Tuesday, 19 August 2008

God v the feminists

Cath Elliott, a left-wing feminist activist of a type that is now probably an endangered species, today offered CIF a passionate denunciation of religion as, basically, a tool of patriarchal oppression. God - always a "He", of course, despite recent attempts at gender inclusivity - offers the message that "life exists for men, while the best women can hope for is some kind of reward in the next one, as long as we do as we're told". She has "dabbled" in religion - in her mind, having once had a Rastafarian boyfriend counts as dabbling - but feminism always got in the way. Religion, says Elliott, is responsible for most of the ills that befall women, whether it's honour crimes, or inferior education, or AIDS. Nor is any of this likely to change. Invoking imagery from the prophecies of Isaiah, she concludes, "As the lion is never going to lie down with the lamb, so the church is never going to passively cede any control to women: it's simply not in their interest."

Elliott was responding to a bizarre article by Julie Burchill in which the former journalistic wild child announced that she was now a "Christian Zionist" and "Christian feminist" who believed "literally" in the "God of the Jews and the Protestants" (but not, it seems, the God of the Muslims). For her part, Elliott thinks that "Christian feminist" is an oxymoron, "on a par with compassionate conservative". (Actually, Cath, "compassionate conservative" isn't an oxymoron, it's a tautology. Rather like "champagne socialist".) Also on her mind was the debate on Sharia law instigated by the Archbishop of Canterbury. As she notes, giving official blessing to religious-based systems of law that discriminate against women may sound multicultural and "inclusive" - and thus liberal - but what it actually means is "one rule for us and another for our Muslim sisters."

This is an argument on the Left that, until recently, seemed to have been won by the multiculturalists, with feminists who dared to criticise the desire of some women to drape themselves in burqas risking the dreaded taunt of Islamophobia. Feminism, along with other forms of secularism, when subjected to the mental contortionism demanded by "liberal" ideology, turned out to be just another form of Western triumphalism and intellectual arrogance. If no culture was inherently superior to any other then how can modern European/American notions of female equality be imposed on "communities" who cleave to different value systems? Take the hijab, or even the burqa. Can such garments really be claimed to "oppress" women? Surely, proclaim the pro-Islam feminists, the opposite is the case: it is the desire of women to beautify themselves for male visual delectation that oppresses; the veil is a raiment of liberation.

I detect a few signs of a fightback. One was the recent (seemingly successful) campaign to save the Southall Black Sisters, a feminist activist group whose work among disadvantaged minority women dates back to the days when skin colour mattered more than religion as a source of identity. How long ago that now seems. In an article earlier this month for the New Statesman, SBS leader Pragna Patel faced the problem head on. The prevailing multi-faith approach, she complained, "institutionalises the undemocratic power of so called ‘moderate’ (authoritarian if not fundamentalist) religious leaders at all levels of society." As a result,


Civil society is actively encouraged to organise around exclusive religious identities, and religious bodies are encouraged to take over spaces once occupied by progressive secular groups and, indeed, by a secular welfare state. In the process, a complex web of social, political and cultural processes are reduced by both state and community leaders into purely religious values, while concepts of human rights, equality and discrimination are turned on their head.


It is in this context that Cath Elliott makes her attack on the inherent misogyny of religion. She's careful to point out flaws in Christianity first. But she goes on:

Christianity is and always has been antithetical to women's freedom and equality, but it's certainly not alone in this. Whether it's one of the world's major faiths or an off-the-wall cult, religion means one thing and one thing only for those women unfortunate enough to get caught up in it: oppression. It's the patriarchy made manifest, male-dominated, set up by men to protect and perpetuate their power.


Is it, though? Historically, religious power structures have been dominated by men. Traditionally, too, the image of God has been a male image. Theologians, of course, claim that God is pure spirit, beyond male and female; but it's difficult to read the Bible without getting the distinct impression that the Deity is a bloke. The Bible, indeed, is full of "patriarchal attitudes". Paul calls on women to obey their husbands, "for the husband is head of the wife"; the Book of Proverbs laments that a virtuous woman is a rarity, whose "price is far above rubies". Leviticus has some very strange things to say about menstruation. In the Koran, meanwhile, husbands are allowed to chastise (and probably beat) "disobedient" wives.

