I approve of this message

Atheism needs feminism. Heck, it needs to be more socially conscious about everything.

He also provides an excellent list of rational atheist/feminist youtube channels.

Sikivu Hutchinson

Kevin Logan

Soreta Yuki

Vogter Viking


Neil Carter

Laughing Witch

The Breakfast Club

Matt Dillahunty




The Atheist Voice

David Landon Cole

Captain Andy

Cristina Rad


Rebecca Watson

The Messianic Manic

Sincere Kirabo






The Atheist Experience


Kristi Winters



Philip Rose


Philosophy Tube



Dick Coughlan


Zinnia Jones

I took a look at some of them (I’ll work my way through the list eventually), and unsurprisingly…their comment sections, including that of the video above by Steve Shives, are full of flaming asshats who precisely prove their point for them. Lewis’ Law strikes again!

I should probably do some more youtube stuff. I’ve tried a few times, and had to run screaming from the revolting vileness of the average commenter.


  1. Saganite, a haunter of demons says

    I’m proud to say that one of the “Likes” to counteract the reflexive downvoting is mine. A commenter on this video noted that the video had several downvotes mere moments after being released. I. e., people downvoting it long before possibly having watched it, based on the title alone…

  2. Saganite, a haunter of demons says

    @#1 Lofty
    It actually really depends on the videos. I know it’s a common meme that YouTube comment sections are where sense goes to die and burn in an eternal flamewar, but a lot of comment sections I go to are quite nice, actually. Probably because these videos don’t attract the sorts of people who turn comment sections into hellish nightmarescapes. Of course, Steve’s video doesn’t get that benefit, both because of its title and presumably its tags…

  3. doublereed says

    I really wish it was more common and acceptable to disable youtube comments on channels. They’re just the worst and offer zero value to anyone.

  4. John Small Berries says

    I agree with Saganite, a haunter of demons (#3). The quality of the YouTube comments varies with the subject matter of the video, and its intended audience.

    The comments on my YouTube videos are 99.44% asshat-free, but then again, I just put up humorous songs that don’t threaten anyone’s dearly held worldviews. Were I to sing about the nonexistence of God, the mountains of evidence demonstrating evolution, or even the self-evident fact that women are people, I’m certain things would be quite different.

  5. AMM says

    Accessibility note: by simply posting videos, without even a summary of what’s in them, you’re excluding a fair number of people from your discussion. If that’s what you want….

  6. Usernames! (╯°□°)╯︵ ʎuʎbosıɯ says

    Were I to sing about the nonexistence of God, the mountains of evidence demonstrating evolution, or even the self-evident fact that women are people, I’m certain things would be quite different.
    — John Small Berries (#5)

    Why not all three at the same time?!

  7. Sarah says

    There are A LOT of very thoughtful, critical comments on Shives’ video! It is wrong to dismiss an entire comment section like you’ve done, PZ!

    I will quote two comments:
    First, Prototype Atheist says

    And BigRalphSmith says:

  8. Sarah says

    Ok, obviously didn’t use the blockquote tags correctly!

    Prototype Atheist said:
    Of course everyone should be a feminist, in the sense that men and women deserve equal rights, and that women should not be harassed, especially in a manner which makes it obvious the harassment is unique due to their sex. The problem is that some feminists are radicals. You list Laughing Witch at the end of the video. This is a woman who told me that men should completely avoid flirting with or expressing any romantic interest in women at atheist conventions because this is harassment. That’s fucking absurd, and it’s a huge double standard. She also told me after I participated in a group discussion with Kristi Winters about how to get more women involved in atheist activism that the only reason I wanted more women in the atheist community was so that I could get in their pants.

    This is why feminism becomes toxic. To refuse to see this is to remain willfully blind. This isn’t an argument against feminism. It’s an argument against hypocrisy, radicalism, and irrationality.

    And BigRalphSmith said:
    Even with all of Steve’s disclaimers, I still feel that it is not in the best interests of atheism (as in the fight against the undue intrusion of religion in to everyday life) or feminism (as in the fight to end misogyny and achieve real equality for women) to try to bring other just causes under the atheism “umbrella”.
    Atheism is atheism. Feminism is feminism. Are they both just and worthwhile causes? Absolutely.
    But… we can fight the good fight on both fronts while respecting that they are very different causes with very different goals and intertwining them is unnecessary and for many, confusing.
    I disagree with you, Steve. Atheism does not “need” feminism and feminism does not “need” atheism.
    I think both causes are better served by not conflating them in any way.

