Richard Dawkins and women

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Survey data and other data indicate that in the Western World, atheism is significantly less appealing to women.

In recent times, Richard Dawkins has had considerable conflict with feminists after his Elevatorgate controversy (see: Feminist quotes about Richard Dawkins). For example, Mindy, a contributor to the website Skepchick wrote post Elevatorgate "I look forward to watching your legacy crash and burn.. You don't get a second chance." - [1][2]

Prior to Elevatorgate, Monica Shores' Ms. Magazine article titled Will “New Atheism” Make Room For Women? criticized the News Atheism movement for being sexist.[3] She also cited Conservapedia in her article and indicated: "The lack of lady presence is so visible that Conservapedia commented on it by noting that Dawkins’ website overwhelmingly attracts male visitors."[3] See: Demographic makeup of web visitors to the website Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science

Another cause of many women's lack of interest in the message of the New Atheist/agnostic Richard Dawkins is the abrasive demeanor of Richard Dawkins. Atheist/agnostic author and sociology professor Phil Zuckerman said of Richard Dawkins: "He is smug, condescending and emits an unpleasant disdainfulness."[4] In September 2010, Richard Dawkins became nasty towards a woman in an audience he spoke before.[5]

Furthermore, Richard Dawkins' arrogance and poor social skills sparked his Elevatorgate controversy.


See also: Elevatorgate and Atheism and women

A 2011 portrait of Rebecca Watson

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 (see: Richard Dawkins' Elevatorgate comments).[6] 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.[7]

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".[8]

The inappropriate behavior which was has been directed towards Rebecca Watson by atheists is not surprising. In February 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'."[9] Given Richard Dawkins's abrasiveness, it is not entirely surprising that a portion of his fans engages in inappropriate behavior.

The New Statesman reporter and fellow skeptic David Allen Green said he believed Dawkins was a sexist.[10] In addition, Green wrote: "Can Richard Dawkins still credibly pose as a champion of rational thinking and an evidence-based approach? In my opinion, he certainly cannot, at least not in the way he did before."[10]

Rebecca Watson and Elevatorgate

See also: Feminist quotes about Richard Dawkins

As a result of Elevatorgate, atheist Rebecca Watson wrote concerning Richard Dawkins "This person who I always admired for his intelligence and compassion does not care about my experience as an atheist woman and therefore will no longer be rewarded with my money, my praise, or my attention. I will no longer recommend his books to others, buy them as presents, or buy them for my own library. I will not attend his lectures or recommend that others do the same. There are so many great scientists and thinkers out there that I don't think my reading list will suffer."[11]

Reason Rally related incident involving David Silverman and Richard Dawkins

See also: Reason Rally related incident involving David Silverman and Richard Dawkins and Feminist quotes about Richard Dawkins

An article by Sarah posted at Skepchick about a conversation between Richard Dawkins and David Silverman (a former president of the American Atheists organization), which took place during the planning phrase of the Reason Rally:

Richard was standing behind the podium, and he asked Dave something along the lines of, “What exactly is the Reason Rally?” Dave started explaining it, and as he did, someone who was waiting in the line outside opened the door to peek inside and we could all hear a lot of noise. I rushed up the aisle and made frantic “shut the door” gestures at the people peeking inside, and they did. As I walked the ten feet back, I couldn’t hear everything Dave was saying, but I heard the name “Rebecca Watson.” Richard suddenly had a very angry look on his face and I heard him almost shout, “No, absolutely not! If she’s going to be there, I won’t be there. I don’t want her speaking.” and then Dave immediately replied, “You’re absolutely right, we’ll take her off the roster. It’s done.” Richard huffed for a moment, Dave continued to placate him, and then he made the video.

I was crushed.[12]

Dawkins retracts his Elevatorgate apology. Says Elevatorgate incident was rather trivial

On August 6, 2014, Dawkins apologized for his remarks related to his Elevatorgate scandal.[13][14]

However, on November 18, 2014, Richard Dawkins retracted his apology and indicated that: he stands by his recent remarks about women/men relations, he feels muzzled by "thought police" and that Rebecca Watson's experience in the elevator was "rather trivial" compared to events some Muslim women experience.[15]

Specifically, the Washington Post reported on November 18, 2014:

“I don’t take back anything that I’ve said,” Dawkins said from a shady spot in the leafy backyard of one of his Bay Area supporters. “I would not say it again, however, because I am now accustomed to being misunderstood and so I will . “

He trailed off momentarily, gazing at his hands resting on a patio table.

