To PZ Myers

I second your motion for this:

If there were any sense and justice in the world, the next atheist meeting I attend would be populated entirely with angry women looking to overthrow the temples of the patriarchy.

Godless Gal Smackdowncon. Who wouldn’t come?!

Feel free to discuss you dream speakers and events in the comments.


  1. says

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The best thing that happened for guys like me is women’s liberation. Strict gender roles suck .

  2. paisley says

    Let’s do it! And let’s have it in NYC that way I can attend… Seriously, let’s get Jen, Sikivu, Greta, Ophelia, Amanda Marcotte, and the Skepchicks. Paula Kirby as Keynote.

  3. says

    I’m thinking he meant in terms of speakers.But even so, didn’t you know that PZ was “the most influential female atheist in 2009” :-p

  4. says

    that’s an awesome lineup :-)TBH, I’d prefer if the atheist/skeptic events would become more interactive, and less lecture-like though. It’s fun to listen to some speakers, sure, but real moderated workshops and audience-inclusive moderated discussions should become more common. Active individual thinking is, after all, the whole point of skeptical atheism. we don’t really need leaders to think for us! :-p

  5. paisley says

    I think having an event like this be interactive would be really wonderful. Even using these same women in the role of initiator and moderator of a discussion or a brain-storming event would be totally awesome.

  6. the_Siliconopolitan says

    “Godless Gal Smackdowncon. Who wouldn’t come?!”Depends. Will it be mud, jello or custard?

  7. Azkyroth says

    I wouldn’t come. If hell popped into existence and then froze over and they actually held a significant event within easy access of Sacramento, with a realistic price tag, I’d wind up having to take a semester’s worth of finals on the “main event” day. :(

  8. says

    Wait, why no guys? That seems a little sexist, Jen… The Vassar way is to make everything co-ed all the time, that way no one of any sexual orientation is left out from the fun.

  9. Rollingforest says

    If by patriarchy you mean the fact that the majority, but not all, of sexism is aimed at women, which affects too much of, but not all of society, then sure, I’d love to see it overthrown.

  10. says

    I’m there. Just let me know the where and when. Will there be a dress code? Require Doc Martin’s? All iPods must have Indigo Girls?

  11. Zuche says

    Judging by how hard so many have worked to silence dissent, I’m not sure many regimes agree with you. While it can never be just words, they still have a part to play in change. No regime has ever risen, let alone survived, without using a few more than, “Charge!” or “Fire!” either.

  12. Rollingforest says

    Well, for example voting, where women are the majority, or college admissions, where again women are the majority. Like I said, saying that the patriarchy exists and that it hurts women more is fine, but saying that it envelopes every single part of society or saying that it always puts men on top is wrong if for no other reason than the fact that it will make society ignore anything else you have to say because they don’t believe you on this main point.

  13. says

    I’ve never been to an Atheist meeting but would love the opportunity to see a Godless Girl Smackdown. Just as long as I wasn’t the one getting smacked!

  14. Azkyroth says

    So, women are more motivated than men to turn out and try to affect who is elected to government to represent their concerns, or to get an education and “make something of themselves,” and it doesn’t even occur to you that the way women have historically been treated by these various institutions might play a role in mobilizing and motivating them?

  15. says

    those are misunderstandings of what patriarchy is or does. it doesn’t put all men ahead of all women, it puts a man ahead of a woman when all else is equal. and patriarchy is not a system that lets men off unharmed. PHMT is a pretty standard part of feminist discussions of patriarchy, and fewer college applications by men are considered at least partially to be an aspect of for voting… the poor as a class are disadvantaged in the US in terms of possibilities and accessibility to voting, also sometimes in terms of voter-intimidation. due to the feminization of poverty, some of these aspects hit women harder than men; especially non-white women.IOW, not everything is 100% caused by patriarchy, but there’s very little in our society that isn’t at least partially affected by it. Even things that have nothing to do with women and things that tend to harm men. my favorite example:

