Why Feminism and Atheism Often Go Hand in Hand

Two days in West Texas means not much keeping up with the blogs and news. (Though I have been talking lots of campaign stuff with the sole other Democrat in my family, my first cousin. He and his girlfriend have been working for the Clinton campaign around the country, so we had some interesting discussions. But not so much news-driven.) Which means more time to ponder the bigger themes in life. I found this story interesting--organized religion is in the decline in Canada, and some are laying the responsibility at the door of feminism.

I've written plenty before about how my feminism and atheism are closely entwined. Realizing that religion is used as a cheap excuse to oppress women leads to questioning the value of religion leads to realizing that the god stuff is a big fairy tale that has stayed alive because it's convenient for the powers that be to have it. Interestingly, though, this has little to do with women going through the big questions, and everything to do with the smaller details of what it takes to keep organized religion alive.

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Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

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