Monday, 17 May 2010


As I told this blog in its very first account of my views on religion (here), the way women have been treated by religion was one of the major reasons for me becoming an atheist. Yesterday, PZ Myers has published a post throughly discussing the Judeo-Christian religions' attitude towards women. I found his post so good I thought I should point you there myself: give it a go here.


Wicked Little Critta said...

Good article.

It scares me a little how many smart, strong women buy into this ideology. But what I've found, when it comes right down to it, is that it's all about the Bible. Feelings, common sense, scientific study and experience all take a back seat to what is written in the Bible.

Example: I was recently talking to a couple (who hold the belief that the man is the "head of the family" and that women must submit to them, etc.) about this whole thing. They're a happily married couple, very good relationship, both very smart and strong. When asked how this "submissive woman ideology" is practiced in their marriage, they couldn't think of one time (in over 25 years) that she had had to submit to his will or he had to put her in her place.

All that to say, I think a lot of people who claim this belief don't really practice it like it sounds. It's more of a sad mentality.

Moshe Reuveni said...

I suspect you’re right, but I also suspect they (and plenty others) practice chauvinism in ways too subtle for them to realize. For example, I’ll happily put my money on the wife taking the husband’s name, and I’ll happily put even more money on the children getting the husband’s last name. I may lose this particular bet, but overall I’d quickly become a millionaire.
Similar bets are there to be won on the handling of children, who gets to stay home with the kids, etc. Just yesterday I was chatting with an IT specialist, much younger than me, who deals with the latest technologies on a daily basis: he told me he was tired because his wife went out and, having the duty of getting up to deal with the baby if she wakes up for the first time ever, he couldn’t sleep well.
I’m not saying religion is to blame here, but it sure doesn’t contribute to the solution. It sure doesn’t help turn people into free thinkers, which is exactly the point PZ Myers was making.

On another note:
I am routinely astounded by how far back Australia is when it comes to women’s right. Politicians from the Liberal party (representing half the votes according to the latest polls; and don’t fall for their misleading name) openly state policies that come directly out of the bible. Peter Costello, their former Federal Treasurer, had this story about his pregnant wife getting to hospital in a critical condition and how doctors recommended an abortion to keep her alive; he refused. Luckily for all the wife and the baby survived, but what sort of a value system does his decision making represent? A guy that was half a centimeter away from becoming Australia’s Prime Minister?
Generally speaking, the way women here are expected to stay at home after having children, and the obedient way in which most of them do so, is just scary. Aussie society does not allow a woman to prefer her career over her child and get away undamaged.

Wicked Little Critta said...

It's true about chauvinism being subtle much of the time. Also not so subtle. This couple is very much into "gender roles" in a traditional way: woman stays at home with children, nurtures, cooks, and is the overall emotional glue of the family whereas man goes out and works, enforces family rules, and is the practical one. Like you, I don't think this is necessarily religious but more cultural (how religion influences culture is too big a discussion to have here) and is quite prevalent. My (limited) experience seems slightly different from what you're seeing in Australia. I'm seeing more encouragement of breaking down gender barriers. At least in the younger generations. With people of older generations, the men I've seen stepping up into more nurturing roles and pitching in with household work are generally praised for these things. One does see more criticism of the opposite: when women who have children pursue careers.

Anyway, when talking to this couple, I kept trying to communicate my feelings that its crucial to not stereotype gender roles because it's hardly ever helpful or beneficial, and is especially harmful to the outliers. I mean yes, in my marriage I'm the one who prefers cooking and cleaning and playing with babies, but why can't that just be who I am, and not the fact that I'm a woman?

The husband we were talking to believed that even though they hadn't used the "head of the household" card yet, that it would ultimately be used on judgment day in that God holds the man responsible for his family, not the woman. I think then that the Bible should talk about how lucky we women are!!

Moshe Reuveni said...

The problem is, judgement day will never happen so men will never be held accountable while women are getting the short end of the stick all the time in real life.

Two other points I'd like to make:
1. I can defintiely see the spirit of breaking old habits down and not placing the woman in the kitchen anymore. I can also see how that spirit gets a quick 180 degree turn when babies enter the scene and people automatically go into old style mode.
2. You being a woman definitely has an effect on you liking to play with babies etc. It's biology. It doesn't mean, however, that you should suffer for it.

And to conclude my response for the day, here's an interesting Christian quote I found at PZ Myers' blog today ( To be fair, I couldn't check how reliable the quote is, but here's a Christian view on women's rights for you:
"Atheists always use rape as an argument for justifying killing because they want to justify abortion. But is rape really that bad? It's a horrible experience but you get over it with time. If you use it to justify murder you're never going to get over it. Imagine you have a painful divorce. Would you murder your children after because they remind you of your ex husband? Of course not. I think any woman would easily tell you that a painful divorce is worse than rape but it's not an excuse to kill your baby, so why is rape?
Christian women can also take a lot more than atheist women. Maybe this is part of the reason that atheists get so hung up about this. Christian women can turn to Christ or worship God in their hearts and endure great suffering. I'm not belittling it but think about it, no amount of suffering from rape is as great as the suffering our Lord suffered on the cross for our sins. You are the one who has to ask more true Christian women about this. You're out of touch and trying to make a big deal out of something just for shock value."

And after reading that I feel like I quickly need to visit the toilet.

Wicked Little Critta said...

Initial reaction: speechless.

Upon recovery: Anyone who says the words "Is rape really that bad?" is clueless and needs a serious wake-up call.

I keep going to type things and blanking out. So...messed...up...

Moshe Reuveni said...

As I said, these words are so ridiculous I'm doubting the legitimacy of the link they came from. I do give credit to Myers, though, and if this is real then it goes to show there is a lot of room for humanity to advance.