"I don't think that being a strong person is about ignoring your emotions and fighting your feelings. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean you're a brave person. That's why everybody in my life knows everything that I'm going through. I can't hide anything from them. People need to realise that being open isn't the same as being weak."

- Taylor Swift

Thursday, June 06, 2013

atheist artists

Now Playing: Because of You by Kelly Clarkson (I cannot cry because I know that's weakness in your eyes)

Atheism has always been, for me, all I need by way of enlightenment. Atheism is knowledge and knowledge is power, as my alma mater knocked into me. The atheist feminist movement is something I am truly committed to and I am not blinded by superstition or holy terror or political correctness to call out the great evil of religion.

And I share this view, I know, with many of the world's most esteemed atheists. I am lucky to be growing up in such a connected and globalised world where I am constantly exposed to the great words of brilliant minds like Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens. Atheism is fuelled by blistering intelligence, by the kind of reckless fearlessness you need, tragically, to face up against imaginary friends and politicized schizophrenic delusions. It is also, sadly, a very privileged club and I am not always honoured with membership.

For me atheism and feminism have always been interconnected and I am sure the greatest atheist minds agree with me. But the majority of "atheists" that I have met just seem to be freeloaders; free of the garbage of religion, certainly, but also free from any sense of morality, using the godlessness of atheism to approach the world with a truly childish 'fuck everything' attitude. It has always been appalling to me that, in turning away from the great pillar of misogyny - Abrahamic religion - some people appear to have become even more abhorrently sexist than before. Feminism and atheism have in common the voice of reason, the voice of logic, the voice of equality and equity and equal opportunity; or so I thought. Atheism in my circles is and remains a largely white, largely male club and as a young atheist woman of colour I simply don't feel welcome, or safe. In rejecting religion we recognise the great evils against women, against children, against the LGBT community, against people of colour and indigenous peoples and other oppressed minorities; we don't celebrate the white hetero male hegemony of WASP society. Atheism, feminism, LGBT activism...these are all voices of reason, codes of morality that I have dedicated my life to over the violent hypocrisy and dangerous rhetoric of religious belief. What is the point of being an out and proud atheist if you're as bigoted and repulsive and violently misogynistic, racist and homophobic as redneck Bible-bashers?

Another thing that has been of concern to me is the snobbery of scientists, at the cost of the credibility of artists as atheists. And a great many prominent atheists are not scientists - Stephen Fry, Tim Minchin, Ricky Gervais, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, all of them key figures in the modern atheist scene. There is this false and dangerous assumption that only elite scientists understand the science behind atheism and that's simply not accurate - I only took one science unit in high school and even I have a perfect grasp of the basics of evolution; more than enough to make me a more rational and reasonable person than theists and more than enough to make me a committed atheist. It does not take a scientific genius to recognise that religious argument is totally unsound and nonsensical. Just because I am studying to be a Bachelor of Arts and not a Bachelor of Science doesn't mean I don't understand atheism, or that I'm not 'as atheist' as scientists, or that my contribution to the atheist movement is somehow limited, and I refuse to be discredited amongst my own people. Art is, arguably, a much more accessible mode of communication - comedy, music, this is the language of the masses and the atheist movement would be foolish to dismiss the arts. Atheism will only have an impact on the world, will only rescue the vulnerable from the trap of religion, will only ensure secular government and education, if we are a strong united movement with a sizable political muscle to flex. Atheism as this elite, snobbish club of white hetero male scientists...well, it's almost like a church, really.

I live in great fear that atheism is becoming the antithesis of what we are supposed to be; we are becoming the enemy, becoming what we are supposedly dedicated to fighting. It's not all about dismissing superstition and flawed logic; it's about pulling down this hegemony, the injustice of our society, of removing privilege and discrimination and oppression. And if you're not ready for atheism to demolish all the inequality that religion has created just because you benefit from it...you're not good enough to call yourself an atheist, and you have no right to stand with us.

No comments: