Movement cohesion

Movement atheism is not a cohesive entity. Heads of orgs like American Atheists, in full-throated promotion of people like Jaclyn Glenn — especially those videos that attack movement feminists for being too firebrandey and poisoning movement atheism with all their “social justice warrior” stuff — they’ve evidently chosen sides. Let’s not mistake that there are, in fact, sides to choose in what amounts to a fundamental division between feminists and antifeminists within atheism. AA has chosen, expressly, the side of the antifeminists, and they’ve framed the issue such that the antifeminists are the ones demanding we stop talking about feminist ideas and the toxic anti-woman environment that these antifeminists inculcate in our movement.

Feminists are told to stop fighting. Antifeminists are asked absolutely nothing — they’re the “reasonable” ones for demanding that the status quo be maintained.

Fuck that.

The surest way to earn my enmity, my directed criticism, is to ask us to stop other fights so we can pretend we’re all one big happy big-tent family. It’s what bugged the hell out of me about courting secular pro-lifers at CPAC, it’s what bugged the hell out of me about the ongoing, constant, concerted attacks of big atheist vloggers like Thunderf00t and The Amazing Atheist against feminists despite the absolute hash they make of logic and reason and empathy in doing so. It’s what continues to bug me about basically every organization demanding that we go big-tent and allow every atheist in so we can all talk about how much God don’t real, but don’t you dare talk about the social impact of how we treat half the human fucking race. Not to mention every other issue that gets derided under the umbrella of “Social Justice Warrior”, like trans rights, gay rights, race issues, and every other aspect of humanism that involves having a shred of empathy for your fellow human being.

The necessity of feminism is evidenced by the comments everyplace it’s mentioned in anything but a negative, straw-feminist casting (take Laci Green’s recent video’s comments, for example). Especially so any time it’s mentioned in atheist settings, because there are precious few that aren’t expressly antifeminist and expressly anti-any-social-justice-but-secularism in bent, thanks to the vociferous libertarian quadrant of our “community” demographics.

There is no one single community. This inter-atheist fighting is necessary because we have coalesced communities around shared ideals, and there’s a shit-ton of you atheists out there who share almost no ideals in common with me outside of “god don’t real”.

I will not throw my other principles under the bus to be part of your hideous granfaloon.

Movement cohesion

75 thoughts on “Movement cohesion

  1. Ed


    You’re generally right that atheism doesn’t literally mean similarity besides in people’s answer to one philosophical question. But most people who identify as atheists do so because of some broader rejection of magical thinking of any kind, and the acceptance of a worldview that I’ll call scientific naturalism.

    Many people, even in progressive environments are under pressure to accept some form of spiritualism or theism. By advocating atheism (by way of naturalism and reason)as an alternative, the “”atheist movement” does a fair amount of good.

    But yes, I don’t see where deeply “identifying” with atheism alone is particularly fulfilling–and yes, if one gets caught up in quasi-religious identification with atheist groups, one often ends up having to identify some nasty characters as “our people”

    I look at Dawkins` organization and American Atheists and similar groups as people who have sometimes done a good job advocating a particular positive thing, but are scarcely moral guides or communities committed to across the board progressivism.

    It’s like organization that promote good nutrition or exercise. Yes, these things are great, but their advocates aren’t necessarily wonderful people.

  2. 53

    Davis Collins:

    Why not just be a feminist, LGBTQ rights activist, and secularist?

    For my part, I’m a gay man. I’m a Person of Color. I’m a secularist. I’m a Humanist. I’m an atheist. I chose these labels because I feel they describe aspects of my character that are important. I came to secularism and Humanism through atheism. It’s an important part of my journey and I see no reason to throw it away because someone else doesn’t think I should use the label. Also, given the discrimination of atheists in the US, as well as the historical treatment of atheism and atheists, ending that stigma is important. FFS, many people think we’re worse than rapists, despite the fact that not believing in gods doesn’t harm anyone, while rape very much does bring harm to others.

  3. 55

    “The surest way to earn my enmity, my directed criticism, is to ask us to stop other fights so we can pretend we’re all one big happy big-tent family.”

    Whatever shall I do? An obscure, balding, Canadian white man might get angry if I tell him he’s wrong on all accounts. I’m shaken to my very core, truly.

    You and your brand of feminism have done little more than implode a once formidable and unified front of skeptics who were starting to turn the tide in favor of rationalism/atheism/skepticism. Because it’s just a shame that older white men like Dawkins and Hitchens were the ones saying it and not Thibeault, Watson, Myers and Partners, Firm for Feminism and Social Justice? It’s so unfair that paranoid, underachieving, and overly hysterical bloggers don’t get the respect that intelligent hard-workers get.

