Melanie Elyse Brewster
The present article explores scholarship regarding links between atheism, gender, and sexuality. A review and analysis of available theory and research is presented through a social scientific lens. Specifically, research suggesting that more men than women identify as atheist is contextualized through reviews of gender role socialization, structural location, personality, and evolutionary theories. Ties between atheism, women’s issues, and feminism are also discussed. Moreover, data about atheism and religiosity amongst lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ) groups is presented. Findings regarding rates of atheist identification and sexual orientation indicate that atheism may be higher among LGBTQ individuals than heterosexually identified people; such research is discussed in the context of anti-LGBTQ religious stigmatization and oppression. Lastly, in an effort to deconstruct ‘coming out’ as atheist identity development processes, parallels between LGBTQ and atheist movements are examined and critiqued. Directions for future research are proposed.
This chapter provides conceptual tools for mapping the role of humor in humanist communities. First, it sets parameters for the study, emphasizing humanist organizations’ self-definitions, a theory of humor based in current research, and atheist standup comedy as a data set to explore. Broadly, the chapter follows the International Humanist and Ethical Union’s 2002 “Amsterdam Declaration,” which sees humanism as ethical, rational, and supporting of democracy and civil rights; insists that personal liberty must be combined with social responsibility; is a response to the widespread demand for an alternative to dogmatic religion; values artistic creativity and imagination; and is a life stance aiming at maximum possible fulfillment. Next, it investigates the role of humor in the construction of atheist identity and communities. Finally, it suggests some other ways of looking at standup comedy to rethink and expand the boundaries of what constitutes humanist humor.