  9. says

    Sarah @ 12:

    I wouldn’t call those comments particularly thoughtful, they are simply the same old excuses, dressed up in a few too many words. Comments of that nature have been shredded, time and time again, here and on other fora which is more suited to extended discussion. Youtube is not a good environment for discussion, thoughtful or otherwise, and it’s more than a bit disingenuous to suggest that youtube is a bastion of intelligent, critical thought. The bar on youtube commentary is so low that it takes very little for a comment to appear to be a well thought out critique.

  10. chigau (違う) says

    re: blockquoting
    Doing this
    <blockquote>paste copied text here</blockquote>
    Results in this

    paste copied text here

    Neither of your quotes are particularly thoughtful.

  11. moarscienceplz says

    Of course everyone should be a feminist, in the sense that men and women deserve equal rights, and that women should not be harassed, especially in a manner which makes it obvious the harassment is unique due to their sex. The problem is that some feminists are radicals.

    Oh. So I should support equal rights for groups I’m not a member of, in theory, BUT if any members of that group are not perfect, or if they don’t treat me with the utmost deference, then I am entitled to stop supporting the entire group, even if that group consists of more than half of the world’s population.
    Yeah, that’s super duper thoughtful. Thanks so much for that, Sarah.
    (I suppose I should add a /sarcasm tag here for Sarah’s benefit.)

  12. Holms says

    Accessibility note: by simply posting videos, without even a summary of what’s in them, you’re excluding a fair number of people from your discussion. If that’s what you want….

    It’s a simple cut and paste of a list made by someone else, and PZ himself stated he has only had a quick glance at them so far.

  13. says

    I have to agree with the last few commenters about those examples of supposedly thoughtful comments. I have read essentially the same comments a thousand times here and elsewhere, they have been addressed over and over and over again. Those comments indicate to me that the authors have either not done any reading on these topics, where they would have surely found plenty of objections to what they have written, or they simply do not care and want to write the same tired points over and over again.

  14. Saad says

    From Sarah’s #12

    Atheism does not “need” feminism and feminism does not “need” atheism.
    I think both causes are better served by not conflating them in any way.

    Hmm, I wonder just why BigRalphSmith thinks feminism being a part of the atheist movement harms the atheist movement.

    Hmmm. I wonder, I wonder.

    Also, neither of those people understand feminism very well. They also don’t understand that what is being asked is that when atheists get together, that they not be sexist asshats towards the women among them. What is not being asked is for every single atheist to make feminism their top priority. You can still have your pure atheism movement (where I would expect you do nothing but recite “there is no god” over and over to maintain 100% purity of atheism).

  15. ck, the Irate Lump says

    BigRalphSmith apparently didn’t watch the video before responding, because he didn’t address intersectionality at all, which was one of Steve’s primary points against “Atheism is only no gods”.

  16. Dreaming of an Atheistic Newtopia says

    Just because those comments don’t include insults, it doesn’t make them thoughtful…they are piss poor in my opinion…
    And as for atheism not needing feminism…ANY movement that involves humans needs feminism. If we are going to exclude all the shit that isn’t DIRECTLY involved in atheism, there would be absolutely nothing these to call a movement, it would be pointless. You have to ADD shit to atheism to make it worth anything whatsoever…like science advocacy, separation of church and state, a means to develop a secular morality, FEMINISM….

  17. says

    Steve Shives’s videos are very entertaining and thought-provoking. I especially recommend his “Steve and Stuffy” videos. I like his vids.

    But some might find problematic his usage gendered insults (the c-and-d-words) and body-shaming insults (a man with a small d-). He does not do that too often and I do not know if he stopped using that (I did not see all his vids, which is a shame, but time is limited), but I noticed it in some of his older videos and it came out as a false-tune in otherwise nice melody.

  18. Gregory Greenwood says

    That is an excellent video with an important message more people need to hear and comprehend. Unfortunately, the comments on the video itself seem to indicate that most of the anti-feminists that infest atheism can’t even be bothered to actually watch the video, let alone make an effort to understand the arguments contained therein, before they go off on a semi-literate, wholly ignorant rant about the imagined evils of feminism.