There are, of course, significant women in the Bible (though less than there are men): one thinks of both Marys, Rebecca and Rachel from Genesis, heroines like Ruth and Deborah. Harold Bloom even argued that the author of the earliest sections of the Bible might have been a woman, so prominent were they in the story. Yet the most memorable women in the Bible are villainesses, or portrayed as such, names that have come down as shorthands for female treacherousness or depravity: Jezebel, Delilah, Salome, above all Eve. Eve's "sin" kick-starts the entire soteriological machinery of Christianity: it was what Jesus was supposedly come to save us all from. As for Mary the Virgin, while her cult is sometimes held out as an example of Christianity's feminine dimension, she can equally seen as an impossible ideal, her virgin motherhood proof of the Church's horror of female sexuality.

If Christianity is bad, Islam would seem to be a whole lot worse. Apologists may point to rights of inheritance and divorce "given" to women by Mohammed (in fact, they often turn out to reflect the social norms of the society in which the prophet was born, as demonstrated by his independently wealthy first wife Khadija); but however progressive Islam might have seemed in the 7th century, those days are long gone. Women under Sharia law have inferior rights of inheritance and divorce; their testimony is worth less than that of a man; they can only marry with the permission of a male relative. Women under Islam are often kept in a condition of perpetual childhood. Islam also gives cover to patriarchal notions of family honour: arranged marriages, dress codes (in which women are identified as the instruments of male temptation), an obsession with virginity on marriage (female virginity, that is). Even the cruel practice of genital mutilation is given religious sanction.

But then most organised religions can be condemned in similar terms. Hinduism, despite its pantheon of powerful and sexually active goddesses, once promoted widow-burning and still treats widowed women with considerable cruelty. None of the Sikh gurus were female, for all that religion's claims to sexual equality. There's only one female Tibetan lama (and she's a Chinese puppet). Scientology forced poor Katie Holmes to give birth in silence.

And yet, if religion really is nothing more than a mechanism by which men oppress women, how does one account for the apparent fact (consistent in most surveys) that women are generally more religious than men. More women attend church every sunday; women are more likely to pray and to express belief in God. Men are less likely to be interested in religion, and considerably more likely to be atheists. These factors are more pronounced in western, post-Christian societies where faith is no longer required for social conformity, suggesting that whatever it is that religion offers people (solace, community, hope for an afterlife or direct spiritual experience) appeals to women more than it does men. Of course, we're talking of statistical averages rather than any particular individual.

Outside of the male-dominated priesthoods, it's women who traditionally passed on religious devotion within families and who often enforced communal religious norms. Women have collaborated with, indeed instigated, forced marriages and even honour killings; they have mutilated the genitalia of their own daughters; they have climbed willingly onto funeral pyres or denounced their neighbours as witches. Men have often been bystanders in the misogynistic oppression of women, by women, in the name of religion or morality. Feminists such as Cath Elliott also tend to ignore the obvious fact that many of the most vocal and passionate opponents of abortion are religiously motivated women.

It might be added that the moral requirements made by religions on their followers aren't necessarily sexist. There's nothing sexist about the requirement to love your neighbour, to be faithful to your spouse (while religions have often indulged the double standard, they do not, generally, proclaim it) or to pray for guidance to a higher power. Religion imposes duties on men to honour their wives and provide for their families; old-fashioned, patronising duties, perhaps, yet these were moral norms that served to mitigate the worst excesses of male dominance.

And while the preponderance of female churchgoers is a phenomenon of the modern West, female religiosity is certainly nothing new. It was women who sustained the early church and were the most enthusiastic followers of ancient mystery cults such as that of Isis. Throughout the centuries, many girls have been romantically attracted to the life of a nun. Indeed, notwithstanding its exclusively male hierarchy, the Christian church has for most of European history been the only institution (with the possible exception of the brothel) that offered women independence, education, even power. A religious woman could be a scholar, a mystic, a poet, a businesswoman, the absolute ruler (subject only to the Pope) of her order, potentially a saint. A secular woman, unless a queen, could only be a wife.

It would be possible, indeed, to turn Elliot's whole argument upside-down and suggest that exclusively male priesthoods originated as a mechanism for preserving male dominance in an arena that would otherwise have been dominated by women. Something that, given the role of religion in organising society and policing moral norms, could hardly be allowed in a male-dominated culture. Since the opening of the Anglican priesthood to women, numbers of female ordinations have outstripped male; in another few decades the Church of England will probably have become as female dominated as nursing.

