The Atheist Macho Flash

There’s this phenomenon in libertarian circles that someone dubbed the “Libertarian Macho Flash“. It’s when a libertarian, asked about his views, says the most shocking hard-line thing he can think of in the bluntest way possible. E.g. “what about the poor? those parasites need to learn to fend for themselves”.

The real macho flasher, by shocking his listeners, convinces himself that his ideas are virile, potent — even intimidating.

Macho, virile, potent – I think these are aptly chosen terms, because the libertarian macho flash is a very masculine act. It’s the political equivalent of a guy whipping his cock out in a public place and then interpreting the stunned looks of onlookers as appreciation for his superior manhood.

The “New Atheist” movement bothers me for the same reason the Libertarian Mach Flash bothers me. The New Atheism is dripping with machismo. So it wasn’t all that surprising to read this quote from noted Atheist author Richard Dawkins:

Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and … yawn … don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car, and you can’t leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you’ll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with… For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin.

The source is the article  Sexism in the skeptic community: I spoke out, then came the rape threats. The author, a co-host of the well-done  “Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe” podcast, goes on to recount the myriad instances of being called a “slut” and “cunt” and threatened with sexual assault, rape, and murder for daring to try to educate fellow Atheists about how not to be sexist douchebags.

Atheists are fond of pointing out that if religion is really about peace and love, believers would shun and marginalize the radicals among them that preach violence and oppression. With the Atheist movement growing ever more toxic, it seems like it’s time for skeptics to take some of their own medicine and distance themselves from people like Dawkins, instead of inviting him to speak at conferences.

(Of course, I’m a bit of a hypocrite here. Christopher Hitchens was probably the worst of the bunch when it came to near-militant Atheism, but I could listen to that guy rant at religion all day. If you’re going to spit bile, at least have the grace to do it with brilliant erudition. But I digress.)

The trouble I see with atheism meeting feminism is that the really hard-line atheists reject shared mental constructions (like “god”) as meaningless. And a lot of what feminism tries to accomplish (so far as I understand it) is to make people aware of shared mental constructions (e.g. “rape culture”). If you’re prepared to call a religious experience a load of meaningless hormonal bullshit, you’re equally prepared to call the raised hackles engendered by a creepy late-night advance by a man in an elevator completely unfounded. After all, there was no assault, so objectively speaking nothing of note happened whatsoever.

I forget where I was going with this. Bottom line, some ideologies naturally seem to attract people who have a compulsion to rhetorically drop trou and wave their philosophical junk around. But atheists should know better. The end.

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