I published this piece at my blog and thought you all might appreciate it.
As you may know, my universe has no room for the possibility of a god. And in general I don't care what other people think and believe as long as their suppositions and practices don't affect me in any way. You can believe in fairies and unicorns and believe you have to bay at the moon 2 times a night to stop from imploding, and I wouldn't care less. I'd probably call you a nutbag, but it wouldn't affect me in any way.
But unfortunately, religions don't work like that. In particular the religions of Islam and Christianity are guilty of believing that their religion is the ONLY way, and are more than willing to kill and die for it. People of faith not only believe that their religion is the only true way, but they also believe that they have a moral right and obligation to try to make others believe them too. Somehow, the fact that they are "saved" from a fiery fate in the afterlife gives them a duty to tell others about it, and in some cases, kill them if they don't believe. This affects me, but not directly, as I don't live in a heavily religious country, I am reasonably well off, and am not threatened by others for not believing their stories.
What got me thinking about this in particular was a report from the ABC that stated that Australian doctors were considering allowing a "ritual nick"
to placate those who wished to have their female children "circumcised". This later turned out to be a false story
, but it got me thinking about the way religious people foist their ideals upon not only society, but their own family members. Some of these practices are particularly barbaric, and really deserve to be called out for the brutality it is. And more often than not these atrocities are enacted against women.
Both Christianity and Islam reveal themselves to be anti-women if either of the religions are studied and deeper than the surface edicts of "killing is wrong, stealing is wrong". Women are not only treated as second-class citizens in both religions, but are treated with unequaled disdain in Islam. The burqa is an example where men choose to force the women of their society to cover themselves up so as to be out of the gaze of other men. They say that it will protect the women from the lecherous eyes of the men around them, citing the fact that men can't be trusted, but in reality it is the women who are untrusted. They claim this is to give the women some sort of security, but really this is an example of men jealously guarding their "possessions". Women in this situation have often been quoted as saying that this type of behaviour is not only their wish, but the wish of their God. I can understand that if this is all that a woman had known her whole life, and had never been told otherwise that they may really believe this lie.
In the Christian faith, it is the "original sin" which keeps women down. The fact that the bible, which was written by a man, states that ALL the evils in the world stem from the act of "eating an apple from the garden of Eden" is testament to this fact (this piece of prose is also the root of societal ideas about sex being wrong, bodily functions such as menstruation as a punishment for mankind etc.) Women were also "created" not from mud or dust, but from the rib of a man. A very convenient concept, meaning that women are lesser than men in the first count. Idiocy like this trickles down through all Christian cultures, and is one of the main reasons that women have been kept down. This kind of stone age storytelling came from someone's imagination, not from God.
If my partner or wife decided to disobey me, would it be just to beat her, stone her to death or set her alight? It's OK if it's part of my religion! What about pedophilia? Is it OK to sleep with a 12-year-old? Muhammad had a 12-year-old bride, do you think he waited til she was 16 before he had sex with her? And what does this say for the members of the numerous societies who truly believe that not only are his words the true word of God, but that all his actions are infallible?
Men wrote these "holy books", not God. Men, who were making decisions based on their own views of the world many, many years ago wrote these texts based on what they would like to see in the world. Women had no say. And who is allowed to make official interpretations of these texts? Men only.
And the main problem here is that the world has changed, and our understanding of the universe has grown exponentially. These ideas came from people who believed that the world was flat, that the sun was carried across the sky in tha back of God's chariot, that every species of animals on earth fit on a single boat. These ideas are fanciful, antiquated, barbaric, unjust and male-centric. We have grown up a lot as a species. We have increased our knowledge beyond just how to herd goats. We now KNOW so much more, and yet people still depend on these ancient and misogynistic texts to guide their lives.
The idea that we can justify something on any level of barbarity based on the fact that it is either part of a religion, or that someone's interpretation of a religious text says it is true, is no longer acceptable. The fight for freedom from religion is the fight for freedom for women from oppression at the hands of men. We all need to take a stance in this, and to point out to the wrongdoers that we do not accept that kind of behaviour, nor will we tolerate barbaric "religious" practices and longer, just because we fear to tread on the toes of a few religious extremists.
See the original post and the comments that go with it.