Then there's Islam. In its externals, Islam is more clearly male-orientated than any other major religion. It segregates the sexes, and encourages women to conceal their bodies, hair and sometimes even faces for reasons of "modesty". As we have seen, Sharia discriminates in important respects against women. Women are barred from many mosques: in others, they are relegated to peripheral areas or forced to sit behind a curtain - all to prevent their sexuality from polluting the minds of the men present. Young Muslim males openly practise a sexual double standard, demanding virginity from prospective wives while themselves sleeping around. Yet among British converts to Islam, women outnumber men two to one. And, often to their families' horror and shame, they not only submit to wearing the hijab but become vocal and enthusiastic proponents.

Islam often strikes unbelievers as being like other religions, only more so. And what appeals to some women particularly about Islam, it seems to me, may be something inherent in many forms of worship. The word Islam, we're often told, means "submission". An alternative translation is "peace". Perhaps the Latin pax carries a similar tension: the Pax Romana was, after all, the outcome of imperial conquest. Islam is the psychological relief you feel when you hand over responsibility for your life to a higher power. It's the comfortable feeling that comes when someone else is in control.

What I'm suggesting here is that many women have a psychological need to be dominated - even in some cases abused - and that it is this need, above all, that religion supplies. God is the ultimate alpha male, the wise, loving father and strong protector. Religion answers the evolutionary need for security, but also darker urges too. Just as female mosochists outnumber their male equivalents, and women often stay with abusive partners, so even a religion that patronises, marginalises and oppresses women will answer their deeply-felt needs. This is an aspect of female psychology that feminists like Cath Elliott do not understand; or if they do understand, they hate, and because they condemn it they put it all down to social conditioning or immemorial male oppression. Perhaps they are simply disappointed in their God-fearing sisters. Perhaps they are right to be. But in most cases, and certainly in modern Britain, it is not men who are using religion to oppress women. On the contrary, in some cases women who can't find male oppressors are turning instead to God.

I don't think Julie Burchill herself belongs to that category, however. Her new-found Anglican religiosity seems more closely connected with her dislike of Islam or what she likes to call "Roman Catholickism" than a hankering after spirituality. Her desire to be contrarian and politically incorrect makes her sneer at atheists who want to be on "the winning side". She may think that she needs God; she undoubtedly thinks that God needs Julie Burchill.

20 comments:

Gannet said...

Just as female mosochists outnumber their male equivalents,

Where do you get your numbers from? Judging by the respective numbers of female professional dominatrixes, compared to the almost non-existent male dominator market, I would say that male masochists are anything but a minority in the kinkier strata of society.

The Heresiarch said...

I have my sources. Let's just say that those who are in a position to know assure me that it's the case. Though I, too, initially found it surprising, given the market conditions: I assume it's simply that female "subs" don't usually need to pay.

valdemar said...

Another very good post that will take me a while to digest.

Julie Burchill - oh, how a period of total silence from her would be welcome on every subject. I wouldn't mind but she is such a crap writer.

Re: male oppression, I suppose every ideological movement in history except feminism has been male-dominated. So, yes, religion is just one example of ideology that can clobber the sistas.

However (here it comes) there is a difference between an ideology that can be reasoned with and one that can't. 'God said do this, so do as God says or I will flog/jail/kill you' is indeed oppressive in my book. But then, my book is not a sacred text.

Not sure about why women are more religious than men (in general). Aren't women simply more social than me, more willing to join a group but less likely to want to lead it? Doesn't religion offer women instant social networking, with all the gossip and so on?

lost causes said...

From my own observations, I'd say that women are less eager than men to engage in the kind of confrontational critical thinking that would lead one to become an atheist (and maybe even these days a feminist?). For them perhaps the community that comes with the church out-ways the question of whether or not it is in fact right or true. Here's an example: in an evening class full of women, when the subject of homoeopathy came up, my wife didn't feel she needed to disillusion her class mates with the scientific explanation of why homoeopathy cannot work. She didn't feel it was worth disrupting the social group with awkwardness over a point of fact.

Edwin said...

Think you're spot on about Burchill Heresiarch - indeed your last paragraph says (I do believe) something new about her, which is remarkable, considering the rhetoric generated by her.

