October 20, 2014

When Feminism and Atheism Collide: Pat Robertson has an interesting (and insulting) view of female atheist

Just a quick refresher on our friend Pat Robertson and his view of feminism before we dig in:


So, with his views on feminism, it shouldn't be a surprise that he says things like this also:

When a caller complained that his wife insults him and once raised a hand to him, Robertson lamented the end of legal wife-beating. “I don’t think we condone wife-beating these days but something has got to be done,” he whined. After characterizing the wife as someone who “does not understand authority,” he “jokingly” recommended that the husband move to Saudi Arabia, so that he can legally batter her.

Wait, has Robertson been the spiritual adviser for the NFL recently? That would explain A LOT...

In fact, he has lots of thoughts on women. Lots and lots and lots of thoughts...

For reference, this quote and the couple that follow are from AlterNet. You can check out these and more here.


He's shocked that women like sex--especially average-looking women:

 Robertson thought it advisable to embarrass one of his female co-hosts by asking her about Fifty Shades of Gray. “You’re a sweet Christian girl. Do you see anything in porn that attracts you at all?” he asked, as if there was a chance in the world she would say yes no matter how she actually felt about the situation. After she gave the obligatory denial, Robertson expressed his utter bewilderment at this new interest the female gender has in erotic materials. “The thing that shocks me. We always thought this was a male thing,” he said. “But now it looks like 30% of women are involved in pornography.” He expressed particular surprise that the author of Fifty Shades does not look like a “glamour queen,” as if the only thing that could possibly be more surprising than a woman showing interest in sex is an ordinary-looking woman showing interest in sex.

Lesbians want everyone to have abortions because they can't have babies (I should really introduce him to a couple I know that have a beautiful baby...):

Robertson, like most anti-choicers, wishes to believe that women who get abortions were somehow tricked or conned into the decision. Subsequently, he’s a fan of any other explanation for pro-choice motives other than a general support for reproductive rights.  He stumbled on a unique one two years ago, arguing that lesbians have a “deficiency” of not having babies, and therefore, “If these married women don’t have children, if they abort their babies, that puts them on a level playing field." 

And of course, no divorce unless your wife is sick:

Robertson routinely reminds his viewers--such as the one he recommended move to Saudi Arabia--that divorce is against the scriptures. But he did make one exception, for  a man whose wife’s senility is making him lonely. “I know it sounds cruel, but if he’s going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again.” He added, trying to sound less awful, “But to make sure she has custodial care, somebody looking after her.” 

Believe it or not, none of those quotes are the bulk of our story today. They are just a warm-up to the main event. Robertson fielded a caller recently, and the following exchange happened:

A viewer named Sandra told Robertson in a letter that she didn’t understand why an atheist coworker was “openly hostile at the mere mention of God” when the viewer tried to “bring her to Jesus.” 
“Should I abandon the idea of being a positive influence on her and just let her perish?” Sandra asked. 
Robertson speculated that the coworker could be controlled by “something that is demonic” or “something that is deep ingrained.” 
“But to be that openly hostile to the word ‘God,’ it’s something beyond the normal human experience,” he said. “Something has happened.” 
“Maybe she had an abusing father, somebody who raped her and acted like he was preaching to her from the Bible,” the TV pastor continued. “You just never know what’s going on in somebody’s childhood.” 
In the end, Robertson said that the viewer may have done all she could do for the atheist coworker. 
“Just pray for that anointing,” he concluded.

It couldn't be that the coworker is upset that "Sandra" continues to proselytize to her. Oh no. She's actively hostile to the word God because she was assaulted or abused.

You can never assume that someone reacts in a certain way because of trauma in their past. You just can't. Robertson is at once trivializing abuse and assault while also overgeneralizing the experience of atheists. You don't know why someone became an atheist (unless you ask). Plenty of people were raised with no concept of religion. Others came to the realization (like I did) that many of their core beliefs just didn't make sense--and some were outright contradictory. For some it is simple and easy. For others the transition is harder.

You cannot make assumptions based on hearsay, either. Robertson takes Sandra's word that the individual reacted with hostility, but hostility can look different to each person.

I will never forget getting a customer complaint that said I had "laughed" when they tried to return an item after our return policy had changed (a change we had advertised for months in advance). When I reviewed the footage with my boss, it was obvious that I hadn't laughed. I'd been having computer problems, and I shook my head at the issue, in a "Jeez, just what I needed today" way. But to the customer on the other end, she perceived a mocking of her situation--a situation I couldn't help, because at the time there was no way to do the return without a receipt. I honestly sympathized with the customer, and I would have given anything to NOT have the change from taking items without a receipt to only taking them with a receipt.

The whole experience just impressed on me that our personal perceptions are often flawed, especially our reactions to other people.

But clearly, Robertson feels comfortable speculating on a total stranger he's never met.

Poetic, I think.

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