Photo courtesy of Jennifer McCreight
Being an atheist is a hassle, but being a lady atheist can be the pits. Not only do you have to deal with Christians saying you’re going to hell all the time, your beliefs will undoubtedly put you in close proximity with “enlightened” male unbelievers who will unabashedly hit on you and maybe even make rape jokes because, well, there’s no God to punish them. Atheist blogger Jennifer McCreight became well versed in godless misogyny when in 2010 she devised a stunt called “Boobquake” via her blog that called on women to dress immodestly for a designated day (April 26) in response to Iranian cleric Hojatoleslam Kazem Seddiqi’s claim that things like female cleavage and bare legs cause earthquakes. Of course, Boobquake went viral. The unfortunate by-product was that Jennifer’s instant internet fame resulted in a deluge of hateful, misogynistic emails from fellow nonbelievers.
Once again she took to her blog to respond, authoring a post that called for a “new wave” of atheism that concerned itself with feminism and social justice. And again Jennifer’s ideas exploded all over the insular, male-dominated world of atheism blogs. This led to her setting up an online forum that concerns what has come to be known as “Atheism+.” She plans to continue what she’s doing without compromise, despite objections from the same sort who said nasty things about her boobs. I called her up to see how the fight was going.
VICE: When did you begin getting hassled by sexist atheists?
Jennifer McCreight: When I first started going to atheist conferences, I was warned to avoid certain speakers because they were known for going after younger women. I was often approached after I gave talks, and people would make really lewd, sexual comments to me or basically be talking to my chest.
Then you wrote the post that begot Atheism+.
I basically said that we have to fight back against this. We need to make our own space where we don’t tolerate that kind of discussion or people trying to silence each other with really hateful things. I was actually surprised to see that people were excited about it.
It’s been pretty divisive – I’ve read some blogs that really don’t like the idea of Atheism+, or the message board you’ve created around it.
The people who have been really hateful in the past are obviously pretty cranky about it. They see it as being exclusionary toward white people or men, but that’s really not the point. We have a lot of white men who are happily participating. It’s a space where we can talk about feminism, race or social-justice issues, and not have people come in with slurs or threats. I think some people feel threatened by that.
Is it fair to say that, on the whole, atheists aren’t that crazy about feminism?
I think, for some people, atheism is the one minority identity they have. They’re not gay, they’re not black, they live in the United States, and a lot of them are middle-class or higher. Being an “atheist” is the one thing that they take on as their cause, and they think it’s the most important because it’s the only one that affects them. It puts their priorities out of order a little bit. Once you’ve figured out God doesn’t exist, that’s great! But there are other irrational things you might believe in, like sexism.
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