    It is enough to make you despair for the atheist movement all over again.

  19. Rowan vet-tech says

    Sarah, can you explain why those comments are ‘thoughtful’?

    I can say that I, personally, would not attend an atheist convention with any intention to flirt or hook up, and ANY such attention from anyone at such a venue would be incredibly unwelcome. Many men feel that they should be able to flirt with any woman anywhere, because they are a man and that’s what they enjoy doing and who cares about the person on the receiving end!

    That first commenter’s reactions probably indicate that he IS actively trying to do those things, and that he is probably going to atheist conventions with a specific hope of getting laid and it very likely IS the entire reason he wants more women to attend. That makes him an asshole.

    The second commenter also apparently has the ability of an apple to think things through.

    I still feel that it is not in the best interests of atheism (as in the fight against the undue intrusion of religion in to everyday life) or feminism (as in the fight to end misogyny and achieve real equality for women) to try to bring other just causes under the atheism “umbrella”.

    So the undue intrusion of religion in to every day life doesn’t negatively affect women who are generally treated as inferior by religions? And fighting to end misogyny and achieve real equality wouldn’t be aided by removal of religion from the public sphere? So… all those abortion bills and anti-birth control measures and the ‘abstinence-only’ sex ed classes are totally 100% secular in nature, no religion involved, nope none at all?

  20. says

    Those “thoughtful comments” don’t make any logical arguments, so all I can really do is shrug. Laughing Witch doesn’t sound very great from that description, but who knows if I can trust the description. That commentator’s parting statement is that we should…care about how reasonable and stuff everyone in the movement is. Well duh. What does this have to do with anything? Very odd.

  21. otrame says

    I’ve been a big fan of Steve’s stuff for a long time. He has an interesting range of videos, from detailed and well-considered discussions of various apologetics books (his An Atheist Reads series), to his series of vignettes involving a group of stuffed animals (The Steve and Stuffy series), to professional wrestling fanvids. He had to quit my favorite series Riffing on Mail Call because the newspaper in his town quit publishing the Mail Call feature, but the nearly 100 of them are still there and are hilarious.

    He’s a good guy.

  22. says

    This might be the discussion of women in atheism that Prototype Atheist was talking about.

    I only skimmed it for now, but I did notice that some guy (not Prototype Atheist himself) near the end of the video seems to think there aren’t “barriers” or whatever, like the problem is just caused by false perceptions that women have.

    Also, here’s the video description:

    Dr. Kristi Winters discusses her research into the causes of beliefs in men & women, and how this might apply to the seeming lack of women among the community of vocal atheists. The panel then discusses the role of education in helping people to escape from religious dogma.

    This is the only woman they have on their panel, and there’s nothing about the treatment of women in atheist spaces? Nothing?

    I wonder if I watched the full video if I would even find lip service to this issue.

  23. says

    Charly at #23…

    Are you talking about Steve Shives or Richard (Dick) Coughlan? I am a fan of his, but he uses gendered and ableist slurs all the time and can be quite body-shamey. Of course, his targets include TJ Kincaide and ThunderDouche and the MRM in general. When he’s criticizing women (Jaclynn Glenn, for example), I do notice that he’s much more careful about the words he uses and is a quite a bit less shamey and tends to avoid using slurs of any kind, so it seems as if he only does it with men. Doesn’t make it better, but there it is.

    I’ve yet to watch a video where Steve does similar, but I haven’t watched many of his videos.

    I sort of wish Peach hadn’t been included… though I kind of never forgave her for her attack on Atheism+, and the next video I saw of hers (yesterday, in fact) was misrepresenting (misunderstanding?) Laci Green’s video about rape jokes. So… you know…

  24. Pteryxx says

    AMM #6

    Accessibility note: by simply posting videos, without even a summary of what’s in them, you’re excluding a fair number of people from your discussion. If that’s what you want….

    Seconding. It’s getting annoying to observe y’all talking about how good and on-point this video is when some of us can’t view or hear it. Besides, it’s even more annoying to see ‘obviously these commenters haven’t bothered to watch’ when some of us would if we could, y’know?

