Why don’t women shun religion?

It is a question I ask myself over and over. Why is it that some of the most fierce opposition I have met when criticising religion is from the gender that has suffered so much at the hands of it? 

An interesting post by Manathan over at Atheist Republic, an Indian woman and blogger. Of course men are fine with religion, it has been relatively kind to them in comparison to their mothers and sisters. 

I would love to hear more from female bloggers on both sides of the fence. As a female, what are your thoughts?

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8 thoughts on “Why don’t women shun religion?

  • Sorry, no female here, but my default position is that A) women are biologically invested in child-rearing and B) child-rearers want their little hellions to behave, desperately, so they cling, with fierce irrationality, to the available cultural force for keeping the hellions in line, punitive monotheism. Fathers, less so, but they’ll use the club of punitive religion, when pushed.

    • An interesting position, and with men benefitting from this desire to adopt religious faith (considering the strict religious rules women abide), is it any wonder that humans still populate the earth with unrelenting belief?

    • Thanks for the feedback. There is bias as I am indeed an atheist, and dislike how as mentioned above some of the most aggressive reactions to my opinions have been from women. I have amended though to invite discussion rather than conflict.

  • As a female atheist blogger, that has been a focus of mine for some time. When I got active in the atheist movement, my questions were “Are women really more religious?” “If so, why?” and “Can we do anything about it?”

    The answer to “are women more religious?” turned out to be yes, at least as far as women who will admit to it. I’ve seen statistics that show that the population openly identifying as non-religious, or atheist, is skewed about 60% male.

    But the “Why?” is complicated. I’ve been to four Women in Secularism conferences now, and think that we are only just starting to piece together the answer.

    Part of it is social factors. Like it or not, women are still very much the primary caregivers for raising children, and that is a much easier job when you have help. The support network provided by churches is a hard thing to give up, particularly in areas where the government does not provide a good safety net. Leaving religion might mean losing the people who help watch your kids, or bring food when you are ill, or a hundred other supportive things. If you are depending on your church ladies to help you get by in life, why would you just announce that you don’t belong there any more?

    Philosopher Rebecca Goldstein has also put forward another reason, and that is “mattering”. People have a need in their lives to feel like they matter. Woman who are living under systems that constrain their opportunities still need to matter. If you can’t hope to aspire to all of the possibilities for life that are open to men, then how do you feel your life matters? Religion can fill this in several ways. Part of it is the social support network, again. But mostly I think that it’s the idea that “maybe your life doesn’t matter much in this world, but you matter to god” that’s hard to shake.

    But I think there’s probably more to it, that we haven’t figured out yet. The “what do we do about it?” is also hard. One part of the answer, I think, is that we really need to build the secular community into a real community. Things like Sunday Assembly and UU churches are great for this – they can help replace the social functions so women can be honest about their lack of belief without risking losing the support they depend on.

    • This is very valuable to hear from the female atheist perspective, thank you for the insight.
      Your answer does make me feel a little uneasy to question the female religious community, particularly when you speak of their need to feel they ‘matter’ in a seemingly mans world. I would assume that a world that leaves religion behind (if such a day comes) would be more open and able to set up atheist community events and being an atheist wouldn’t necessarily mean leaving the social circle.
      How were the conferences? I haven’t been to one however I bet it is great to meet with like-minded people.

      • The conferences were awesome, both in the speakers and just getting to meet with prominent atheist women from different fields.

        There’s a pattern that in countries where there’s a strong social safety net, religiosity declines on its own. Just look at Scandinavia. So working on that is as important as challenging women’s religion directly, I think.

      • I will have to get myself to one soon. Most of Northern/Western Europe follows the same trend as Scandinavia I believe, here in the UK I don’t know anyone that is overly religious, I can name three people that I grew up with in my generation that attend church, but that’s it. There is however a bigger surge seen in those migrating to this country, ironically from many deeply religious nations that they seemingly had to leave for a better life.

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