“And since we all came from a woman
“Got our name from a woman and
“Our game from a woman
“I wonder why we take from our woman
“Why we rape our woman
“Do we hate our woman?”
—2Pac (Tupac Shakur), "Keep Ya Head Up"
As if you needed any more proof. But here it is anyway, two more stories demonstrating once more (and once and for all) the joy of tradition, the jubilation of superstition and, most of all, the glory—and glorious compassion—of organized religion.
Oh, and not to forget the awesome ability of men to take their beloved misogyny and sexism and make it an integral part of just about every major religion worldwide. Seriously, what's up with that anyway?
Nauseating Nepalese Nonsense
In the first case we have the "confined women" of Nepal. That is, menstruating woman and (I believe unique to Nepal) women who have just given birth. These "dirty" women and girls are forced to sleep in cow sheds, tool sheds, or wood sheds. They can lay their heads in any old shed they want, but: "Just stay out of the house goddamn it—don't you get it, you're filthy?!"
You see, God says that these women are simply too unclean during their time of the month and after that whole nasty, dirty business of giving birth, so they (and their newborn child) need to stay in the shed and away from all the clean people (i.e. men).
It almost sounds like a Monty Python skit, doesn't it? And it'd be pretty hilarious too—if only it wasn't actually going on right now. In fact, this past summer a 15-year-old girl died from diarrhea while stuck out in one of these sheds—no one would go near her to take her to get medical help. They just let her die, not wanting to piss off God.
What we're talking about here is the traditional Hindu chhaupadi system, still followed in much of the Nepalese countryside. It's been that way for centuries, so it must be good, right? You know, the wisdom of the established order and all that.
Interestingly, there's no time when God wants men to be shunned into the shed. But hey, God works in mysterious ways, right?
The Trinity of Asininity
Now that story's way off in "backwards Nepal", I hear some of you saying. "Nothing that uncivilized would ever happen in the modern world."
Well, how about this? In Brazil a young 9-year-old child who was repeatedly raped by her step-father from the age of six onwards recently became impregnated with twins.
What was the official Catholic Church line on this? Well, it was really quite simple: "Let her die". Literally.
You see, the doctors say her uterus simply isn't big enough to carry one baby, let alone two. She would most likely die if the fetuses were not aborted. This doesn't even involve the mental torture of forcing a child to give birth at age nine.
But the local archbishop was having none of it. He not only opposed the abortion, even in this life-saving case, he actually excommunicated the girl's mother and the doctors involved for going through with the operation.
Yes, excommunication for the girl's mother and her doctors—but not for the rapist. Rape, it seems, is not really a serious enough crime—though clearly an operation to save the life of the victim is.
This is almost as compassionate as the fundamentalist Muslims and their so-called "honor killing" response to the very same situation, though they'd, of course, actually get it over with much more quickly and deliberately.
Either way, from the mindless doctrinaire hard-line religious point of view, it's clear: The kid's gotta die.
Doctrine over common sense. Canon over compassion. Ideology over humanity. That's right, it's the Trinity of Asininity.
Seriously, can you imagine any of this ridiculous nonsense if it were men, rather than women, who menstruated and/or got pregnant (through rape or otherwise)? I think not.
Let It Go Already
These are, of course, only two cases out of thousands, but I'm not going to focus on any others here right now, as I think they're all well enough known already.
No, I'm not going to delve into the whole nonsense surrounding the worship of the Blessed Virgin and its implicit message to all non-virgin females out there that they're simply not pure enough in the eyes of God.
Nor do I want to linger on the glorious tradition of female genital mutilation; nor the burning of witches in Africa (today) and in the West (in days gone by); nor the discarding and lifelong banishment of widows in Hindu India (though, of course, it is better than burning them alive on their husband's burial pyre as in the recent past).
No, I'm not even going to get into the whole issue of the Catholic Church telling Catholics in AIDS-ravaged sub-Saharan Africa, including women who know their husbands have been sleeping around, that they cannot, under any circumstances, ever use a condom.
I mean, come on people, isn't it finally time we left all this woman-hating, pathetically patriarchal, small-minded, superstitious, nonsensical gibberish behind and just let everyone relax and enjoy their lives?
And, if not, could we at least agree to let the 9-year-old rape victims live and the "filthy" menstruating women and new moms come back into the house and out of the cow sheds?
Seriously now, almost everyone treats their pets better than most religions have historically treated women. It's time to recognize the inherent misogyny in all these archaic millennia-old belief systems and stop rationalizing all this Bronze Age-era nonsense. It's not relevant to the modern world and hasn't been for centuries.
It's time to move on already.
Mike Cowie is a writer currently embarked on a book about his three-year trip across Asia with his wife, Sonoko. Read more of Mike’s views on his Web site.