Women all over the world are seen to be getting more and more active, even in areas which were said to be men's bastions. Why then are there far fewer women atheists compared to men? Are women more religious? Are they still dominated by their men? Or by religious authorities? Are they too busy in their domestic affairs or are they simply not concerned? What is it?
American Atheists sent out a survey to all its members in 1985. Of those that responded, 16.9% were female, 83.1% were male. This could be an indication of fewer female atheists than male atheists. Then again, it could support the notion that female atheists are less likely to be active. A more detailed study should be conducted.
In 1985 American Atheists was to tiny to be representative of much. Back then, if you'd taken a poll regarding female participation in sports you'd have received the same numbers. They are meaningless in 2011. Women have basically taken over - even in running the majority in marathions in many major races is now females! How wonderful! A simple phone call to any atheist organization might reveal the numbers are MUCH higher today. The world is changing.
David, It was only a few years ago that women were freed from doing laundry in a tub, or growing and canning their year's supply of food, or tending to the babies that just kept coming, even though many women did their best to prevent unwanted pregnancies, or that women made all the clothing for the family, even men's suits. My grandmothers did all these things, had a gaggle of kids, took care of survivors of the 1918 flue epidemic, and saved every penny they could get from selling eggs and canned goods or bakery items to pay for educating their children.
My generation's mothers had it easier than grandmas, except they worked outside the home as well as doing all the usual chores of homemaking. Kids didn't have the fine cakes and cookies, and wore store bought clothes.
Mothers of my generation and location didn't have access to new ideas; we focused on church and our responsibilities to make the community run better. Women of my generation and location and class had good incomes, nice homes, drove cars and began to return to college, first for the fun of it and then for the challenge. Ideas sprang up like tulips in spring. New ideas, new possibilities, more freedom, more prosperity. Questions about supernatural beings and events popped up. Questions of dogma whacked us over the head. Discussion grew into unheard of topics. More of us moved into the atheist camp.
My daughter is a volunteer fire fighter in her rural farm community, and women are valued because of the many things they can do and acknowledged for the things that they physically cannot do. Even some men cannot do the tough work of firefighting but they get assignments to tend water trucks and whatever job they can physically and mentally handle. Men and women seem to have gender roles much different than my generation. Young men become involved more than their fathers did in family participation. Here, too, new ideas replace the old, "weather, sports, machines" topics of the men and "cooking, gardening, and child rearing of the women. Men and women don't cluster into separate groups as my generation did.
My grandchildren and great-grandchildren and their generations have a very different future ahead of them.
Will atheistic beliefs spring up in these more recent generations? They have the right to decide for themselves and with a noisy grandmother and great-grandmother, who knows how they will choose?
I don't know about actual atheist group membership roles and the numbers count but I do know that in at least one of the largest atheist organizations in America (FFRF) that their private members forum has more women contributors than men. They are outspoken and wonderful. Perhaps women in our society are just simply to busy taking care of children/working and other interests to join in these discussions.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation was founded by two women (mother and daughter), Anne Nicol Gaylor and Annie Laurie Gaylor. Anne Gaylor has retired, but is still active in the Foundation, and Annie Laurie Gaylor is now Co-President with her husband, Dan Barker. She is often the spokesperson for the Foundation on TV news interviews (even on FAUX Noose!).
If you go to their web site, www.ffrf.org , and check out the "store" you will find many books on atheist pholosophy, buybull criticism, feminism, etc. written by women. One of my favorites is a booklet of essays by Anne Nicol Gaylor titled Lead Us Not Into Penn Station. I bought it because the title made me laugh. The Born Again Skeptic's Guide to the Bible by the late Ruth Hurmence Green is entertaining as well as informative.