    The fighting is not at all necessary; your faction is more akin to the South seceding from the Union, declaring war, and then forever whining about losing and the following period of Reconstruction. Yes, I am comparing you to the pro-slavery antebellum South in the hope that I make it clear that your faction is a group the rest of us are forced to admit is a part of the larger Union even if we would rather you’d just secede and shrivel up.

    You see, the South has always been unfathomably butthurt about losing the Civil War, despite starting it on all accounts while blaming the North for the entire fiasco. Likewise, FtB tools are just flabbergasted and outraged (outraged I tell you) that people could disagree, and express their disagreement and declare which side they’re on. Protip: being hostile, inflammatory, confrontational, and otherwise useless will get you exactly the division you demanded. Thibeault says:

    “Heads of orgs like American Atheists, in full-throated promotion of people like Jaclyn Glenn — especially those videos that attack movement feminists for being too firebrandey and poisoning movement atheism with all their “social justice warrior” stuff — they’ve evidently chosen sides. Let’s not mistake that there are, in fact, sides to choose in what amounts to a fundamental division between feminists and antifeminists within atheism. AA has chosen, expressly, the side of the antifeminists, and they’ve framed the issue such that the antifeminists are the ones demanding we stop talking about feminist ideas and the toxic anti-woman environment that these antifeminists inculcate in our movement.”

    Before the lot of you decided that atheism must be co-opted to talk about your feelings, general hysteria and post-modernist trite, New Atheism was about turning the tide back against religion. Religion of course is largely responsible for the oppression of LGBT people, women, ethnic minority groups and virtually all marginalized groups throughout history. And who actually started the in-fighting that dissolved the serious movement? Arguably, it’s dubious as to exactly who and what event started it all. But what didn’t start it was a backlash against modern feminism. I can say that with certainty because a backlash is a response to a something else.

    In fact, atheists were getting along fine until certain parties within gathered and decided that everyone else either agreed with their narrow gender politics and claims of harassment/mass oppression/rape apology, OR no one got to have a unified front to push back the primary driving force behind most of actual social injustice. Go figure: the group whining the loudest about injustice actually ensures the stagnation and dissolution of a movement opposing exactly what they were whining about in the first place. And then you throw a fit when it doesn’t work out and the majority isn’t interested in dropping everything to hang on to your every proclamation. Who would have imagined something so ironic?

    To conclude, the outcome of the conflict you started (along the civil war theme) is as follows:

    We (the Union) will inevitably stamp out the scourge that is the FtB fanaticism (that’s you, the South) when basically all of the relevant groups see the light of reason and leave you by the way-side. General William T. F00t’s scorched earth campaign has pretty much decimated your resources and left no idiot standing. General Ulysses S. Mykeru has either entirely defeated or cornered your leaders here while your stronghold of Atheism+ forums is all but deserted. Eventually, General Mykeru will capture your president Peezey, force him to surrender unconditionally, and then proceed to eat Generals Brayton, Watson, and Benson alive. General F00t will ensure Secretary of State J. Glenn and Chief Justice TJ Kincaid oversee movement Reconstruction, whilst F00t takes his place as Secretary of Education in President Dawkins’ Cabinet. President Dawkins’ cabinet is by far the most outstanding, and includes the noted Vice President Abbie Smith, Attorney General D.P.R. Jones, Secretary of Defense Sam Harris, and the famed Secretary of the Treasury Neil deGrasse Tyson. Your president Peezey will be sentenced to hard labor in Karen Straughan’s service; General Svan will be sentenced to a diet. You and the rest of your confederates will be expelled into Utah, the pit of Mormon, as punishment for your warmongering. May those crazy bike-riding, creepy, thieving missionaries have mercy on your souls.

  4. 56

    This screed is so damn strange and wish-fulfillment that I had to allow it through mod.

    I seriously doubt Neil DeGrasse Tyson would join the likes of the people whose hill they would die on is the fight AGAINST “social justice”.

  5. 57

    They… they just so desperately want us in THEIR communities, which they think constitutes the entirety of “the movement”, that they’re willing to imagine having to kill people to subjugate us to their whims.

  6. 58

    @James In His Own Arse, TL;DR … Can you summarise your basic thesis in less than a hundred flowery pseudo-intellectual words?

    Oh OK, I did skim it, couldn’t your basic argument be used against you? Basically a bunch of under achieving testerical anti-feminists who work at bad quality photoshops all day rather than doing something? I think NonStampCollector summed it up nicely when he eviscerated the anti-FTB obsessives… Seriously dude, some people blog here, they like to blog about SJ and atheism, they sometimes criticise your gold plated idols, get over it.

  7. 59

    Even Richard Dawkins knows he should smile and nod when Neil Degrasse Tyson says that not being a white male in science is the path of least resistance.

  8. 61

    Has anyone else noticed the inherent hypocrisy in the position of the anti-feminists? Dave up there illustrates it quite nicely.

