The Irresistible Woman: A Micro-Horror Collection, Part 1

Content note: fantasy/horror violence, and plenty of it. Also some references to sexism, misogyny, misogynist violence, and some sexual content.

I have seen many fascinating responses to sexist dating advice. I have seen feminists respond with humor, with rage, with snark, with dismissal, with carefully patient and even empathetic education, with sarcasm that could wither a Venus fly trap.

But until May 14, I had never before seen feminists respond to sexist dating advice with a impromptu collaborative outpouring of fantasy horror micro-fiction.

In response to this post on Facebook, from dating coach Jonathon Aslay:

How a Woman Becomes Irresistible To a Man… She chooses to set high standards for herself. She’s clear on what she wants. She knows the value of friendship before sex. She comes from a place of gratitude (not expectations). She is confident and willing to ask a man out on a date because she knows a relationship is a two way street. She demonstrates trust and respect by accepting him for who he is. She’s in no hurry to get to the destination. She can take of herself, she doesn’t need a man. She shows up interesting and interested. She comes from a place of compassion (not entitlement). Lastly, she knows how to inspire a man, because she leads by example. Did I miss anything?

Facebook feminists bring you: The Irresistible Woman. All micro-stories reprinted with permission of the authors, credited and linked to (or not) as they requested.

DISCLAIMER: References to violence, death, destruction, physical torment, psychological torment, supernatural torment, world domination, eternal nightmares, or the warping of the entire space-time continuum to exact revenge on one sexist jerk, are all intended as metaphor. These are fictional expressions of rage and mockery, aimed at the impossible, contradictory, ever-shifting standards of female desirability, and at the barrage of advice given to women about how to meet those standards. None of the authors actually want to do these things, or think they should happen. No, really.

***

She uses the sustentacular cells in her sinus cavities to manipulate local magnetic fields. –Yvonne Rathbone

She keeps watch in the night, in the shadows. Many-faceted eyes guard the tender sleep of innocent paramours. If she doesn’t hear that scratching sound, it must not be there. If she doesn’t hear that scratching sound, there is no one there. If she does not hear any scratching sound, there is no one anywhere. An irresistible woman never leaves crumbs in the bed. -Ashley Protagonist

She keeps her mandibles sharp and shiny. -Amy Lou Renner

She knows where her man left his keys, his coffee mug, his bones. Her chitinous endoskeleton will never be found. She uses Groupon to pay less for spa days. -Ashley Protagonist

She doesn’t worry about fine lines or wrinkles, because her skin is only a temporary raiment, a mass-produced bauble from a cheap conveyor belt manned only by sighs and deflated ambition. She doesn’t need night cream. She does not worry about her freckles. Her beauty is on the inside. -Ashley Protagonist

She turns herself inside out when the moon is dark. –Yvonne Rathbone

She doesn’t dwell on failed projects, on misplaced hopes. She starts fresh, shedding her old wishes along with her broken or dulled incisors. She always has what she needs, and she always uses what she has. -Ashley Protagonist

All beauty is on her inside. She devours beautiful things with hunger. Men, men are such pretty creatures, she says, tired of the way our culture’s idea of “beautiful” is firmly bound up with ideas of the feminine. More for me, she sighs, and spreads her mouthparts wide. –Amanda Gannon [Read more…]

The Karen Stollznow/ Ben Radford/ Hemant Mehta Thing

So as some of you may already know, Ben Radford issued a statement on May 22, cosigned by Karen Stollznow, stating:

In 2013 Karen Stollznow accused Ben Radford of stalking, sexual harassment, and both physical and sexual assault. She made these accusations in a complaint to Bed Radford’s employer (the Center for Inquiry), in a guest blog written for the Scientific American Mind website, and to various individuals in private communication.

Karen and Ben were in an intimate, personal relationship that ended with acrimony and misunderstandings. But it would be wrong for anyone to believe that Ben Radford stalked, sexually harassed, or physically and sexually assaulted Karen Stollznow.

The issue has done damage to both Karen and Ben and to their careers. Through mutual discussion, all issues between them have now been resolved. Both Ben and Karen wish to move on with their lives and put this matter behind them.

They ask that their friends and colleagues let the matter drop. They ask that bloggers and others who have repeated these allegations against Radford or Stollznow remove them from their sites and not repeat them. Any blogs or other published references to these accusations only serve to perpetuate the harm to both parties.

