The Ms magazine blog has an awful little article on the New Atheists that completely misses the point. It’s about the sexes and atheism, of course, but it has little to say except to whine that the New Atheism is just like the old religion, and gosh, look at all those Old White Guys in the fore. Yes, we know; the visible leadership of atheism right now is largely male, but it’s not because they pushed aside the women. The New Atheism is really dominated right now by senior academic types, which means that we are the lucky survivors of the old all-pervasive sexism that we’re seeing so well-represented in the senior cohort now, but it’s shifting, have no fear — the next generation is going to be where the women in charge, as I can see by looking at the younger faces behind this movement now.
So don’t blame the Old White Guys, and don’t regard their gender and age as a debit. What we need to do is promote more equality, and make a positive case for freethought. The Ms article could have explored that by talking to some of the many people involved, and could have even talked to the many prominent female atheists out there, and said something about the direction we’re going, rather than where we come from. It chose not to do that, and instead invented a myth of sexist complacency.
Sadly, there’s little indication that atheists are receptive to the suggestion that they might benefit from diversifying in color or gender.
What a crock. We want to expand, we want to be more welcoming to a wider demographic than only Old White Guys, and I’ve seen it happening: you should have been to atheist meetings 15 years ago. It’s what gives me considerable hope for the future, that I’m seeing increasing numbers of women and minorities and especially young people participating. I still see a lot of grey beards in my audiences, but we don’t want them to go away, and we are advocating greater diversity.
But I’m an Old White Guy myself. The best way for me to make my point is to sit down and let the underrepresented speak. Jen McCreight takes that Ms article apart, and lists all those activist atheist women Ms forgot to consult. Ian Cromwell has a series of videos on race and atheism.
You know, these diverse voices are there — you just have to listen. I’m disappointed that someone at Ms magazine hasn’t learned that yet, and chooses again to perpetuate the idea that all that matters are the Old White Guys.