“I feel muzzled, and a lot of other people do as well,” he continued. “There is a climate of bullying, a climate of intransigent thought police which is highly influential in the sense that it suppresses people like me.”

Recent criticism of Dawkins has come from women, many of them within the atheist movement, which has long drawn more men to its ranks. His online remarks, some women say, contribute to a climate they see as unwelcoming to female atheists...

“I concentrate my attention on that menace and I confess I occasionally get a little impatient with American women who complain of being inappropriately touched by the water cooler or invited for coffee or something which I think is, by comparison, relatively trivial,” he said.[16]

Allegation that Rebecca Watson was behaving hypocritically

Amanda Read wrote in the Washington Times that she believed Watson was behaving hypocritically and declared:

The point is that because the issue is sexism in the atheist movement, perceptions of sexism are not based on absolute principle, but on relative emotion.

Watson speaks out against the sexual objectification of women, but she apparently sees nothing wrong with the pinup calendars that she and her female atheist friends publish. Myers defended her views on his blog, but only last year he linked to an interesting interview with Nina Hartley, a feminist atheist who sees nothing wrong with women performing as sex workers.

You see, sexism and the exploitation of women are not immoral to godless women as long as such things are on their terms.[17]

For more information please see: Elevatorgate

Atheist PZ Myers comment about Dawlns' attitude towards women

In 2014, the prominent atheist PZ Myers said of Richard Dawkins' attitude towards women: "At a time when our movement needs to expand its reach, it’s a tragedy that our most eminent spokesman has so enthusiastically expressed such a regressive attitude.”[18]

Myers also said in 2014 concerning Dawkins:

Richard Dawkins: you’re wrong. Deeply, profoundly, fundamentally wrong. Your understanding of feminism is flawed and misinformed, and further, you keep returning to the same poisonous wells of misinformation. persist in presenting these anti-feminist caricatures as reasonable. You say you are a feminist, and even find feminism an undeniable virtue, but at the same time you parrot absurd anti-feminist remarks.[19]

Richard Dawkins' and his three ex-wives

See also: Richard Dawkins and love and Atheism and love

In 1984, Dawkins divorced his wife of 17 years, Marian Stamp; later that same year, he married Eve Barham. Dawkins also divorced Barham, though the precise circumstances of this divorce are unclear.[20] He married science fiction actress Lalla Ward in 1992 and they separated after 24 years of marriage.[21]

Theodore Beale wrote in the his book The Irrational Atheist about Dawkins's claim that teaching children about Hell is more harmful to children than "mild child abuse":

Richard Dawkins is perhaps one of the last men on Earth who should be discussing what is the right and proper way to raise children, given that the number of his wives outnumber his offspring.

In his letter to his daughter Juliet, addressed to her at the age of ten and published in A Devil’s Chaplain, there is little mention of love, no admission of regret, and no paternal promises. As one British journalist noted, the letter is “coldly impersonal” and “authoritarian.” There is no expression of interest in what might be important to her.[22]

See also: Juliet Emma Dawkins and Richard Dawkins and love

The Independent wrote concerning Dawkins' relationship to his ex-wife Eve Barham: "His second marriage, to Eve Barham, ended in bitterness which persists to this day. He asked one recent interviewer not even to mention her name. 'Can't you just call her the mother of my daughter?'".[23]

The Christian Times reported:

The 75-year-old evolutionary biologist, who suffered a stroke early this year, had stirred the public years ago when he denounced monogamy and fidelity in relationships.

In his article piece "Banishing the Green Eyed Monster," Dawkins referred to "jealousy" in a relationship as "immoral and selfish."

