December 7, 2009

Mother, Scratch That, Father Nature?

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:38 am by Superintendent

So in browsing through some articles, one title really caught my eye… “Globalization, Gender and Religion: The Politics of Women’s Rights in Catholic and Muslim Contexts”. I think it’s quite plain my view on organized religion and oppression of women by now (as well as certain wonderful characteristics at Marist), but it just struck me that throughout this whole semester, or even in fact ever, I had never compared the view of women in both religions. Manji pointed out that Islam is derived from parts of Christianity and Judaism, that there is nothing wrong with acknowledging these inherent similarities and a shared past. But what’s more interesting to contemplate the similarities they share both past and present in regards to women.

Who is in control, on top of the hierarchies in both religions? I know Islam does not have as well-established or thorough hierarchy as does Christianity (specificaly, I’m referring to Catholicism, my favorite of them all) but the religious leaders and authorities are all men. There are no available positions for women among the religious elite in Islam. Same for Catholism. When do you think we’ll get a female pope? I’m going to venture to say never. Will Iran ever acknowledge a female Ayatollah? Nope. Both religions assume there is something inherently wrong with women and that women cannot be in a position of power.

As a friend of mine smugly said recently, “well, women can be nuns.” Yea… and? Why not priests? Why not pope? “Brothers” are the equivalent of nuns, so there goes that argument. Even in the Medieval Ages, women were not allowed to pray or enter religious monastaries with men. Complete segregation of the sexes, just like Islam. Wasn’t it in the 1950s that women still were not allowed to approach past a certain barrier in the Church? I don’t know, they might have gotten their woman fluids on the altaer or something. Ew.

Let’s consider the historical and religious image both religions portray of women. Both have an idealized version of “the holy woman”, a woman who portrays all feminine characteristics deemed acceptable by the religion. In Catholicism, we have the vision of Mary. Chaste (supossedly), subordinate, obedient, humble, faithful and loyal, untouched by man. Please, if we were all to follow Mary’s version, the human race would run out, lest there were many more “immaculate conceptions”. Sorry, I’m feeling particularly brazen tonight. The Vikings are losing, need something to entertain me. And Islam?

Let me take a break and just share a fun website I found when looking for the correct spelling of Khadija. Bible Probe. A very open-minded site, wouldn’t you agree?

Okay, back on point. Khadija. (I use this site for more background info on her) We have discussed in class that Khadija was treated well by Muhammad and was respected. She taught and helped theh poor and was a good companion. However, what about the idea of Khadija being veiled? Why was this necesary? Was Muhmmad jealous of other men’s looks? Was he not completely trusting of Khadija? I would say that perhaps he did not want her image taken down either, as his, but then wouldn’t he have to wear a veil as well? This site talks about Khadija’s nicknames, one being “the Pure One”. She was humble at times and demure, virtuous, etc. Sounds slightly like another familiar religious woman… hmmm…  she’s also of “good lineage”… is this that important? Would a woman of “lesser lineage” be unable to be a proper wife for Muhammad?

Khadija and Mary’s “womanly” traits have severe political repercussions on women, and not only women of their respective faiths. Islam has been bastardized in certain societies and coutries to subject women to wearing not just a veil or hijab,  but a burqa or niqab. Against their will. Because why? Because Khadija did? Psht, aren’t we supossed to shun peer pressure? But in all seriousness, I’m not quite certain that  the fact Muhammad’s wives wore veils means all women have to. Actually, there’s a good portion of the world that doesn’t believe this extreme intepretation is correct.

It’s just…. frustrating. Think of the extreme repercussions on women that are expected to be inherently subordinate, virginal, humble. Women in both faiths are not encouraged, in deed are penalized at times, for speaking their own minds and opinions. For being “unfeminine”. For having sex before marriage. (ps… where did this insane notion come from? It’s in both religious doctrines and women have been murdered over it and ostracized for centuries. Love how it doesn’t say much about men. Love that men don’t need to buy replacement hymens. How is it reasonable to make such blanket commands of the entire female population of a religion? How is it fair or even logical that a woman’s chastity is tied to a family’s honor, but not a man’s? And no, I’m not just discussing honor killings. Think of how many pregnant teens have been sent away to “visit Aunt Susie in Switzerland” for 9 months from Catholics families (other religions too) rahter than publically acknowledge their actions and decisions? Well, I guess young Catholic girls don’t really get any decision, if you know what I mean).

Women are supossed to be humble and obedient? God chose Mary to have his baby, did Mary really have a choice? I would hope that whoever wrote down the respective Bibles and hadiths was not aware of the painful repercussions they were inflicting on more than half their population.

What about Khadija? She proposed marriage to Muhammad, he was her envoy at first, she had her own wealth and status. Sorry to refer to Destiney’s Child, but she was seemingly an “independent woman”. Do the hadiths subliminally state that she was not “whole” until she had chosen another husband (albeit, it was her decision) And then she becomes Mrs. Muhammad, for lack of a better term, rather than maintaining her autonomy? The website states she automatically accepted Islam because she knew her husband could not be spreading lies. Did she critically analyze the situation? I’m not completely stomping over her decision, aslong as it was her decision.

The article overview makes an interesting point, that the increase of “modernization” subsequently leads to an increase in “fundamentalism” of both religions (yes, I think we can agree to that). The more modern the world gets, the more conservative the religions get (or at least the movement grows) and the more rights women are deprived of.

Who says men are superior? No offense guys, but besides a certain extra appendage, you don’t have much that makes you stand out. What about former religions and cultures that embraced the female sex? What about celebrating the reproductive potential of women Why do both religions condemn women to a secondary status? What’s so wrong with us? I’m gonna go out on a limb and say nothing. But history seems to be against me.

Found a very interesting site… Islam Women. Check out the video section, especially by Shiekh Yusef Estes. He’s quite a character. Makes good jokes. But says some very interesting things. I contemplated sending him an Edible Arrangement. Sorry, a little hyper tonight. Here’s their background article on Khadija.

Also, check out a video on the secondary status of women in Catholicism.

I would just keep hoping, boys, that god’s not a woman. Otherwise when you get to those pearly gates…. payback time.

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