Monday, June 25, 2012

Being a SHEretic - why atheism empowers me as a woman

It's hard to accept that we live in a world where women are stoned to death for being raped, admonished for expressing their thoughts, and denied the right to control her own body (to name just a few injustices). Why is this happening with all the progress has humanity has made? The biggest threat to progress, of course: religion.

The bible serves as a women-oppressing manual. Women are cursed from existence alone (Genesis 3:16).  No matter what, women are doomed to fail. We're unclean because of menstrual periods (Leviticus 15 19-23) and from giving birth (Job 14: 1-4). We can be sold into slavery (Exodus 21: 7-11), sacrificed (Judges 19: 22-29), and raped (Genesis 19: 1-8, Deuteronomy 21: 11-14 and 22: 28-29, Isiah: 16-17). It never ends. We must behave as obedient servants to our husbands, submitting to his every whim without complaint.

The Koran fares no better. Female slaves are sexual property (Sura 4:24). Not only that, but older men may marry a young girl who hasn't even entered womanhood (Sura 65:1,4). What the fuck? It's bad enough that men are allowed to subjugate their wives. Taking a wife that's still a young child enters unforgivable territory, as does genital mutilation.

I did not write this entry merely to throw out a bunch of anti-woman verses. An account from a friend who was tabling for my university's atheist club recalls a Southern Baptist woman approaching the table to have a discussion. When asked why she accepts the subservient roles she's prescribed, she shockingly said women deserve it. Despite my friend's attempts to tell her that her opinions were of just as much value as his, she backed down and said "I don't want to argue with you. I'm not supposed to." How incredibly sad.

My own personal experiences as a woman led me to embrace a secular worldview. I know I have a brain, and I will see to it that it's used. Wasting the brains of half the world's population simply because members of said population have vaginas never made sense. The lone girl among two brothers, I felt pressured to stand out. My brothers are indeed very smart; but of all three of us, I consistently perform the best academically. I continue to further my education so I can complete my own dreams. Religion only hinders these goals, as women are discouraged from pursuing their interests. No one stands in my way because I don't allow them to. Being an atheist lets me decide for MYSELF what I'm capable of, not dictating what I "should" do.

Abandoning religion allowed me to rid myself of the double-standards placed on women's behavior. It's okay to wear boys' clothes if you're a girl, but not for a boy to wear girls' clothes. Men who engage in sex frequently and with many partners are regarded as manly, where women who participate in such behavior are promiscuous and shameful. It's fine if a man belches, but it's impolite for a lady. These restrictions make it to where women can never win. Men being called a pussy or a little bitch implies femininity is inferior, whereas telling a woman she needs to "man up" is considered sage advice. No way, dammit. I'm acting the way I choose. If that's manly, okay. If that's lady-like, that's also okay. So long as I get to be me. Wearing men's clothes, belching, and having sex are all very fun things. Shameful they are not.

I'm excited to see more and more women come out as atheists. It shows the world that we demand to be treated as equals. I am not a baby-making machine, an obedient wife, or property. I'm a human being that seeks to reach her full potential, wherever my life leads.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

FFRF College Essay Contest Entry

This is the entry I submitted to The Freedom From Religion Foundation's 2012 college essay contest. The topic was essentially "Why I am An Out of the Closet Atheist" and why others should be, too. A full description can be found here.

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"Gladly Godless"

Follower of Christ- that’s what my name, Christiana, means. Contrary to the definition, the path I choose to follow is my own.  Admitting my atheism to the world opened my eyes to the possibilities. Many people still fail to understand how my life can possess meaning and happiness without believing in a higher power. Religion instills its own meaning into a person, not allowing her to think for herself. Atheism is the cure for that poisonous indoctrination. I’m an out atheist because I want to serve as a living example that a humanistic worldview makes for a more fulfilling life. I strive to show nonbelievers in the closet that coming out unifies us, telling believers that reason prevails.                                                                                                                       
 The coming out process always begins with a seed of doubt. I ignored mine at first. I thought attending various churches during my preteen years would somehow convince me of a god’s existence.  It occurred to me at fifteen that I didn’t need religion to guide my life. I refrained from telling the world until I turned sixteen in fear of my small North Carolina community’s hostility. Coming out as bisexual soon afterward made this a very delicate time in my life, helping me learn the type of friends worth keeping. The disparaging comments I heard then mirror the comments I still hear today: my heart’s a black hole, I worship Satan, and I possess no sense of right and wrong. I refuse to let anyone tell me who I am. I waste no time trying to convince ignorant people of their misguided opinions about atheists and let my actions speak for themselves. Some of my so-called “evil” atheist activities include regularly donating blood, campaigning for better treatment of animals and LGBT people, and practicing martial arts (which I hope to never use on anyone). The religious right’s monopoly on morality needs to end.                       

