The Out Campaign’s scarlet A no longer graces my blog or my social media feeds. I’m still an out and proud atheist, mind you. I still think atheism is important and can do the world some good. But the scarlet A, that doesn’t do enough. And I could put up the A+ logo derived from it, but while I support the idea of Atheism Plus, I want a different and better symbol, one that suitably reflects the fact that no one on the other side of the rift is interested in bridging any divides, and so those of us who want a heaping helping of social justice to go with their atheism are going it alone. Perhaps one of you here will design it, or point me to it.
Hank_Says has a succinct summary of the fuckery of the past few years, when we went from superficially-cohesive movement to Deep Rifts™. It’s what made me decide it was time to retire that particular atheist symbol:
The transition was relatively rapid, too: one minute everyone’s apparently (I’ll get to that) on the same page and looking in the same direction, the next – as soon as women identify problematic behaviour and request that we guys not do that then start talking about harassment policies – there’s an instant rift dug by people who for some reason viciously resent being told that some behaviour makes others uncomfortable. Then a few visible “leaders” say some thoughtless or petulant things, one blogger wonders if atheism can be about a little more than debunking myths and is vilified at length for the mere suggestion, a blogger or ‘tuber or two reveal themselves to be unapologetic misogynists, a parallel atheist community is born for the sole purpose of harassing and obsessively monitoring two blog networks and before you know it, women are being threatened with rape and death. With rape and death. And others are laughing at it. Including other women.
Finally, I find it highly ironic that the leadership/s that brought us the scarlet letter “A” logo, a repurposing or “taking back” of the old tactic of publicly humiliating women who dared step out of the social boundaries prescribed by the men who essentially owned them, would be so solidly behind enabling and defending a sexist status quo, and in some cases being openly hostile to all women who challenge them, whether they’re accusing accuse “leaders” of assault or inappropriate sexual behaviour or of simply saying things that are mildly (but no less thoughtlessly) sexist. In light of the last three years of harassment, obsessive monitoring, threats, both mild casual sexism and unapologetic misogyny, all with nary a disapproving look from the leaders over the tops of their spectacles, followed by wagon-circling and dismissive responses to allegations of assault and rape (some going back years), that scarlet letter is more appropriate than ever.
Yes, it is – for them. They can have their narrow-minded dictionary atheism with its old-boys club mentality, its libertarian bullshit, and its sexual assaulter protection program. I’ve got different ideas for atheism. And there are other ways to go. Let them cling to scarlet letters and smug senses of (false) superiority. We have better things to do.
Their brand of atheism is too limited to be of much use to anyone outside the newly deconverted. For those of us ready to move on, it’s useless.
To paraphrase very wise and angry feminist Flavia Dzodan: My atheism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit. Those atheists who don’t think working on social justice issues is important for atheism can fuck right off. A world without gods won’t be any less of a shithole if we don’t confront the oppressions that obviously remain when gods are swept into the dust bin. And yes, as much as I happen to hate religion, I’ll take a world with religion and true equality over a world simply without religion. Because, as our scarlet-A atheist douches have demonstrated, giving up god is only the first step in becoming a better human being.
Those who aren’t willing to take the next step can bugger off to the other side of the Deep Rift™ and stay there.