Are Atheists More Misogynistic Than the Religious?


As atheists, we often criticize the sexism found within religion. I think it is important to point out sexism when we see it. However, I think atheists can be quite unfair when it comes to accusing the religious of sexist.

Atheists often criticize religions for sexism because of the sexism in the religion’s holy book. This sexism is problematic, and does need to be pointed out, but we also need to realize that a lot of religious people don’t accept the sexism within their holy book. Most religious people are far more progressive than we give them credit for. As such, we should criticize the sexism in the book without telling people that they must be complicit in the sexism of their religion because of the sexism within the holy book.

Atheists also often complain about entire religions being sexist because of the sexism of an outspoken minority. Yes, there are loud groups that openly spew sexism, but that doesn’t mean the entire religion is sexist. I think we need to be willing to accept that being religious doesn’t make one a misogynist.

However, my biggest concern is how willing so many atheists are to ignore the misogyny within our own circles. Again, we should call out misogyny when we see it. That means we should call it out regardless of who has said it. Enough of the double standards. Yes, the Duggar family is misogynistic. Yes, Pat Robertson is sexist, as is Bryan Fisher. Yes, the Phelps family is also misogynistic. But so are a number of atheists. Thunderf00t doesn’t get a pass when he attacks women simply for being feminists because he’s an atheist. Richard Dawkins doesn’t get to brush off rape allegations (that weren’t even against him) because he’s an atheist. Why is it that so many atheists who are willing to criticize Islam for the sexism in Islamic countries are willing to then turn around and troll Free Thought Blogs with sexist and hateful language simply because Free Thought Blogs is willing to promote Feminism? Does that scream double standard to anyone else? It’s not okay for Muslims to be sexist because they’re religious, but it’s okay for atheists to be sexist because atheists aren’t religious and you’re just fighting off the evil feminazis, right? Sexism is sexism regardless of who says it, and for what reason.

This is one reason I stopped going on YouTube. The atheist community of YouTube is largely misogynistic, with a large number of them supporting A Voice For Men (if you haven’t heard of them, I envy you). When I find a good atheist video on YouTube, I find the comments full of sexism and trolling, and the likes have usually suffered as a result of the trolling. This disappoints me greatly, and it makes me feel unwelcome within a community that I used to enjoy greatly. In fact, the online atheist community has gotten so bad that I pretty much ignore it altogether. The infighting over feminism has made it not worth even bothering with. And when I read the comments that atheists have written, they are often worse than anything I’ve heard a religious person say. Hell, I’ve heard atheist women say that they know they’ve made it big when they get their first rape threat. Seriously? Women within the atheist community are threatened with rape when they get too outspoken? But the Bible is terrible and sexist because it says that women shouldn’t speak in church? WTF?

I’m tired of these double standards. I’m tired of the atheists who give the religious such easy fodder when they want to say atheists can’t be moral. And I am done with the misogyny. Something needs to be done, and atheists need to stop giving excuses for the atheists who spew sexism. We need to stop ignoring the issue and start dealing with it.

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28 responses to “Are Atheists More Misogynistic Than the Religious?

  • Paul's Letters

    Great post and topic. I actually just recorded a podcast that touches on this with regards to Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss. https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/podcast-episode-5-heroes-their/id959297299?i=335043563&mt=2

    We need to call misogyny and sexism wherever we encounter it.

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  • Foghorn The IKonoclast

    I guess no reply to this…. lol

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  • jrob8157293

    I never really thought about misogyny being a problem within the atheist community before. But when you brought up the YouTube comments thing I remember some things I’ve seen and I have to agree with you. It seems like no matter what video I watch on YouTube someone finds a way to either turn it into a proclamation of their faith or an attack on religion and it leads to a big religious argument, which alone can get kind of annoying. And when girls/women join in and people don’t like what they say, people, both religious and not religious, call them stupid bitches and stuff like that. Also, I hate it when people pick and choose Bible verses to support their sexist views instead of looking at the Bible as a whole. Men in my faith often cite the Bible to support their view that a woman must fulfill her “marital duty” to her husband and how the wife doesn’t have any authority when it comes to sex. That passage written by Paul as a whole reads as follows: “…each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife…I say this as a concession, not as a command.” This suggests an equal relationship, at least in this aspect. The Bible also says that a wife is a gift from God. Also, yes there is a part of the Bible that says women shouldn’t speak in church, but some of the earliest leaders of the Christian faith were women, such as Mary Magdalene and Prisca. Prisca was likely in some sort of leadership position WITHIN THE VERY EARLY CHURCH. Back in the days of Jesus it was unheard of for women to follow a man around and interact with a man in terms of a friendship or the type of relationship that Jesus’s female followers had with Jesus. And even in the Old Testament there are prominent female figures such as Esther and Ruth. In both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches one of the most revered figures is the Virgin Mary. So if one looks at the Bible as a whole and acts as a true Christian they will understand that the sexist views that so many people cite the Bible to support are simply not Christian. As George Carlin would say, “It’s all bullshit folks and it’s bad for ya.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • equippedcat

      The way I heard it, that business about not speaking in church was that the women were in one section and kept saying things like “Hey joe, what did he say?” and the injunction was to wait until they got out of church and then ask for clarification. To not interrupt during services is not a bad thing, but then there is that whole “women in another section” thing which is worrisome.

