Anna Quindlen was on Fresh Air yesterday, and she said something I’ve been pondering a good deal lately.
As a little girl, Anna Quindlen wasn’t afraid of a whole lot. She frequently got into trouble and occasionally shot off her mouth. But as she grew older, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer became what she calls a “girl imitation.”
“[I became] nicer, sweeter, less outspoken [and] less combative,” she tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross. “All of the qualities that you need to be a good opinion columnist tend to be qualities that aren’t valued in women. And I think that was a bit of a challenge for me when I became an op-ed columnist [for The New York Times] and has been a challenge for many of us who do that as a living.”
I think this is related to the whole “women in atheism” question…and the misogyny in atheism question, too.
Atheism by its nature is “combative” – at least, active or outspoken or explicit or “movement” atheism is. Movement atheism is naturally combative. This could be a big part of the reason it took the movement so god damn long to realize it was forgetting to invite women to its parties. Women aren’t seen as combative. All of the qualities that you need to be a good movement atheist tend to be qualities that aren’t valued in women. Implicit stereotypes probably made women as a category seem like the wrong kind of people to invite to the parties because women are too nice and sweet to combat god, not outspoken and combative enough to pick fights with god. That could be why male atheists* think of atheism as a boys’ club and something that women will wreck if they’re allowed into it, because they’ll put up curtains and forbid swearing and try to sign a peace treaty with god.
*Those who do