    Holms #17

    It’s a simple cut and paste of a list made by someone else, and PZ himself stated he has only had a quick glance at them so far.

    No, that’s not the content of the video. That list is just a footnote, though a very useful footnote.

    Here’s some useful information about the video.

    Video title: Why YouTube Atheism Needs Feminism (youtube link)


    Published on Sep 28, 2015

    Sexism is a problem throughout the atheist community. But it’s more prominent online, particularly here on YouTube, where many of the most popular atheists are blatant sexists and unapologetic anti-feminists.

    It’s a 14-minute video and Youtube’s captioning seems fairly accurate so far, though it has no sentence breaks or punctuation. I don’t see any other source of transcripts, so here’s my retyping of the introduction:

    Atheism and feminism are naturally complementary to one another. There is no human institution that has done so much in so many cultures across such a long period of time to hold women down as organized religion. For most of the history of civilization, the proposition that women ought to be treated equally to men was just as radical as the proposition that gods did not exist.

    Before I get too far into this I want to make it clear that I will be using multiple senses of the word ‘atheism’ throughout this video. This will be obvious to most of you from the context of what I’m saying, but bitter experience tells me that it will not be so obvious to a few of you. So, before you post an angry comment presuming to inform me that atheism means not believing in gods and that’s all it means, let me say that [shrugs] I agree with the first half of that statement, but also remind you that not everyone uses the term to mean that and only that. Atheism can also refer to the community of atheists, or the body of work produced by that community. It’s totally legitimate to notice trends within that community or body of work and to propose that something be done to change those trends that I find troubling. I’m not proposing that we redefine what atheism means and I’m not suggesting that people who disagree with me about stuff are not authentic atheists. [smiles] Okay? Good.

    Now I’m going to turn into another shot to disguise a jump cut.

    That’s the first minute and 30 seconds; sorry it’s all I have time for right now.

  25. says

    OMG! I am ready with the popcorn for when some of the regulars wake up and spot some of the names on that list.

    Christ, some of them have never even said “MRA hate group” or “rape apologists”.

    Get ready to stop chewing on Sarah and disprove the demand for ideological purity in 3…2…1

    *sorry Steve, your a nice guy and I like your videos but i’d just go and ya know, have a coffee or a long bath.

  26. says

    @NateHevens #29
    I am definitively talking about Steve and not Coughlan. I cannot stand Coughlan, he definitively rubs me the wrong way. I only watched two or three vids of his. On the other hand I watched a few hunderd vids of Steve Shives and those things I mentioned stuck in the mind. Even some MRA commenters on those videos spotted it with “thoughtfull” comments about him not being “true” feminist.

    But those are exceptions, as I said, not the rule, and I would have a hard time to find those exact videos. It is almost a year since I saw them and I cannot reliably remember in which series it was. I think it was in some of his “10 stupid things about”, when he was dissing republican politicians.

  27. says

    Danny @ 31:

    OMG! I am ready with the popcorn for when some of the regulars wake up and spot some of the names on that list.

    Fuck’s sake. Provide your own entertainment, eh? That way, perhaps you won’t be boring the socks off of people.

  28. Rowan vet-tech says

    Danny @ 31 is so boring, that I’m far more willing to go and do *chores* than check this thread for comments anymore. Chores while *cramping*. Because physical pain is better than the mind numbing boringness of Danny. Ta!

  29. says

    Charly @ 32:

    On the other hand I watched a few hunderd vids of Steve Shives and those things I mentioned stuck in the mind. Even some MRA commenters on those videos spotted it with “thoughtfull” comments about him not being “true” feminist.

    Well, everyone learns and changes. It can be really difficult to change in this particular area, I’ve mentioned before that it takes a concentrated effort to completely lose a word like b!tch, in thought and language. It still pops up in my head often enough, but I’ve managed to keep it silently there, rather than saying or writing it.

  30. says

    @Caine #38
    I know. I canot purge gendered insults from my mind and speech, because in my native language every insult is gendered. But I can purge ableist, elitist and sexist insults and I have to check not to carry habits from one language to another – and I know exactly what you mean when you say that it takes a concentrated effort.

    But there is a difference between a slip of the tongue/mind and a punchline of a scripted and edited video being “he is a c-t”.