Hemant Mehta wrote about this on June 2 — strongly insinuating that several bloggers (including me) who had shown support for Stollznow knew about this statement, and were deliberately sitting on it and staying silent about it. As it happens, I didn’t know about the statement until the Mehta’s piece went up on June 2 — and that’s true for several of the other bloggers cited by Mehta. (I don’t know about all of them.) He has posted an update at the end of the piece with a semi-apology to me about this implication, but to my knowledge has not apologized to any of the other bloggers he implicated.

I may write more later about Mehta’s piece and its insinuations. For now, I’m simply going to comment on the statement itself:

I am highly skeptical, to say the least, of the content of this statement. Among other reasons: In the past, Radford has written “joint” statements of this nature and tried to pressure Stollznow into signing them. At least some of the accusations of harassment were corroborated by others. CFI hired an investigative firm, which found merit to at least some of Stollznow’s accusations. And if this report is correct, Stollznow signed the May 22 statement under extreme pressure, including a demand that she sign on the day that she went into induced labor. It’s only one report, not yet corroborated, so I don’t know if it’s true — but it’s certainly consistent with Radford’s previous pattern. So I am highly skeptical, to say the least, of the content of this statement. But I will take one part of it at face value: The statement asks colleagues to let the matter drop. So unless something happens in the future that makes further comment on this important and relevant, I’m dropping it.

For that reason (and also because I’m recovering from being very sick, and don’t have the energy to moderate comments on this), I’m closing comments on this post. If you want to discuss this issue, you can do so elsewhere. Here are a few other comments on this issue and replies to Mehta’s post, from PZ Myers, Stephanie Zvan, Jason Thibeault, and Rebecca Watson.

The Irresistible Woman

Content note: brief violence, mentions of explicit sex including kinky sex.

A couple of weeks ago, dating coach Jonathon Aslay posted this gem to his Facebook page:

“How a Woman Becomes Irresistible To a Man… She chooses to set high standards for herself. She’s clear on what she wants. She knows the value of friendship before sex. She comes from a place of gratitude (not expectations). She is confident and willing to ask a man out on a date because she knows a relationship is a two way street. She demonstrates trust and respect by accepting him for who he is. She’s in no hurry to get to the destination. She can take of herself, she doesn’t need a man. She shows up interesting and interested. She comes from a place of compassion (not entitlement). Lastly, she knows how to inspire a man, because she leads by example. Did I miss anything?”

The response from feminists was… let’s say, “unusual.” The comment thread was quickly transformed into an impromptu collaborative outpouring of fantasy horror micro-fiction, meditating on the true nature of the irresistible woman, and on the terrifying nature of what it would even mean to be irresistible. I’m in process of compiling all of it now — but in the meantime, I thought I’d share this story, one of my own contributions.

*****

The Irresistible Woman

The irresistible woman wakes at noon with the familiar ache in her loins — well, whatever passes for “loins” in her true body. She puts out the call, a series of clicks and chants, signalling “Open for Business.” At once her supplicants quietly put down what they’re doing, and appear at her door.

She sorts them quickly: looks each in the eyes for a nanosecond, sees them, SEES THEM. The ones who do not find favor in her eyes… well, that’s an uncomfortable topic. Waiting at her door, her supplicants don’t much like to think about that. Although it does add a frisson, a note of apprehension that gives the anticipation some edge. They wonder a bit why they came here, why they’re taking such a risk, they know what could happen if… Did they even choose this? Did she enchant them, hypnotize them, use feminine wiles, subliminally write “I AM IRRESISTIBLE” in their pictures of ice cubes? In a cause and effect world, is free will even a coherent concept? The irresistible woman has an instinctive understanding of the true nature of cause and effect and freedom, has had it since she was a child. But it would take too long to explain, and right now, she has more important things to do.

The ones who do not find favor in her eyes, she handles quickly. We’ll get to that in a bit. It’s an unpleasant business.