I think you're harsh on Cath though - far from being a figure of the past, I believe she is just the sort of person you wnat to debate with whether you agree with her or not. Her threads generate more light than heat, which is largely due to her, I think.

Glad I took your advice and went back to CIF - will just pick my threads more carefully!

The Heresiarch said...

I didn't say Cath was a figure from the past: I said she was an "endangered species". I'm not necessarily being harsh about her: I mean that her brand of feminism is of the seventies/eighties variety. I was contrasting her laser-like concentration on the issue of gender with the more recent tendency towards moral relativism. There's an absoluteness to old-style feminism, as seen very strongly in this piece, which stated quite bluntly that "religion means one thing and one thing only for those women unfortunate enough to get caught up in it: oppression." As the subsequent discussion showed, there's much more to it than that.

As for Cif, even as you return (as a dog...) I think I'm coming round to your point of view: your brilliant metaphor of it as flypaper, in particular. Plus I had another entirely innocent contribution removed yesterday - one that had picked up a dozen "recommends". How can they do that? Besides, it wastes too much time. I think I'll concentrate on cultivating my own garden. Though I doubt I'll be able to ignore it entirely.

Edwin said...

Fair enough about Cath Heresiarch - sorry I misread you. I saw your Cif post go (and mine) and protested about it and Cath said on the thread that she didn't get the moderation either.

I was driven away from Cif before by my righteous indignation over the mad Masroor blog, and took another wee break there because like Mujokan i was bored with my own repetitions, and now i think I'm going to take longer breaks because it is hard work posting - I like to look and see if someone has made the point I'm making but IT TAKES SO LONG and I do have other words to write for money)) agghh.

Well thank goodness for Heresy Corner!

WeepingCross said...

Christians themselves generally find the preponderance of females in the pews a puzzle. My impression is that most of the factors contributors have mentioned here make sense, but I'm really not convinced by the masochism argument; yet I can't think of any sociological study that would throw any light on the matter. My own hunch has always been that women are less inclined to swallow the fantasy of self-reliance than men are: they know they're not in control of things, whereas men kid themselves they can be.

Religious women do, however, have a long history of pointing out (often to their great cost) that according to the sacred text concerned, God doesn't actually appear to say quite what the hierarchy tends to say he says. Argument over what God has said is where reason enters the process.

Ms Burchill is of course mistaken in this as in other respects. I wonder how she will cope with the clause of the Creed 'I believe in one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church'? I haven't heard anyone use the word 'Protestant' seriously in years.

The Heresiarch said...

And yet, strangely, there was a report in today's Telegraph that large numbers of women are deserting the churches - more than 50,000 a year - and taking up witchcraft. The report claims that they're inspired by Buffy - rather late in the day, surely. Acc. Dr Krisin Aune, "Young women tend to express egalitarian values and dislike the traditionalism and hierarchies they imagine are integral to the church."

And then it quotes Christina Rees as saying, "What this research reveals is that a lot of people are put off by traditional stances and attitudes. We still have a long way to go before women, particularly young women, feel as included in the church as men do."

Which made me think - where are all the men who feel included? This doesn't make any sense.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/religion/2603343/Buffy-the-Vampire-Slayer-slaying-church-attendance-among-women-study-claims.html

WeepingCross said...

You can't expect Christina Rees to make sense!!

In fact the argument for years has been that men are put off active involvement in churches because, apart from the chap up front, they're dominated by women. I find that much closer to real life.

The Buffy remark must surely emanate from someone who knows nothing about it. Yes, early on in Buffy Wicca looked sassy and cool. Then an entire season's story arc concerned it destroying the main character involved. That kind of ambiguity was one of the things that made the serial fun. Oh, and a personable young girl kicking the crap out of vampires, of course.

Edwin said...

You and Weeping Cross must be right

'The Buffy remark must surely emanate from someone who knows nothing about it'.

Our eldest became interested in Wicca through watching Buffy and still considers herself loosely to be something of a Wiccan - but the figure of 50,000 a year is mad. The Telegraph is prone to planted stories, some sinister (a CIA story linking Saddam and 9/11) and others just bonkers like this.

Anonymous said...