    However Steve Shives makes excellent videos on the whole and in addition to his entertainment vids I particularly enjoyed and I recommend his dissings of christian apologetics literature. When I stumbled upon those I remember thinking “Oh my, these are good, I hope the author does not turn nout to be another thundering asshole”. Luckily he did not so I had quite a few hous of entertainment for long winter evenings as a background to some hand work (like perhaps needling or painting :))

  31. says

    Uhm Sarah, I watch Laughing Witch, and I pretty much doubt that she would tell me, or Steve or any other feminist that the only reason we want more women in atheism, is so that we can hit on them. The commenter pretty much wants us take his side in an argument with Laughing Witch that he had without anyone else being present and take his word for it that she’s a radical feminist, when that’s not visible from the content that she puts out. And her supposed comments pale in contrast to the sexism going on in Youtube Atheism, yet based on that anecdote, it is more important to reject a mix of feminism and atheism, than to acknowledge that feminism is needed based on how bad women are treated in that community. The harassment of women in that community is unbearable, but stop right there, a dude’s feelings got hurt, when a woman told him that he better shouldn’t hit on women at conferences in an argument they had that he doesn’t give any context to. That’s clearly the more pressing issue. Dude’s anecdote just debunked that feminism is important, and everyone is supposed to believe him, cause of course, he’s a dude.

  32. Onamission5 says

    I watched the video with captions on, and they were surprisingly not totally horrible as youtube auto-generated CC’s go. Still, there are issues, such as whole blocks of text missing where speech gets hurried, and the constant interpretation of “atheists” as variants on the word “eight.”

    Picking up where Pytrexx left off @ 1:30, the next portion of the video, until 3:38, paragraphs and punctuation added where I thought appropriate:


    As I was saying, given the fact that both atheists and advocates for human rights have historically been oppressed by organized religion, and also given the fact that modern atheism has largely rejected other regressive attitudes traditionally promoted by religious fundamentalism, like hostility to science and modern medicine, or overt prejudice against LGBT people, you might think that atheism and feminism would be the strongest of allies– and in the minds of many atheists and many feminists they are. Thanks to the internet, I have a fairly large circle of friends and acquaintances who, like me, identify as both atheists and feminists and find the two fit together quite neatly. My friends and I aren’t alone. Voices supportive of feminism are everywhere in the atheist community.

    Unfortunately there is also a faction within atheism that is aggressively hostile toward women in general and outspoken feminists in particular. This faction is most active here on YouTube. Within it are several of the most subscribed to atheist channels. These regularly feature videos attacking feminists, spreading misinformation about feminism, and attempting to undermine efforts to address problems of importance to feminists such as sexual assault or the wage gap. Beyond that, their supporters eagerly join the effort, inundating comment sections with insults, pedantic demands for evidence of even mundane and uncontroversial claims, and childish declarations that they have been “pwned” or “wrecked.” Commenters of this sort also like to challenge feminists to debates on behalf of their favorite anti-feminists. Occasionally, especially if the target is a woman, they’ll even resort to doxxing or threats of physical violence.

    The high profile, anti-feminist YouTubers don’t directly instigate these actions of their followers, but they don’t seem all that concerned with them, either, despite these sorts of things being done in their names by self-professed fans of theirs, all the time.

  33. Onamission5 says

    Next bit, from 3:39 to 5:18, ending right before he begins talking about humanism:

    There are two major results of this. First, feminists, especially women, either stop participating in the YouTube atheist community or decide not to start, and second, the atheist community as a whole is perceived by those outside of it as being a place where sexism and misogyny are not merely tolerated but rewarded. It seems to me that both of these results are undesirable.

    One of the most damaging effects wrought upon society by religion has been the subjugation of women. For centuries we’ve been told that women are unfit for leadership, ought to be kept in narrow gender roles as wives and mothers, and are undeserving of autonomy, and generally less worthy than men. Many atheists are quick to speak out against the religious oppression of women today, whether it’s found here in the West or in other parts of the world, but if we’re going to cite the mistreatment of women as a point against religion, shouldn’t we be vigilant identifying and confronting mistreatment of women in our own communities?

