greta Christina
    Natalie Rees
    Beth Presswood
    Amanda Maecotte

  94. 94
    Jim Danner

    Rebecca Watson (greatest influence on discussions within the atheist community, at least)

  95. 95

    Rebecca Watson, absolutely!

  96. 96

    Rebecca Watson.

  97. 97

    Rebecca Watson

  98. 98
    'Tis Himself

    Rebecca Watson for inadvertently starting something which hasn’t stopped yet.

  99. 99

    Another vote for Jessica Ahlquist; who as a teenager not only has to deal with clueless theists (as there were any other kind), but clueless theist, misogynist trolls, right there with her at her high school. I wish *I* could have had the poise and integrity at 16 years old that Jessica does. The other candidates are all worthy, too, but Jessica has influenced me more than the rest of them combined.

  100. 100

    Rebecca Watson.

  101. 101

    Rebecca Watson is epic.
    Rebecca Watson rolls in epic before she gets dressed.
    The only reason Chuck Norris gets to act tough is because Rebecca Watson allows it.
    Rebecca Watson.

  102. 102

    Maryam Namazie
    Greta Christina
    Rebecca Watson

  103. 103
    Karl Stevens

    “most influential” on whom?

    Those in the atheist/skeptic community: Rebecca Watson, hands down. (We all know why.)

    Those not in the atheist/skeptic community: Jessica Ahlquist. She’s done so much to raise awareness on a national level.

  104. 104

    Rebecca Watson

  105. 105

    Rebecca Watson and Eugenie Scott.

  106. 106
    Rich Stage

    Amanda Metskas: The Executive Director of Camp Quest

    Ashley Paramore: Development Director of the Secular Student Alliance.

    Both of these remarkable women have tremendous influence. Amanda helps us teach our children how to think for themselves, and Ashley helps the students fight back against the religious idiocy.

  107. 107

    Agree 100%! We have several wonderful ladies in the movement that should be on this list Greta, Rebecca, Jen, but Jessica is my #1 pick also because I know from the parents roll how hard it is for our High Schoolers take a stand and see it though knowing they are in the minority even though they are spot on legally. The teen years are hard enough without being thrown into the spotlight on a much larger stage. Jess has dealt with a lot and has handled it with bravery and determination.

  108. 108

    Wow! Thank you so much to those who mentioned me! It’s an honour just to be included in the same screenshot as the many incredible women mentioned here! :)

    For my money, for 2011, the vote has to go to Rebecca. Those two controversies were big and ugly and exhausting, but they’ve done more for illuminating the depth of the problem of sexism within the atheist and skeptic communities more than anything else this year.

    And furthermore, it’s she who has provided a space and platform for the rest of us Skepchicks. It’s her site, she does most of the work and keeps the servers running and puts out the fires and, in a sense, I consider a lot of whatever we may have accomplished to always be largely an extension of her own work towards building a more inclusive and aware skeptics’ movement.


    Greta Christina, Amanda Marcotte, the Godless Bitches, Ophelia Benson, Ashley F. Miller and Jen herself, of course. :)

  109. 109

    Jessica Ahlquist. Facing hatred from her peers and speaking out as a teenager is tough. Fighting for the separation of church and state, and paving the way for the rights of other atheist teens, etc. Great girl.

  110. 110
    John-Henry Beck

    Rebecca Watson
    Greta Christina
    Dr. Rachel Dunlop – They’ve been doing a lot of good against anti-vaxxers and the like down there in Australia, and Dunlop is apparently a go-to skeptic for television there.
    Annie Laurie Gaylor – FFRF has done quite a bit this year.
    Jessica Ahlquist

    I think those are my top pics for most influential women in our community. Lots of good choices makes it hard to pick favorites.

  111. 111

    Rebecca Watson

    Jessica Ahlquist

  112. 112

    I vote for Jessica Ahlquist. Her activism as a high school student is inspiring not only other high school students but college students to be more active which is in turn inspiring the entire movement.

  113. 113

    Rebecca Watson brings humor and intelligence to the general public and she is doing great consciousness-raising within the atheist community. And she rocks.

  114. 114

    I vote Maryam Namazie – for doing what she does with grace and style and always remaining a strong, inspiring and positive force of nature despite the horrific hateful racism and mysoginist bigotry that’s continually thrown her way.

  115. 115

    Yeah, those are great candidates. They are all ‘more influential’ than my favorite :
    Johnny Kaje.

    Oh, well, maybe next year!

  116. 116
    Tom Foss


    Just kidding! Rebecca Watson, without a doubt.

  117. 117
    Eric O

    I’ll hop on the bandwagon: Rebecca Watson for all the reasons mentioned in the above posts.

  118. 118

    Rebecca Watson. She sure stirred things up (thanks, Rebecca!)

  119. 119

    Greta Christina

  120. 120

    Greta Christina

  121. 121

    Rebecca Watson. ’nuff said.

    (in case a special mention is awarded, my vote goes to Jessica Ahlquist. Also, ’nuff said)

  122. 122

    1 more vote for the future: Jessica Ahlquist. To be so young and yet so brave in the face of bigotry…

  123. 123

    There’s too many votes for Rebecca Watson, and I don’t follow the crowd well, so I vote for PZ MEYERS!!!!
    If that is illegal, then I vote for CompletelyLovely, Heather Buchanan. She’s completely whacky, and I want to share eternity in hell with someone like her around.

  124. 124

    PeeZed Myers

    Ophelia Benson

    deserves recognition for her work on Rebeccamageddon, too, but like everyone else, I’ll go straight to the horse’s mouth and vote for

    Rebecca Watson.

  125. 125
    Georgia Johnson

    Jessica Ahlquist This young woman deserves our votes because she is bravely standing up for separation of church and state.

  126. 126

    Rebecca Watson, fast becoming my favorite skeptic.

  127. 127
    Phillip K Zimelman

    Rebecca Watson and Greta Christina have my vote!

  128. 128
    Peter N

    I vote for Greta Christina and Ophelia Benson once each, and Rebecca Watson over and over and over again.

  129. 129

    Rebecca Watson!

  130. 130

    Aliaa Elmahdy

    Who else has enraged and entire country?
    Who else has raised awareness so globally?
    Who else now lives with very real death threats?

    All the others like Rebecca Watson are notable (and deserving) however are known mostly to the Atheist community and those new comers who dare to expand their minds. However, in terms of shear courage Aliaa Elmahdy wins hands down.

  131. 131
    Greta Christina

    I’m going to make a second vote for Jessica Ahlquist.