He defended that men should be allowed to keep mistresses and indulge in sexual pleasures with others.[24]

Feminists cause Richard Dawkins to be disinvited to skeptic conference

See also: Atheist conferences

In 2016, Breitbart reported:

Yesterday evening, after retweeting a video critical of modern feminism, the renowned professor and critic of religion had his invitation to a skeptic conference revoked. In a statement posted on their website, the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism said:
The Northeast Conference on Science & Skepticism has withdrawn its invitation to Richard Dawkins to participate at NECSS 2016. We have taken this action in response to Dr. Dawkins’ approving re-tweet of a highly offensive video.
We believe strongly in freedom of speech and freedom to express unpopular, and even offensive, views. However, unnecessarily divisive, counterproductive, and even hateful speech runs contrary to our mission and the environment we wish to foster at NECSS. The sentiments expressed in the video do not represent the values of NECSS or its sponsoring organizations.

For the NECSS, it seems that some forms of skepticism are less welcome than others. Dawkins regularly posts tweets about Christianity, Islam, and assorted other faiths that could be perceived as “hateful,” yet it was his mockery of western feminists that led to his excommunication from this particular Atheist church.[25]

Atheist Steven Novella is on the committee of the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism, and he wrote about Dawkins' disinvitation to the skeptic conference:

Dawkins retweeted a video (called “Feminists Love Islamists”) depicting an Islamist and an angry feminist (who it turns out is a real person and not just a character) and essentially making the claim that these groups share an ideology. Dawkins tweeted:
“Obviously doesn’t apply to the vast majority of feminists, among whom I count myself. But the minority are pernicious.”

He included a link to the video. This, of course, set off another round of controversy over Dawkins’ social media activity and the attitudes they reflect.

The concern for some of us at NECSS was that by hosting Dawkins as a featured speaker we were making a statement we did not intend to make, a statement that could be interpreted as being unwelcoming and even hostile to many attendees. Since we had just opened registration this created an urgency, because we did not want to “bait and switch” our attendees if we would ultimately decide to reverse our decision to have him at the conference. We felt it was important to make a decision quickly.[26]

(The video that caused the uproar is hosted at YouTube at Feminists Love Islamists).

Dawkins ill-health after being disinvited to the conference

Dawkins said he was very upset about being disinvited to the conference.[27] After his disinvitation, Dawkins gave some news about his health condition after suffering a minor stroke and he mentioned that his doctors advised avoiding controversies due to his chronic high blood pressure.[27] In recent times Dawkins has been embroiled in a number of controversies involving the topics of feminism/Islam and he has faced a significant amount of criticism from his fellow skeptics/liberals (see: Elevatorgate and Richard Dawkins and Islamophobia accusations).

Debates raged over praying for Richard Dawkins health after his stroke.[28][29]

The Guardian reported that Dawkins is expected to have a full recovery or near full recovery from his stroke.[30]

Atheist Hemant Mehta reported about Dawkins stroke and Dawkins' report that he had been once again invited to the conference:

It was the result of stress-related higher blood pressure, which he says he may have had as a result of recent controversy, including being booted from the NECSS conference. He added, however, that on February 5, he received a letter from conference organizers apologizing for disinviting him and asking him back to the conference.[31]

Richard Dawkins commentary on Mary the Mother of Jesus

In 2010, the Christian apologetics website True Free Thinker wrote: "The atheist and evolutionist Richard Dawkins just referred to Mary, the mother of Jesus, as a “‘submissive cosmic doormat'... If Richard Dawkins had a better grasp of womanhood and a greater grasp of manhood, he would still be married to his first wife and not his third."[32]

Women with traditional values and Richard Dawkins

The evolutionist and agnostic Richard Dawkins said in an interview: “What’s to prevent us from saying Hitler wasn’t right? I mean, that is a genuinely difficult question."[33]

Another plausible explanation for many women having a lack of enthusiasm for Richard Dawkins's message is that many women who attend religious services and hold traditional beliefs and values find Richard Dawkins' atheism and atheistic values repugnant.

In terms of traditional values, when asked in an interview, "If we do not acknowledge some sort of external [standard], what is to prevent us from saying that the Muslim [extremists] aren’t right?", Dawkins replied, "What’s to prevent us from saying Hitler wasn’t right? I mean, that is a genuinely difficult question, but whatever [defines morality], it’s not the Bible. If it was, we’d be stoning people for breaking the Sabbath."[33]

The interviewer wrote, regarding the Hitler comment, "I was stupefied. He had readily conceded that his own philosophical position did not offer a rational basis for moral judgments. His intellectual honesty was refreshing, if somewhat disturbing on this point."[33]

(See also: Richard Dawkins' commentary on Adolf Hitler and Essay: Richard Dawkins' comment concerning Adolf Hitler )

Women's views of New Atheist Sam Harris

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 firm Alexa, women frequent the website of and significantly less than men.[34][35] In 2014, Harris said that atheist activism lacks an “estrogen vibe” and was “to some degree intrinsically male”.[36] This data suggest that the New Atheism movement may be significantly less appealing to women.