    Religious oppression of women can be easy to spot. Churches have rules banning women from certain roles, imposing rigid standards of dress and conduct, establishing gender segregated worship services, and so on. Oppression of women in the YouTube atheist community is not nearly so formal. Nowhere is it codified that women should not be allowed to speak freely, but the hostility toward feminism, the petulant complaining in response to attempts to address sexism, and the outright withering abuse that greets women in this community all add up to send an unmistakable message: You and your point of view are not welcome here.

    I’mma take a break to eat and rest my brain. If no one else picks up the ball I will see what more I can get to later on.

  34. AMM says

    Many thanks to Pteryxx and Onamission5 for the transcript!

    Some points:

    * There are a fair number of women who don’t believe in God but don’t want to call themselves atheists. Because why would they want to be identified with a group that has contempt for them and their concerns?

    * Intersectionality. It’s not just women who atheists alienate. Atheists of the Dawkins variety have managed to alienate African-Americans by ignoring racism and attacking one of the main institutions that have historically helped African-Americans resist racism. Heina has described how atheists alienate ex-muslims.

    Also, this stuff alienates not just members of oppressed groups, but their allies.

    Unfortunately, I have the impression that a lot of people become atheists because they see it as a way to make a virtue of being an asshole.

  35. says

    Hey, folks. Thank you to Pteryxx and Onamission5 for transcribing my video! Because I’m a little slow sometimes, it didn’t occur to me until just now that I could just copy-paste my original script, which I follow in the video verbatim, to provide a complete transcript for anyone who needs it. Since Pteryxx and Onamission5 have already done such a great job, I’ll start right where Onamission5 left off:

    Many atheists also identify as humanists, or at least share many key humanist values. But it seems to me that no humanist worthy of the label would tolerate women being mistreated in their community – women being human, last I checked. Humanism and feminism don’t stand in opposition to each other, and anyone who thinks that they do has misunderstood at least one, and probably both, of those things.

    What about the role YouTube atheism’s pronounced streak of misogyny plays in how atheism is perceived by non-atheists? Though the anti-feminist YouTubers aren’t representative of the broader community, theirs are often among the first voices encountered by people who are curious about atheism.

    Like most minority groups, atheists are often misrepresented. We need to make sure that the stereotype of an atheist as an angry, condescending male chauvinist is just that – a strawman that does not represent the general character of our community. And we don’t do that by rounding up the anti-feminists and running them out of town on a rail, as I have occasionally been accused of advocating. We do it by speaking up and making our voices louder and more numerous than theirs. We don’t have to remove them, we just have to make it clear – to them, to our community as a whole, and to those outside of our community with whom we desire to co-exist peacefully, freely, and equally – that the anti-feminists, the sexists, the misogynists do not speak for us.

    To some of you this might sound like I’m complaining about first world problems. Women aren’t being forced to undergo genital mutilation or marry into indentured servitude on YouTube. But if the amount of anti-feminist rhetoric, and the exuberant applause with which such rhetoric is often answered, is keeping atheist women from having a stronger voice in our community – and it is – then isn’t that a problem? And if that rhetoric consists of not merely honest disagreement but strawmanning and demonizing of feminists in ways which most of us would never put up with were it directed at atheists – and it does – shouldn’t we be standing against it?

    This isn’t the first time I’ve talked about this. I’ve spoken out strongly in support of feminism numerous times, and it’s always incensed a certain portion of those who watched those videos. Some even try to deflect the charge of being anti-feminist by claiming that it’s only third-wave feminism that they really have a problem with. In my experience, most people who make such comments demonstrate an understanding of third-wave feminism roughly equivalent to the average young Earth creationist’s understanding of the second law of thermodynamics.

    I’ve also lost count of how many times I’ve read indignant comments declaring that though I call myself an atheist, feminism is my true religion. A religion, as any self-professing atheist worth a damn ought to know, is most commonly defined as a belief system based on claims of supernatural revelations and dogmatic principles handed down from unquestionable authorities. Anyone who thinks something like a divine revelation is required to recognize the ongoing oppression of women, or that feminists are dogmatic, mindless followers needs to take his head out of his ass. Such a worldview is only possible if the perception of the person holding it is clouded by ignorance or warped by unconscious bias – two conditions that we who fancy ourselves skeptics strive to correct, do we not?