  132. 132

    Another vote for Rebecca Watson, followed by Aalia Elmahdy.

  133. 133

    Aliaa Magda Elmahdy

  134. 134

    Jessica Ahlquist, of course.

  135. 135
    Matt Meeks

    Rebecca Watson

    Greta Christina

    Elyse Anders

  136. 136

    Rebecca Watson, for staying on her feet when caught in the middle of a shitstorm, no matter how gross it got.

    And, yeah. I’ll be back to vote again for someone else. And thanks for giving us this opportunity.

  137. 137

    Melissa McEwan has been the atheist with the greatest influence in my life. Amanda Marcotte would be second, and Jen third. I love Hemant and think he deserves the award, but the list of runners up is just disappointing.

  138. 138

    Rebecca Watson

  139. 139

    Rebecca Watson

  140. 140

    Yes, Rebecca Watson is perhaps the most familiar/influential via ElevatorGate to the atheist community as a whole. But Jessica Ahlquist may be the most influential female atheist for high school students. Natalie Reed may be the most influential atheist regarding the transgender community and issues. Oh and I also vote for Greta Christina. :-)

  141. 141

    Rebecca Watson for basically dominating atheist discussions for most of 2011.

  142. 142

    Long time commenter, first time reader.

    How about Michelle Bachmann? Not an atheist, but surely she has recruited more atheists in 2011 than just about any other person, male or female.

    The anonymous women who face the threat of death for their beliefs may not be influential in the movement, but they are definitely worthy.

  143. 143
    BT Murtagh

    There are so many strong and impressive choices, it’s hard to pick! I’m going to hold myself down to three.

    #1- Rebecca Watson, for the Elevatorgate thing certainly but I want to emphasize that she’s been kick-ass all around. I’ve been enjoying a lot of her discussions on audio podcasts this year, and also picked her up on some YouTube videos, mostly at Skepticons past. She’s pretty awesome!

    #2- Greta Christina, for her Skepticon speech mostly but also for consistent excellence. She’s been a favorite blogger of mine for many years, almost as long as I’ve been into the online atheosphere. I can’t wait to see her at the Reason Rally/American Atheists in DC.

    #3- Maryam Namazie, for the single most impactful protest of the year. That took serious courage, and hit the people/attitudes she was aiming at precisely. I’d never heard of her before this year, but she sure did a hell of a job changing conversations, and I look forward to reading her more in 2012.

    Not really a proper vote, but I also want to give a special mention to Lunam, the 15-year-old skeptic who got trashed so badly by misogynistic redditors. She handled herself with really admirable grace in the face of stupendously ugly behavior, not backing down and carrying on conversation with the more human people there. I think we’ll be hearing her name again, under better auspices.

  144. 144

    #1Jen McCreight, and #2 Jessisa Ahlquist

  145. 145

    Oh and add Sikivu Hutchinson, a black female atheist feminist for writing a book, Moral combat, which “explicitly addressed the intersection of gender, race, sexual orientation, and humanist ideology from the lens of progressive politics.”

  146. 146

    Wow… So many awesome women to nominate. That’s part of what makes the atheist/skeptical community so great. The choice would be closer I think if it was “The Most Awesome Female Atheist of 2011″ category. Most courageous I think would have to go to Aliaa Elmahdy and Jessica Ahlquist a close second. My vote for Most Influential goes to Rebecca Watson because of the way she has generated so much needed discourse within the community. Congrats to all of the named women cause they’re all influential and awesome.

  147. 147

    Rebecca Watson, Greta Christina, and Jessica Ahlquist

  148. 148
    a Nadder

    Rebecca Watson. Obviously.

    Greta Christina, Stephanie Zvan, Amanda Marcotte and (certainly!) you Jen — for being great voices of sanity in the atheoblogosphere.

    Natalie from Skepchick for bringing transgender issues into it and being the frontwoman for the new Queereka.com sister site of Skepchick.

    Beth Presswood, Jen Peeples, Tracie Harris and Lynnea Glasser for starting and continuing the amazing Godless Bitches podcast.

  149. 149

    Many candidates are famous in the West and influential in their own rights, but Taslima Nasrin is the kind of writer and person who has provoked not only millions of individuals to reaction for or against issues of economy, gender politics, human rights, or religious dis-affiliation, but has enflamed the ire of whole governments to oppose her personally for a sustained length of time. I can think of no single individual who has been more influential and in as many languages and for as long.

  150. 150

    I’m not sure how much influence she’s had here in the west, but for the single most audacious act of protest against theocracy this past year, Aliaa Magda Elmahdy.

  151. 151

    Most Awesome, Elyse Anders.

    Most Influential, Aliaa Elmahdy.

  152. 152

    agree on Natalie, too – advance vote for most influential in 2012, when she really picks up steam!

  153. 153

    Rebecca Watson for single influential event and Greta Christina for sustained influence throughout the year.

  154. 154
    David Frost

    Rebecca Watson. 100%, end of story. Most influential atheist of the year, period.

  155. 155

    Only one atheist woman is chair of an organisation I actually felt moved to send money to, and I am not a rich man. To the point I actually sent some.

    Because of the cause she represents, her writings, her youtube videos, and her courage in standing up for that cause my vote goes to Maryam Namazie.

    David B

  156. 156

    Rebecca Watson and Greta Christina

  157. 157

    Kylie Sturgess

    Jenna Capyk

  158. 158
    T.X. Watson

    Seconded — Rebecca Watson and Greta Christina.

  159. 159

    Rebecca Watson, no contest.

  160. 160
    Steven Olsen

    Me too.

  161. 161

    Elementary. My dear Watson.

  162. 162

    Rebecca Watson and Greta Christina.

  163. 163

    Rebecca Watson, for all the reasons above and Greta Christina because I think she is incredibly cool.

  164. 164
    Sam Salerno

    Every one of the woman in the Atheist movement are awesome. But after Skepticon IV Greta Christina takes the prize.

  165. 165
    Spanish Inquisitor

    By what do you mean by influence?

    Seems to me that Julia Gillard as the PM of Australia exerts quite a bit of influence. Not as much as the President of the United States, but I’ll bet it’s more than Rebecca Watson or even Greta. They get to address small conventions and readers of blogs, but Gillard addresses a whole nation, every day.

    Bloggers are preaching to the choir for the most part. The Prime Minister gets to preach to everyone within her bailiwick. Maybe she doesn’t get to give speeches about religion, but her mere presence as an atheist speaks volumes.

