Scholars of nonreligion and atheism have become increasingly interested in how the atheist movement reproduces gender inequalities. This growing research area is especially concerned with atheist activism’s contradictory embracing of gender egalitarianism on the one hand (especially when embedded in a critique of religion) and the exclusion of women from atheist spaces. Limited information is available on male atheists who identify as feminist or who express agreement with feminist goals. Although some scholars have addressed the rejection of feminist claims within organised nonreligion, this article examines both men’s adoption of the feminist label and women’s attitudes towards feminist men in the atheist movement. Drawing from thirty-five semi-structured interviews with atheist activists in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, I show that some feminist women perceived feminist men as passive or guided by insincere motivations (primarily to earn the attention and approval of women within atheist organisations). These findings shed light on the dilemmas of feminist men in atheist activism and contribute to understanding the gender dynamics of some atheist organisations.
We use data from qualitative interviews with forty atheist activists in two Canadian cities to analyze the politics of critiquing Islam in the contemporary political environment. We show that atheist activists struggle to navigate between their criticisms of Islam, their fears of being labeled “Islamophobic” (taken as a synonym for “racist” or “xenophobic”), and their concerns about contributing to anti-Muslim rhetoric. To manage this struggle, atheists rely on stigma management tactics that allow them to hold or express criticisms of Islam without earning racially charged stigmatizing labels. Using these stigma management techniques speaks to the precarious positions of many atheists today as they try to critique Islam without expressing or contributing to prejudicial views against Muslims. This article will interest scholars of religion and nonreligion, especially those interested in the perceived stigmas associated with atheism and stigma management among members of secular movement organizations.