Monday, November 4, 2013

Atheism, It's A Guy Thing


Statistically, if you're an atheist or an agnostic you are much more likely to be male. Just look around at atheist gatherings and conventions. It's practically all guys! A pew survey from 2012 showed that men out number women 2 to 1 for those identifying as atheist/agnostic. Wow. I didn't know it was that bad.

So why aren't women embracing non-religiosity as much as men and what can be done to increase their numbers? The same survey also showed that women, more than men, are more likely to be affiliated with a particular religion. I hate to stereotype here, but I think the numbers might be due to the emotional dependency many women naturally have. Studies have shown that it is harder for women to quite smoking than men for example, because they are more likely to use cigarettes as an emotional comfort. And since religious belief is primarily emotional and not logical, it would make sense that women, being more emotional than men, naturally would find greater security in it.

So, just as it appears women find it harder to kick the habit with smoking, they too find it harder to let go of religion. That means deconverting from theism to atheism is generally a much more difficult emotional experience for women, whereas for guys it is comparatively easier. I didn't have a harrowing deconversion experience that many current atheists have had, so I can't speak from experience. But it seems that women will need more emotional support on their way out of religion. Perhaps that means it is necessary that a welcoming, emotionally supportive atheistic community exist that could provide the same levels of emotional security that religion is currently providing, in order to get larger numbers of women to embrace atheism. That means atheists should squash a lot of this in-fighting. And when it comes to counter-apologetics, maybe emphasizing the more emotionally-tinged arguments like the ones that show how all religions are pretty much sexist and have less than ideal views towards women, would better appeal to women who might embrace atheism.

Many women who reject traditional theism I think will find spirituality more comforting than atheism. Within spirituality you can conceive of god as a goddess, synonymous with mother nature, or a great feminine spirit. That will likely appeal to women more, and the statistics of the "nones" who are not atheist/agnostic appear a bit more even in the gender gap. The "spiritual but not religious" identity I'm sure many atheists would prefer over traditional theism, especially fundamentalism. But the atheist community would really like to see more women embracing full frontal atheism bereft of any spiritual mushyness.  

We've got work to do.


3 comments:

  1. I've noticed that former fundies make up a very large demographic block in atheism, and in fundamentalist cultures, it's harder for women than men to leave, especially if she's married, because of the imbalance of power between the genders in those cultures.

    Most of the former fundamentalist turned atheist women I know were single when they left, or their husband started to pull away from the faith first, and she followed him out, or they both started doubted at the same time.

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  2. I can see how if a women is married and her and her husband are both religious, it would be harder for her to leave the faith than if she was single. That will change a bit as women get more and more independent.

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