    So I vote for Julia Gillard

  166. 166

    Greta Christina, Natalie of Skepchick, Jessica Ahlquist, Maryam Namazie, and of course Jen McCreight

  167. 167
    D. McInenly

    Rebecca Watson.

  168. 168

    Susan Jacoby.

    I base my vote on influence in the greater community beyond the in group of atheists. Ms. Jacoby writes popular books and a column in the Washington post.

  169. 169

    1. Taslima Nasrin – for the same reason given by Alexander Safir above
    2. Ayaan Hirsi Ali

    Both exceptionally courageous atheists, activists, non-conformists.

  170. 170

    I vote for Rebecca Watson, Jessica Ahlquist, and Ophelia Benson.

  171. 171

    Another vote for Rebecca Watson. She has a talent for creating a tempest by stirring a teapot.

  172. 172

    Julia Gillard is an atheist who pays lip service to the idea that “Christian values” are somehow a good thing. She claims that her morality is derived from the Bible. And, most tellingly, she pumped an extra $222 million into a national chaplaincy program so that children in public schools could be preached to by fundies from the Australian Scripture Union. The woman has spat in the face of secularism. She may have influence as the PM, but she certainly does not use it to further the cause of atheism; quite the opposite, in fact.

  173. 173

    Thirded. Natalie’s post on privilege was excellent.

  174. 174

    Rebecca Watson.

  175. 175
    Heather Shaw

    Rebecca Watson and Greta Christina.

  176. 176

    +1 vote for Jen McCreight. (I’m sure there’d be a many more votes if the poll were held elsewhere, but in this context I suppose it’s take for granted.)

  177. 177
    Caz fans

    Rebecca Watson

  178. 178

    Rebecca Watson
    and Greta Christina

  179. 179
    Cathy F

    I’m going to vote for Rebecca Watson too. She really called the movement out for sexism and reaped the whirlwind for all of us!

  180. 180

    P Z Meyers

  181. 181
    Spanish Inquisitor

    She’s also against gay marriage, which in my mind make her somewhat deficient in the free thought department. But the poll has us voting on atheists with “influence”. There doesn’t seem to be a requirement that we agree with her or find her positions palatable.

    But she is still the PM and she is an atheist, so she certainly qualifies (which is why I asked my first question). I wonder, and from where I sit, can only guess, as to how many Australians may feel more comfortable and possibly even “come out” by her mere election? Probably not quantifiable, but I’ll still bet it’s more that Greta or Rebecca combined.

    This just highlights why polls ultimately are meaningless.

  182. 182

    I vote for Rebecca Watson and Greta Christina and Chrys Stevenson (http://thatsmyphilosophy.wordpress.com/)

  183. 183

    Jessica Ahlquist all the way.

  184. 184

    It’s been a good year for me. Rebecca Watson kicked things off by letting me (and the rest of the world) know how bad the problem with sexism (as well as a few other isms) is in the “Reality Based Community.” I’m grateful to her and Gretta Christina for opening a door that was largely closed in my mind.

    If they opened it then Jen Peeples, Tracie Harris, Lynnea Glasser, and Beth Presswood kicked the sumbitch in with their wonderful podcast, Godless Bitches. This gives me more to think about in any given week than just about anything else.

    Maryam Namazie is a force to be reckoned with. I’m continually inspired by her bravery.

    Finally I’d have to mention Skepchick Natalie. I’ve learned so much about trans issues from her, and I imagine that that’s just scraping the surface.

  185. 185
    Mike de Fleuriot

    I suppose that being an American blog/poll it is to be expected that mostly American Atheists would be nominated. And yes all the mentions are excellent choices, as they have done massive amount for women’s issues in our movement. But lets not forget there are thousands more women out there, outside the safe borders of America (and it’s protectorates) who are doing equally important work, for 1970′s American recognition.

    One woman who stands among others here in South Africa, would be Angela Meadon who runs the following websites. http://www.skepticdetective.wordpress.com
    And the podcast

    Just one of others, there is more than American to the world…

  186. 186

    P.Z. Myers, Blag Hag, and Rebecca Watson.

  187. 187

    Aliaa Elmahdy for her courage, although we won’t know until later whether her actions will actually have a lasting influence.

    Rebecca Watson for refusing to back down in the face of a vicious over reaction to a fairly mild statement, and by doing so, revealing changes necessary to transform organized atheism from a boy’s club into an inclusive general social movement.

  188. 188

    I am going to go with Rebecca Watson. Watson is a really awesome spokesperson for atheism, but her influence was magnified this year by the very large number of sexist pigs who seem to have infested our movement. In the long run atheism is going to become more welcoming of female voices and less welcoming of sexist jerks.

  189. 189

    Rebecca Watson (Elevatorgate) and Greta Christina (the Why Are Atheists Angry speech).

  190. 190
    Carl Baker


  191. 191
    Active Margin

    Maryam Namazie.

    And because she’s the only vocal atheist out there I know of who is as crazy about rocks and dirt as I am, Dana Hunter.

  192. 192

    Jen McCreight, Greta Christina, Rebecca Watson, Amanda Marcotte, Laci Green, Tracie Harris, Jen Peeples, and Beth Presswood.

    Side-note: Kari Byron of MythBusters fame is an atheist who is not yet on the “Large List of Awesome Female Atheists.”

  193. 193

    Rebecca Watson

  194. 194

    Abby Smith and Maryam Namazie.

  195. 195

    Add another vote for Rebecca, but I would also like to add in Chris Rodda.

  196. 196
    David Utidjian

    Rebecca Watson (absolutely, for all categories, including top atheist)
    Jen McCreight
    Greta Christina
    Stephanie Zvan

    and well… really, all women atheists everywhere that I have ever met or read about. You have all done a magnificent job for and about the community.

    Only exception is someone whos name I can’t remember at the moment… I think she works on retroviruses or something. Completely forgettable if not completely forgotten.

  197. 197

    Why are some people not voting for Rebecca Watson? Others have done admirable things but she gets the vote hands down in my opinion.

  198. 198

    Oops! I forgot Laci Green! Her sex positive videos are very informative.

  199. 199
    HJ Hornbeck

    Just one? Nuh-uh, I have a list of my own. In order, best to less-best:

    Rebecca Watson (no need to say why)
    Rachel Dunlop (tireless fighter of anti-vax and woo)
    Maryam Namazie (such passion! Such knowledge!)
    Greta Christina (just stumbled on her writing this year. Made me think)
    Jen McCreight (c’mon, you have a list of female atheists and are a great writer)
    Desiree Schell (addicted to Skeptically Speaking)
    Tracie Harris (excellent work on Godless Bitches and the Atheist Experience)
    PZ Myers (aww, please?)

