Thursday, May 1, 2008

Misogynist Extremists

Opposites, in their extreme forms, end up resembling each other. Communism is the opposite of fascism, but in its extreme - totalitarian, miserable - it is hard to tell them apart.
Christianity is not the opposite of Islam, though there are some (both Christains and Muslims) who would see it that way. However, it is striking that the fundmentalist versions of both religions are so similar in their extreme misogyny.
The long, modest dresses and Edwardian-gothic hair styles are not the same as burqas, but aren't they? Look at the three images presented. What is the difference in demanding women braid their hair a certain way and demanding they cover their entire face?

Adults can wear what they want. What bothers me is the idea that young girls are being denied their rights as Americans. How can we become outraged by the treatment of women in Afghanistan by the Taliban when a woman in the US can be born and raised to believe she doesn't have the right to choose her own husband?
There are laws that protect these girls from the life being imposed upon them by the adults (including their mothers) around them. There are reasons it is illegal for a girl under a certain age to marry. The UN is currently encouraging developing nations to raise their marriage ages because girls who marry and have children before finishing their education, before their bodies are fully developed, before they are old enough to make decisions about their futures, have a whole book of statistics working against them.

"The Handmaid's Tale" is often compared to "1984". Instead of Communism, a misogynist regime is in power in America. Women are kept illiterate. Younger women are married to older men when their first wives can't bear children. The regime is supported by religious scripture. What's scary is that the novel could be predicting the Taliban OR this small community in America. Written in 1985, it was way ahead of its time in exposing the threat religious extremism poses to women everywhere.

Oh, and Happy May Day/ Labor Day to everyone. If we lived in Mozambique, Mexico or Russia we would have a holiday today.

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