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  • The Brain in the Jar

    I actually wrote a post about Thunderf00t. I can’t believe people take him seriously. Even as a criticism of feminism, he doesn’t count. His videos about feminism are so far out it’s not even wrong.

    I think the best word for religions is ‘sexist’, not misogynistic. Misogyny is a hatred of women. Religions tend to generally put men and women in strict gender roles, with the women having more limitations. I talked to some Muslims, and even those who think these gender roles are okay don’t view it as something bad. It’s a form of sexism, but not hatred of women – still bad though.

    The online atheist community is full of crap. Your blog is a rarity. Most atheists just seem angry at their uptight moms.

    A Voice for Men is also awful, and men who endorse it shoot themselves in the foot. They sometimes talk about interesting men’s issues, but then resort to blaming feminism.

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  • clubschadenfreude

    I find that there is little difference between humans, so we have different ways to justify our hates and desires. Religion gives the excuse for misogynistic theists, and all sorts of different things give atheists the excuse. I will stand against both idiocies.

    Liked by 2 people

  • The Chaos Realm

    Misogynistic. Sorry for the typos!

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  • The Chaos Realm

    So, what is it about atheism that connects it to misogynic beliefs? Related or unrelated? How do you determine if there’s a direct connection, or not? Is there anything about being an atheist that attracts misogynic types? Thoughts? (feminist and somewhat atheist, myself)

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    • hessianwithteeth

      I don’t know for a fact, but the sexism is usually associated to the fact that the atheist community has traditionally been an old boy’s club.

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      • paidiske

        I suspect that it’s simply that contemporary atheism – like contemporary religion – exists within the context of patriarchy. What feminists of all stripes have in common is the need to critique and reform that context.

        Liked by 1 person

    • armondikov

      My pet theory on this is that despite claims, atheists aren’t that great at logic and reason. Sure, people *say* they’re reasoned and logical, and are great critical thinkers, but they don’t act like it. And it’s the same with the more general skeptical community. It doesn’t take a great roaring intellect to not believe the earth is 6000 years old and all animals went on an ark. It doesn’t take a lot of critical thinking to not believe infinitely dilute solutions of water will cure cancer. It doesn’t take a genius level brain to not believe in God.

      Yet the story atheists, skeptics, and self-confessed rationalists tell themselves is that they’re smarter. Aren’t we so logical and rational and reasoned to not believe all that nonsense! But we’re not – we’re as average as (read: dumb as) anyone else. The same biases and difficulties in changing our mind, just unaware of it thanks to those self-superiority stories.

      To *not* be a knee-jerk anti-feminist, however, requires quite a bit of critical self-reflection. Because on the face of it, it’s not kind to people in privileged positions – it comes across, without that self-reflection, as quite a dire accusation against you. And where atheists have been convinced of their own intellectual superiority but have never actually exercised it, it turns out they don’t have the capability to address this properly. Thunderf00t, for example, made his name debunking the lines of VenomFangX, which is hardly a challenge – so is it any wonder that his “feminism ruins everything” video is beyond stupid? You have to critically examine your place in society, and then come to the realisation you may be way further up the hierarchy than you were lead to believe. That’s not easy even if you give it a go, because it’s not comfortable – and it’s impossible if you aren’t even going to try because you’re convinced of your own intellectual superiority from the outset.

      And there’s no huge atheist authors like Dawkins or Hitchens with easy digestible sound-bites telling you about feminism, or racism, or misogyny. Hell, atheists are a *little* friendlier to gay rights, but that’s mostly expressed in the context of “religions hate homosexuality, therefore we will support it”. So there’s no party line to toe. There’s no already solved problem that you can use as an identity.