    HJ Hornbeck

  200. 200
    Su Tims

    I vote for Rebecca Watson.

  201. 201
    Steven Olsen

    Voting for Rebecca Watson. Greta Christina as runner-up.

  202. 202

    Greta Christina
    Rebecca Watson
    Aliaa Elmahdy

  203. 203

    Stef McGraw- One of our most thoughtful young activists who has taken quite a bit of crap lately. Her response to ElevatorGate was the most responsible and adult out of everyone involved, and she is very active in the skeptical community. You can read her stuff here:

    Jessica Ahlquist– For being just plain awesome and taking on the religious establishment as a high school kid.

  204. 204

    Rebecca Watson

  205. 205
    Ashley F. Miller

    Greta Christina
    Rebecca Watson
    Jen McCreight
    Jennifer Michael Hecht

    And to those who mentioned me, thank you!

  206. 206

    I won’t offer any tie breaker here:

    Rebecca Watson for heroically exposing and dealing with all the misogyny spawned by the Elevatorgate incident, and Greta Christina for the fantastic speech she gave at Skepticon.

  207. 207

    Rebecca Watson, for obvious reasons. She deserves it if only for the shit storm she’s been weathering. And, of course, because she’s awesome.

  208. 208
    Mary P

    Rebecca Watson with Maryam Namazie as my second vote.

  209. 209

    Rebecca Watson, because she rocked the skeptic/atheist community last year, and Amanda Marcotte because she’s so good at articulating and elucidating things that I subconsciously pick up on but haven’t quite thought through.

  210. 210
    Parsley Victorious

    Greta Christina. Not the least because she had a definite hand in kicking me into being loud, proud, and vocal about my (already existent) atheism, and for being my jumping-off point to the rest of the atheist blogosphere.

  211. 211
    Anja Wiggin

    Influential- Rebecca Watson
    General Awesomeness- Greta Christina

  212. 212

    I vote for Ashley F. Miller!

  213. 213

    Julia Gillard is running a country. She wins my vote, really on that alone. Wish she would grow a spine on the same-sex marriage issue, though.

  214. 214

    Alia Magda Elmahdy! Please, for Chrissake – Alia Magda Elmahdy!!

    She TOOK HER CLOTHES OFF in protest in the middle of an unstable, ultra-conservative, misogyny-ridden, Islamist political climate in Egypt where the culture is hyper sex-negative and she could get KILLED. Look at the violent responses to her bold statement – the girl’s leaped head-first into shark-infested waters! Real, immediate, life-threatening danger!

    I worship the ground she stands on!
    The goddamn ground!

  215. 215
    Michael Kingsford Gray

    Aayan Hirsi Ali

  216. 216

    Ashley F. Miller

  217. 217

    Concur – Rebecca Watson and Greta Christina, for all the reasons you said.

    But also, Ophelia Benson, for her ‘No Longer Quivering’ posts. I had no clue just how bad things were in this country.

  218. 218

    One more Rebecca Watson vote.

  219. 219
    Robert Voss

    Chris Rodda; is the Senior Research Director for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), and the author of Liars For Jesus.

  220. 220

    Rebecca Watson as part of the SGU.

  221. 221

    Watson, definitely.

  222. 222

    One more for Rebecca Watson, though she doesn’t seem to need the help. Or, to my mind, even the “female” qualifier.

  223. 223

    Biggest influences on me this year have been

    1. Greta Christina – reading her blog has expanded my horizons so much.

    2. Ayaan Hirsi Ali – I read her books this year, so her impact on me was this year, but not for things done this year. Still, her courage is incredible, and I’m so looking forward to seeing her speak at the GAC next year.

  224. 224

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali for me. She started off the year with a bang. Sure, world events rolled over all of us, and atheism as a movement was side railed by the Arab Spring, tsunamis, earth quakes and the like. As the mid east cooks up with a new democracy, possibly fueled with differing extremes of Islam, I think she will also be a very important voice for the future as well.

  225. 225

    Alia Magda Elmahdy
    Allison Kilkenny
    Amy Goodman (not sure of her religion).
    Rebecca Watson and all of skepchick.

  226. 226
    Graham Hill

    Rebecca Watson!!

  227. 227
    Philip Langmuir

    Rebecca Watson (for the nth time) and Aliaa Elmahdy.

  228. 228

    Rebecca Watson. No contest. She managed to stir up more notice of both feminism and atheism than all the others put together. And many of the commenters just proved her points.

  229. 229

    Rebecca Watson for obvious reasons.

    But if people want to keep pointing out how infuencial Julia Gillard is for leading a country (despite being atheist in name only it seems) I will point out that using that criteria there is probably no more influential atheist than Angelina Jolie.

    Oh, and another vote each for Natalie Reed from Skepchick, Jessica Ahlquist, “Surly” Amy Davis Roth from Skepchicks, Cristina Rad of ZOMGitsCriss, Desiree Schell, and Aliaa Elmahdy.

  230. 230

    Jen McCreight

  231. 231

    One for Greta Christina, and one for Jessica Alhquist!

  232. 232
    Surly Amy

    Hi all!

    My vote goes to Rebecca Watson for obvious reasons and to Eugenie Scott for her tireless battle to keep creationism out of schools year after year. If she can influence the courtrooms and the textbooks she will influence the future.

  233. 233

    Natalie Reed – a real trailblazer into what was previously (and still is) an issue of near invisibility in our community: transgenderism.

  234. 234
    Chan Bae

    I vote for Rebecca Watson, Greta Christina, and PZ Myers

  235. 235

    Gonna have to say Greta Christina. She’s the most influential to me, anyways.

  236. 236
    Michael R. Burhans

    Jessica Ahlquist

  237. 237
    Ubi Dubium

    1. Rebecca Watson, obviously.
    2. Greta Christina, for similarly obvious reasons.

    (And my personal influence Honorable Mentions go to Jen, Deanna Joy Lyons, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Sadie Crabtree for one of the best talks at TAM9, and “Astreja” of ex-christian.net, wielder of the almighty clue-by-four.)

  238. 238

    I vote for Greta. She did so much this year, not just with elevatorgate.

  239. 239

    This is a great list.
    Thank you Jen.

    I am having a wonderful time randomly clicking on links.

  240. 240

    I’m going to throw in yet another vote for Rebecca Watson, the only name to have defeated my nominative amnesia/aphasia this year. In this category, anyway.