The ones who do find favor in her eyes, she counts. She effortlessly divides herself into perfect copies, one for each — or, okay, two for some, or three, or occasionally more. She takes each favored one to a private room. They can see only her, they only have eyes for her — but she sees all of them at once. She is separate yet whole, the perfect Trinity, three in one, or twenty-seven in one, or a hundred, or six thousand that one time. She’s got this. She closes all the doors. [Read more…]

#mencallmethings: “fat ass,” “bitch,” “rot in hell”

Content note: misogynist, homophobic, ableist, sizeist harassment

Asshole in email (no, Im not going to name him), replying to my recent essay on AlterNet, 7 Things People Who Say They’re ‘Fiscally Conservative But Socially Liberal’ Don’t Understand:

How the hell are you qualified to write ANYTHING about conservatives? You should pull your head out of your fat ass before touching a keyboard. Conservatives that support the removal of the gay marriage restrictions do so only because the government should not discriminate against any group, no matter how deviant. Since homosexuality is merely a “behavior” (show me the gay gene that doesn’t exist, therefore your are NOT born that way as you libtards like to claim – of course without any scientific proof as usual). But many consrvatives are syill willing to change all the rules for a “behavior”. You make me sick. Not surprised you don’t believe in God – you libtards are way too smart for that. So I am encouraged to know you will rot in hell. Hope that day comes soon and is full of suffering for you and your entire famly bitch

#mencallmethings

Note 1: Yes, this is definitely going to make me re-think my position on fiscal conservatism. I hadn’t considered the possibility that I might be a fat-ass deviant libtard bitch who will rot in hell, and that therefore conservative fiscal policy might be more sound than I’d previously thought. /sarcasm

Note 2: Re “I am encouraged to know you will rot in hell. Hope that day comes soon and is full of suffering for you and your entire famly”: Why, precisely, should my entire family suffer because I’m queer and/or an atheist?

Note 3: It’s interesting to note that I actually said very, very little in this piece about homosexuality, and nothing at all about same-sex marriage. The piece was mostly about poverty and race. It’s interesting how people with passionate hatred will zero in on the object of their hatred, even when it’s entirely tangential.

[Read more…]

7 Things People Who Say They’re ‘Fiscally Conservative But Socially Liberal’ Don’t Understand

money closeup

Social and economic issues are deeply intertwined.

“Well, I’m conservative, but I’m not one of those racist, homophobic, dripping-with-hate Tea Party bigots! I’m pro-choice! I’m pro-same-sex-marriage! I’m not a racist! I just want lower taxes, and smaller government, and less government regulation of business. I’m fiscally conservative, and socially liberal.”

How many liberals and progressives have heard this? It’s ridiculously common. Hell, even David Koch of the Koch brothers has said, “I’m a conservative on economic matters and I’m a social liberal.”

And it’s wrong. W-R-O-N-G Wrong.

You can’t separate fiscal issues from social issues. They’re deeply intertwined. They affect each other. Economic issues often are social issues. And conservative fiscal policies do enormous social harm. That’s true even for the mildest, most generous version of “fiscal conservatism” — low taxes, small government, reduced regulation, a free market. These policies perpetuate human rights abuses. They make life harder for people who already have hard lives. Even if the people supporting these policies don’t intend this, the policies are racist, sexist, classist (obviously), ableist, homophobic, transphobic, and otherwise socially retrograde. In many ways, they do more harm than so-called “social policies” that are supposedly separate from economic ones. Here are seven reasons that “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” is nonsense.

*****

Thus begins my latest piece for AlterNet, 7 Things People Who Say They’re ‘Fiscally Conservative But Socially Liberal’ Don’t Understand. To read more, read the rest of the piece. Enjoy!


Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPGComing Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.

To Block Or Not To Block: A Social Justice Question

Please note: This post has a different comment policy from the usual one. That policy is at the end of the post.

hand on keyboardI have a question for all you other Social Justice Warriors out there. When people say racist, sexist, classist, ableist, homophobic, transphobic, etc. crap in our online spaces — should we block them? Or should we engage with them, and try to educate them?

Let me narrow that down somewhat. I’m not talking about when people say crap that’s aimed at us, at a marginalized group we’re part of. I’m talking about when people say crap about another marginalized group. I’m talking about what white people should do when people say racist crap; what men should do when people say sexist crap; what cis people should do when people say transphobic crap; etc. I’m talking about how to ally.