"Women under Sharia law have inferior rights of inheritance and divorce; their testimony is worth less than that of a man; they can only marry with the permission of a male relative. Women under Islam are often kept in a condition of perpetual childhood. Islam also gives cover to patriarchal notions of family honour: arranged marriages, dress codes (in which women are identified as the instruments of male temptation), an obsession with virginity on marriage (female virginity, that is). Even the cruel practice of genital mutilation is given religious sanction."

How does repeating the standard stereotypes and misconceptions prove any of your points here?

Does the actions of the wahabbi cult/sect represent the whole world of Islam and its followers?

A few corrections/points


*The testimony of women ie equal to men.

Your quote applies to the instance of financial/commercial transactions where 2 women are required to prevent any fraud, as women were not involved in business/commerce at that time.
It clealr states in the Quran that this only applies to financial/commercial transactions but some only like to read the first verse and ignore this part.

In todays world women are involved business world and finance/commerce is done through lawyers/accountants so this requirement will not be relevant any more.

In regard to inheritance the rules apply when the person dies intestate.

A person can make a will and leave everything to wife , sister, daughter or mother.

Further there is nothing in sharia to stop women from going to mosque.

The actions of the men folk respresnt them and not the religion. In some parts of the musim world there are women Imams, including in UK.


Further FGM is a cultural practice found in north and west Africa which predates all religions.

In the overwhelming majority of muslim world it is an alien practice.

The fact that such practice is found amongst sections of muslims does not make it islamic or part of muslim faith.

Yes there are patriarchial structures in muslim world, the extreme example being in Saudi arabia where women are not allowed to even drive, abused and their rights not respected.

The fact that the abusers claim their religion sanctions their abuse does not mean it is so.

The Heresiarch said...

I'm well aware that there are Muslim reformers and feminists who take a progressive view of Sharia. Get back to me when a majority of traditionally-minded male religious scholars - the ones who actually get to make most of the decisions - come round to your point of view.

Anonymous said...

Sorry

but how does a inaccurate and misleading quote that women's testimony is worth half of man prove your point?

It clearly states in the Quran and not by any reformers that it applies to financial/commercial transactions only for reasons stated already. The quran verse states in a matters of finance/commerce.

You still insist that the testimony applies to all situations?

The Heresiarch said...

Sharia has been interpreted in a discriminatory way for many centuries and continues to be today. If that interpretation has been wrong, or can be brought up to date, that has not stopped millions of women form living under the mistaken interpretation - and doing so willingly, with meek acceptance, just as some willingly wear veils. This article was an attempt to address that paradox. But it's not just Islam. Most religions have discriminated against women (that was Cath Elliot's point) and yet women tend to be more religious than men (which was my point).

And give me some sort of name, please. It's confusing having an argument with "anonymous". A bit like trying to have a conversation with a woman wearing a full-face veil.

Anonymous said...

JimB

"Sharia has been interpreted in a discriminatory way for many centuries and continues to be today."


I politely ask if this statement is based on evidence?

Yusuf Hamza a muslim scholar and expert on Sharia relates of legal injunctions that are more than 1,000 years old that grant women legal rights to domestic help at the expense of their husbands.

Further 3 out of 4 Sunni schools of Jurispreudence consider domestic chores outside the scope of a woman's legal responsibilities toward her husband.

The Schools have been around for over 1000 years.

Further the veiling of women was a custom adopted from Byzantine Greeks by the Ottoman Turks which then spread throught some parts of muslim world.

Dressing modestly applies to both men and women and not just women.

" If that interpretation has been wrong, or can be brought up to date, that has not stopped millions of women form living under the mistaken interpretation - and doing so willingly, with meek acceptance, just as some willingly wear veils."

Firstly testimony is mentioned in a number of times in Quran.

In one instance in relation to financial/commercial/debt transactions it states clearly that two women are required as means to protect from fraud.

There can not be any ambiguity or wrong interpretation.

What has been happening is a misconception that is repeated without being checked for accuracy so that now it is accepted as true.

Further those that do make claim quote cherry picked the verse from the Quran omitting the reference to financial/commercial transaction part.

The reference from Quran is Qur'an 2:282.

Again this is not to deny the status and position of women in muslim parts of the world where
Patriarchial structures have become entrenched especially in Saudi Arabia which have nothing to do with the religion but have become "Islamised".


I appreciate the point you are making.

Nick said...