    Look at how much time and effort they spend, telling us not to spend time and effort on this because it’s ‘detracting’ from the ‘big fight’ against religion. If they really felt that way, wouldn’t they ignore all of us feminists (at the least) and get on with fighting against religious incursions they insist are so much more important? But no, he see screed after screed, often walls of text that really make it clear just how unimportant it must be, telling us feminists and feminist supporters 1) that we’re wrong; 2) that we are being divisive (another distinct display of hypocrisy here) and most importantly; 3) shut up, because that’s why!

    It makes it quite clear to me, that although they recognize privilege, in the form of religious privilege, and feel it’s worth fighting against, like most people, they are blind to their own privilege. Or, worse, they are aware of it, and really really want to defend it.

    It’s much like seeing so many black people in the US striving so hard to deny gay rights, using the exact same rhetoric now, that was used to describe them back in the 60s.

  9. 62

    Sorry “James in my Own Ass”, but Neil deGrasse Tyson wouldn’t participate at all. He’d be content to sit back and watch, laughing, as y’all imploded around him.

    Off topic… Jason… we need to talk about which “subscribe to comments” option you use. I wished you used the other one… the one you do use sucks because it doesn’t actually show formatting in emails. It just shows the code. 🙁 Then again, if I’m the only one who feels that way, you can ignore me. 😀

    Back on topic… I still can’t think of any YouTubers besides Laci Green, ZOMGItsCriss, and Some Grey Bloke who turned out to be awesome.


  10. 63

    I split my subscribe between the two methods — you’ll notice the checkboxes are a little offset? It’s because I really liked the “subscribe without commenting” option that the other one offers.

    I’ll consider switching it. I get three notifications whenever someone subscribes when using the other option. It’s well and truly broken in a lot of ways but that subscribe without commenting is the killer feature I’ll miss.

  11. 64

    Wait until James sees the future!!! (sorry for lengthy blockquote, the whole thing is just sooooo good…)

    You find yourself drinking alone after work, seated at a wine-stained oaken table, deep in the Reconstruction District of Dworkonia. A long day of picking up heavy things and setting them down left your muscles sore and your brain numb with tedium, but you comfort yourself with the knowledge that your punishment is building towards a better future for the Femireich.

    You start at a small scraping sound. Looking around—but carefully, so as not to Male Gaze anyone by mistake and extend your sentence further—you notice that a small trap door has opened in the Bikini Kill concert poster on the wall beside you. You peer closer, and a voice whispers to you within.

    “We’ve been watching you. The Fourth Femireich is not what it seems. Rap twice on your table if you will join the Underground. Quickly.” You gasp, then try to hide your reaction from the Political Correctness Enforcement Cameras hovering in the corner of the bar, holding your mandated glass of rosé up to your mouth. As numb as you are, you still feel that another day of lifting and setting will not be enough.

    You knock your knuckles on the rough wood, and with a sudden squealing of a giant screw, your table spins down into darkness. A hatch slams shut above you, and you find yourself in a pitch black chamber that smells of old soap and fine spirits. You haven’t smelled whiskey since…

    “The Before Times,” a voice rumbles. Its baritone is fine and smooth, like the feeling of an old boat’s oars. A face floats out of the shadows, lit by the ruddy glow of an e-cigarette. It’s the face of a man who shaves just often enough to remind you he has to, and his eyes are blocked from your gaze by the lowered brim of his fedora.

    “Yes! That smell reminds me of… of my father, and of his transactional relationships with all the women around him, and of the freedom to say whatever I want without consequence!”

    A slight smile plays around the mouth of the stranger. “The fact that you even remember is what drew us to you. Most of the Betas have had the memories of life before the Femireich obliterated by the steady labor and numbing drugs they slip into your wine.”
    “Then why do I know? Why do memories of the simple pleasure of shaving with a straight razor still come to me in dreams?”

    “Because you’re strong enough for the truth. Haven’t you wondered why there are only Alpha and Beta males? The former studded out to have casual sex with every woman they meet, given license to violate the laws of the Franchise of Men, and the latter doomed to labor and open doors and screw in high-up lightbulbs?”

    “I just assumed…” Your voice lowers. “I assumed the Matriarchs didn’t know Greek very well.” Even here, your eyes dart to check for the Political Correctness Enforcement Cameras.

    The shadowy figure chuckles as he vapes. “I can see you’ll fit right into the Men’s Underground. But no—they know Greek. They know it too well, studying it in their Ivory Maiden Towers, where they add ever-more rules to the Franchise of Men. The truth is, there are males even lower than the Betas. The Gammas are left chained in the Hirsute Caverns, and shaved of their natural manly hair every day. Their beards are used to stuff pillows for the Prelates of Purity. Their chest hair is woven into slippers for the young Matriarchs.”

    You gasp in horror, imagining the indignity of a smooth-chested man, manfully grimacing as he is shorn against his will.