I’ve seen very good cases made on both sides of this question. I’ve read very good pieces by African Americans saying, “Please block the assholes saying racist shit in your Facebook page already, why on Earth are you tolerating that?” (Alas, I can’t find the pieces I read saying this — I really need to learn to bookmark this stuff. Links in comments would be appreciated.) And I’ve read very good pieces by African Americans saying, “Don’t just block these folks. That’s the easy way out. We don’t have access to these people, you do, we can’t educate them — so as painful and difficult as it is, it’s up to you to do that.” (Here’s one example of this, the one that keeps getting cited when this topic comes up.)

It’s one thing when people demand, “Educate me!” — and then ignore, derail, move the goalposts, argue without listening, repeatedly ask questions they could get answered with ten seconds of Googling, and generally show bad faith and a complete lack of interest in being educated. I’m not talking about when willfully ignorant fools demand, “Educate me!” I’m talking about when people I’m working to ally with point to those fools and say, “Educate them!”

Please note: I’m not asking whether I have the right to block people. I know I do. I’m not talking about what I have the right to do. I’m talking about what’s the right thing to do. I’m finding myself somewhat stymied, and I want to hear from people I respect.

Here’s the conundrum I’m experiencing. [Read more…]

The Irresistible Woman

Inspired by this Facebook posting:

“How a Woman Becomes Irresistible To a Man… She chooses to set high standards for herself. She’s clear on what she wants. She knows the value of friendship before sex. She comes from a place of gratitude (not expectations). She is confident and willing to ask a man out on a date because she knows a relationship is a two way street. She demonstrates trust and respect by accepting him for who he is. She’s in no hurry to get to the destination. She can take of herself, she doesn’t need a man. She shows up interesting and interested. She comes from a place of compassion (not entitlement). Lastly, she knows how to inspire a man, because she leads by example. Did I miss anything?”
– Jonathon Aslay, dating coach

And much more importantly: Inspired by the comment thread on this Facebook posting. It’s one of the most genius things I’ve read in a while: it’s a near-perfect blend of wild inventiveness, scathing mockery, and bitter, white-hot rage, mostly written in the horror genre. Scroll down a bit: you’ll know when you’ve gotten to the good parts. Here are my contributions.

*****

The irresistible woman reaches into your muscles, the marrow of your bones, the nuclei of the cells of your neurons. She will force you to desire her. She will rearrange the core of your being, the esse of your non-existent soul, to transform you into a being who desires her, urgently, utterly, desperately. You will desire her, but you will never have her. When she departs, the core of your being will howl for eternity at the loss. You will never feel another love, another desire, that touches you as ferociously or as purely as this loss.

*****

The irresistible woman has transformed her skin into a superconductive ceramic shell. The cold, the cold, you touch her skin and the cold feels like burning, like acid, like inconsolable grief. Her skin burns off your fingerprints. You are no longer yourself, you will never again be yourself. You can recognize the other men who have touched her, by the smooth scarring on their fingers, their faces, their hearts.

You do not leave a mark on her. None of you has ever left a mark on her. None of you ever will.

The irresistible woman has transformed her skin into a superconductive ceramic shell. The transformation on the cellular level was torture; her screams were the cries of the phoenix, the newly-born spider devouring the body of its mother, the Christ hanging himself on the cross and crying out in despair, “Why have I forsaken myself?” When it was over at last, she was left with one small piece of her human skin, her own index fingertip, set in a locket. She is saving it for her daughter.

*****

“The irresistible woman is clear on what she wants, but has no expectations and accepts men as they are. She has high standards, but has no sense of entitlement. She has no need for a man, but cares deeply about being irresistible to them.”

The irresistible woman hears the contradictions, and laughs — a harpy shriek she immediately muffles into her elbow, for fear of giving the ending away. They think the contradictions will baffle her, frighten her, weaken her, send her into despair. They have no idea.

The irresistible woman takes the stage, strips, scratches her face with her perfect nails. She writes the contradictions on parchment in her blood, wraps it around her naked body like a shroud. The parchment twists at her command, and she twists along with it, her body bending, stretching, contorting into a Moebius strip, slicing itself into twisted loops that interlock. Her audience looks on: entertained, then captivated, then gradually paralyzed as the realization sinks in.

The command she spoke to the parchment was spoken at the same time to their brains. Their neurons, axons, dendrites, have twisted inside their skulls. It happened bit by bit, like the heat under a pot of water gradually boiling the live frog. The knots inside their brains are bleeding.

They had no idea.

She unwraps her body with a snap, eases out of the parchment. She knows her way out. She slips into a terrycloth bathrobe stolen from a hotel. She exits through the gift shop.


Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPGComing Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.

Some More (Slightly Less Charitable) Thoughts About “Special Interest” Atheist Groups

black nonbelievers logoSo I wrote a piece a few days ago, with a partial answer to the question, “Why do there need to be atheist groups for specific kinds of atheists? Why should there be black atheist groups, Ex-Muslim atheist groups, women’s atheist groups?” It was a fairly calm, civil, patient piece. But some of the commentary on it gave me a much less patient, much less charitable view of this, airquotes, “issue.”

No, the commentary wasn’t hostile. That’s not it. See, a number of people pointed out that there are plenty of “special interest” atheist sub-groups that are entirely uncontroversial. (Within the atheist movement, anyway: I’m sure the Christian Right doesn’t much like them.) There are atheist parenting groups. Atheist book clubs. Atheist hiking clubs. Heck, there’s an entire national organization, the Secular Student Alliance, devoted entirely to meeting the needs of a specific sub-group of atheists — namely, atheist students — and supporting their student-centered groups.

And in the years I’ve been involved in organized atheism, I have never once heard a peep of complaint about any of these.

I have never once heard anyone say, “Why do student atheists need a national organization just for their groups? Why can’t they just go to the regular off-campus atheist group?” “Why do atheist parents need their own group and their own activities?” “Doesn’t the atheist book club splinter and divide our community?” “Isn’t the atheist hiking group segregation — discrimination against people who don’t hike?”

Never. Literally never.

secular student alliance logoQuite the opposite. If these sub-groups and specialty groups can get enough members, and if the groups survive and flourish, it’s seen as a good thing. It’s seen as a way to draw new people into the atheist community: if there are atheists who aren’t that interested in the other group activities, but who like to hike or talk about books, the atheist book club or hiking club might bring them in. And it’s understood that parents and students have particular interests and needs — particular scheduling concerns, and activities they’ll want to do, if nothing else — so again, having groups dedicated to them is actually going to draw more people into organized atheism. And it’s also recognized that if a group is surviving and flourishing, then, self-evidently, there’s a desire for it. There might be a little competitiveness — especially if one of these special-interest groups shoots up as its own thing rather than as a sub-group of an existing group, and especially if it starts drawing members away. But as a general principle, it’s understood that these special interest groups are a Good Thing.

So why is it such a problem to have special groups for black atheists, or women atheists, or atheists from other marginalized demographics?

[crickets]

My not-very-charitable interpretation: A lot of people don’t want to recognize that women, African Americans, other marginalized demographics, even have particular needs and interests and concerns.

After all, if you accept that, then you have to accept that racism exists and is a thing, that sexism exists and is a thing, that other marginalizations exist and are things. To understand why black atheists or women atheists might want their own groups, you have to understand some harsh realities about what it’s like to be a woman or an African American — realities that make the experience of being a woman really different from that of being a man, realities that make the experience of being African American really different from that of being white.

And when you accept that racism, sexism, and other marginalizations really exist and are things, a whole lot of other dominoes start tumbling down. You have to accept just how large and pervasive and terrible some of these marginalizations are. You have to accept the fact that you, yourself, sometimes contribute to these marginalizations, even without meaning to. And if you’re a halfway decent person, you have to start working to make a difference.

It’s much easier to maintain the pleasant fiction that, while readers and hikers and parents and students might have their own needs and interests and experiences, marginalization and oppression can’t possibly shape people’s experiences — certainly not enough that they might occasionally want to spend time with other folks who’ve been through the same crap.

Accepting the reality of marginalization knocks over a whole lot of dominoes.

Starting a book club? That hardly knocks over any.


Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPGComing Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.

Why Do There Need to Be “Special Interest” Atheist Groups?

black nonbelievers logo“Why do there need to be atheist groups for specific kinds of atheists? Why should there be black atheist groups, Ex-Muslim atheist groups, women’s atheist groups? Why should there be local groups, national organizations, online forums, dedicated to atheists with these specific identities or experiences? Doesn’t that splinter and divide our community? Isn’t that segregation, discrimination — exactly the things we’re fighting against? Why can’t these folks just join the regular atheist group?”

This question comes up a lot. In almost every discussion of diversity in the atheist community that I’ve seen, it’s come up at least once. A lot of people have written and spoken with good, clear, specific answers to these questions. (Here are just a few links.)

