Many Atheists consider themselves free thinkers, independent thinkers, rational thinkers, skeptical thinkers, and so on. Take your pick. They all mean essentially the same thing as far as I'm concerned. I tend to go with Skeptic myself, so I'll use that term to be inclusive of most of the atheist/humanist views for the purposes of this blog post. Despite our inclusivity claims, the skeptical movement is still principally a Boys Club. I'd even go so far as to say a White Boys Club.
Why is this?
First off, I'm not saying we're 90% white male. Though if you look at the most outspoken Atheist and Humanist leaders, we certainly look that way. I like to think our numbers are becoming more representative of the population every day, though that may be wishful thinking on my part. Quite frankly, we need to do better. For starters, we need more female leaders, or perhaps we need to raise the awareness level of the ones that are out there. We need to be more cognizant of the little things. And most importantly, we need to practice what we preach by challenging ourselves to seek out non-white male opinions so we can improve the depth, breadth, and quality of our own thought processes.
I know what most white males (like me) are probably thinking at this point: “I agree whole-heartedly! But this doesn't really apply to me. I'm completely open to listening to women. I'll even go one further and assure you I'm open to opinions from Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, the LGBT+ community, and anyone else who happens to come along that's not Hitler.” (I figured I'd just get the Hitler reference out of the way early.) And I would have no doubt as to that cracker's sincerity. (I can say cracker because I'm white. That makes it okay.)
The problem is sexism, racism, all the other -isms are a 24/7 oppression. I use that word intentionally, because we all want to be able to go home and put our feet up and not be bothered by the little things. Unfortunately, the little things don't go away. The little things invade our intentions all the time. Take for instance, the blog post prior to this one, written by Mequa: Epicurean Mean Girls: How not to Revive an Ancient Philosophy.
How many of us Boys read that and understood the underlying sexism in the title? Mind you, I'm not accusing Mequa of being a sexist. I'm accusing ALL OF US of being sexist at least a little bit.
I'm not immune. Last year, I wrote a review of a book, “The Martian” by Andy Weir. In the review, I quoted this line from the book, “In space, no one can hear you scream,... no one can hear you scream like a little girl.” A line that I found very amusing until a woman pointed out that the line was sexist and wanted to know if the entire book was sexist. It's not, by the way. At least not any more sexist than that line. Nevertheless, I do recommend the book as the science in it is 99% right on the money.
For women, I guess it depends on how firmly you embrace feminism which would determine whether Mequa's title, or the above line from "The Martian" is sexist. On behalf of most of the men out there, I apologize. They don't get it. No doubt most of them are thinking, “If women find those comments sexist, then they just have a thin skin.” These men don't realize that women have to put up with such subtle sexist comments ALL THE TIME.
Women are barraged with subtly sexist comments and jokes daily. Hourly, if in the right environment. The fact that they don't come out and say something more often is a testament to their thick skin. We shouldn't have to wait for women to say something. We're supposed to be enlightened enough to figure it out on our own and do something about it.
The first step is listening. I challenge all of us white boys to find the blog of a prominent female atheist and read it for a month. See what the other half has to say. If you're already doing this, post a link in the comments below. I'd love to see some new material.
For the advanced dirty, filthy, monkey-men among us, try to find an LGBT blog and read it for a while.