Edit: I’ve been receiving a lot of support and a lot of criticism with regards to this post, and I’ve spent the better part of yesterday and today thinking about the implications of both. The truth is, I’m going to have some people mad at me if I take it down or retract it, and some people who will be mad at me for leaving it up or standing by it.
I’ve never been a woman before, so I can’t say that I understand what it feels like to read a piece like this. But I’ve gotten some interesting responses to my questions in the last day. For one thing, I think if I had my druthers, I’d rename the entry. The “mission statement” of the article is not to simply admire hot atheist women. It’s an entry on the subject of dating for male atheists. It’s about my belief that there are a lot of “closet atheist” women. It’s about the wide variety of dating options represented by the atheist women in Hollywood that we admire. And yes, it’s about men wanting to date hot women.
Now, I will be the first to admit that it’s also a sensationalist piece. I could have written the same article without pictures, and with more neutral language. And perhaps that is the real issue. Maybe the gratuitous inclusion of pictures makes this a tabloid piece. If that’s true, then maybe it’s out of place on my blog, even if it’s not “inherently” offensive. (Would people be griping about it if it was in FHM? They have such lists every episode, don’t they?)
To readers who feel that this makes me — in the words of Jen at Blag Hag, a “shallow, sexist asshole,” I am not sure precisely what to say. I’m thinking very seriously about what all this means, and I want to do what is both appropriate and honest. One of my goals at Life Without a Net is to reduce bigotry and discrimination. And maybe an article like this contributes to some kind of discrimination. If it does, then I am in the wrong. If it’s just some frivolous indulgence in male fantasy, then that’s fine, too. But until I have made a more definitive decision on the matter, I’m leaving this post up for comment, but refraining from making any new posts in this genre.
Thanks for your time.
I recently had a conversation with an atheist friend who was bemoaning the lack of available atheist women. It’s certainly true that in the deep south, they’re pretty hard to find. To begin with, most of the available data shows that women are more likely to be theists than men. Add to that the strong possibility that women are more likely to be “pretend theists” — especially when the culture is overwhelmingly Christian — and things start to look bleak for the guys.
Why are women more likely to be Christians? There’s no consensus answer, but there are good theories. Is it because women are more likely to be emotional and intuitive thinkers? Maybe. Women do have less physical separation between brain hemispheres, which means that it may be more difficult for them to make “purely logical” decisions when presented with an emotionally powerful question. Anecdotally, most of the female theists I’ve talked to have given emotional reasons for their belief.
It’s more difficult to guess at the “pretend theist” population. After all, we don’t know how many there are because… well… they’re hiding. Intuitively, it seems to me that women would be very likely to pretend for one basic reason — women are far more reliant on “the group” than men. Go into a crowded bar sometime and count the women who came out on the town by themselves. You know the answer — zero. If a woman’s going to go out, she’s going to go with someone, and probably with a group. If all the girls are Christian, it is far too dangerous for a woman to openly defy the group for something like religion. Pretending is the logical thing to do.
But there’s hope. As atheism is becoming more and more visible, the number of openly atheist women in the public eye is increasing. And it’s not just the outcasts, goths, and emo kids anymore. I’ll start with my own celebrity atheist crush:
(WARNING: Though there is no graphic nudity in this post, there are pictures that may not be appropriate in some work environments.)
Natalie Portman has been pretty open about her atheism from the start, and good for her. Even after becoming a famous movie star, she has continued to stress the importance of education and science. She’s a science nerd. How sexy is that?
But admittedly, Natalie isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. I happen to like petite girls, but a lot of guys are into more curves. Lucky for them, one of the most popular actresses in this category is also an atheist.
In addition to having considerable big screen assets, Angelina Jolie is a humanitarian and philanthropist. From Wikipedia:
Jolie has received wide recognition for her humanitarian work. In 2003, she was the first recipient of the newly created Citizen of the World Award by the United Nations Correspondents Association, and in 2005, she was awarded the Global Humanitarian Award by the UNA-USA. Cambodia‘s King Norodom Sihamoni awarded Jolie Cambodian citizenship for her conservation work in the country on August 12, 2005; she has pledged $5 million to set up a wildlife sanctuary in the north-western province of Battambang and owns property there. In 2007, Jolie became a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and she received the Freedom Award by the International Rescue Committee.
But what about the complaint that Jolie has had too much “modification?” Well, if that’s an issue for you, how about this naturally curvy beauty?
Like exotic girls with cool accents?
In case you didn’t know, that’s the French First Lady.
I don’t know who this girl is, but she’s redheaded and hot:
Do you prefer your women witty and sarcastic? It turns out that one of the best in the business is an atheist.
Have you ever heard of Eva Green? If you haven’t, and you aren’t scared of a little sex on film, you should watch The Dreamers. (Make sure to get the real version of it. It loses a lot when it gets Turnered.*)
Speaking of sexy movies, I’m going to go somewhere a lot of atheist bloggers seem to want to avoid. There are quite a few atheist women who don’t mind taking their clothes off. Some of them don’t mind having sex, either. A few will do either or both for money.
I can understand why some people are reluctant to mention that there are a lot of atheists in the porn industry. We take enough flack for being immoral, and it seems like a losing battle to try to justify both porn and atheism at the same time. But I think it’s important to remember that part of the battle against “Christian America” is the fight against repressive and patriarchal sexual values. Yes, there’s a stigma against being a porn actress, but it’s legal and ought to remain that way.
Asia Carrera is about as famous as it gets when it comes to sex on film. If you’re interested, just do a Google search with safesearch off and you’ll get several eye-fulls.
It’s not just about hardcore, either. In the world of “glamor models,” there are plenty of atheists. It’s pretty difficult to find a picture of Kaylee Carver where she isn’t topless. She definitely doesn’t believe God hates her dirty pillows.
The truth is, there are atheist women out there, and a lot of them are straight up hot. So if you’re an atheist man and it feels like you’re going to have to settle for biting your lip while your girlfriend drags you to church, keep looking. As more and more men live as open atheists, more atheist women will show up — especially if I’m right about the number of closet cases. Think about it: If all the available men are Christians, there’s no reason for a woman to disqualify herself by admitting non-belief. But if there’s a sizable pool of nonbelievers, the emotional appeal of being with a kindred spirit might very well be enough to convince her to switch sides.
Oh, and if you’re a hot atheist woman playing pretend at religion, for crying out loud, stop it! There are a LOT of very eligible atheist men out there. If you come out of the closet first, trust me — the guys will be lining up to confess their atheism to you.
* I don’t know if anyone else uses this term, but when a film gets “Turnered,” it has all the good stuff cut out of it so it would be viewable on any of Ted Turner’s channels, like TBS or TNT. I don’t think The Dreamers could be edited enough to make it to regular TV, but there are two versions of it — R and NC-17. There’s no point in watching the R rated version. Find the real version.