  241. 241

    Rebecca Watson. She put up with more shit than anyone else this year from this community. Even some minds were changed for the better from her speaking up!

  242. 242

    Damn, so many fantastic choices…

    Natalie Reed
    Rebecca Watson
    Jessica Ahlquist
    Greta Christina
    Aliaa Elmahdy

    I could go on and on, which frankly, is awesome.

  243. 243
    Andrew Beren

    Rebecca Watson. Celebrity of the year!

  244. 244

    Rebecca Watson!!

  245. 245

    Haha, yep. Putting some awkward dude in his place was pretty heroic.


  246. 246
    Mike Hitchcock

    First – Rebecca Watson by a country mile, for raising awareness of how we men can still be complete shits, even (or should that be especially?) in the atheist / skeptical community.

    Second Greta Christina, for that fantastic speech at Skepticon and a year of solid activism

    Third – Jessica Alhquist for bravery, persistence and being an inspiration for the next generation.

  247. 247
    Cyranothe2nd, there's no such thing as a moderate ally

    Rebecca Watson, no doubt.

  248. 248

    Rebecca Watson wins 2011, no contest.

    But I also love Greta Christina, so I’m going to add a vote for her too.

  249. 249

    Ophelia Benson. I find her blog, Butterflies and Wheels to be greatly influential and informative for me personally. I see the huge support given to Rebecca Watson here and I do truly admire and support her. My second vote would be for her, if we are allowed second votes.

  250. 250
    Ruth Ellen

    Yup. Much as I love Greta Christina, I’d have to say that this year it’s Rebecca Watson.

  251. 251

    I nominate Rebecca Watson.

  252. 252

    Rebecca Watson.

  253. 253

    1) Ayaan Hirsi Ali
    2) Richard Dawkins’ fictional “Dear Muslima”.

  254. 254

    I didn’t forget that women existed in the atheist community at all and I’m going to have to defend The Hitchie Award this year. I started with an open nomination process and asked readers to suggest nominees. Out of all the nominees, I picked five. It was clear to me based on the the e-mails and comments who four of the nominees were going to be right away. But I noticed that there were no women in the mix. I really tried to find a woman nominee and I had several possibilities. But I realized that I shouldn’t really take gender into account when coming up with nominees and that I should just treat everyone equally. If I did that, then none of the female candidates really worked. It sucks and I wish it were different, but there were a lot of great nominees and I only picked five. I tried to not pick the usual suspects (Dawkins, Harris, etc.) because they always win these things and I wanted a more even handed award contest. So let me ask, what female this year had the best year on par with the nominees listed.

  255. 255
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Well, that’s a tough one. It’s obviously either Rebecca Watson or Aliaa Elmahdy; no one else came close to them this year.

    Between the two of them, I think that in five years we’re more often going to be talking about the impact of what Rebecca Watson did in 2011, although I do expect Aliaa Elmahdy will be remembered. It’s still close, but in the end I’m more confident about saying

    Rebecca Watson.

  256. 256

    Natalie Reed. Her article on male privilege, and her other articles on trans issues (and the other ones too) have been fantastic.

  257. 257

    Rebecca Watson.

    Because everything she kicked off is a hole in the head to people who want/need to believe that only brown people have patriarchy.

    She threw down a challenge to those who love to tell other societies what they are doing wrong, but who cannot cope with their own misogyny being highlighted.

    She yanked the rug out from under some very unpleasant people in our own ranks, and not before time. Now we know how badly we need to clean up our own house if we want to be able to tell other people to tidy theirs.

  258. 258
    Alethea Kuiper-Belt

    Hardly any, I’d say. We’re Australian. We don’t need to “come out”; it’s a big yawn. Unless you happen to have been raised in a weird fundy family, of course, but we don’t have a lot of them.

  259. 259
    Joe Fogey

    Rebecca Watson

  260. 260

    If you’re looking at reach within the atheist blogosphere, podcasting and conference circuit, then Rebecca Watson is easily up there with Hemant.

    Matt Dillahunty is great, but he doesn’t have the international following of Rebecca Watson or Greta Christina.

    None of your nominees have the bravery of Aliaa Elmahdy, Maryam Namazie, Taslima Nasrin.

    Out of interest, what proportion of those nominating atheists were women? If your audience is mostly male, and you sat back while they voted for other men, and didn’t think that was a problem, then I have to tell you – you have a problem.

    …and people wonder why we still need all-female awards.

  261. 261

    No one made a strong case for Rebecca Watson, but I thought about her anyway. The thing is that internal controversy doesn’t equate to Atheist of the Year. As for Aliaa Elmahdy, I’ll have to Google her because I have no idea who she is. While that may be my own fault, it also means that other people would have to do the same and that means that she wouldn’t likely do well against the more well known candidates.

    My question I guess to the female community, is would you rather I had taken gender more into account or remained gender neutral and let the chips fall where they may? I seriously would like to know.

    A little background: I am active in the Philly area and we have no shortage of female leaders here. The two main atheist groups are both lead by women and I think they both do an outstanding job and I proud to work with them all the time. Oddly enough, I didn’t even realize this was unusual until the whole elevatorgate thing. Before that, I really didn’t pay attention to gender within the community.

  262. 262

    On Examiner, I have no idea the male/female ratio of my readers. On DangerousTalk.net I have the same issue as most male bloggers although I have some vocal female readers too. But Examiner is a more public forum and gets a mix of theists.

  263. 263

    Rebecca Watson, hands down.

  264. 264

    I vote for Maryam Namazie, because she’s influenced me the most this year by highlighting issues I would otherwise be unaware of.

  265. 265
    Greta Christina

    My question I guess to the female community, is would you rather I had taken gender more into account or remained gender neutral and let the chips fall where they may? I seriously would like to know.

    DangerousTalk: Take gender into account. Because — among many other reasons — there is virtually no way that you can genuinely be gender neutral. We are all influenced, even if unconsciously, by sexism, including the tendency to see what men do as more serious and important than what women do. And a a result, women don’t get promoted as serious participants in society… and as a result of that, we don’t see what women do as serious… If we don’t make a conscious effort to be more inclusive of women, this vicious circle will continue forever. So please, yes, in the future, make an effort to be inclusive of women and to promote their work.

    (Ditto people of color, LGBT people, etc.)

  266. 266


    No one made a strong case for Rebecca Watson

    Someone needed to make a “strong case” for the fact that she’s been influential this past year!? Really?

    My question I guess to the female community, is would you rather I had taken gender more into account or remained gender neutral and let the chips fall where they may?