There is also the Happy Heretic's web site, written by Judith Hayes, that's been going for more than ten years. http://www.thehappyheretic.com/ She has also had two books published: In God We Trust...but Which One?, and The Happy Heretic. (The latter is still in print via Prometheus Books.) Here are two paragraphs from her Home page that explain a lot...IMO:
I am not, however, unduly prejudiced against Christianity. Far from it, I have disdain for all religions. The evil done in the name of religion is infinitely greater than any good it may have done. Fatwas, anyone? That is why I am an atheist and proud of it. Unlike others who proclaim their pride to be Irish or Italian or black or white and so on, conditions over which they have no control whatsoever, my atheism is the result of my own actions and critical thinking. I had to get over the indoctrination of my youth. And believe me, it wasn’t easy. See about the author for more on that.
From the outset, my own struggles in freeing myself from my fundamentalist upbringing provided the inspiration for my writing. My target audience was, and always had been, fence-sitters and closet atheists. Based on much of my mail, however, I am now including outraged atheists. Our number is legion. There are more of us than anyone realizes. Yet we are still treated as lepers.
We are here. I think the statistics are somewhat out of date.
Tribute to Anne Nicol Gaylor
Delivered by Annie Laurie Gaylor, with music provided by Dan Barker, on Oct. 29, 2004, at the 27th annual national convention of the Freedom From Religion Foundation in Madison, Wisconsin.
Anne Gaylor, the founder and president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, is stepping down from the presidency after this convention. She has been president 26 years officially, but 28 years in reality. She is not necessarily retiring -- she will be involved as an on-call consultant with the office, and is still deciding where she will direct her considerable energies in the future.
I was hoping she'd out-Reagan Reagan (not to put him in her company). Reagan was 78 when he left his presidency, Anne will be 78 on Nov. 25. She still works harder than the rest of us -- people one half to one third of her age.
She is stepping down only because her eyesight has diminished -- due to macular degeneration and glaucoma. She may be losing her eyesight, but she is not losing her vision.
Desperate women began to phone her, asking where they could go for safe abortions. She launched into activism, abortion rights, feminist groups and Zero Population Growth.
She founded the ZPG Abortion Referral Service in 1970. Between 1970 and 1975, she made more than than 20,000 referrals. She took calls at home day and night, especially after her number was published without her permission, in Playboy!
Anne and Annie Laurie, 1976, after founding the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
"Whenever I hear people suggest that if there were no 'religion,' and no fear of God's wrath, there would be no morality, I wish they could meet Anne Gaylor, her family, her many colleagues in this organization, and the countless other 'non-believers' who are working every day to repair the world." --Anne Treseder
(Anne Treseder's full tribute, "Anne Gaylor--Mentor and Friend," can be read here.)
There were those in the feminist movement Anne was heavily involved in, who told her that her atheist activism was "hurting the cause." Ironically, there were a few in the freethought movement who told her that her feminist activism was "hurting the cause"!
My tribute to the Gaylors
"On December 2 my husband, Pat, died. We had been married for 37 years and still held hands when we went for a walk. I am grief-stricken and will not be writing for a while. If and when I can get back to writing, I hope I will hear from you. I have always enjoyed interacting with my readers. I hope your New Year will be a hell of a lot better than mine. My best to all of you, Judith Hayes firstname.lastname@example.org"
You can access her archives on the site to see what she had to say in the past. Just click on "Previous Columns" to get the index, and then click on anything that looks interesting to you.
Pat died last December, and Judy is not only still devastated, she has not been able to find another webmaster. Pat was her computer wizard. She is writing again, but has not been able to post anything yet because she doesn't know how.
The GoldRush email address is still "live," if you want to contact her.
And if anybody out there knows of a grief counselling service that does NOT involve or invoke religion, please let me know, and I'll pass the info along. K?
Isn't it odd that I found her site and read of her husband's death on Dec. 2, 2011, not realizing he died last year. I wrote her at once when I read about it. This surely is a dreadful time for her. Did you know her through Atheist Nexus?
I am a webmaster, so I sent her an e-mail today offering to help her with her site. I don't think I sent it to the correct e-mail address, though, I used the happyheretic.com address. Will re-send to email@example.com and see whether both go through.