Atheism and women

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Studies and web traffic data appear to indicate that women in the Western World tend to be more religious than men.[1][2]


Recent studies concerning atheism and women

Surveys by country

In November of 2010, Discover Magazine published survey results published by the World Values Survey which showed significant differences between the percentage of men and women who are atheists for various countries.[3]

United States surveys

A 2009 article in entitled Women More Religious Than Men reported: "A new analysis of survey data finds women pray more often then men, are more likely to believe in God, and are more religious than men in a variety of other ways...The latest findings, released Friday, are no surprise, only confirming what other studies have found for decades. [4] In 2007, the Pew Research Center found that American women were more religious than American men.[5]

Atheist PZ Myers' and atheist Susan Jacoby's commentary concerning atheist meetings

The atheist PZ Myers giving a talk at George Mason University. In June of 2010, PZ Myers commented that atheist meetings tend to be significantly more attended by males.[6]

(photo obtained from Flickr, see: license agreement)

In June of 2010, the atheist PZ Myers commented that atheist meetings tend to be significantly more attended by males.[7] In October of 2012, the atheist Susan Jacoby wrote in The Humanist concerning atheist meetings: "When I speak before non-college audiences — that is, audiences in which no one is required to be there to get credit for a college course — 75 percent of the people in the seats are men."[8]

2010 New York Times description of atheist meeting attendees

See also: Western atheism and race

In October of 2010, an atheists' meeting was organized in the United States concerning the future direction of the atheist movement and 370 people attended. The New York Times described the attendees as "The largely white and male crowd — imagine a Star Trek convention, but older...". [9]

Beliefnews report concerning atheists' group membership and demographic makeup of meetings

In 2011, Beliefnetnews reported concerning the race and gender of American atheist:

From the smallest local meetings to the largest conferences, the vast majority of speakers and attendees are almost always white men. Leading figures of the atheist movement - Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett -- are all white men.

But making atheism more diverse is proving to be no easy task.

Surveys suggest most atheists are white men. A recent survey of 4,000 members of the Freedom from Religion Foundation found that 95 percent were white, and men comprised a majority.[10]

Prominent general atheist websites appear to receive significantly less traffic from women

The website Freethoughtblogs has significantly less women visiting their website than men according to the web traffic tracking companies Alexa and Quantcast.[11][12] The website run by the organization American Atheist has significantly less women trafficking their website according to Alexa.[13] The Internet Infidels website has significantly less woman trafficking their website according to Alexa.[14] The British Website New Humanist Magazine receives significantly less traffic from women according to Alexa.[15]. Atheist Ireland also has significantly less women trafficking their website according to Alexa.[16]

New Atheism websites appear to receive significantly less traffic from women

The four most prominent writers of the New Atheist movement are Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett. Like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris has his own website. According to the website tracking firms Alexa and Quantcast women frequent the website of and significantly less than men.[17][18][19][20]


The above data suggest that atheism in general and the New Atheism movement is significantly less appealing to women in the Western World.

Atheist leaders and misogyny

James Randi is a leader within the atheist community. Brian Thompson, former James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) Outreach Coordinator, wrote:

But I no longer identify with this community of benevolent know-it-alls, because not all of them are the best folks in the world. In fact, a good percentage of the top ten worst humans I’ve ever met are prominent members of the skeptics’ club. They’re dishonest, mean-spirited, narcissistic, misogynistic. Pick a personality flaw, and I can probably point you to someone who epitomizes it. And that person has probably had a speaking slot at a major skeptical conference.

I grew particularly disgusted with the boys’ club attitude I saw among skeptical leaders and luminaries. The kind of attitude that’s dismissive of women, sexually predatory, and downright gross. When I first started going to skeptical conferences as a fresh-faced know-it-all, I started hearing things about people I once admired. Then I started seeing things myself. Then I got a job with the JREF, and the pattern continued.[21]

Women, history and atheism

See also: History of atheism

In the 1770s, the French philosopher Paul-Henri Thiry observed a dearth of female atheists.[22] The English poet Edward Young (June 5, 1681 – April 5, 1765) wrote to satirically signal earthly apocalypse: "Atheists have been rare, since nature’s birth; Till now, she-atheists ne’er appear’d on earth."[23] In a letter written in the 1760s, the English essayist Bonnell Thornton wrote: "Good God! A Female Atheist! … One is not half so shocked at the idea of a Female Murderer; A Female Murderer, in the worse of senses, of her own children, of herself."[24] In 1813, the prominent doctor Thomas Cogan (founder of the Royal Humane Society) declared: "Men contemplate a female atheist with more disgust and horror than if she possessed the hardest features embossed with carbuncles."[25]