    At this point in history, there’s no such thing as “gender neutral”.

    A little background: I am active in the Philly area and we have no shortage of female leaders here. The two main atheist groups are both lead by women and I think they both do an outstanding job and I proud to work with them all the time. Oddly enough, I didn’t even realize this was unusual until the whole elevatorgate thing. Before that, I really didn’t pay attention to gender within the community

    And what are their names? These two women who lead the two main atheist groups in the Philly area? That you don’t even feel moved to mention by name? Do you imagine that the rest of the world just know who they are via osmosis or something?

  267. 267


  268. 268
    Susie Jay

    Rebecca Watson

  269. 269
    aavid a.osorio s.

    Stef McGraw

  270. 270

    Greta and Ophelia are always on my nominee list, but Rebecca absolutely wins this year.

  271. 271
    Hazel Stone

    Rebecca Watson
    Jen McCreight

  272. 272

    Although there are a lot of amazing female writers, bloggers and activists, I think in 2011 the most influential was clearly Rebecca Watson.

  273. 273

    “The female community,” huh?
    Take gender into account.

  274. 274

    Polly Toynbee

  275. 275

    Rebecca Watson, she kept going even after all the shit she’s been getting.

  276. 276
    Martín Raúl Villalba

    Rebecca Watson, definitely.

  277. 277

    Maryam, off course, and Ayaan.

  278. 278

    Rebecca Watson

  279. 279
    Samantha Vimes, Chalkboard Monitor

    It has to be Rebecca Watson. Elevatorgate was a major thing rocking the atheist/skeptic blogosphere and it even spilled out a bit into mainstream discourse. Anyone who can create so much of a ruckus by telling a little story and saying “don’t do that” is influential.

  280. 280

    scanning thru list of nominations noticed someone had kindly written all my nominations for me with pretty much my exact reasons.

    so, for same reasons as above and in no particluar order:
    Rebecca Watson
    Greta Christina
    Jen Peeples
    Tracie Harris
    Lynnea Glasser
    Beth Presswood
    Maryam Namazie
    Skepchick Natalie

  281. 281

    Rebecca Watson!

  282. 282

    I’m so tempted to vote for P.Z. again this year because it would be another funny goof.

    But I have to vote for Rebecca Watson, because she deserves it, and last year was no laughing matter.

  283. 283
    Jenny Wren

    Rebecca Watson, Greta Christina, Jessica Ahlquist and Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

  284. 284
    Ritanno Bauder

    Natalie Reed from Skepchick

    Also: PZ Myers

  285. 285

    So *merit* should be a secondary consideration? Rather patronising isn’t it?

  286. 286

    Is this most influential feminist or atheist?

  287. 287
    Taneli Huuskonen

    Rebecca Watson, Jessica Ahlquist and Aliaa Magda Elmahdy.

  288. 288

    Aliaa Magda Elmahdy

  289. 289
    Christine Eldridge

    Rebecca Watson and Jessica Ahlquist

  290. 290

    Abbie Smith and Steph (Stef?) McGrath
    Females who dared to speak their minds and venture outside the ideological box. Truly brave and independent minds who stuck their necks out to challenge gnu feminist dogma. These women continue to be targeted with the vitriol and group-think, refusing the heavy-handed indoctrination endorsed by FFTB.
    Any female can play victim and lash out with irrational anger. Poor babies are just so oppressed by the patriarchy, right?

    These women proudly demonstrated that women are able to think for themselves. My heroines!!!

  291. 291

    and Abbie Smith!

  292. 292


  293. 293

    In a democracy, you get to vote even in a landslide:

    Rebecca Watson

  294. 294

    Rebecca Watson

    Tied for 2nd Place: Greta Christina, Jessica Ahlquist, and Jen McCreight… though it looks like I might be adding Natalie Wood to that list once I’m done reading the posts everyone else here has mentioned.

  295. 295

    Rebecca Watson, for all she did in 2011 to raise everyone’s consciousness, in so many areas.

  296. 296
    Reginald Selkirk

    So you are saying she’s not influential because she has positions you don’t agree with? I think you need to clarify your thought process on what the poll is about.

    Another vote for Julia Gillard.

  297. 297

    Rebecca Watson!

  298. 298

    I second this. Ophelia wins in my book.

  299. 299

    Rebecca Watson.

  300. 300

    Margaret Downey and Martha Knox. They are both great local leaders and Margaret in past years has been a great national leader. But this year wasn’t her year.

  301. 301

    Ophelia Benson and Greta Christina.

  302. 302

    Rebecca Waton

  303. 303

    OK Watson

  304. 304

    My vote is definitely for Rebecca Watson. Her work within the atheist community has been incredibly influential. Without her participation in gender issues in our community I would participate even less than I do now, and I think that’s true for a lot of women atheists.

  305. 305

    Yep, Rebecca Watson

  306. 306

    Honorable mention for Jen, Greta and LRA.

    Rebecca Watson was the most influential female atheist of 2011.

  307. 307
    Dark Matter

    Rebecca Watson.

  308. 308

    I’ll have to consider that next year. Thanks.

  309. 309
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Rebecca Watson, Greta Christina and Maryam Namazie would be my top three nominations.

    yet again, end of the year round-ups forget that women exist.

    Or if they exist its okay to have a token one – of another non-human species chosen just for looks – see :


    via Greg Laden’s blog.

    (Hope that’s okay netiquette~wise. Please let me know if not. Hope no one has already posted this link /remark. Must get some sleep soon, sorry.)

  310. 310
    Tim Groc

    Vote for Abbie Smith.

    For standing up to bullies and groupthink. For refusing to be cowed by the baying mob.

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali comes second, followed by Greta Christina.

  311. 311

    Me too: I vote for Rebecca Watson and Greta Christina.

  312. 312

    Rebecca Watson this year.

    (Greta Christina and Ophelia Benson later.)

  313. 313

    The female atheist who has most influenced my thinking in the past year has been Barbara Ehrenreich.

  314. 314

    Sue Blackmore

  315. 315
    Matt Penfold

    Rebecca Watson.

  316. 316

    I’ve already voted for Christina, but I’ll add a vote for Rebecca Watson. Reading the discussion following her “guys, don’t do that” video has definitely opened my eyes.

  317. 317

    I think next year I’ll do it strictly by the numbers and Richard Dawkins can win it.

  318. 318

    Rebecca Watson. Also Ophelia Benson and Greta Christina.

  319. 319

    Most influential female atheist?

    Rebecca Watson.

