The most recent SpokaneFāVS weekly Viewpoints asked the question of why women are more religious than men. I’d like to flip that question and answer why I think women are less likely to identify as non-religious.
I think it’s for the same reason that atheists and agnostics are much more likely to not only be men, but also identify as white. The answer is simple: Privilege.
Being non-religious is a very unpopular position. It can have catastrophic social and familial consequences. As with almost any injustice, the stigma against being non-religious falls less heavily on those who have privilege.
I don’t mean to say all women who are religious are so because of male privilege – just that the cost for them, should they choose otherwise, is higher.
One of the most compelling benefits that people get from religion is community. The potential of losing one’s community is distressing, and that effect, too, is amplified by privelege. A person protected by white male privilege can afford to be labeled with all the stereotypes that accompany being non-religious (being stubborn, willful, arrogant, rebellious, angry, etc). Those labels, when applied to women, become transformed, harsher, they go from mere distaste to condemnation.
These possible negative consequences likely keep some women from not only openly expressing their doubts when they have them, but from examining them in the first place.
As the non-religious demographic continues to become a larger and more visible segment of the population, and secular alternatives to religious communities grow, I believe the demographics of the non-religious will become more reflective of society as a whole.
- A perfect storm for sexual abuse: Christian privilege, purity culture, and the doctrine of repentance - May 3, 2016
- Why women are less likely to identify as non-religious - April 11, 2016
- Growth of non-religious due to strong stances on moral and social issues - December 3, 2015
- Charlie Charlie: the real challenge is for adults to think critically - June 8, 2015
- The gold or black dress debate shows the nature of knowledge, compassion - February 27, 2015
- When Children Suffer To Prove Their Parent’s Faith - November 12, 2014