The Telegraph – January 11, 2016
The trouble with the atheist movement, of which I consider myself a part, is that sometimes it just looks far too much like religion.
To put it bluntly: it’s pale, stale and male.
Richard Dawkins, the late Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett, are often referred to as atheism’s ‘four horsemen’. All deeply interesting individuals – but also exactly the sort of faces that a patriarchal religion might appoint as its elders.
Recognising this, Somali author and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali was added to the clique when Hitchens died (the fourth horse-woman).
But – maths alert – having twenty-five percent representation is not the same as equality and it still isn’t remotely surprising to find an atheist event with an all-male line-up.
Any public discussion around atheism tends to come from men, too. Comedians Ricky Gervais and Robin Ince have appeared in a stage show about it. And who can forget Stephen Fry’s hugely popular video on the subject from last year, in which he branded God “utterly evil”.
With a shortage of women at the table, the movement’s focus has tended to land on issues such as free speech and has often failed to engage with others like reproductive rights.
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