  320. 320

    Just as she needs no introduction, I think no explanation is needed as to why I nominate her:

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali

  321. 321
    skeptical scientist

    Another vote for Ms. Watson.

  322. 322
    Scott Cunningham

    I lurk 364 days a year, but I signed in to vote for Rebecca Watson for braving the hurricane shitstorm of sexist abuse to confront the rampant sexism of fellow internet atheists. Surprisingly, it looks like someone’s beat me to it.

  323. 323

    Obviously my one piddly vote isn’t going to do much in this Watson-landslide (a not unearned one, I might add) but I’d like to throw out some recognition for Amanda Knief, our godless lobbyist over at the Secular Coalition for America. She’s on Capitol Hill lobbying for the interests of secular Americans, and has made more progress there than many of us had thought possible – including the groundwork on relationships that have led to several meetings between secular representatives and White House officials. That’s no small task.

  324. 324

    Rebecca Watson, Greta Christina, and you, Jen.

  325. 325

    Rebecca Watson – For the ability to evoke giant shitstorms with plain and obvious statements that should be innocuous and benign.

  326. 326
    Rod Chlebek

    +1 for Greta

  327. 327
    John Horstman

    In alphabetical order by surname (not going to try for any sort of order-of-impact/-importance, as we get multiple votes):
    Greta Christina
    Sady Doyle (I just realized that, while I’m pretty sure she’s an atheist, I can’t find a specific statement to that effect; scratch her if she’s actually religious)
    Tavi Gevinson
    Amanda Marcotte
    Rebecca Watson

  328. 328
    John Horstman

    I have a feeling that the set of female atheists is somewhere between nearly and entirely contained within the set of feminists, so there’s gonna be a lot of overlap (especially for the visible activists who are likely to be nominated); this poll is specifically for “Most Influential Female Atheist of 2011″, so the nominees need not identify as/be identified as feminist. You also don’t have to like what they say, it just has to be influential. :-)

  329. 329
    Sophie Lagacé

    SO tough, at least as to those who influenced _me_ in 2011! Let’s see:

    (1) Rebecca Watson
    (2) Greta Christina
    (3) Jen McCreight
    (4) Ophelia Benson
    (5) Maryam Namazie
    (6) Susan Jacoby
    (7) Ayaan Hirsi Ali
    (8) Amanda Marcotte
    (9) Julia Galef

  330. 330

    Rebecca Watson

  331. 331
    Svlad Cjelli

    Most influential? Clearly Rebecca Watson. Even her opponents can’t with honesty deny her influence.

  332. 332
    Reba Boyd Wooden

    I would like to nominate three women who don’t get enough spotlight but who are the driving force behind organizations that are doing great things.

    1. Annie Laurie Gaylor, CoPresident of Freedom from Religion Foundation

    2. Lauren Becker, Vice President and Director of Outreach, Center for Inquiry

    3. Debbie Goddard, Coordinator, CFI On Campus
    Director, African Americans for Humanism, Center for Inquiry

    These are the women out there doing the really heavy lifting for the cause of atheisism, Secular Humanism,etc. and they don’t get enough praise for what they do.

  333. 333

    Greta Christina – I am constantly impressed by her insights on sexuality and on diversity

  334. 334

    I have several.

    1) Greta Christina. Every single thing she says is brilliant. Even her recent cat ramblings are better than 99% of the things other people write.

    1) Rebecca Watson. How she hasn’t ragequit the movement is beyond me, but I’m glad she’s still around.

    1) Lyz Liddell. She does so much for the secular movement and is not recognized enough.

    1) Jen McCreight. Look at her, saying things better than me. Also, kitty.

    1) Amanda Metskas of Camp Quest. Helping educate children about critical thinking? Aw yeah.

    1) Jessica Ahlquist. High school sucks automatically, and she’s dealing with even worse stuff because she has the courage to stand up.

    Everyone has a 1 because they are all first place in my heart. [That counts, right?] :)

  335. 335

    I forgot to mention Amanda Knief! Remember that time she stood up to Obama about discrimination against atheists? Bad ass.

  336. 336

    Abbie Smith, Stef McGraw, & Rose St. Clair by a landslide. They epitomize “free thought”, as opposed to adherence to orthodoxy.

  337. 337

    My vote would be for Rebecca Watson for being the most influential, however my vote actuylly goes to Jessica Ahlquist, because when you are only 16 and alone at a religiously dominated Highschool you need every support you can get…

  338. 338
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Rebecca Watson.
    She couldn’t have known what shitstorm she’d start with a small remark, so I can’t give her credit for that, but she gets full points for not backing down, not becoming quiet, not slowing down and not giving in one jota despite that she now has more than a life-time worth of experience in being treated like shit by obsessed misogynists.

  339. 339
    Hekuni Cat, MQG

    Rebecca Watson gets my vote.

  340. 340
    Rex A.Rex

    Ashley Miller Ashley Miller Ashley Miller Ashley Miller
    Ashley Miller (and not just because she is so friggin sexy)

  341. 341
    Dream Of Sleeping

    I vote for Greta Christina.

    I’ve only recently started reading feminist blogs. As a male, some of it can be difficult to read. But I just like the way Greta puts things across. Even when she’s writing about something that has pissed her off, she never comes across as snappy or condescending and… I don’t know, I’m not great with words and I’m not sure I can convey what I really mean, but everything she writes just seems to make sense to me and has had a big impact on me.

  342. 342
    Greta Christina

    No. You misunderstand me. Merit should not be a secondary consideration. But because of unconscious sexism, if we don’t go out of our way to make sure we consider and promote worthwhile women, we will miss people of equal and often greater merit than the ones we’d considered and promoted before.

    Ditto people of color, LGBT people, etc.

  343. 343

    Greta Christina
    “Why Are Atheists Angry” blew me away. I was speechless.

  344. 344
    Kel Munger

    #1- Rebecca Watson.

    #2- Greta Christina.

    #3- Amanda Marcotte.

    #4- Melissa McEwen at Shakesville.

  345. 345

    Rebecca Watson
    She sure advanced the Atheist Cause this year!!.

  346. 346

    Ditto this! Watson and Christina. For sure.

  347. 347

    Rebecca Watson for sure. Just because she is awesome.

  348. 348
    Jonathan Figdor

    Lyz Lydell from the SSA. A tireless worker behind the scenes. It is time for the movement to recognize real professionals who don’t occupy the same media spotlight, but are extremely influential (this is not to imply that bloggers aren’t professional, just to clarify).