      If you want to be an atheist and recognise social problems, you have to do some actual thinking. And unfortunately, this is why you’ll never convince anyone out of it, they have to do it themselves.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Are Atheists More Misogynistic Than the Religious? | Christians Anonymous

    […] Source: Are Atheists More Misogynistic Than the Religious? […]

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  • armondikov

    At least if you’re religious and misogynistic you get to say “hey, that’s just what the book says!” – which is problematic, but it’s a better excuse than an atheist has. When you’re a non-believer you literally can’t blame your attitude on anyone but yourself. You threw off the shackles and diktats of prescriptive religion, and you still choose to be an asshole.

    Liked by 2 people

  • mzzhang

    First of all, I mostly agree with you. Bigotry isn’t just a religious problem–it’s a human problem, and atheists are not immune to it. I also think everyone should take a vow never to read or post a single Youtube comment. Youtube comments are the lowest of the low, even by the standards of Internet comments.

    However…I don’t know much about thunderf00t’s ideology, but how does opposing an ideology (namely feminism) make you sexist? It’s certainly unfair, ridiculous, and stupid to attack women simply for identifying as feminist because the label is so vague, but that doesn’t automatically make you sexist.

    Dawkins got into a controversy when he described a child’s sexual abuse as “mild pedophilia”, saying it wasn’t all that bad. Who was the victim? Himself. We’ve gotten so hypersensitive and hysterical about sexual abuse that even a victim of pedophilia can’t speak honestly about his own experiences. Who does this help, exactly?

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    • hessianwithteeth

      Thunderf00t is sexist because of how he responds to women who are Feminists. Here are some videos discussing why Thunderf00t is being sexist/problematic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8qJTB6oQRU, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8N-tkrxAEWw, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55Nzqc4EM2Y, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SucRU3N1fv4, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMM3yOimC6o. However, AronRa has said that if you aren’t a feminist, you are, at the very least, only a half-humanist: http://freethoughtblogs.com/aronra/2013/10/22/to-the-critics-of-my-comments-on-feminism/. Feminism is about female equality, or equality of the sexes. If you against that, then you are a sexist.
      Dawkins used his own experience as an example, but he was commenting on another person’s claim of sexual assault and how they were affected. Dawkins (whether he meant to or not) implied that some types of sexual assault are worth getting upset about and others aren’t.

      Liked by 1 person

      • equippedcat

        If you are against the original CONCEPT of feminism, you are a sexist. If you are against some of the things said or done by a few who claim they are feminists, you may not be a sexist.

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        • hessianwithteeth

          Thunderf00t aren’t against a few who are feminists, he is against feminism. Thus his video series “feminism is poisoning atheism.”

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          • equippedcat

            Admittedly, his choice of words in the title is rather far-reaching, and if he is not against women being treated as well as they deserve, then he should be more specific in who he is complaining about.

            I don’t know anything about this person, except for what I could see in the first 3 links you posted and the first part of the first video in the series you mentioned. I didn’t really get what they were talking about, since the subject(s) of the discussions seemed to be events of which I am unaware. But there did not appear to be any evidence of widespread sexism so far. Poor arguing technique, perhaps; attacking a woman or women with whom he disagreed, probably. But is this “sexism”?

            True sexism, IMHO, is thinking of or treating women as less than the equivalent men, based solely on their being women. Verbally “attacking” or invalidly discrediting a particular woman you disagree with is certainly a poor behavior, but it is not necessarily sexism. If the person treats a man with the same position the same way, it would appear not to be sexism; while if the man is treated “better”, then it could well be sexism.

            Feminism, at least in concept, has the goal of bringing women into “equality” with men. If by equality, it is meant that each person is judged and treated on their own merits, without consideration of their gender, than this is a worthy and even necessary goal. Sadly, a few think that women should be treated better than they “deserve” by their merits, simply because they are women. This is not equality.

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  • Foghorn The IKonoclast

    I am saying there are things I am unaware of. Things I cannot control and some things that I would rather not concern myself over. As it is I worry enough. The dark side of manic depression or whatever they call it this year. And I never said anything about the things you listed above. The problem is what I can control and what I need to.

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  • darby

    Huh. This is fascinating to me. I am an atheist and a woman and I have never felt the misogyny you write about. Of course, I haven’t had an online presence for very long now. To me, being an atheist empowers my feminism and vice versa so it is discouraging to hear that there are many women-hating atheists out there. Seems counterintuitive. I mean, unlike many religious people, who have scripture to back up their prejudice, there really is no excuse to sexism in the atheist community.

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    • hessianwithteeth

      I’ve found wordpress to be fine, but I’ve seen and heard about a lot of problems elsewhere. Some of the bigger conferences are known to be problematic too. But there are a lot of really good smaller conferences and communities, and some are specifically aimed at women.

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  • Foghorn The IKonoclast

    Hey nothing wrong with believing what you will but when people obsess over religion or anything else. I live and let live. The world is big enough.

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