sexism is not just a religious problem

"Woman in Her Natural Habitat" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

“Woman in Her Natural Habitat” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

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So here are a bunch of men admiring a woman in her natural habitat: barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.

I read this fascinating article that analyzes Sam Harris’ sexism. Yes, Sam Harris, rational, militant atheist and fierce critic of religion.

Sexist. Not because of theology, but biology. Well, both believers and Harris believe biology is the determinant but justify it with different ideologies. Theology and sociology?

I couldn’t say it any better. Read Amanda Marcotte’s article. She’s unusually smart for a woman.

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12 Responses

  1. Richard Dawkins we already know to be quite the sexist and racist, so no, sexism is not merely a religious problem. The point is accepted and well proven that so many people willingly force girls to accept that they are lesser creatures. Doesn’t matter what someone’s beliefs are – it’s shitty to treat women like they’re 2nd class.

  2. In before people claim misandry is real.

  3. Jarred H says:

    “She’s unusually smart for a woman.”

    Is this statement intended as irony or sarcasm? Because it reads as pretty sexist in its own right to me.

  4. You should know me by now Jarred. Sarcasm. 😉

  5. julie says:

    After reading through the reference article about Sam Harris, my logical conclusion is that the only difference between him (male) and me (female) is that he’s an asshole and I’m not.

  6. Caryn LeMur says:

    Allow me to add in another article by Amanda that I found enlightening:

    As for myself, I find that I am quickly nodding agreement with sexist arguments – I admit it. They all sound so normal, and so right… and then I realize that is how I was raised. My parents (now passed away) were the WWII generation that did not question misogyny. ‘It is what it is’ was one of their mottoes, and in many ways, the misogyny was an accepted norm.

    So (I am 58 years old), I find that I have to work overtime to ‘get it’. Sounds silly, considering I was born as if a man, and live as if a woman (I am transsexual). Nonetheless, I drift into the norm of misogyny because I was raised in it. This gravitation towards my own baseline of ‘normal’ is immense, subtle, and yet like the gentle current of a river on a canoe, it is undeniable that I drift a certain direction without much thinking.

    Oh, and when I became a believer (I was 14 years old at that time), I then just accepted every church teaching that reinforced the idea. I was a male at that time, btw. So, all the misogyny sounded ‘right’ and ‘godly’ that women were not just ‘weaker’, but always second-class servants that were made by God to serve men as ‘helpers’. Also, it was cool that half the population could be dismissed with just a godly shrug – instant power, status, and respect was poured upon me (a young man) with no effort, and I enjoyed that unearned privilege.

    Now that I am an older woman, you would think that I ‘get it’, and recognize the misogyny upon women… yet, I do not ‘get it’ without work and without thinking. I find that I can now recognize the blunt and open misogyny … but the subtle undercurrents of the cultural river I so often miss… even when the misogyny is applied to me.

    All that to say I am thankful for the Amanda’s of the world; and yes, thankful for your cartoons David. These things continue to help me, so that my daughter and granddaughters will live in a world of equal chance, equal opportunity, and equal voice.

    Maybe one day, they will even enter the doorways of an equalized church.

  7. Well said Caryn. I totally understand this. I’m surrounded by women who help me understand and grow in this regard.

  8. Sabio Lantz says:

    Is sexism existent everywhere? Yes, atheists are no exception. I am probably no exception.

    Is Sam Harris a sexist in all the horrible ways this article tries to imply. I’m not sure but it is largely useless rhetoric by my evaluation.

    Does sexism exist in atheist organization? Sure, why shouldn’t it. Are feminist claims always spot on — absolutely not.

    So, that is my summary, here is the long-winded expanded version to put myself at risk of much ire which I could avoid if only I was politically correct and ever so careful with my words — but alas, I am probably just another generic male asshole (according to previous commentors here):

    As you know, David, I am a former-Christian who is labelled a nasty “Atheist” by many Christians. And yet I have been fighting the “Rationalism Crowd” for decades. It started when I argued against my economy professors in graduate school who felt people are rational and thus economic systems need to be based on that. Next, years later, on my website where I often argue against fellow atheists who self-righteously feel they are more rational than dumb theists. More pernicious, perhaps, is that many people feel that rationalism is a safe way to get to great political policies — and they know exactly who is more rational, of course.

    Believism-Theists and Hyperrational Atheists alike don’t understand how humans work and justify their own preferences use ironically similar stupidity. The point is, we are all stupid. Well, I certainly am.

