Stephen Prothero, in his blog for USA Today complains that the problem with atheists is that there aren't enough prominent women in the movement. Not because he wants to see more women atheists, per se, but rather because of the perception that women atheists will go easier on believers in their kinder and gentler way, I suppose.
I'm here to tell Stephen Prothero that he will get no quarter from this woman atheist, and he will soon be wishing that all he had to deal with was PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins. They will be far nicer than I because I have little tolerance for stupidity of Prothero's sort.
I found it particularly interesting that he comes out claiming that it's the women's voices who are the most persuasive, and then the first person he talks about and praises is a man, Greg Epstein.
I call bullshit, bullshit.
What Prothero really wants is the kinder, gentler, wishy-washy atheists, the accomodationists, who let believers go on believing their delusions are real and don't try to demand too many rights for themselves or be too confrontational about the nonsense believers believe. I've got news for Prothero... most of the public figures like that are men, too. Witness: Greg Epstein.
His analogy with the gay rights movement is also deeply flawed. Straight people, by definition, is not a question of which reality they live in, but merely whom they sleep with. Religion, as believers themselves attest, say that it touches every aspect of their lives, from birth until death. And what they believe about god really does affect the way they deal with reality. Compare Sarah Palin, the pathological liar, to Richard Dawkins. If religious belief was just about deism vs. atheism, atheist would be perfectly happy to have pleasant arguments with believers and otherwise, live and let live. But instead, most believers accept positions that are contrary to the facts, and to reality, the reality that even most believers live in. It's that level of insanity that must be opposed and stopped. You can't tell me that what Sen. Inhofe and George Bush believe doesn't affect me... in a way that who the guy across the street sleeps with does not. Prothero's analogy fails utterly.
As far as this civil rights movement goes, there were also angry voices in that movement, as you may recall, voices like mine, who are pissed at the religious nonsense coming out of the Congress over the healthcare debate, using their religion to demand all women observe their religious proscriptions when it comes to sex and reproduction, who are actually asking the Conference of Catholic Bishops, those hypocrites, to approve legislation preventing even indirect government entanglement with a legal medical procedure, all the while continuing to take funds from the government, in violation of separation of church and state. All the while they are getting tax exemptions, but are telling Catholic legislators that they will be punished in their congregations if they don't tow the Catholic line. The only way to acheive full equality for women is to throw off the chains of religion... not simply to live with it side-by-side while my sisters are sent to an early grave having a dozen children, or being married off as teenagers... or forced to endure an unwanted pregnancy at the possible risk to her own life, while the man who empregnated her walks free, and moralizes about what a slut she was.
And Prothero thinks women want to just live and let live?
Never. I am never going back, and I will not stand by quietly while men, in the name of their religion, continue to try to oppress me, and send us back in time 50 years. I will never go back. I've been told far too often that there were things I could not do just because I was a woman. I did not fold for them, and I will not fold now. If Prothero isn't used to seeing fire and brimstone from a woman's lips, he hasn't been paying attention to very many civil rights movements.
Every movement needs both voices. The voices who are passionate and urgent, and those who are more approachable. If Prothero managed to pay closer attention to the men he derides, he might also find their personal stories to be just as moving. Christopher Hitchens is a firebrand, but when he talks about his daughters, and his friend and fellow atheist, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, he can also be moving, and you understand that his passion is not just about reason (as though that were a bad thing if it was).
No, Prothero just hasn't been listening.