Women and Religion: Breaking the chains that bind!

With all the unrest in the Middle East going on right now, I’ve spent many hours in discussion lately about sub-topics surrounding these riots and protests. With the overthrow of Mubarak, in Egypt, and other leaders on their way out, one must ask… what’s next? With freedom comes choices. After a long time dealing with choices being made for them, citizens of these countries have to decide what direction to take their country. When watching a recent episode of Real Time with Bill Maher, the comment was made (by Bill) that a real revolution isn’t going to occur unless there is a sexual revolution. What Bill meant by this is that it’s time women all over the world have their voices heard.

Yes, I’m a 30 year old white male. I shouldn’t be able to speak on this, right? No. My wife and I speak on this subject often. Like most men, I fuck up a lot. I say stupid things. I don’t consider her feelings. I forget things. I miss subtle nuances. I make poor choices. BUT… I never forget that she is a wonderful woman with a brilliant mind and wonderful opinions and insights into the world. It’s why I chose to spend the rest of my life with her. She wasn’t just my equal… she was my superior. Having her in my life makes me better.

But I don’t see this around the world, or in our country. Why are women still not heard equally? I refuse to hear the excuse that we are physically superior. Great, we have more muscle (women have on average 60-80% of the muscle mass of me). But, other than different genitalia, some glands, and mixes of hormones, we are virtually the same. It’s safe to say that we are FAR more alike than different. In fact, genetically, there are more differences between two randomly selected men from two separate parts of the world than there are between any male and female of the same family. Yet, men around the world “bond” as if they are somehow superior to the opposite sex. When it comes right down to why, it’s all based on one thing – TRADITION – more specifically RELIGION!

It’s no surprise to people that men have always been dominant on this planet. However, it’s important to note that there used to be cultures that celebrated women more than men. he Iroquois Confederacy or League, combining five to six American Indian nations or tribes before the U.S. became a nation, operated by The Great Binding Law of Peace, a constitution by which women participated in the League’s political decision-making, including deciding whether to proceed to war, through what may have been a matriarchy or “‘gyneocracy’”. The dates of this constitution’s operation are unknown; until written in “about 1880″, it was oral and the League formed centuries earlier, approximately 1000–1450; it still exists.

Whether it’s Greek and Roman Mythology or ancient cultures that are archaeologically proven, we know that people once venerated women much more than just as child bearing vessels or man’s “counterpart”. They were respected and brought into the political discussion. Why have we lost touch with this. We see it in advancing cultures. Sweden, Denmark, Australia, and many other countries have had female leaders. We have many female Mayors, Congresswomen, Senators, etc. although we don’t compare to Brazil, who just elected it’s first female president (Dilma Rousseff). But parts of the world still don’t allow women to vote, wear what they want, drive cars, speak unless spoken too… it’s ridiculous. We can only encourage change in those places, keep the internet open and free, help those that need help, and simply hope that change is inevitable in those areas.

We need to look around our own house first. Do we treat our wives and girlfriends with respect. Your mom… sister? Do you let women be heard? Do you respect their opinion? Do you even recognize that they are as good or better than any man? If you don’t, you need to start with your own beliefs. Then, start looking further out. Your friends and family; how do they treat the women in their lives? Educate them. Don’t let sexist jokes fly. Make sure women are included in decisions at your job – not because they “are women” but because I bet they have some dam good ideas. Women still make less money than men in this country, often for the same job.  This was the first year in American history that women earned more bachelor’s degrees than men. That’s a good start.

So, when I hear dickheads like this guy, Bill Gothard, still preaching how wives should be submissive to their husbands, and our politicians debating abortion right of women in this country (without a woman even in the room!) it makes me sad, angry, frustrated, disheartened… and motivated. I don’t have to be “the guy” I was raised to be. i don’t have to be an arrogant prick that thinks I’m somehow better than women because I have  penis. I was raised in churches that forced this unearned dominance on my gender. We were taught that god made us special and women were only here to serve us, keep our houses clean, make us happy, and pop out our offspring… hopefully all boys. It sickens me now. But, yes, that’s how I, and tens of millions of American boys, grew up.

We can’t let this happen anymore. My daughter will be taught to be strong and proud of who she is. We won’t teach gender roles (although we can’t block what society spits at here). We’ll help her understand that she can be whatever she wants to be. We’ll show her the barriers that the world still may have in her way and how to overcome them. But, most importantly, we won’t let her continue the bullshit stereotype. she wont’ treat anyone different based on sex alone – nor will she allow herself to be treated differently solely based on the fact that she is a girl. she will stand up for injustice. She will tell old white men to stay the fuck out of matter that involve her body. She won’t let a man take advantage of her and cower in  corner. She’ll tell the male establishment to suck her dick (sorry, I pictured that great scene from G.I. Jane with Demi Moore – if you don’t know it, go watch it).

As religion dies, so does it’s dominance over women. If there is any single large group on earth that should stand up to the oppression of religion… it’s women! The leading religions on earth, Abrahamic Religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) all hold women down and consider them subservient to men. It’s unseen in Judaism (but there). It’s ignored in some Christianity (but still prevalent) and amazingly apparent in it’s fundamental forms. And, Islam… well, I think we have all seen that. They hold their women down worse than any. They beat them, whip them, subject them to lifelong censorship, and rape them without penalty. As an atheist man, I think the men in those religion are all insane, and hold on to their delusional beliefs for the same reason they hold on to their penises… it makes them feel special.

So, Bill Maher was right. Change will never really come until sexism goes away. Yes, it will take men recognizing their arrogance (which is primarily difficult and will happen individually as it does culturally) must come first. But, women HAVE TO abandon their old traditions. They need to let their old religions go – religions created by men to keep them under control. When women look at religion and their holy books for what they are, tools made by man, a tool that makes them feel good – they can finally put it away in a drawer next to their bed… next to the other tools that make them feel good.

  • Gumbercules

    Let's not forget's religions assault on men as well – genital mutilation is routine, largely because of the influence of religion. You can't free women while men are routinely victims of permanently disfiguring sexual violence.

    • Ms. Anthropy

      Yes, but must we include the "Patriarchy hurts men too!" for it to be a sufficient piece. There are very few feminist essays/blogposts/whatever that are written by men. And this is a fantastic example.

      Do we point out to folks writing on civil rights issues that whites are harmed too, and that they should be sure to point this out? No. That would be crass, wouldn't it?

      This is a piece on women's rights and the role that religion plays. Don't get all butthurt because you, as a man, don't get to be included too.

      Honestly, you're making yourself look more than a little oblivious to the point of the piece. :/

  • Harman Tiwana

    Great article. I do agree how religion plays a part how women are treated. It's nice to heard from a male about how women are treated. I'm a sikh (a religion from India) , not a lot of folks know about the religion because it's newer compare to others. I was always told that women in sikhism are treated equally but I never really see that.

  • Adam

    @ Harman: Thanks for reading. I appreciate your compliment. I find your journey as a Sikh woman fascinating and hope to learn more.

  • Randa

    The article was very good actually and helpful, BUT! 
    Islam was never that religious that discriminated women, Islam always honored women, we say that god created women to complete each other and build life together all life along and it opened many fields to women, and they had so many important roles, politically, socially and economically, they were never that slaves and islam never separated them from roles :)  

    The thing that is clearly shown in his saying ” The believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just and forbid what is evil.” (9:71).

    In Islam men and women are partners in building up life together, forbidding what is wrong and embracing justice and everything positive in life.