Atheism Plus. Where Atheism and Feminism Meet – Part II

The first part of this post can be found here : Where Atheism and Feminism Meet – Part I

Atheism Plus. The term was coined by Jennifer McCreight and the commentariat of her blog, Blag Hag. The idea being that we want a label that applies to more of what we do believe, and not just what we don’t believe. Jason Thibeault , from Lousy Canuck, defines it thusly : ‘the “atheism plus” label takes the part of the Venn diagram where humanists and “new” atheists and social justice advocates overlap, and defines itself as that overlap.

I am wholeheartedly on board with this suggestion. I’ve often said that my feminism and social justice ideals stem from my atheism. And yet, atheism at its core has nothing to do with either of the other movements. I am a feminist because believing half the population is somehow inferior to the other is irrational. I believe in Social Justice because we only have one life and we should strive to make this place where we live the most pleasant place we can, before we die and the ride is over.

At its core, atheism is merely the lack of belief in gods. Many people have no belief in gods. People who identify as MRAs, and racists, homophobes, people who are not skeptics, and people who are capitalists all may have no belief in god. I share this label with people who do not share any of my philosophies. The irony being that it was my atheism that brought me to these other philosophies. It didn’t bring everyone here. It did bring enough of us to the destination where we should probably have a label to describe where we’re coming from.

The idea of creating a new wave of atheism for those atheists who fit the description of Atheism+ seems to be receiving a lot of pushback. People who insist that tossing all this extra luggage into the trunk is going to cause division and strife amongst atheists. Guess what? The division and strife is already there. As I noted in my previous post, I feel very unsafe and unwelcome in the atheist movement as it stands. I am not the only one. Jen’s original post on starting a new wave of atheism explained her feelings on the subject and they are very similar to my own.

And then I found this quote :

An atheist movement cannot be inclusive of atheist women… and also be inclusive of people who publicly call women ugly, fat, sluts, whores, cunts, and worse; who persistently harass them; who deliberately invade their privacy and make their personal information public; and/or who routinely threaten them with grisly violence, rape, and death.

Greta Christina, Why Atheism Plus Is Good for Atheism

Not just women, either. As it stands, the movement is already divisive and exclusive in regards to sexism and racism, and homo/trans-phobia. Which explains why the current face of the atheism is a group of old white men. That’s not my atheism. It’s not reflective of the rest of us. And there are a lot of ‘the rest of us‘. So give us a banner to crowd under. So we can march forward united. The chaff having been left to the wayside. They were making us look bad and they weren’t contributing anything worthwhile anyway.

Atheism Plus. Where Feminism and Atheism and Social Justice meet. Call me an optimist, but I have high hopes for this movement. It’s exactly the face we need to help secularism grow. One that is supportive of LGBT issues, feminism, people of colour, and one that embraces social justice. A friendly face, as it were.

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What Free Speech Does Not Mean

One of the most common arguments you’ll see from the ignorant on any number of a variety of topics is the ‘It’s free speech’ argument. Lately I’ve seen this with the Daniel Tosh Rape joke scenario, the We-Need-Moar-Guns-To-Stop-People-From-Shooting-Theatres debate, the Chik-Fil-A We-don’t-hate-gays-but-donate-to-anti-gay-groups debacle. And numerous other ridiculous situations that I have a hard time imagining anyone would want to defend.

Usually, the ‘It’s Free Speech’ argument is said completely without irony and without an understanding of what it actually means. It’s like people think it’s a ‘get out of argument free card’.

What free speech means:

That you are free to voice your opinion without government interference.

That’s it. Full stop. That’s all it means. Here’s what it does not mean:

That you are free to say something remarkably stupid without receiving criticism.

As I’ve said on a previous post : ‘No one is above critique. See that’s the flip side of the ‘Free Speech’ argument that so many seem to draw like a gun. Yes, you can say stupid things…and then I can verbally tear you a new asshole for it.’ If you try to tell me I’m not allowed to criticize something you’ve said…you’ve just committed the ultimate hypocrisy in asserting that your Free Speech somehow outweighs mine.

That I have to listen to what you have to say.

MRAs (Male Rights Activists) may rant and rave and froth and foam to their heart’s content. And they do quite frequently. I’m not interested and I’m not listening. My brain can only handle so much unreasoning hate and pure stupid. In no way have I taken away their rights by focusing my attention away from their fecal flinging. I won’t pull you off your soapbox…but I have the right to walk by without stopping.

That I have to provide you an opportunity to voice your opinion.

I believe this is part of the FreeThoughtBlogs vs Thunderf00t comedy. He was given a blog space by them…they realized he was only there to shit disturb…they promptly removed him. No Free Speech was taken. As a presenter or organizer, I don’t have to allow you the stage. As a webmaster I don’t have to give you a blog. As a blogger, I don’t have to let you write a guest post and I certainly don’t have to allow your opinions in the comment section of my personal blog. I’m not the government and I’m not censoring you. I’m just not giving up my space for your opinions. Get your own damned blog. I hear there’s this place called WordPress that gives them away for free!

That I must continue to support the person who is exercising their free speech.

For example, if I choose to boycott a business because they are vocal in their bigotry, this is not infringing on their free speech. They chose to voice their opinion. I chose not to support it. If, as another business, I choose to sever our relationship, this too is not taking away the rights of the first business. They chose to voice an opinion that may not be well received by the masses. There are consequences in that.

That the listeners must agree with the speaker.

Have your say. Try to swing me to your perspective. Don’t throw a temper tantrum and accuse people of stealing your free speech when they don’t instantly bow down to your demands or agree with you. Be an adult, for chrissakes. Or by all means, flop down in the mud and throw your temper tantrum. It gives us fledgling bloggers something interesting to blog about. And by ‘blog about’ I do mean ‘mock relentlessly’.