Atheism and sexism

See also: Atheism and sexism and Atheism and rape and Elevatorgate and Western atheism and race and Atheist hypocrisy

Writing on the sexism within the atheist community, atheist Victoria Bekiempis wrote in a Guardian article entitled Why the New Atheism is a boys' club:

Annie Laurie Gaylor, who founded the Freedom From Religion Foundation with her mother, Anne Nicol Gaylor, in 1978, sums it up succinctly: “One word — sexism.” Gaylor’s husband, Dan Barker, who helms the organization along with her, is usually the one invited to speaking engagements, despite her longer tenure as the organization’s leader and her numerous books on atheism.[26]

Katie Engelhart in her July 21, 2013 Salon article Atheism Has a Women Problem wrote:

Around the time that the Dawkins-Hitchens-Harris tripartite published its big wave of Atheist critique, historian Jennifer Michael Hecht published “ Doubt” and journalist Susan Jacoby published “ Freethinkers“—both critically acclaimed. And yet, these women, and many others, failed to emerge as public figures, household names. “Nobody talked about [Doubt] as a ‘phenomenon,’” Hecht has noted. “They just talked about the book.” What gives?

The lady Atheist has a troubled history....[27]

Melody Hensley and harassment from atheist men

On May 15, 2014, the Washington Post reported that Melody Hensley, executive director of the Washington branch of the Center For Inquiry, was "diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after a vicious flood of online and social media attacks that included threats of rape, murder and photographs of dismembered women. Many of her harassers, she believes, are men in the secular community."[28]

For more information please see:

Atheism and Marriageability

see also: Atheism and marriage

Studies indicate that atheists are a minority in the population. Studies also indicate that people tend to marry people with similar values or who resemble their parents or themselves.[29][30] In addition, the Bible teaches Christians not to marry a non-Christian (The Bible also teaches a believer to stay married to a non-believer if you are already married).[31] Also, interfaith marriages often have greater marital friction and interfaith marriages historically have had higher rates of divorce.[32] Therefore, it would not be surprising if atheist/theist marriages also have increased marital friction and higher rates of divorce since these two worldviews are so different.

Given that atheism appears to be significantly less appealing to women, atheists are a minority in the population and that people tend to marry people with similar values or who resemble their parents or themselves; this would suggest that male atheists may find it more difficult to find prospective female partners for marriage. And of course, militant atheism might make matters even more difficult.

Religious involvement and lower domestic abuse

An abstract for a 2007 Baylor University study entitled Race/Ethnicity, Religious Involvement, and Domestic Violence declares: "religious involvement, specifically church attendance, protects against domestic violence, and this protective effect is stronger for African American men and women and for Hispanic men, groups that, for a variety of reasons, experience elevated risk for this type of violence."[33][34]

A September 9, 2012 article at Atlantic Wire wrote about the noted atheist John Lennon:

But people have mostly forgotten that Lennon was also physically abusive towards women. "I used to be cruel to my woman," he said, citing the lyrics to "Getting Better" in a Playboy interview near the end of his life. "Physically—any woman. I was a hitter. I couldn't express myself and I hit. I fought men and I hit women." In his biography The Lives of John Lennon, Albert Goldman also maintains that Lennon was guilty of spousal abuse.[35]

Atheism and rates of marriage in the United States

Christian apologist Michael Caputo wrote:

Recently the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has published its mammoth study on Religion in America based on 35,000 interviews... According to the Pew Forum a whopping 37% of atheists never marry as opposed to 19% of the American population, 17% of Protestants and 17% of Catholics.[36]
Pitzer College sociologist Phil Zuckerman declared concerning suicide rates: "this is the one indicator of societal health in which religious nations fare much better than secular nations." Please see: Atheism and depression and Atheism and suicide

Vox Day declared that according to the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) "more than half of all atheists and agnostics don’t get married."[37]

The atheist population has a higher suicide rate than theists (see: Atheism and suicide).

Atheism, marriage and suicide

See also: Atheism, marriage and suicide

The atheist population has a higher suicide rate than theists (see: Atheism and suicide). Also, as indicated above, atheists have lower marriage rates (see: Atheism and marriage).