  349. 349

    I don’t know what you meant by “influence”, but I bet Julia Gilard would probably be found to be far more influential for most definitions of “influence” than any bloggers, whose influence is limited mostly to their readers.

  350. 350

    *Julia Gillard

  351. 351

    Rebecca Watson – She without a doubt played a huge role in the Skeptical community this year.

  352. 352

    Rebecca Watson and Greta Christina.

  353. 353

    Greta Christina, Rebecca Watson and Jennifer McCreight . ;)

  354. 354
    Sharlot Eisentraut

    Ann Marie Eisentraut, for her outstanding efforts on engineering and designing the first Humanist house in Mesa, Arizona. My hat’s off to you, Mom.

  355. 355
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    Rebecca Watson. Period.

  356. 356

    +1 vote for Jessica Ahlquist.

  357. 357
    Goecke Chuck

    I also concur, but I would reverse them. Greta, #1, is just so awesome, and so eloquently reaches so many people. Rebecca, also very awesome, and reaches out nearly as far and wide, plus she placed herself at the center of what was ultimately positive firestorm about male sexism in the atheist community.

  358. 358
    Curt Nelson

    Rebecca Watson, for dismissing Richard Dawkins as a wealthy old heterosexual white man (all excellent points!) for giving her guff.

    Is RW really an atheist? I hadn’t heard that.

  359. 359

    I vote Jessica Ahlquist, Greta Christina, Jen McReight, and Laci Green.

  360. 360
    Friakel Wippans

    Rebbeca Watson, hands down, for how she rightfully went up Richard Dawkins’s. A minor yet revealing episode.

    For his many qualities and virtues, Richard Dawkins really got caught in a blind spot on this one. And me too. My first reaction to the whole story was in line with Dawkins but it got me thinking. So many thanks to Rebecca.

  361. 361
    Michael Hawkins

    Ashley F. Miller.

  362. 362

    Rebecca Watson & Greta Christina ftw! Hard to choose just one kick-ass powerhouse of atheistic awesomeness. . . My prediction is a tie!

  363. 363
    Reed Braden

    My gut instinct was to say Rebecca Watson, since she made the biggest impact, but I think Greta had the more meteoric rise to prominence this year. Rebecca gained a little popularity this year, but Greta took the spotlight solidly, in my opinion.

    Plus, being queer, her perspective on atheist issues of discrimination, coming out, accepting identity, tolerance, etc.–those issues that overlap between the communities–have more of an authoritative tone. I think that should bear heavily on her influence.

  364. 364

    Seconded. Especially since she has to face her attackers face on. That takes a spine of steel, even when you’re not a teenager.

  365. 365

    This is a tough one – I thought it quite easy at first, and wrote a whole paragraph about one person, but now I’ve changed my mind, on deeper analysis.

    I had thought that Rebecca, without a doubt, was number one. But I think I was sort of conflating skepticism with atheism. To my mind, they go hand in hand. Atheism is a subset of skepticism. And Rebecca brought a spotlight to bear on a dirty little secret of the skeptical world, in a big, no-nonsense way. I am incredibly impressed by her writing, and her dedication, in this and other subjects.

    But when it comes to atheism, upon further consideration I have to give my vote to Greta Christina. Prior to her joining FTB, I was aware of her, but not familiar with her. I’m thrilled to have finally discovered this powerhouse of atheist writing!

  366. 366

    Rebecca Watson
    Greta Christina
    Ophelia Benson
    Stephanie Svan
    Amanda Marcotte
    Jennifer Ouellette
    Jen McCreight

  367. 367

    Rebecca Watson
    Greta Christina
    Ophelia Benson
    Liz Lyddell

  368. 368

    Ophelia Benson
    Greta Christina

  369. 369
    Curt Nelson

    Dismissing Richard Dawkins for being old, wealthy, heterosexual, white and male are “excellent points”? You have to be kidding.

  370. 370
    Curt Nelson

    No, YOU have to be kidding. With all those hallmarks of privilege Dawkins is incapable of properly understanding complex human interactions because his mind is simply too fogged by prejudice and cluelessness. He cannot overcome it and he should be ashamed of himself for trying to.
    If he was just a wealthy man but gay, he might be worth listening to, but with being white and everything. No way.

  371. 371
    Jesse Markus

    I can’t say it any better than Philip Walterhouse already did:

    Rebecca Watson all the way. She has played the largest role in raising my awareness of my male privilege. In a nutshell, she is bad ass.

  372. 372

    Greta Christina

  373. 373

    Pretty sure it has to be Rebecca Watson

  374. 374
    dogeared, spotted and foxed

    I recognize and respect all of the hard word and considerable talent displayed by every nominee so far and support their nominations. I would also like to take special notice of Maryam Namazie. Her writing has inspired me to more research and hours on google than any other.

  375. 375
    Ivar Husa

    I vote for Rebecca Watson!

  376. 376
    Marie-Thérèse O'Loughlin

    Ophelia Benson gets number one vote on behalf of survivors of institutional abuse in Ireland for the relentless work she has done in highlighting clerical/institutional child abuse. New Statesman – Does God Hate Women? http://www.newstatesman.com/books/2009/07/women-god-stangroom-benson

    Maryam Namazie gets my number two vote. She speaks out about the wrongdoings of her religion and in so doing puts her own life in danger.

    Despite not being an atheist – I don’t subscribe to any group/community, I would have given number three vote to Rebecca Watson, had it not been for the not too thought out ”literacy’ remark she made about an e-mail she received from a person who was pestering her. Offend the behaviour, but not ‘the lack of literacy skills’ is my motto. The ill thought out remark was made at the Dublin Atheist Conference last year.

  377. 377

    Definitely Rebecca Watson for 2011.
    Of course Ophelia Benson, Greta Christina, Libby Anne, Jen, Jessica Ahlquist, Maryam Namazie, Mina Ehadi, Ayaan Ali Hirsi, Taslima Nasreen, the Pakistani actress whose name I forgot, the daughter of the murdered secular Pakistani MP and many others are great and courageous, too, but the biggest impact in 2011 in the US certainly was Watson’s. Also, I find it important that she had the courage to address a big problem within her own community!

  378. 378

    Paula Kirby

  379. 379

    Who’s Rebecca Johnson?

  380. 380

    Rebecca Watson and Greta Christina, hands down.

  381. 381

    Oh… and Elyse Anders, and Ophelia Benson.

  382. 382
    Callan Bentley

    I’d cast my vote for Rebecca Watson.

  383. 383

    do we only vote for americans?

Leave a Reply