Sovereign of Herself: Women’s Narratives of ‘Lived Atheism’

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Abstract

In most western societies the number of female non-believers is growing and atheism has become one manifestation of nonreligion among many (Pew Forum, 2015). However, little is known about female atheists. This article fills the gap by providing the voices of a small percentage of women who consider themselves ‘practising’ but not ‘active’ atheists. Through a sociological analysis of qualitative interviews with twenty self-identified atheist women I argue for the importance of researching the mundane aspects of female atheism which often fall under the radar when scholars focus predominantly on the vocal and politically active atheists. ‘Lived atheism’ comprises small and seemingly insignificant actions and utterances which structure atheist women’s lives and contribute to the creation of new worldviews, symbols, and reflexive strategies. Micro-actions triggered by religious content, symbols and utterances, found in the nominally secular fabric of everyday life, add up to novel forms of gendered agency which is markedly different to outspoken activist atheism, and yet not the same as agnosticism, pure indifference, or ‘none-ism’. By examining ‘atheist flashpoints’ – moments when dormant atheist convictions come to the surface – I demonstrate how women practice ‘everyday atheism’ as they navigate personal and public spaces.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Number of pages11
JournalSecularism and Nonreligion
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Feb 2018

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