Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Changing gears...

Well, not really, but sometimes, in the realm of watching, remarking on, and publicizing the idiocy of the right wing fundamentalists, sometimes something particularly nasty and smelly gets your attention and takes your focus off of their focus on politics.

Today is such a day.

On Facebook, I saw someone post a link to a web page on Patheos, called "Above all love, Unfundamentalist Christians", where the blogger posted a letter from a woman who had, at a younger age, been raped.  In the middle of her sad story, she revealed this about the pastor she went to for counseling after the rape:
While I was literally still bleeding from the attack, he told me (and I quote) “It’s too bad that you didn’t force him to kill you instead. That way you could have at least died a virgin.” 
Emphasis mine.

It is easy to simply call the pastor a misogynistic asshole, shake your head at his abysmal counseling manner and move on.

But it isn't that simple.  His attitude didn't come from out of the religious ether.  It didn't come purely from a cultural tradition, either.  It's kind of both, and it something that badly needs to be fought and fought hard.

This statement reduces the poor young woman (16 at the time) to nothing more than a womb with legs.  The entire worth of her person boils down to her ability to bear a child, and her virginity is the certainty (to her husband) that the child is his.

Besides the obvious misogyny involved here, there are a couple of things to criticize over this attitude.

First, it comes out of a time and culture where one thing was important - your body heir.  Your heir embodied the continuation of your estate, and any titles you may have that would be hereditary.  It was vitally important that the heir be of YOUR blood.  Because, of course, the blood of the nobility was different from others, and one didn't want the by blow of some tryst mucking up the family talents (or lack thereof).

Of course, for 99.9% of the human race, none of that mattered - but social imperatives always embody what is important to the ruling class.  Screw the little people - but the little people inevitably pick up those imperatives and comply - just in case, you know, you get incredibly lucky and the king makes you nobility.

So, without DNA testing, how does one make sure that the firstborn IS yours?  You keep your wife locked up tight and away from errant penises and ensure that she was a virgin when you got her.  When the fate of entire countries depend on a tightly controlled bloodline, women become walking, talking wombs.  Nothing else is important about her.  Just her ability to deliver your heir.

If that doesn't seem really all that important, look up the story of the reign of Henry VIII of England, whose entire reign was focused on what we now know is his early inability to sire a boy.  Of course, they didn't know that then, which is why he dumped an an entire basketball team's worth of wives trying to find one who could present him with an heir.  (He did finally get one, Edward VI)  His search resulted in the separation of the Church of England from the Catholic Church, as he sought an annulment from the Pope, which was refused.

Like I said, serious stuff.

That cultural imperative was bolstered by the teachings of the Church, which was a result of the embodiment of the Pauline teachings on the dogma of the church, which resulted in the subjugation of women by the church.

Combine that with the needs of the nobility to ensure "pure" bloodlines, and the limitations on the worth of women as baby-making machines is guaranteed.

Problem is, none of that is necessary any longer.

First, the requirement of the inheritance of the first born is sort of passé these days.  Nobody gives a shit.  Well, maybe a few European noble families still do, but with the attention of the press and photographic pack hounds, the need to lock up their women is kind of redundant!

Plus, with DNA testing, the need to lock them up to make sure the first born is yours isn't necessary.  A simple swipe in the inner cheek, a few days wait and you KNOW - so she's got every incentive to make sure she doesn't get preggers when she screws around!  Not if she cares, anyway.

As for the other 98% of us, few of us have that kind of focus on the issue.  Oh, the 1% still do, since there are often billions of bucks involved, but most of the human race either can't afford the cost of the test or really doesn't care so much.

In addition, here in the US, we have this thing we've built up called freedom.   It also endorses and glorifies something else - the supremacy of the individual.  People, individually, have power, have rights and are extolled for their independence.  Well, of course, if you're a man, or maybe an extraordinary woman.

Like the movie character, The Unsinkable Molly Brown.  I could also name some other truly extraordinary women whose real life stories also bring them into this realm where we, as a society, value them as people.  Scientists, actresses, teachers.  Political leaders.  Captains of Industry.

For a hundred years, America has struggled to bring equality to both sexes.  It has taken a wide range of activities, court cases, Congressional fights and a widespread change in social attitudes to turn this around.

And now, today, we still have the blowbacks - the conservatives who cannot relinquish the thought that a woman cannot be more than a womb.  Most of them have taken refuge in the Evangelical movement in the US.  Fundies.  Still hanging onto the biblical admonishments to not allow women the right to even talk, much less have authority over men.

Hence this young woman's humiliation by a pastor who felt that her worth as an individual had been so damaged, she would have been better off dead.

Is this what we want for our children and our grandchildren?  Is this what we want for the future?  The continuation of a misogynistic "tradition" designed for a feudalistic society that no longer rules us, indeed, no longer even exists?

No.  This is NOT right.  A free society which values the individual must value ALL members of its population.  Equally, with no reservations.  No special privileges, no special conditions.  All members of this society must have the complete autonomous right to determine their own fate and their own way of life within the constraints of the legal and social bonds we all agree to.

No exceptions, none. Not for so called "traditional" reasons, nor for religious reasons.  This is a society in motion.  Constantly moving, constantly changing.  Our technology has changed radically the way we live, the way we see the universe around us, the way we conduct our lives and relate to each other.  It will continue to make changes similarly in the foreseeable future.

We have no time for feudal throwbacks, either ideas or people.  The world today moves too fast, and the rules of the past are no longer useful, but are instead harmful.

We can't afford that.

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