Here's the article - http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2009/12/column-atheists-need-a-diffe... And many thanks to PZ Myers for posting about it on Pharyngula.

Synopsis--stop being represented by those evil old vocal atheists. Atheists should allow only we women to speak because, "This friendlier atheism sounds more like a civil rights movement than a crusade. And it is far more likely to issue from the lips of friendly women than from the spittle of angry men." Yup, we women are friendlier. More willing to back down from a fight. We'll be quiet and apologetic and oh-so-sorry to have bothered anyone with our atheism. I think I must go vomit, now.

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I'll take the contrarian view here. I don't agree with everything the author said, but I, and many here, agree, that there needs to be the voice of women in the atheist movement. Thousands, maybe millions, of keystrokes have gone into that message.

I do think he's simplistic and could use some correction. Such as, claiming that the Voice of Women is necessarily a kinder, gentler, atheism - that's like claiming that Ann Coulter, Michelle Bachman, Michelle Malkin, and SP are kinder, gentler Republicans - disingenuous and patronizing, to say the least. And I do wish that a few less keystrokes on A|N went into bashing the 4 horsemen, who have inspired millions, and instead work on celebrating voices like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, or sometimes even atheist women authors who aren't necessarily capital A Atheist Women Authors, like Sarah Vowell.

But I do think he as a point - such as "Amanda Gulledge is a self-described "Alabama mom" who got on her first plane and took her first subway ride in order to attend this event. Although Gulledge stood up on behalf of logic and reason, she spoke from the heart. Instead of arguing, she told stories of the "natural goodness" of her two sons who somehow manage to be moral without believing in God or everlasting punishment. But the key turn in her talk, and in the event itself, came when Gulledge mentioned, in passing, how some neighborhood children refuse to play with her sons because they have not accepted Jesus as their personal savior."

Atheism, like the USA, is a quilt, or a salad, or whatever metaphor we want. There is a role for many voices, including the angry and the calm, the aggressive and the kind. I, for one, am all of the above. I get pissed off, and I also want to reach out. I want to stomp sense into a few hard skulls, and I want to feed a hungry child and give a blanket to a homeless person. I want to make the intellectual, A+B=C argument, but sometimes I want to pet a kitten. I think there are roles for all of the above.
My objection isn't that there shouldn't be all kinds of voices. There should be.

My objection was the assumption that a Woman's voice was necessarily a "gentle" one (whatever that actually means - more diplomatic?).

The atheist women that I've associated with on my other groups cannot be differentiated from the men in terms of the debates/discussions.

All have their own styles and gender can't be determined by the style.

When I first joined those groups I had no idea who was male, female, old or young since everyone uses aliases.

And only found out after getting to know people.
We also have Russell Glasser from the Atheist Experience and Non-Prophets, but I guess he has a fairly limited audience in the theistic communities.
What annoys me about Prothero's editorial is the (paraphrasing, obviously), "Those New Atheists! (shudder) They're loud and angry! Women are soft and kind and gentle and really that's the only way to reach out to Christians." Keeping your head down, hiding in the closet, not making any waves certainly worked well for Blacks. And the GLBTs. And the women. And any other disenfranchised group you care to mention. The only thing that has ever made any change has been standing up and forcefully making your opinions known and demanding your rights. It's easy to shove someone back when they're whispering, "Oh, gosh. I'm sorry. I don't want to offend you in any way, but I'm a (insert group here)." Bullies don't listen to reason, particularly when it's expressed in a "gentle" manner. Standing up to ignorance, loudly pointing it out and frequently ridiculing it gets people's attention. Bullies don't like having attention brought to their bullying so turn a spotlight on 'em.

And I really liked Amanda Gulledge's comment in her response to the editorial (link in previous post):

"That’s why the “women are nicer” argument is so fucking insulting. The insinuation is that women are weak-minded and put eagerness to please above a basic understanding of the difference between personal preference and a truth claim. Or, at best, that it’s a good thing that women’s voices are discredited routinely, because when women make truth claims about god, it doesn’t matter as much. If women are “nicer”, i.e. more willing to pretend that a claim is a preference and/or back out of a situation where someone’s talking bullshit, it’s not a good thing. It’s because we’re not taken as seriously."
Has anyone else noticed that Islam gets a hell of a lot of what it wants, and it's loud and incredibly aggressive?

