Salon’s Katie Engelhart has a perplexing question: Where are the Women of new Atheism?
Where were the women?
Why, they were right there: stolidly leading people away from the fold. They were irreverent bloggers and institution founders. And scholars. Around the time that the Dawkins–Hitchens–Harris tripartite published its big wave of Atheist critique, historian Jennifer Michael Hecht published “Doubt” and journalist Susan Jacoby published “Freethinkers“—both critically acclaimed. And yet, these women, and many others, failed to emerge as public figures, household names. “Nobody talked about [Doubt] as a ‘phenomenon,’” Hecht has noted. “They just talked about the book.” What gives?
Credit where due: At least Engelhart links to Jen McCreight, Skepchick, Secular Woman and the Amazon page for one of Ophelia Benson’s books. Without mentioning any of the individual women involved by name, other than Hecht and Jacoby as above.
And without a single mention of the misogynist campaign within New Atheism to silence women through constant harassment and occasional worse behavior. It’s as if Engelhart’s wrote a piece asking the question “Why Do So Many People Have Bullet Wounds?” with no mention whatsoever of people who commit assaults, or even of guns.
Those of us who’ve been in the blog world for a while might be excused for feeling a sense of déjà vu.
Nope, it’s not that the women in the movement have persevered in the face of outrageous contempt that eats up time and emotional energy they could be spending getting shit done. It’s because they have “failed to emerge as public figures, household names.”
I expect Engelhart had the best of intentions. But her article did whatever the opposite of “helping” is.
There are of course other aspects of the article that could be profitably dissected. Help yourself to the chum, oh fair denizens of the shark tank.