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Barrel Role

Yesterday I was feeling slightly social so I swung by the local atheist group's meeting. One of the topics discussed was "why are there not more female atheists?" - quickly shifted into two topics:

  • recognition that "their type of atheist group" is not in fact the only atheist group on campus (apparently there's an Objectivist group on campus too, which is also implicitly atheist) - we don't know much about them because AHA is more of the "cloud of vaguely liberal-leaning atheists centred roughly around secular humanism" - presumably if atheism were itself a lot bigger/more open and yet groups still existed, they would be more specific and something as vague as the existing group would not still exist - I imagine if that were the case I would occasionally swing by both a "vaguely socialist" group and a secular humanist group, given that I tend to like both types
  • Discussion on gender and socialisation. I wonder if generally socialisation and/or biology lead for a tendency for most women to be harder-hit by ostracisation - men are obviously hurt by this too, but if on average women are harder-hurt, we would expect women to generally take softer stances, and the proportion of women who become well known in any divisive movement to be fairly small. There will be a few, of course - Madalyn Murray O'Hare was a prominent outspoken atheist, Ada Lovelace/Byron was the mother of Computer Science, and Margaret Thatcher was the "Iron Lady" of british politics and Conservative Prime Minister for quite some time. I realise Ada may not seem to fit, but the point isn't that they were despised by many, the point is that they were isolated from society. My supposition (and I am willing to be gainsaid by anyone who knows more social psychology) is that males tend to be hurt less by isolation and social disapproval than women (individual variance causes milage to vary) either or both because of biological and cultural-upbringing reasons.
  • I'm not sure how much stock I should place in this supposition without hard data, even with the necessary statistical phrasing that makes it even a candidate for being considered. I've wondered, for example, if in female-majority fields whether men tend to create organisations to cope with the gender-disparity (Psych departments in particular, although maybe males in Nursing school?) - likewise how does this relate to "chinese clubs"? Complex topic.
It is nice that female geeks seem to becoming at least a bit more common - they're still unfortunately rare. I think we need better role models for female mad scientists, which might help things along at least on some fronts.

All of this kind of flowed from a random question on OkC about whether thunderstorms are romantic - I consider them wonderful (in the sense of "loud thunder+bright lightning+heavy rain+strong wind" = great time to run around out there getting very wet and emitting mad scientist laughs), but the idea of actually having someone out there beside me with an evil laugh of their own struck me as absolutely fantastic in a way I've never considered before.

While when I was much younger it was other mad scientists who I thought were fantastic, I confess that Dr Forrester from MST3k swept all those other mad scientists mostly out of my mind (Mao from Disgaea 3 seems pretty sweet too) - the crazy hair, the labcoat, such a wonderful laugh, plus all the good silliness and appropriately aimed snark. Sadly, after the transition from SciFi to ComedyCentral, the show wasn't the same with Pearl Forrester as the Mad Scientist - she was "evil" but she wasn't sciency. Come to think of it, I have almost never heard a proper evil laugh from a female - maybe there are too many other identities in the "female role-space" that easily would claim a would-be evil laugh, or maybe it's that there arn't enough female geeks to have perfected an appropriate sound given the female larynx. We need a female counterpart Brian Blessed to perfect that laugh, I imagine.

Um. This may have become a bit silly.


Female evil laugh: Little Mermaid. When Ursula stole Ariel's voice, both actresses captured that evil laugh very well. Something tells me that Meryl Streep has one too.
I read this and was surprised at the assertion that there are fewer female atheists--is this true? I have been told and readily believe that there are more women than men active in most churches, but there is a ways between that and fewer atheists. I guess my experience is in very few ways common.

I would not be surprised if women atheists tend to be less outspoken--role models for us are people like Le Guin, who was certainly adamant about her rights, but in an understated way.

I wonder if there is a strong effect of the difference in ostracism/criticism a woman or man will receive for the same actions. It tends to be more acceptable for men to hold and express objectionable views--the societal roles for this vary between "boys will be boys" to "bad boy" type rebel and so forth. Whereas women for the same behavior would just be considered rude, inconsiderate, irresponsible...
An interesting experiment - when you have one person who's a bit nutty in a relationship and one person who tends to be sane, how does the "nutty male plus sane female" versus "nutty female plus sane male" look?

(the topic reminds me of the women's studies class I took in undergrad - was curious what it'd be like, was exposed to a number of surprising ideas)
How can livejournal be working for you? It takes me five minutes to load anything.

It's possible that the distinction from "being secular" and "joining a group devoted to secularism" are two different things. This came up in that discussion. Maybe you would've enjoyed it.