Just checking, I mean.
Yeah, but as the rational ones I'm afraid we are forever cursed to take the high road. It sucks that irrational fear-mongering of the people that disagree with us is so effective, but I personally couldn't go there.
I'm not sure I read the same article as everyone else did. I do see that Prothero used a questionable generalization but it's harder for me to see how he was insulting. Perhaps because I'm a male or perhaps because this article implies I have feminine sensabilities (which, for some reason, I find complementary). I have always found that soft power wins people over. Aggression wins by destroying that which opposes it and leaves sour feelings behind. Pacifism wins by outliving, outlasting, and setting an example for future generations. There is some need for the aggressive types but these personalities will not be what allows atheism to outlast theism. It is out kindness. It is out dilligent and honest beliefs. Our interest in conversations being amiable and logical. To put it as a religionist would, It is the literal TRUTH of our beliefs and the compassion in our hearts that will win over religion. But every time you burn a zealot, you create a martyr.
Am I making any sense right now?
Being "amiable and logical" is lovely. I especially like "logical", however I don't always have the luxury of "amiable". Think of it this way: if you saw a small child about to run out into the street and you couldn't physically stop him in time, what would you do? You'd probably yell, "STOP!!!!" It's not polite (you didn't say "please") and you raised your voice (how horribly rude!), but you, hopefully, averted a catastrophe. I view the so-called New Atheists as yelling, "STOP!!!" and trying to avert a catastrophe. This time, though, the stakes are even higher. What's at stake is the population of the whole planet's education, medicine, and biology among other things and, here in the US, our Constitution.

As far as the tone of the article went, well, I'm 50. I grew up in the 60's when little girls were still required to wear dresses to school when temps were in the 'teens. I started job-hunting when the first quotas were being used and got used to all the white guys standing on one side of the room while everybody else huddled at the other side and listened to comments about how the only way we were going to get a job was because of a quota. I missed out on a fire department job because the other woman beat my time in the agility course by 1.5 seconds and they "only need 1 woman for the quota" even though my times/scores were better than the 6 white guys they hired. Having a coworker grab both my breasts and me being let go because, I "didn't have a sense of humor and didn't fit in with the rest of the work group" when I complained. That should give you an idea where I'm coming from. It's hard for someone like you to hear the same nuances, the same codewords someone like me (or the other women here) hear. We've been told all our lives to be, "nice" and "friendly" and soft-spoken. To never offend and to never argue directly. To apologize for a viewpoint when we express it. Listen to a group of women sometime and count how many times you hear, "I'm sorry, but I think...", "This is only an opinion, but...", "I may be wrong, but...." You'll hear it a lot because we're not supposed to offend anyone, ever. To hear someone say that that sort of language is "better" is, frankly, infuriating. To have Prothero hold it up as some sort of Platonic Ideal is condescending, patronizing and a load of horse-shit.
Reading this is... amazing. I'm only 26, so I've grown up in a world where women at least ostensibly have equal rights... often I see more over-sensitive, militant so-called "feminists" than I see actual prejudice. I've even had to fight with people younger than me who think that "feminist" is a negative term, who honestly don't realise that it stands for equality rather than female supremacy.

It's easy to forget, sometimes, that for previous generations this kind of shit wasn't just real, it was... blatant! Ugh. It's not nice to hear about this, but it is good to be reminded. BMK, thank you for what women in your position did for women like me.
Just to make your ears twist, from a quicky search through Wikipedia, Women got the vote in what country, in what year:

New Zealand - 1883
Australia - 1901, if you were white, 1966 if you weren't.
Finland - 1906, but prior to that, nobody could vote. The first Finnish parliament had 19 women.
Norway - 1907, but prior to then they had the vote for wealthy women
Denmark - 1915.
Canada - 1919
America - 1869, if you were in Wyoming, 1920 otherwise, and note that England - 1928
Spain - 1931, but you didn't have to vote to be elected - hence a female mayor or two cropping up.
Indonesia - 1941
France - 1944
Japan - 1945
Greece - 1956
Kuwait - 2005

My dad was born in 1949, for perspective, and his father was (I believe) 1910. To step one generation back, my dad was of the generation that made these changes; to step another back, his farther was of the generation that opposed it.

(Also, mad props to Sweden, for letting women vote back in 1718.)
Knock yourself out! I just got it from a few short moments on Wikipedia.

It's a fascinating history - the thing I find the most telling is that 1945, the year of Hiroshima, was the year Japan adopted Suffrage. Part of me morbidly wonders if this was connected to the (very real) problem Japan had at the time where a large body of the 'marriageble' men (and therefore voting population) were gone. Without further study, of course, that's just speculation.

There are of course some caveats throughout; for example, in the UK, you could vote in 1908, provided you were married to a householder and raising kids. In Australia, we didn't have any votes until 1901, so we did pretty alright New Zealand continues its trend of being a step ahead of us, though.
Oh, and just to make sure it's regarded as Not All Roses: Anti-Suffragism.

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