    I’ve even suggested that the atheist movement would be better off if it adopted an approach more like that of intersectional feminism, which seeks to understand how various forms of discrimination overlap and amplify each other. What good is an atheist movement that primarily concerns itself with the most privileged members of the atheist community, and treats women, or people of color, or LGBT folk as afterthoughts?

    The answer I get most often from people who don’t like this suggestion – and to be clear, there are plenty of my fellow atheists who agree with me and are, in fact, way ahead of me on this – is that I’m trying to make atheism into an exclusive club, where only atheists who also agree with me on other stuff that isn’t directly related to atheism are welcome.

    This objection misses the point of intersectionality, which encourages diversity by highlighting issues of importance to people who are often overlooked. An intersectional atheist movement would be broader and more inclusive than the one we have now, valuing the contributions of a wide variety of people, with a wide variety of ideas.

    But what about the charge that feminism and atheism just don’t belong together? Perhaps, to appropriate a phrase from a noted atheist who wasn’t afraid to call out sexism when he saw it, the two are non-overlapping magisteria. I wish more people who object to what they see as the unwelcome injection of feminism into atheism felt the same way about the infusion of misogyny into it. Because the truth is, I wouldn’t be so keen to talk about feminism in the context of the atheist community if the atheist community – particularly here on YouTube – were not so tolerant of the awful, backwards attitudes toward women displayed by some of its most prominent members. Why are misogyny and anti-feminism things we just have to accept as an unavoidable part of an ideologically diverse community, but feminism is unwarranted and intrusive? Angry, hateful, ignorant, inaccurate, reactionary anti-feminist, anti-woman rhetoric? Well, you might not agree with it, but we don’t want people who do agree with it to feel like they can’t be a part of the atheist community. And as for the women who have left our community, or never dared to come within a mile of it in the first place, because of the people who spew and praise such rhetoric – “well, the hell with them. I guess they can’t handle people disagreeing with them like we can. Now shut the fuck up, SJW,” is, I believe, how the rest of that goes.

    Women are not the only demographic to be marginalized and mistreated in our community. People of color and LGBT folk, among others, struggle for equal time in atheist circles just as they do in other communities and in society in general. I’ve chosen to focus on the mistreatment of women because in my opinion that problem is the most obvious and the most tacitly condoned. But that certainly doesn’t mean there aren’t other rooms in this house long overdue for a cleaning.

    Problems like the one I’ve spent this video discussing are not unique to atheism as a community or a social movement. All major human rights movements have struggled with them – including feminism, which has a long and well-documented history of centering itself on white women and neglecting women of color. The question we in the atheist community face is, will we learn from the mistakes of the great social movements, like feminism, that came before? Will we strive to empower our most marginalized members, or will we continue to silently consent as ignorant, reactionary bullies push them further and further into the margins?

    I spent too many years standing by as women were demeaned, abused, and browbeaten by some of my fellow atheists on YouTube. It’s embarrassing, it’s indefensible, it harms us as individuals and as a community, and it’s long past time that those of us who care about this community put an end to it.

    This is a problem throughout our community, but it is especially pronounced here on YouTube. We can do something about it by making our voices heard – by not only speaking out against sexism and misogyny, but by supporting atheist channels like the ones whose names are now on the screen, and which are linked in the description box of this video. This is by no means a comprehensive list. Some of these channels feature outspoken feminist content, some hardly ever mention the subject, but they all promote science, reason, humanism, and secularism without denigrating women and demonizing feminists, and they – and many others like them – deserve our attention and our support. Thanks for watching.

  36. Ryan Cunningham says

    “Sarah” is so thoughtful and engaged. Look at all this high value back-and forth! All the discussion and nuance between “Sarah” and those who responded to that first post. We’re all being enlightened by this meaningful dialogue. “Sarah” is no selfish drive-by commenter with nothing valuable to contribute. Clearly “Sarah” is a person whose judgement we should trust concerning thoughtful content. Let’s all really spend a lot of time in deep contemplation of everything “Sarah” has to offer. We should really read and think about it deeply about “Sarah”‘s words. Hasn’t “Sarah” shown the same courtesy same for our words?

  37. opposablethumbs says

    Steve Shives, thank you! It’s great to read this, and thank you and Pteryxx and Onamission5 for the transcript (really good for those of us who can read it more easily than we can go and watch/listen).