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multiple goals[]

Ambox emblem arrow.svg Todo: adapt comments by mandrellian for the wiki. Blame MarkovBaines 21:22, July 11, 2012 (UTC)

Others have already pointed out their objections to your voiced objection to atheist-inspired feminism as a focus-sapper, so I’d just like to ask: exactly where do you get this point of view? How is one part of the movement’s focus going to sap energy or focus from the movement in general? During the civil rights struggle, there were many facets of the movement including voting rights, property rights, worker’s rights, education rights, the right to marry someone of another race and myriad others. Atheist/skeptical activism focuses not just on creationism/promoting scientific education, or fundamentalist oppression of reproductive rights/bodily autonomy or effective sex education, or church/state separation, or equal civil rights for nonbelievers, or removal of tax breaks for religious organisations, it has many avenues of attack to its existence – many heads for its opponents to cut off – and those avenues often, but not always, intersect. Feminism/sexism is an integral part of many facets of atheist activism, relating as it does to reproductive rights, birth control, bodily autonomy, Biblically-based sexual bigtory and so forth. How can it not be a focus and what would be achieved by eschewing it? What major advantage could be secured by leaving it to one side and what would you elevate in its place? Could you think of another facet to atheist activism we could leave aside to purify or better focus our attention?

Why, in your view, does the fact that atheist activism is multi-faceted and focused on multiple targets make it weaker?

Why can’t such issues as concern various atheists/skeptics and their organisations be left to them to decide upon? Considering some groups and people are much, much better qualified or equipped to deal with certain specific issues, does it not make sense to leave tackling those issues to those with experience, expertise and, very importantly, the passion to actually make an impact? If you wouldn’t tell a science-focused activist to bail on their passion for science because you think church-state separation is more important, how do you justify asking anyone concerned with feminism or sexism to bail on that and get back to whatever topic you feel is more important?

focus by _some_ atheists on feminism and gender equality at the expense of other things they could be focusing on is a strength: as I said, people whose passion and area of expertise is Subject A serve the movement best when they focus more on Subject A than on Subject B (which they may suck at) or the more general goal of the movement – whatever that might be and however that goal is agreed upon.

Atheism/humanism/skepticism is a very broad movement and requires warriors on many fronts. During battle, a general will deploy their best warriors to the places their skills will achieve the best outcomes; as atheism et al has no one single general, warriors and their organisations are able to choose their own field of battle according to their skills, experience and passion. In this we behave more like disparate, opportunistic guerilla cells than cohesive military units connected through a central command: we pick our battles and our tactics as the situation demands.

You seem to understand that a movement with diverse goals and numerous fronts requires different approaches and areas of focus

Because noone is advocating such a radical shift of focus. Feminism and gender equality are integral to the worldviews of a great number of atheist/skeptic activists, are non-negotiable and are part and parcel of their activism. For some people, humanism itself is meaningless without gender equality. It’s not about a shift in focus; it’s about refusing to avoid a topic when it comes up because that topic might be difficult or uncomfortable. That’s what’s happening right now: a topic has arisen which is difficult and uncomfortable and lots of atheists are talking about it because (a) it’s there and (b) it needs addressing. Others are saying “No, it doesn’t need addressing”. We are disagreeing with those people. It’s here, it needs to be addressed. Full stop.

You also betray your understanding of the movement when you say we need a defined goal and a mission statement (you’re certainly not the first to call for that, either).

Working out what “our” mission statement would be would take more arguing and debate and time and energy than we have to spare – you yourself said we had limited exposure (and we certainly have limited resources); no sooner would some nominated atheist spokesperson pop up with a “Our Mission is X” than someone else would pop up with “Our Mission is X with conditions and caveats and also some Y!”. The time and energy that would be required to hammer out what “our” mission should be (and subsequently following up the dissent over the Mission) and who should present it could be better spent exactly where it is currently being spent: on the front lines, in schools, courthouses, on the streets, on billboards, on TV, in the press, online in innumerable forums and focused on every subject any of us hold dear. In other words, what we need to do is do more of what we’re doing.

our movement is about social justice – for non-believers and for those believers abused by their own religions. That encompasses so many different things that it’d be exhausting and thread-hogging to list them all.

Noone’s asking for some radical shift in focus that would detract in any way from the broad goals of atheist/skeptic/humanist activism. To claim they are is to draw a conclusion that simply isn’t warranted.

more, by another commenter[]

Whatever sector of the atheist movement I’m standing in the way of by promoting feminism, that sector should be held back. Crushed, actually.

For I can’t be standing in the way of those who simply don’t care about feminism. I’m not stopping anyone from saying “there is no God and there is no Bigfoot.” Those people can go on about their business. If they truly hold no position on feminism, then they will never even involve themselves in any discussions of feminism, and so I will never have the opportunity to call them antifeminist reactionaries.

You’re holding us back. You would not be holding us back if you would just totally ignore the matter and go on with your “there is no God” shtick. You wouldn’t be an ally, but you wouldn’t be an enemy either. I’d have no occasion to think about you. Yet, here you are, holding us back.

Critical thinking per se doesn’t do much good without being exposed vigorous activist challenges to the status quo value system — patriarchy in this case.

maybe more[]

BTW, for the love of fuck I’m sick to puking over this “dogmatic” nonsense directed our way. In every case where it has been spelled out, it has been some idiot saying “Well, I agree with you but I don’t care for being told what to do”… well, fuck off then, you immature assclown! Look, if you’d prefer people be treated well, but would prefer that they be treated poorly rather than be told to treat them well, then you’re a fucking moron.

There’s this constant thread of evil idiocy through all of these conversations that basically says “I would rather be free from rules than other people be free from harassment”… and it IS evil and wrong and cruel, and I have zero respect for those people.[1]

The reward/effort ratio of skepticism[]

It feels good to “learn” something. Fans of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, FOX News, Alex Jones, the Sovereign Citizen movement generally, Ron Paul specifically, and Zeitgeist, all know this feeling.

They get to become “informed” of many remarkable tidbits, and sometimes grand narratives that tie everything together into a revelatory explanation of the world; and most of their family, friends and acquaintances don’t “know” these things. So the fan has important, strategic “information” which other people don’t have, which they can get attention for repeating, which makes the fan feel good about themself, and they subconsciously credit the guru for making them feel good, and so regard the guru with positive affect.

It’s much harder to try to figure out if any of this “information” is true. That requires skepticism, empiricism, rigorous independent investigation that most people really don’t even know how to perform; they weren’t trained in it. Plus, if they make this effort, on most issues they’re likely to end up very near the mainstream consensus. And that would make their information much less interesting and strategic.

The reward/effort ratio of skepticism is therefore much lower, for most people, than it is for simply absorbing and repeating wild bullshit.

And it feels to them like we’re attacking one of their favorite and easiest ways to feel good about themselves, directly by calling them gullible fools, and by proxy by calling their leader a crank.

Reaffirming their faith in their leader is much easier than starting to do the work of real skepticism, which might even further challenge their sources of meaning in life, so the cost/benefit analysis usually favors doubling down on bullshit.