  16. Rollingforest says

    Azkyroth, the point is that feminists have had victories in a huge segment of society and that the patriarchy is almost strangled in a lot of the culture. That should be celebrated, not ignored. If you were to ask a random person whether the genders should be equal, 99% of them would say yes. That is the walls of the patriarchy being demolished. Are there still some forts of the patriarchy left? Certainly. The majority of them are aimed against women. But sexism is something that has to be measured issue by issue, not as some overarching force that affects absolutely everything and only affects women. Also did it not ever occur to you that women might be doing so well because every time they succeed it is celebrated as a feminist victory while if a man succeeds it is considered par for the course? Or that society comes down harsher on boys who struggle, criticizing not only their actions, but also their identity, calling them “video gaming losers” and “failures” wrecking their self esteem and any motivation they had to do better? Back in the 70s, for example, when women were behind in college enrollment, it was rightfully considered sexist to declare “oh, they are behind simply because they aren’t trying hard enough. Culture plays no part.” It would be equally sexist to say that about men now. (I’m not necessarily accusing you of saying this, but since we are making points here, it should be thrown in).

  17. Rollingforest says

    Actually, the poorer you are, the less likely you are to vote, so under normal circumstances, the fact that more women are poor should mean that LESS women vote than men. My point was that despite this, the fact that they vote more shows how much victory feminists have had since the passage of the 19th Amendment. In 1960, for example, a large percentage of men (and women) believed that women weren’t capable of being lawyers or doctors. Because of feminist victories, today the vast majority of men and women would have no problem going to a female doctor or lawyer. http://yglesias.thinkprogress….I think we need to ask ourselves what causes the patriarchy. The answer, it seems to me, is sexist attitudes in the population. But a person can have sexist attitudes about one thing but not another. For example, a person can support the idea that women should be allowed equal access to college, but still have a sexist attitude about rape, maybe because they are a victim blamer. So I would say that sexism isn’t a binary (something that you either are or you aren’t) and sexism isn’t an equal tide (something that you have equal levels of for every issue), but rather something that you have different levels of for different issues. A person might be totally supportive of gender equality on one issue while subconsciously being sexist on another. Given that fact, for me it seems better to measure the patriarchy based on each issue rather than society as a whole. We should ask how we are doing on each part of society individually because doing well on one issue does not necessarily correlate with doing well on other issues when it comes to gender equality.I agree with you that the patriarchy certainly hurt men. Some modern sexism aimed at men, for example the fact that only men can be drafted and forced to fight and die overseas or the fact that, given similar crimes, juries are more likely to put men to death than women, were originally put in place by the patriarchy, though I would argue that both genders perpetuate them today.

  18. says

    of course the patriarchy is perpetrated by both genders. always has to the rest, none of that disagrees with anything any feminist I know thinks about society and patriarchy, so I’m not entirely sure what your point isthough, do you have some statistics on the “women vote more” thing? I’m curious whether that might correlate with age, there being more old women than old men.

  19. PZ Myers says

    I’d offer to deliver the “Do be a clitoris” speech, but I don’t want to have to get the sex change operation.