Richard Dawkins' recent attempts to have better relations with women and Muslims

See also: Richard Dawkins and Islamophobia accusations

In 2017, Sputnik News reported:

Robyn Blumner, Executive Director of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, said that to suggest that atheists are narrow-minded, prejudiced or supportive of white, male privilege is to ignore the evidence.

Mr. Blumner said that the pro-atheist organization does tremendous good for women's equality and the civil rights of Muslims, as well as spreads humanist values in the United States and abroad.

"In just the last handful of years we have been at the forefront of the major civil justice causes of our time. It is why in 2015 we were the only secularist group to be invited to join the Know Your Neighbor interfaith coalition, launched at the White House. It is why we were a proud and welcome participant in the Women's March on Washington in January," Mr. Blumner told Sputnik.[37]

See also

External links



  1. One year after Elevatorgate
  2. One year after Elevatorgate
  3. 3.0 3.1 Will “New Atheism” Make Room For Women by Monica Shores, Ms. Magazine, 2010
  4. Richard Dawkins: Atheism’s asset or liability? By KIMBERLY WINSTON, Religion News Service
  6. The Privilege Delusion by Rebecca Watson - Skepchick
  7. PZ Myers and the Art of Shameless Dishonesty
  9. 10.0 10.1 Sharing a lift with Richard Dawkins by David Allen Green - New Stateman - 06 July 2011
  10. Richard Dawkins Gets into a Comments War with Feminists by Caitlin Dickson - The Atlantic Wire, Jul 06, 2011
  11. My Time With Richard Dawkins (Or, Why You Should Never Meet Your Idols) by Sarah at Skepchick, September 5, 2013
  12. Rebecca Watson's Twitter tweet about Richard Dawkins apologizing for his Elevate scandal
  13. Who is belittling what? by Richard Dawkins
  14. Richard Dawkins stands by remarks on sexism, pedophilia, Down syndrome, by Kimberly Winston | Religion News Service November 18, 2014
  15. Richard Dawkins stands by remarks on sexism, pedophilia, Down syndrome, by Kimberly Winston | Religion News Service November 18, 2014 and syndicated to the Washington Post
  16. Of sexism and atheism: Richard Dawkins gets in trouble with feminists, Washington Times, July 16, 2011
  17. Richard Dawkins has lost it: ignorant sexism gives atheists a bad name by Adam Lee, The Guardian, September 18, 2014
  18. Dear Richard Dawkins by PZ Myers at Pharyngula blog, September 12, 2014
  20. Dawkins evolves into single man after ‘amicable’ split with Time Lady, The Sunday Times
  21. The Irrational Atheist. Chapter VIII DARWIN’S JUDAS by Vox Day (Theodore Beale)
  22. Anatomy of a selfish genius, The Independent
  23. Richard Dawkins to divorce third wife: Prominent atheist to split from actress Lalla Ward, Christian Times
  24. Atheist Civil War: Angry Feminists Get Richard Dawkins Disinvited from Skeptics’ Conference
  25. NECSS and Richard Dawkins
  26. 27.0 27.1 An update on Richard Dawkins condition in his own words
  27. Debate rages over praying for atheist Richard Dawkins after stroke
  28. Richard Dawkins: Church of England denies 'trolling' biologist by sending 'prayers' following minor stroke
  29. Richard Dawkins stroke forces delay of Australia and New Zealand tour, The Guardian, February 11, 2016
  30. Richard Dawkins Gives Update on His Health in Audio Message
  32. 33.0 33.1 33.2
  35. Is Sam Harris Sexist? by Libby Anne at the blog Love, Joy, Feminism, September 20, 2014
  36. Dawkins and Movement 'Lost the Heart of the Cause'