Jim B:

Your post seems to indulge in obscurantism - my wife is muslim and I'm aware of certain facts it seems you are fudging:

"Further there is nothing in sharia to stop women from going to mosque. "

Yes, as along as they sit in their corner - which is usually small and separated from the men.

"Further those that do make claim quote cherry picked the verse from the Quran omitting the reference to financial/commercial transaction part."


What point are you making about the Quranic verse 2.282 applying "only" to commercial or financial transactions? By stating that those who ignore the "financial/commercial transaction part" you seem to be stating, well of course women are equal - except - when it comes to financial and commerical trnasactions. How is that fair or equal?

"In todays world women are involved business world and finance/commerce is done through lawyers/accountants so this requirement will not be relevant any more."

You forget what ALL if not most islamic scholars and theologians say - Islam and therefore the quran is a religion and book for ALL time. There is none of, og sorry, that part of the quran/hadith is irrelevant today, sorry please ignore it. This is exactly the point the Islamic purists make about western muslims - they accuse their islam of not conforming to the original texts - Ahmed Deedat, Zakir Naik for 2 such examples.

And yes I agree, , there are a lot of requirements in islam that are totally irrelevant for modern 21st century life. The ridiculous obessession about not using your left hand for eating for one. Many others as well.

""Sharia has been interpreted in a discriminatory way for many centuries and continues to be today."


I politely ask if this statement is based on evidence?"

Yes - it is. This is ridiculous. Are you seriously questioning whether sharia has been "interpreted" in a discriminating way???! You yourself suggest the discrimination in a latter part of your post: " Again this is not to deny the status and position of women in muslim parts of the world where
Patriarchial structures have become entrenched especially in Saudi Arabia"

I live in South Africa. The sharia laws relating to the unequal inheritance rights of women IS enforced amongst muslim women. The only way muslim women can contest it is by going to out secular courts. Not by seeking more imams or shariah courts.



"Further FGM is a cultural practice found in north and west Africa which predates all religions.

In the overwhelming majority of muslim world it is an alien practice.

The fact that such practice is found amongst sections of muslims does not make it islamic or part of muslim faith."


I dont understand this and have heard this excuse many times - wherby people say something is "cultural" and not "religious" in order to try and excuse their religion from its crimes - is religion not one of the constituents of culture alongside tradition?

Also, i dont understand what ""Further FGM is a cultural practice found in north and west Africa which predates all religions" has got to do with anything? Certain if not all Jews have a prohibition on eating pork - would you seriously contend that not eating pork is "unIslamic" just because the prohibition of pork predates Islam?! Fasting is another practise that Islam didnt invent (Hinduism etc) - is this also "unIslamic"

An act of a religion, whether it arrived with the religion or whether the religious followers adopted a certain practise at a latter time does not exclude the act from being called religious.


The same with FGM. FGM like you state is practised in traditional African tribes such as the Masia community, but I find it interesting how many Islamic countries (or those with a large muslim population) practise it or used to practise it - Egypt, Saudi, Indonesia, Sudan, Eritrea, Ghana, Nigeria, Djibouti, Kenya, Côte d'Ivoire, somewhat here in South Africa (my wife was almost circumscised but narrowly escaped it). If you want supporting sources on this please ask - these countries are either Islamic or have large muslim proportions and still practise it - here in South Africa, muslims thankfully only make up about 1.5% of the population, yet you still get muslims practising it.

There have been many times in the history of Islam where religious leaders quoted hadith authority to support their case that FGM is/was islamic.

There is nothing in the quran to support it although there ARE hadith quotes:

'Um Atiyyat al-Ansariyyah said: A woman used to perform circumcision in Medina. The Prophet (pbuh) said to her: Do not cut too severely as that is better for a woman and more desirable for a husband'."
Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 41:

"When a man sits between the four parts (arms and legs of his wife) and the two circumcised parts meet, then ghusl is obligatory."
hadith (349) in Sahih Muslim

In Egypt, a number of Fatwas have been issued by the influential Egyptian Fatwa Committee on FGM:

" 1949-MAY-28: They decided that it is not a sin to reject female circumcision.

1951-JUN-23: They stated that female circumcision is desirable because it curbs "nature" (i.e. sexual drive among women). It stated that medical concerns over the practice are irrelevant.