According the website Marriage and Family Encyclopedia:

Marital status has a strong association with rates of completed suicide. Suicide rates are higher in the divorced and widowed than in single people, who in turn have higher suicide rates than married people. This protective effect of marriage on suicide is stronger for men than for women, although it is found for both men and women (Gove 1972).[38]

Atheism and rape

See also: Atheism and rape and Atheist leaders and immoral relationships and Atheist hypocrisy

Atheism offers no condemnation of rape and it provides no moral basis for a society to attempt to prevent and deter rape. Western atheists often assert there are no absolutes in morality and argue for moral relativism (see: Atheism and morality).

Commenting on Western atheism and rape, the Christian apologist Ken Ammi wrote:

When considering any and every atheist condemnation of any action whatsoever it is of primary importance to keep in mind that they are expressing personal opinions about the act(s) they are condemning. They are merely telling you their personal preferences in the form of morality borrowed from the Judeo-Christian worldview. They are piling unfounded assertion, upon unfounded assertion, upon unfounded assertion, and building a tel of arguments from outrage, arguments from personal incredulity, arguments for embarrassment, etc.[39]

Christian apologist Kyle Butt wrote: "In fact, in my debate with Dan Barker, Barker admitted that fact, and stated that under certain circumstances, rape would be a moral obligation (Butt and Barker, 2009)"[40] (see: Atheist Dan Barker Says Child Rape Could Be Moral).

TheAmazingAtheist is YouTube's most subscribed to YouTube channel produced by an atheist and as of February of 2012 it had over 280,000 subscribers. In 2012, he viciously told a rape victim "you deserved it" and told her that her rapist "deserved a medal". He also told her that she should try to relive the rape in her mind.

Atheist Rebecca Watson and post Elevatorgate claims concerning harassment

See also: Elevatorgate and New Atheism

Atheist Rebecca Watson

(photo obtained from Wikimedia commons, see: license agreement)

Post Elevatorgate controversy, at an atheist convention, Rebecca Watson claimed:

Hundreds of atheists have informed me that either they wanted to rape me, someone should rape me so that I will loosen up or that no one would ever rape me because I am so ugly".[41]

In addition, Watson declared: "I get regular rape threats. I get regular rape and murder threats".[42]

According to Rebecca Watson atheist women are often punished for being outspoken - particularly when they speak about feminism.[43] In August of 2013, Watson said the harassment she received from male atheists skyrocketed after Elevatorgate. [44] Furthermore, she said she still receives harassment from male fans of Richard Dawkins.[45] The atheist feminist Dr. Sikivu Hutchinson concurs with Watson and says that sexual harassment has been institutionalized within the atheist movement and that atheist men have an investment in censoring, controlling and policing women and also have an investment in "male privilege".[46]

The inappropriate behavior which was has been directed towards Rebecca Watson by atheists is not surprising. In February of 2010, the news organization The Telegraph reported Richard Dawkins was "embroiled in a bitter online battle over plans to rid his popular internet forum for atheists of foul language, insults and 'frivolous gossip'."[47] In addition, Richard Dawkins has a reputation for being abrasive.

See also:

Atheism and the men's rights movement

The “men’s rights activist” subgroup on Reddit ran a survey of their membership, which found that the vast majority (94%) of them identify as atheist/irreligious.[48] Activists in the men's rights movement have a history of acting surly, rude and aggressive.[49][50]

Atheist leaders and immoral relationships

See also: Atheist leaders and immoral relationships

On June 14, 2012, an article entitled Atheist leaders and immoral relationships published by an advocate of the Question evolution! campaign declared:

The website Submitted to a Candid World is written by an agnostic and the website was praised by the prominent atheist PZ Myers in the past.

On April 20, 2012 an article appeared in Submitted to a Candid World which declared:

'Several of my close friends — coincidentally, all extremely intelligent, math/science oriented, and leaders in the freethought/rationality/atheist communities — find themselves practicing and promoting an arrangement they term “polyamory.” Essentially, this describes a post-jealousy, highly rationalized state where participants date each other, and several others simultaneously.

In the ideal polyamorous relationship, one man is seriously “dating” several women, each of whom is in turn dating several men.'[51]

The article Atheist leaders and immoral relationships further declares:

Several leaders of the "freethought"/atheist community are practicing and promoting polyamory. This is not going to help the poor reputation that atheism already has among the public. The Mormons promoted bigamy for a while and later retracted their position due to the public outrage.