  20. Rollingforest says

    I found this article on the question of gender and voting rates. In terms of voting, women have voted in higher numbers than men in every election since 1980. Apparently younger women vote more than younger men. Strangely, this pattern reverses in old age with older men voting more than older women. However, since women live longer, the number of elderly women is larger than the number of elderly men. So even though the percentage of elderly women who vote is lower than elderly men, the absolute number is higher, meaning that both younger and older women are a larger segment of the voting population than their male counterparts. So if all women voted as a block, they could pass whatever law they wanted (unless a block of men filibustered it in the senate). What this means, ironically, is that where anti-feminist political policy succeeds, it is because a significant portion of women supported it.…It is also interesting to note gender differences by party identification. Contrary to popular assumptions, from 1920 to 1960 women as a group were more Conservative than men due, some speculate, to their higher religiosity and lower membership in labor unions. In the 1960s and 1970s, the gender gap in party identification closed. Then, in 1980, it opened up again with women being more likely to be Progressive. 1980, you will remember, is the time when the ERA was a major issue and the abortion battles were just starting up. This is also a period when the parties became more polarized. The moderate Rockefeller Republicans disappeared as the GOP went rightward and the Southern white Democrats switched parties (After the Democrats nominated a Catholic in 1960 and passed the Civil rights bill of 1964, Southern whites stopped voting for Democratic Presidential candidates. By the Gingrich Revolution of 1994, Southern Whites gave up on Democratic Congressional candidates as well). This liberalization of the Democratic Party caused women, who are seen by some as more caring, to lean toward the Democrats. The gender gap, of women being more Progressive, has continued to this day.…I’ve thought about what you (and others) have said, that patriarchy puts men ahead of women when all other variables are constant, and if I understand you correctly, I agree with you. If you consider a random boy and a random girl, they both will be treated well by a vast number of people they deal with (the bus driver, the waiter, the travel agent) but the girl would still face more sexism in life from various sources (much more likely to be raped, much less likely to be elected to important political offices, ect) so yes, in that sense the average boy is more privileged than the average girl if you take into consideration their lives as a whole. I guess my point in all of this is that I wanted to nail down exactly what PZ Myers was saying in the above quote. I think that general feminist theory is true and very important. There are many people who don’t call themselves Feminists who probably agree with the Feminists more than they know. But one thing to keep in mind is how feminist phrases are interpreted differently by different people. When a person who isn’t familiar with feminism hears them say things like “we need to smash to patriarchy!” it sounds to them like the Feminists are suggesting that gender roles haven’t changed since the year 1800 and it causes people to roll their eyes. Now, I know that that isn’t what most feminists really mean (and my above post was just to prove this with PZ Myers), but from a purely political standpoint the language they use is better for rallying fellow feminists than it is for getting anyone new to join. The way other people view feminism might seem silly to you, but that is really how they view it and it is making it difficult for them to connect with it. I’m not suggesting that I have the perfect language suggestions for feminists to use to win politically, but it is something to keep in mind.

  21. Rollingforest says

    Let me put another question to you in this way: Right now there is still gender inequality and sexism and most of it hurts women with a few cases of it hurting men. Because women are hurt more than men, Feminists call this a Patriarchy. But what would happen if the feminists were successful and solved all of the numerous ways that women were discriminated against and only the small number of situations of gender inequality and sexism remained, the ones which hurt men. Would society then be a Matriarchy? What if the ways that women were discriminated against were reduced until they exactly matched the ways that men were discriminated against in terms of intensity? Would that be both a Patriarchy and a Matriarchy? Would it be neither even though there would still be sexism? How are we measuring this?

  22. says

    you’re looking at it as fighting individual instances, not as a system. Only once you destroy the mindset and the system that creates this pattern (the acts of sexism against women that we see, plus the acts of sexism against men that we see), can you say that patriarchy is destroyed. And that would mean that the things that currently hurt men as men most would no longer exist either.OTOH, I don’t think it’s even possible to get rid of patriarchal anti-women sexism without also getting rid of the patriarchal anti-male sexism, because eventually you hit an uncrossable barrier: you can’t have men doing their fair share of housework if they’re stigmatized for that and guilt-tripped for not working overtime all the time; you can’t have equalized childcare if men are treated like pedophiles when they’re taking care of children, and aren’t eligible for parental leave; and you can’t eliminate backlash against women’s progress if there isn’t also progress for men; etc.A matriarchy would be a system that views women as more valuable than men, and as a consequence would cause worse sexism for men than women. Uneven progress in eliminating the patriarchy wouldn’t amount to a matriarchy, I don’t think.Basically, you’re looking at the symptoms, rather than the cause. It’s theoretically possible, because of uneven progress, to achieve a point at which men and women could be discriminated against equally, but the system the discrimination is based on would still be patriarchal, because it bases its discrimination on masculine*-over-feminine*-hierarchy, and would discriminate against people based on how far away from the masculine ideal they were.*for patriarchal definitions of masculinity and femininity, which are a subject in and of itself

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