I have put a great deal of effort into overcoming my religious conditioning. It has been of great concern for me. I must act and behave rationally rather than blindly based on religious edicts such as gender roles.
Sam Harris in his book FREE WILL points out that there are certain behaviors we have that are beyond our control such as the fright response. We also respond to situations according to our cultural upbringing. Thus we may not have much choice at all as to how we respond and thus may not have the free will we would like to believe we have.
Richard Carrier admits the same causes of our behavior but believes we have the power to make an adjustment. I will relate I as I recall hopefully, as I am paraphrasing this thoughts I do not do him injustice.
1) We must accept we have both internal instincts and external influences that modify our thoughts and behavior. These may not be rational or even beneficial but they do effect our thinking and behavior.
2) We must identify these influences
3) Once we recognize them we must use rational thought to think through why we are doing what we are doing or thinking what we are thinking.
4) If our impulse is not rational we must make the change in our thinking (which is very difficult as we are dealing with he subconscious)
This is not his wording but what I understood to be the general idea. (my memory is bad I wish I could remember where he laid this out)
I grew up in the Christian church complete with gender roles. People could easily point to you in the bible where in Corinthians 2 it tells women to keep their mouths shut and submit to the men. In practice the women seemed to actually be in charge behind the scenes. I could not buy into females being less than or imperfect men. There were many churches that had Women in esteemed positions. If girls were incapable of leadership why did we have so many constant Joan of Arc chicks? I was pro women's lib, rights etc. Actually it did go beyond that I enjoyed the company of women more than men. In general I found them to be much smarter and interesting than men. I do not know if a male libido played into this but lets just let it rest at the fact that I believed women to be equal to, if not superior to men.
A few months ago I was on a David Silverman youtube binge. On one video David Silverman introduced himself as an atheist and a Feminist. What??????????
It dawned on me that I was a feminist. I had always been a feminist. It had never occurred to me that a male could be a feminist. Why? Because I was a SEXIST, feminist. Due to my religious conditioning I had always considered feminism to be a female role. I was a JERK feminist without even knowing it. Even though I had tried my best to overcome my religious conditioning in this very area, it was so deeply ingrained that I did not know it was there. My point here is that religious conditioning or more appropriately said, brainwashing can come up in the most unexpected places. We must be aware of, and on guard against many of our cultural, specifically religious influences.
Lesson learned. Hopefully as a result of this lesson I will now be a much less sexist, Feminist.
It's not enough to change the label, the contents should also be re-examined. But it's hard work to find our blind spots.
Equality was the most obvious for me. The thought that I could be subject to christian domestic discipline like my mother did it - I decided never to marry unless it was to someone who was my equal. A good decision that led to a long and happy marriage for me and my husband/wife. And equality is about everyone, so all the groups my parents had taught me to look down on, lost their nasty labels for me.
Racism went. No bible and more education helped. But are there still traces of racism in my behaviour? I'm watching myself.
I threw out nationalism, patriotism and most of other -isms. We don't need arbitrary divisions that keep us apart.
Animal rights should be examined - now there's no god who gave us the animals to use... so all they suffer at our hands is not grounded in justice, it's abuse. I stopped eating meat and I still use leather, but as little as possible. My shoes have to go the extra kilometres until they fall apart.
I was totally fed up with the xian wanton destroying of our world - so many xians think that the world is their plaything! So I try to save the environment, and I keep my ecological footprint as small as possible.
But I keep thinking about blind spots - what did I miss?