Of course, atheist leaders engaging in and promoting practices such as polyamory is one of the many reasons why atheism has such a bad reputation in the world.[52]

For more information please see: Atheist leaders and immoral relationships


See also: Elevatorgate and Richard Dawkins and women and Atheist leaders and immoral relationships and Atheist hypocrisy

Richard Dawkins
The Oxford University Professor Daniel Came wrote to the agnostic Richard Dawkins: "The absence of a debate with the foremost apologist for Christian theism is a glaring omission on your CV and is of course apt to be interpreted as cowardice on your part."[53]

Elevatorgate is a term commonly used to describe a scandal involving Richard Dawkins' inappropriate comments made to fellow atheist Rebecca Watson. In 2011, Richard Dawkins was widely criticized within the atheist community plus criticized in various press outlets for his insensitive comments made to atheist Rebecca Watson about an incident which occurred in an elevator.[54] Specifically, Watson was propositioned after an atheist event in an elevator by a man who apparently was a fellow atheist during the early hours of the morning and she was upset about the incident. Watson has written about widespread misogny within the atheist community and she has received threats of rape.[55]

Rebecca Watson's post Elevatorgate commentary about atheist conferences

Rebecca Watson post Elevatorgate wrote at Slate about atheist conferences:

[W]omen started telling me stories about sexism at skeptic events, experiences that made them uncomfortable enough to never return. At first, I wasn’t able to fully understand their feelings as I had never had a problem existing in male-dominated spaces. But after a few years of blogging, podcasting, and speaking at skeptics’ conferences, I began to get emails from strangers who detailed their sexual fantasies about me. I was occasionally grabbed and groped without consent at events.

I started checking out the social media profiles of the people sending me these messages, and learned that they were often adults who were active in the skeptic and atheist communities. They were reading the same blogs as I was and attending the same events. These were “my people,” and they were the worst.[56]

For more information please see: Elevatorgate

New Atheism movement and contention between men and women

See also: Abrasiveness of Richard Dawkins

Within the militant New Atheism movement, there appears to be a significant amount of contention between men and women with complaints from women that there is a significant amount of misogny within the atheist community and its leadership is too heavily populated with men.[57][58] This may partly explain why Western atheism is less appealing to Western women. In addition, the significant amount of contention between men and women may apply to Western atheism as a whole. As noted earlier, Wired magazine made the observation that atheists tend to be quarrelsome, socially challenged men.

Prominent atheists whose wives believe in the existence of God

See also: Prominent atheists whose wives believe in the existence of God and Atheism and marriage

Below is a list of prominent atheist who have wives that believe in the existence of God:

See also

Atheism and women:


Other false worldview's treatment of women:


  3. Sex differences in global atheism, part N
  4. Women More Religious Than Men
  6. The Woman problem by PZ Myers
  7. The Woman problem by PZ Myers
  8. A Woman’s Place? The Dearth of Women in the Secular Movement]
  9. New York Times, October 15, 2010
  11. demographics as per Quantcast
  12. demographics as per Alexa
  21. When will this situation improve?
  22. From Hitchens to Dawkins: Where are the women of New Atheism?
  23. From Hitchens to Dawkins: Where are the women of New Atheism?
  24. From Hitchens to Dawkins: Where are the women of New Atheism?
  25. From Hitchens to Dawkins: Where are the women of New Atheism?
  26. Why the New Atheism is a boys' club
  27. Katie Engelhart, July 21, 2013 - Salon article Atheism Has a Women Problem
  28. Women in secularism: Got a problem with that?
  33. [ Race/Ethnicity, Religious Involvement, and Domestic Violence]
  34. Race/Ethnicity, Religious Involvement, and Domestic Violence
  35. John Lennon and Chris Brown Have Something in Common
  41. PZ Myers and the Art of Shameless Dishonesty
  42. FreeThoughtBlogs and PZ Myers
  43. Calling All Female Atheists - Huffington Post - video
  44. Calling All Female Atheists - Huffington Post - video
  45. Calling All Female Atheists - Huffington Post - video
  46. Calling All Female Atheists - Huffington Post - video
  48. Facing Up to Atheism’s MRA Problem
  49. Facing Up to Atheism’s MRA Problem
  50. But How Do You Know the MRAs Are Atheists?
  51. Atheist leaders and immoral relationships
  52. Atheist leaders and immoral relationships
  53. Richard Dawkins accused of cowardice for refusing to debate existence of God, The Daily Telegraph, May 14, 2011
  54. The Privilege Delusion by Rebecca Watson - Skepchick
  55. Sexism and the New Atheism
  58. David Silverman
  59. About Austin Cline
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