    “And it gets worse. The Epsilons are forced, on bended knee, to cry into goblets at the feet of the Gynocrat’s Council. They drink deep of that bitter brew, drawing strength from the suffering of men. The Kappas are left locked up in the vast Sperm Fields, where they are harvested for their precious bodily fluids. You can hear your screams on windless days, if you are brave enough to stand atop the Wall of Macroaggression. And the Omegas? They are bound on rigid frames and turned into living furniture for the use of the High Empress herself.”

    “I had no idea that it was this bad. I thought that… that this was temporary. That we are working for them to build a better empire, when men would be given back their rights.”

    The room is silent for a moment, but for the sound of vaping and the tinkle of wine glasses from overhead. The stranger’s head is bowed, and you must strain to hear his gruff and honest words. “It’s worse than anyone knows. That’s why the Men’s Underground fights. We burn their stores of yarn and vegetarian foods. We tear down their lacy flag wherever we find it, and spit if someone mentions the name of the Femireich. We need new recruits. We need you. Will you join us?”

    You hesitate for a long moment. What if the rumors of the Rendering Fields are true, where men are forced to manufacture scented candles for long years until they die of olfactory fatigue? But no. You know what you must do.

    “I cannot stand by. I must join this fight. Freedom for all men.” You reach out to clasp the stranger’s hand, when suddenly the lights flare brightly around you. Where once the room was soaked in shadow, now there stand twenty women in the brilliant pink pantsuits you’ve feared for decades. The man in front of you reaches up and peels off his face and hat, revealing a woman who would be super hot if she wasn’t so bossy, so now she seems kind of unattractive. Her heels are lower than any woman’s you’ve seen and you pale with the realization that she’s the highest ranking member of the GP you’ve ever glimpsed outside of a recruitment poster.

    She laughs, and where her deep voice had seemed pleasantly masculine before, now its timbre strikes fear into your heart. “What fools men are. Give them a hint of the truth, and they fall all over themselves to land in our honeypot.”

    “But… does this mean the Gammas and Deltas don’t exist? That there is hope for men?” You are breathless with fear, but bold enough to challenge her.

    She smirks. “Of course not. An outright lie is something only a man would tell. The Girlstapo would never stoop so far. There is no hope for men in the Femireich, little boy. The future is a sensible flat, stomping on a man’s face. Forever.” Two women seize you by your arms and begin to drag you away, and you are too stunned to struggle. The last words you hear before the velvet hood is cinched around your head are the Girlstapo chief’s orders to take you to the Friend Zone for processing.

  12. 65

    You have both options? I don’t see the other one.

    That said, please don’t change your subscription method on my behalf. Like I said… if I’m the sole complainer, then feel free to ignore me. If everyone else is okay with it, then the problem (not saying there is one, but still) is me.

    And I do have to grant the “subscribe without commenting” is quite nice. I do love that. I guess I just wish the emails from this option were actually formatted and didn’t come in as pure text with the code being shown, is all.

  13. 66

    I actually use both “options” but differently — the “notify me of new posts by email” is from the other one, while the “notify me of followup comments” is from the quasi-broken one with the subscribe-without-commenting feature.

    I’ve been thinking of disabling it anyway. I think only three people regularly use subscribe-without-commenting, myself excluded. I’ll maybe trial-run with the other way of doing things and see how it goes, and whether they complain.

  14. 67

    What’s the connection between atheism and social justice? Just this: If there’s no gods, no Divine Plan, no gods-given guarantee that Good will necessarily win out over Evil, none of that happy horseshit… then that bad stuff will stick around until us humans fix that bad stuff. IMAO, social justice is basically a corollary of atheism. I’d consider it a necessary and desirable corollary of atheism, myself, and I have no desire to be associated with any person who actively repudiates social justice.

  15. 69

    Big political fights are coming – and they won’t be about atheism. They will be, you guessed it, about social justice. So conservative white people are gatekeeping the atheist organizations, to avoid the possibility of some demographics using them as tools in those fights. The atheist organizations were important during the period of the culture wars (from the eighties of the 20th century till now), but the culture wars are clearly losing momentum and religious fundamentalism only retains appeal to old people now.
    But if you read carefully what anti-feminists say, what comes out is fear of the radicalism. They express anger and irritation with feminist theory. That is very interesting. Intersectionality is a powerful tool that has been used by several kinds of opressed people to fight oppression, not only women. I think intersectionality has the potential to become the general revolutionary theory of our century, substituting Marxism, that has been dead for decades.
    They have good reasons to fear, I guess.

  16. 73

    Regarding James in the West’s comment above, as I remarked in Zvan’s thread:

    You know what’s really funny?

    This is the same guy who is trying to argue in one of my threads that people shouldn’t be rude or belittling and that we would be more successful at getting our point across if we were totally polite and professional in all our discourse.




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