But I had a conversation recently at an atheist event that gave me a new perspective on the answers, one that will hopefully help shed some light for some people who have a hard time with this.

So. If you’re wondering why there need to be special-interest atheist groups, ask yourself this:

Why do you need an atheist group?

Why don’t you just join “regular” groups? Why don’t you just join the Elks Club, the bowling league, the knitting circle, the book club, the Democratic Club, the Socialist Workers’ Union, the PTA?

I know many of the answers. Because in those “regular” groups, you’re likely to encounter anti-atheist bigotry and discrimination.
Because in those “regular” groups, even if people aren’t overtly and consciously anti-atheist, they may unintentionally say or do things that are bigoted against atheists, or ignorant about us — and sometimes that ignorance can be very stubborn, even willful.
Because you don’t want to always have to do Atheism 101.
Because even if nobody ever says or does anything bigoted or ignorant against atheists, you still sometimes want to spend time with people who have similar experiences to yours.
Because atheists’ experiences and perspectives can be really different from those of religious believers — we often handle things like death, suffering, political and social change, sexuality, and other issues in ways that are very different from believers, and it can be helpful to socialize and organize with people who share those experiences.
Because our needs and interests are often different from those of believers — and groups that aren’t atheist-specific can often show a complete lack of concern about those needs and interests.
Because even if nobody ever says or does anything bigoted or ignorant against atheists, intentionally or unintentionally, you can still sometimes feel like the Other, like an outsider, if you’re the only atheist in the group, or one of the few.
Because we sometimes want a place to strategize, or just to vent, about anti-atheist bigotry and ignorance, or even about religion itself — and we often don’t feel comfortable doing that around religious believers.
Because having an atheist group creates atheist visibility: it lets other atheists know they’re not alone, it helps us find each other, it pushes back against anti-atheist stigma, it does all the other good things that increased atheist visibility does.
Because the whole idea that an atheist group somehow isn’t a “regular” group is insulting.

So. Keep all that in mind. Remember the reasons you want and need an atheist group. And now ask yourself again: Why do there need to be atheist groups for specific kinds of atheists?

I hope I don’t have to spell this out. But I’m going to anyway:

Every single one of these answers also applies to “special-interest” atheist groups.

exmna-logoBlack atheists, women atheists, ex-Muslim atheists, other specific sub-groups of atheists, want and need their own groups because they/we often encounter bigotry and ignorance in the “regular” atheist groups — usually unintentional, sometimes intentional, often stubborn and even willful in its ignorance. (And don’t tell me that this never happens just because you’ve never seen it. You don’t always know what to look for. In fact, you’re almost certainly doing some of this yourself, without knowing it: unconscious racism, sexism, etc. is pretty damn near universal. This is thoroughly documented: if you’re an evidence-loving skeptic, you shouldn’t be denying it.) Because they/we don’t always want to do Race 101, Feminism 101, Islam 101. Because even if, by some miracle, there were absolutely zero prejudice and ignorance in your atheist group, they/we still sometimes want to spend time with people with similar experiences. Because even if there were no prejudice or ignorance in your atheist group, being the only black person, the only woman, the only ex-Muslim, can still make them/us feel like the Other. Because…

…You get the idea. I don’t need to fill in every search-and-replace. Or at least, I hope I don’t have to.

The parallels aren’t exact, of course. This kind of “search and replace” that substitutes one kind of marginalization for another can be tricky: not all marginalizations are the same, and while these parallels and analogies can help create understanding, sometimes they do the opposite. Saying things like “I understand what it’s like to be black in the United States, since I’m an atheist and we’re oppressed too” can be seriously off-putting, to say the least. (Yes, atheists in the U.S. are at the bottom of the list of who people would vote for. We aren’t getting killed by cops every four days.) So I’ll spell this out: There are reasons atheists form groups that don’t apply to “special-interest” atheist groups, and vice versa.

secular woman logoBut a lot of the reasons are the same. If you understand why atheists want and need an atheist group, you should understand why black atheists, women atheists, ex-Muslim atheists, other specific kinds of atheists, want and need their groups. So if you want them to feel welcome in your atheist group as well — support them in that.


Comforting Thoughts book cover oblong 100 JPGComing Out Atheist Bendingwhy are you atheists so angryGreta Christina is author of four books: Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, and Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More.