Saturday, June 19, 2010

MISOGYNY AND MEANNESS

Last night I watched a movie that I had rented because it concerned Iran, a country in which I once lived during the reign of the Shahanshah.  I should have known how horrific it would be from the title “The Stoning of Soraya M.,” but I persisted until I had watched every terrible scene in this movie about misogyny in the Middle East. The movie was a true story about the stoning of a woman who had been falsely accused of adultery because her husband wanted a divorce to marry a younger woman, fourteen years old. Needless to say, the viewing of a mob of men murdering a woman with rocks caused a swift chain reaction in me and brought up some of my own experiences as a victim of misogyny. Unfortunately, misogynists are still alive and well within my family, and I hear about incidences of disrespect and abuse daily.

Basically, the word misogynist means one who hates women, and it usually applies to men who have no respect for women and who abuse and control them. Although the practice of stoning women occurs throughout the world and has begun to be banned in some countries, there are other equally abusive practices that exist in America, fostered by literature, music (namely, some hip-hop rapping) movies, fundalits, and pornography, and we’ve become accustomed to living in a society that downplays violence against women. An author named Bob Herbert says that violence against females in the news is almost as familiar and as ho-hum as weather forecasts, and that “the disrespectful, degrading, contemptuous treatment of women is so pervasive and so mainstream that it has just about lost its ability to shock…”

The women’s group, Equality Now, advocates that “once you dehumanize someone, everything is possible.” After seeing the movie about the Iranians stoning a woman, I wonder how many men in this country have regressed to viewing such a movie without becoming shocked and horrified. Misogyny permeates every major religion, especially the patriarchal ones, and reaches back to the Greeks and to Aristotle who wrote that women are inferior to men and that the courage of a man lay in commanding, while the woman’s courage lay in obeying. In short, he advocated that a female was an incomplete male. He’s joined in his opinions by Kant, Buddha, Hegel Nietzsche, and Schopenhauer, to name a few who felt that women were inferior beings. In some corners of the world, the opinion that women actually have no souls still persists.

Misogyny is a troublesome problem, and rather than our society progressing with a positive attitude toward women as a group, we seem to have become apathetic about the amount of violence directed toward them. I’m not being histrionic when I say that misogyny is rampant and is characterized by the willingness to dehumanize women and girls and the unwillingness to recognize them as the equals of men. Has anyone reading this essay ever heard of gender reconciliation? For those who’re interested in this burgeoning problem, read Jack Holland’s MISOGYNY: THE WORLD’S OLDEST PREJUDICE.

As a Christian and a female clergyperson, I often refer to Galatians and a passage in which the apostle Paul, sometimes dubbed a woman hater, writes the words: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus," underlining the idea that economic status, status, gender, and social differences make no difference to God.   We are one in the mind of God and are always bound together in love -- not in hate of either gender.
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