    I must say, I’ve never read Harris, nor Dawkins (except his biology stuff) nor other new atheists, though I like much of their impact on the religious world. But I would have to imagine that they are full of the same foibles as me. Why should that be surprising.

    Just as I implied in my post “Your Death Theology” today, we all (nontheists and theists alike) generate dangerous ideas and we all have to not only fight them in others but also in ourselves.

    So I am writing all that as a caveat before I read the articles you linked for us today David.

    First, I don’t know what sort of Blog “Pandagon” is, but it describes itself as “Pandagon is daily opinion blog covering feminism, politics, and pop culture.”

    And now here are my thoughts.

    First, the writing struck me as horrible — in that it was flashy, attacking, simplified rhetoric:
    “another dudely atheist”
    “motion-driven temper tantrums”
    “defied his testosteronic heritage by getting his fee-fees hurt”
    “sexist pigs”

    This article is preaching to a choir — now the question is, what choir and why.

    So with that, I only read half of the article due to its obvious agenda. And I must say, the quotes I read of Harris I did not find easily objectionable.

    I work in a culture where, over the last 25 years, women have taken who were a huge minority but now are the vast majority. The culture has changed. I am a bell curve person who sees huge variety within both men and women on almost ever trait but it is a distribution curve (normal or skewed). Unfortunately, with out Biological background or statistical knowledge (both often counter-intuitive), the implications for that is lost on many.

    Women and men undeniably are different creatures with their own different tendencies, but they are only tendencies and the vary hugely and are vastly dependent on culture and upbringing. And even at that, “male” vs “female” are highly over-simplified categories. ’Tis very complex. But the word “human” is deceptive on how it hides our difference. In fact these difference have actually been ignored by medicine to the detriment of women over thousands of years.

    So I may be a sexist, slimy pig just like Harris. Or I may be pointing out an over-kill, blood thirsty career feminist. I’m not sure. Or it may be some complex mix.

    All that said, I think it is good to keep us men and women in check. We are all dangerous critters.

  9. Caryn LeMur says:

    Sabio: I like some of your writings here on Naked Pastor…. so, I will not vote for you to be labeled another ‘generic male asshole’…. although I admit that it is an incredibly flashy insult… lol.

    I currently think the arguments of feminism center around intellectual merit and freedom of choice. That is, the merit of an idea should be judged on it’s own merits… not on the grounds of sex or gender. And that men or women should be free to be physical therapists, computer scientists, pastors or atheists… and if you have the strength, firemen, and attach helicopter pilots in the Army.

    We are indeed different medically… I am an in-between medically, and am glad my doctors recognize it. Men and women are different in many hormonal aspects.

    Tannen, in ‘You Just Don’t Understand’, discusses gender-based communication styles and the just-beneath-the-surface subcultures of male and female. I think her arguments are excellent that we are different in our communications (and misunderstandings) because of the subcultures that we wish to identify within.

    And so on… lots of differences that can be recognized. And some are fun and very consensual! As was said, Viva la difference! lol….

  10. Sabio Lantz says:

    @ Caryn,
    Thanx for the response.
    Tannen has had a huge impact on my thinking of gender and such for decades now.
    I still remember how generic she made me feel when I first read her works — in a good way. It all stopped being personal!
    I am totally for viva la differences ! But this is a tough, though worth road.
    Again, thanx for your response.

  11. Sabio Lantz says:

    @ David,
    Since you didn’t respond to my comments on this post, I’ve been thinking more on the issue. I’ve read atheist sites arguing about sexism. When someone is accused of being a sexist, the response types are several:
    (1) Defend the person’s statements as misinterpreted
    (2) Defend the person saying, “they aren’t really a sexist, even if that was a sexist statement”
    (3) Attack the attacker
    (4) Attack either tribe as a whole

    But I think that the fuel feeding all these is the temptation to label the whole person (instead of the suspected crime). Labelling is a primitive, albeit effective, dangerous tribal or troop mechanism.

    Labels are easy. Labels are exciting. Labels are cheap journalism, cheap tribalism, cheap entertainment.

    Maybe labels are eventually appropriate, but as a first reflex, they are horrible. We need to label the suspected offense first, well before we label a person. Jumping on the label bandwagon is too common a pleasure. I know, I have ridden it many times.

  12. Ya… been super busy and haven’t responded to a lot of comments. I agree Sabio.