Religion planted in my head that my bisexuality made me worthy of death. I believed I was a defective product of God that deserved punishment. I owe my recovery to discovering the horrors of religious texts while perusing them for advice. Although my realization that religion oppresses the mind was unintentional, I can’t apologize where that knowledge led me. No prayer ever gave me answers, but taking action in searching for them opened my mind.                            

  My actions as an out atheist demonstrate to this religiously oversaturated society that nonbelievers can (and often do) live moral lives. A deity need not tell me suffering is bad or murder is wrong; common sense equips me with all the tools I need to make good choices. The more nonbelievers that out themselves, the more ground religious zealots lose with their ridiculous claims of atheist immorality. Too many religious people claim they’ve never met a nonbeliever and nothing would challenge their ideologies quicker than seeing us helping others. We nonbelievers use our two hands to help heal the world’s ills while the believers waste time praying with theirs. The nonreligious community’s biggest issue is working alone; coming out brings us closer to unity.                                                                                                                        

 Attacks from the religious right frequently entail nonsense about the erosion of America’s religious freedoms. Banding together to fight back against these claims shows that we refuse to shut up, like believers want us to. By increasing the amount of nonbelievers who come out, we’ll decrease the isolation we experience. Atheist groups continue to sprout up everywhere, from national organizations to high school and college clubs. The choice to tell others remains a deeply personal one because of potentially hostile reactions from those around us. Living in a Bible-belt state, I know the struggle of weighing the pros and cons of such a decision. Declaring to the world that you’re religion-free brings an intensely liberating feeling. You no longer have to hide or lie about what you believe (or don’t believe)!  Too often, people of a religion can’t even agree on what THEY believe.                                                                                                                    

  Religion only results in division; just look at the countless Christian denominations. No religion avoids the schisms that result in differing factions, schools, and denominations. Religions thrive on forcing followers to obey their version of morality. It’s capable of turning good-hearted people into rabid simpletons that defend even the most abhorrent dogmas. Atheism demands nothing and commands no one. Atheists look to make progress, not hinder it based on outdated beliefs. Theists who assert that no good deed means a thing without believing in their deity probably won’t disappear anytime soon. Thankfully, a humanist’s life isn’t centered on pleasing anyone (especially invisible friends in the sky). Even non-theistic religions pose a threat to one’s mind because they still reinforce rules and restrictions. The tools humans need to succeed in life require no supernatural assistance. Our innate curiosity of the world and ability to reason serves us more than well. We help others because it brings us great satisfaction to do so and not because we want to earn brownie points toward a favorable afterlife. Common sense is sufficient to tell us that acts such as murder and rape are wrong. Asking questions and taking action changes the world; prayer and accepting beliefs on nothing except blind faith get us nowhere.                                                                                                                                                       
 I am an atheist, therefore I am free. Religion sentences the greatest human treasure, the mind, to prison. Secular humanism enables us to use our minds to better ourselves and the world as a whole. Humanism encourages the pursuit of knowledge instead of squandering it. With my confidence in humanity’s potential to better the world without religious influence, I proudly say that I’m an out atheist. What about you?

Welcome!

Hi, everyone. Chances are you've stumbled across this new blog by way of my Twitter. 

For those who didn't or just want to know more about me, I'm Christi. I'm from North Carolina and I attend college for English. I'm an avid gamer that loves fighting games (the Tekken series being my #1 favorite). I enjoy electronic music, my favorite genre being trance. I'm a GAD and depression sufferer that's getting progressively better.

I've been an out atheist and bisexual since 2007 and a vegetarian since 2006. Most of my posts will be related to these topics, as my blog title suggests. They won't necessarily be about me, but the issues behind them as well. There will of course be the occasional entry about my life in general.

Hope you enjoy!