1981-JAN-29: The Great Sheikh of Al-Azhar (the most famous University of the Islamic World) stated that parents must follow the lessons of Mohammed and not listen to medical authorities because the latter often change their minds. Parents must do their duty and have their daughters circumcised."

It is not considered Islamic NOW the same way all of a sudden slavery became "unchristian" in the 1800's in the US/UK.

If we wait for religious people to decide what is "true" islam and what is "true" christianity or what is "true" religion when humanity decides on moral issues (while certain religious ppl are perpetuating atroticites like FGM, suicide bombing etc) we will surely overburden ourselves on unnecesary waffle that the religious cannot decide on themselves while they inflict pain to others.


"The fact that the abusers claim their religion sanctions their abuse does not mean it is so."

Hmmmmm - so when believers are quoting a particular "holy" text to us then I guess we have no right to attribute it to their religious beliefs?

You seem to hover between accepting islamic law traditions of the past:
("Yusuf Hamza a muslim scholar and expert on Sharia relates of legal injunctions that are more than 1,000 years old that grant women legal rights to domestic help at the expense of their husbands.")
yet when it doesnt fit into your modern 21st century morals then you quickly denounce an act as "unIslamic"
("The fact that the abusers claim their religion sanctions their abuse does not mean it is so") I find that interesting because in the cases where you merely assert something is "unIslamic", there actually ARE muslim scholars stating that such and such is in the hadith or quran or islamic law etc.

I applaud you for standing up for modern secular values (more so if you stand up to those who actually say the Quran or hadith qualifies them to some despicable deed rather than those who merely point out the truth of the disgusting holy texts), I do have a problem with the truth of some of your statements however - I have been involved in muslim communities since high school and this denial of 1 of the roots of certain problems I find quite intolerable.

apashiol said...

From what can be gleaned of ancient tribal cults, women and homosexual men were quite prominent. For example the cults of the Levantine goddesses. Religion then consisted more of sympathetic magic. It is likely the reason for the signs of female influence early in the Bible.
As societies grew larger the more masculine mode of organisation started to predominate and with that male gods. Religion was restructured with priesthoods ousting the older ways. Most of the taboos of the Pentateuch were to outlaw practices that had once been sacred. The prohibitions against homosexuality were mainly concerned with men availing themselves of the services of qadeshim, the homosexual priests who served alongside the priestesses in the temples. There is no need to create taboos around things that aren't somehow tempting. Even the animals that were considered abominations by the later Jews were sacred animals before. You can look at each of the forbidden animals in the Bible and see that they held special significance for the surrounding pagans. Even the dove that became an emblem of the Holy Spirit was originally sacred because of its reputation for promiscuity and thus valued by people who saw the sex act as powerful magic.
Stoning to death those who broke the rules was an effective way to 'domesticate' the population, especially the female part.
You don't have to posit some idyllic Matriarchal prehistory to see how oppressive religious rules could winnow out intransigent females leaving those who are more compliant and apt to submit.
So your observation about the masochism of women today doesn't preclude millennia of shaping by cultural forces to bring that about.
The reason men in general don't need religion is because society has been structured to suit them for thousands of years.
Even today the vast number of mediums and psychics are women and gay men. Imagining you have access to mystical powers takes the sting out of the fact that you are denied real power. Magical thinking is a refuge of the powerless.

Susan said...

>>>I have my sources. Let's just say that those who are in a position to know assure me that it's the case.>>>

Yeah, right.

We sho' is massakistik, right Heresy?

Endivio Roquefort I said...

"Judging by the respective numbers of female professional dominatrixes, compared to the almost non-existent male dominator market, I would say that male masochists are anything but a minority in the kinkier strata of society."

We are a minority. It should be perfectly obvious that the fact there's a "market" at all for dominatrixes is that whipping men is an activity most women find unutterably tedious, on a par with beating dusty carpets or scrubbing grime out of shirt collars. Hence, it's something you have to pay them to get them to do at all. Women who are able to pretend to actually enjoy it can therefore command astronomical sums. Whereas men on the whole don't need to be paid to sexually humiliate women who express an interest in being so humiliated. There are plenty who will quite happily perform this service for no reward at all. My theory is that it's the rarity/novelty value of the experience that determines its value. Women enjoy pretty much absolute power over men in a normal relationship, so they don't feel any need to adorn this with symbolic expression, much less in front of a camera.