Women In Secularism – Reports from the Conference
So I decided that since I missed out on the Reason Rally in March, it would benefit me to make the effort to attend an event that would address issues that are near and dear to my heart: feminism. And secularism. And the meshing of both.
The first session was a panel moderated by well-known author Susan Jacoby titled “The Intersection of Non-theism and Feminism.” The speakers included Ophelia Benson, Sikivu Hutchinson (who will be a speaker at AHA in
“Because women are dumber-er.” That was the typical comment or variation of a theme that some men offered. Being religious is known as a common trait and characteristic of females world-wide across all socioeconomic levels. Education is not as much of a factor either. Black women with better education than black men are still more religious on average. It is heartening that younger women and better educated women are more than likely to be less religious, but as a whole, they aren’t as involved in atheism as a movement. It isn’t an easy sale to them.
“Dawkins is not the pope, Sam Harris is not a cardinal and Christopher Hitchens is not, forgive me, the Holy Ghost. And Susan Jacoby is not a nun,” she quoted to uproarious laughter.
She made a very important point that philosophy and science were not hospitable academic fields for women prior in the 1980s which was when and from where the leaders in the secular humanist movement developed, so it isn’t hard to see why women didn’t gravitate towards it as a group. They simply weren’t involved in the same numbers.
Oddly if men of the late 20th century were not interested the history of civil rights for women, Robert Ingersoll, the 19th century Golden Age freethinker, resembled more the feminists of the 1970s. Jacoby said he believed that it was a lack of opportunity for education that held women back and that the right to vote was a big “salvation” in his eyes. And it should be noted that women have always been part of the secular movement over the past two hundred year, but were never given as much public credit.
However, she has found that men as a group tend to not see this as a primary interest for them and the idea of the “smart-ass nerd guy” prevails. She would like to see more men become in involved in education issues and the civil rights of women which would lead to growth in numbers overall.