It’s a tough world out there, ladies

I mentioned this last week – as much as I make jokes at the expense of women, I do consider myself a feminist (insofar as I think all people should receive equal rights and equal protections under the law). I also see a great deal of parallel between women’s struggle for civil rights and the black struggle for same. Both are historically-repressed groups that were denied fundamental rights and freedoms based on deep-seated prejudice; both groups had to fight legendary battles to achieve recognition as human beings; and both groups are facing a kind of “hidden” “polite” form of prejudice today. We look at our history and say “black people/women have achieved equality, so we can stop worrying about a solved problem.” While the major injustices have been overturned, it will take far longer than a few decades to truly level the playing field to a point where groups are actually “equal”.

And there’s still a lot of women, both in places close to home and far away, who still face major oppression and violence as they pursue their human rights.

Polygamy is one of those things; on paper it seems innocuous enough, but in practice it almost always means horrible repression and abuse of women by men. There are people who try to dress it up prettily, using diplomatic language to make it seem as though it’s not a practice that springs from a view that women are mindless cattle. Apparently, none of those people live in Malawi:

A spokesman for the Muslim Association of Malawi told the BBC… if polygamy were banned, many women would be left without a husband and become prostitutes.

I consider myself lucky to have many female friends. The majority of those friends are unmarried. I am reasonably sure, that none of those unmarried friends are prostitutes (I tried to ask, to get you more precise numbers, but only got slapped in the face for my efforts).

This part is my favourite:

“Every woman has the right to be under the shelter of a man.”

See? They’re crusading for women’s rights! Every woman has the right to have her life yoked to a man who can’t commit to her alone. Why would you try to deny them this fundamental freedom? Ladies of the internet, I hereby offer to “shelter” all of you. If you’re into it, I can try “sheltering” two of you at a time (perhaps while a third one watches)! I make this offer because I care about your rights. Now show me ‘dem boobies!

Ladies, are you no longer a virgin? Tired of being “honour-killed” by your father and brothers because you slept with someone and brought shame on your family? I know I am; who isn’t? Well now for the low, low price of $2700, you can have your hymen surgically restored! Fool your friends! Impress your family! Don’t get executed for asserting your basic human freedoms! Can’t afford the $2700? Is your new husband totally insensitive, near-sighted and clinically brain-dead? Try our new discount elastic pig-blood fake hymen! It’s made in China, so you know it’s safe!

The person quoted in the article says that this deplorable practice of requiring virginity (only in one partner, and surprise surprise it has to be the woman) isn’t religiously-based. This may in fact be true, since no one religion is unique in its sexual depravity, but I don’t buy it. This issue blurs the line between religion and culture. It’s a chicken and egg thing – does religion devalue women because the societies who birthed that religion are sexist, or does religion instill a fundamental hatred of women in society at large? Secular societies are the ones with the best human’s and women’s rights records. Is that an accident? Maybe neither explanation is right; maybe it’s both. Either way, it seems to suck to be a woman in the eyes of YahwAlladdha.

This is probably the most horrific thing I’ve heard in a while. I talked about the burqa yesterday, and a few weeks back, both as specific highlights of my ideas around religious vs. cultural tolerance, and I’m still not sure how I feel about the whole thing. What I can tell you is that you’ll never convince me that they aren’t a tool of religious and sexual repression. This story, one in apparently 150 similar attacks per year, puts that claim to the lie. Two sisters had motherfucking acid thrown into their faces for the arch-crime of not being covered from head to toe. I live in Vancouver. There are some sexy women here. Not all of them dress (at least to my eyes) modestly. Some go out of their way to be immodest in their dress. Amazingly enough, however, we don’t have a rash of rapes taking the city by storm. It’s almost as though men here see women as human beings, not objects to be used for our pleasure and permanently disfigured with motherfucking acid (are you serious?) when they displease us. But that’s crazy, right? Women are merely objects created for the comfort of men by the all-knowing YahwAlladdah.

These problems all seem to be happening in far-away backward-ass countries. We don’t have to worry about that shit happening here, right?

Hopefully by now you’ve learned that when I ask a rhetorical question like that, I always disagree with the answer. For those of you who don’t know, it is common cultural practice in parts of the world to surgically remove the clitoris of women at a young age. I use the word ‘surgically’ extremely loosely – no anaesthetic, no sterilization (not of the tools anyway, many women end up infertile or die as a result), and not performed by doctors.

I’d like to take a moment here to talk about the clitoris. The clitoris is probably the coolest thing on the human body. Unlike the penis, which has multiple roles (tonight, the role of Macbeth will be played by my schming-schmang), the clitoris has one function – to make sex awesome for women. That’s it. That’s all it does. It has no reproductive role, it doesn’t even act as a target for infection like the appendix or tonsils. It’s there just to please you. If some company developed a product that made sex that much more fun for women, you’d better believe that every woman (and twice as many men) would go broke buying it.

But what do religious groups want to do? Of course, they want to cut it off! Why should women enjoy sex? They’re just there to make sandwiches (in between making babies). And the AAP wants to help them accomplish this. There is no medical advantage to FGM. There is no reason on Earth to surgically alter the genitalia of baby girls (or baby boys, for that matter). The only reason to do it is religious stupidity, and the AAP has decided to bend over backwards to allow this practice to gain a foothold here in North America. Way to go, AAP. That’ll show those uppity women who want to go through life without discomfort and trauma every time they want to have some sex.

But that’s America. We don’t do that here. Well, not unless you’re a Conservative senator. Then you tell women who want to assert their rights that they should “shut up” on issues that are important to them. After all, why should women’s rights be an election issue? Women aren’t even allowed to vote! Wow, is it 1919 already? How the time flies!

My point in all of this is that, for whatever reason, there remains a fundamental prejudice against women. I’m not going to turn this into a blog about feminism, but in all of the above stories, religion plays a huge role in keeping women oppressed. Nobody can take an honest look at the state of affairs today and claim that religion doesn’t lead to fundamentally sexist practices. The only way to ensure that women achieve equality under the law is to remove all religion from both the laws and public life. Religion should be like auto-erotic asphyxiating masturbation – only behind closed doors, as long as nobody gets hurt.

P.S. MOTHERFUCKING ACID! How do you get your hands on ACID? I’m willing to bet money that most of these assholes haven’t even taken a chemistry class! Who’s giving them motherfucking ACID?


  1. Ren says

    Easy there, Ian. Stalin, Pol Pot, and “modern” China tried to do away with religion altogether. Out of public policy? Yes. Out of public life, good luck. You’ll leave a vacuum to be filled with other beliefs, some even worse than what you attempted to destroy.

  2. says

    It depends on what you want to replace it with though. They tried to replace it with a cult of personality and dogmatism. Other places have done away with religion by replacing it with secular legislation and civil rights protections under law. I’ve never said I want to ban religion, in fact I have expressed exactly the same misgivings about such an approach – what I am saying is that there must not be any laws passed that encourage religious practice or make allowances for faith-based claims.

  3. says

    I’m there with you. I totally agree. Others believe that getting religion out of politics is bad for religion. Au contraire, mon ami. Such an approach guarantees (almost) that politicians will not legislate religion, something that can only be good for believers.
    I, for one, would not like to be told how to worship… or whom… or, even worse, what.
    But some people don’t get it. They just don’t.

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