It is a fact that if you tell someone for a long enough period of time that they are inferior, then they will come to believe it of themselves. In modern psychology, treatment is available for people with an inferiority complex. Through therapy, the patient can regain their sense of self-worth and equality and re-emerge into society with a sense of equality and a drive for success in whatever area of life the purse, because their definition of self will come from within. A healthy sense of self-worth, self-respect and self-awareness will usually result in the individual holding a high regard and acceptance for other individuals. It will result in the individual respecting the choices, lifestyles and personalities of others. It will result in the awareness that just because another individual is different from them, that they are not a lesser person. These qualities are exemplary and in our society they are most apparent in free thinking people who are largely unfettered by traditions such as religion. These individuals are generally the ones who are most responsible for paradigm shifts in societal norms, usually at the behest of traditionalist, particularly religionists.
If one considers some of the main leaps forward that our society was dragged forward, sometimes kicking and screaming, it becomes apparent that there is a battle between those who would prefer that humanity stagnate in the realm of “this is the way we’ve always done it” or “because god said so” and those who would see our society advance toward a time where there was no inequality, prejudice, bigotry and misogyny.
Which brings us to the topic of today. Misogyny, which is defined as a hatred, contempt, dislike or distrust in women – especially by a man. In American society, misogyny is rampant and is the sole reason why there exists gender inequality in almost every area of life. And it started with and continues to revolve around the dominant religion of our country, Christianity, and its guilt about sex, its insistence on female subjection and its dread of female seduction. The sole instigator is man identified as Paul of Tarsus. St. Paul’s epistles contain such outright misogynous statements that many modern scholars have come to the conclusion that he was probably either overtly or latently homosexual.
I used to wonder why any reasonable woman would choose a religion that would immediately put her in a position of subjugation to another human being. But after thinking about it for a while, it became apparent that many of these women have been either physically, mentally or verbally abused by their husbands, fathers or other influential men in their lives, or have been abandoned by them. Having been taught that Christ will never leave them or forsake them and has nothing but pure love for them, some of these women have replaced their abusive husbands with Christ and fathers with Yahweh. Others have come from deeply and traditionally religious families where it was taken for granted that women were viewed as unequal to a man, or equal but with different roles. This, of course, reeks with the George Orwell’s famous line from “Animal Farm” that “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”. Of course, the entire Christian faith is based on credulous servility. I have had many Christian men and women tell me that their religion is not misogynist, and that they revere women and that their religion fosters a respect for the female sex for a variety of reasons. Well, I am sorry, but I am going to have to call ‘bullshit’ on this.
The simple and unarguable fact is that misogyny is fundamental to the basic writings of Christianity and it is such an intricate part of religious society that entire movements have been undertaken to make the advances that women have achieved in recent US history. The right for women to vote, testify in court and own land are more recent than many people are aware. Women are still paid less than men who hold the same jobs and most of the Christian women that I know freely admit that they are subject to the authority of their husbands.
In the bible, women are basically commanded to accept a role of inferiority and to be shameful for the simple fact that they are women. Misogynistic biblical verses are so common enough that if opened a bible to a random page, there odds are pretty good that you’ll find one wherever your finger lands. What makes me shake my head is that Christian women will defend these passages, and many times will use apologetics that were written by misogynist Christian men. They easily justify it by trying to reason in various ways, but in the end, it always comes down to ‘because god said so’
This is especially true for the first part of a passage in Ephesians, chapter five, that states, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church. . . .” Yes, there is the second part about men treating their wives as Christ treats the church, which is largely ignored. This is probably a good thing because Christ has pretty dim view of his church. But I will leave that to another installment here.
The bible is filled with all kinds of wonderful tidbits such as “These are they which were not defiled with women” from the book of Revelation (14:4), and “How then can man be justified with God? Or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?” from the book of Job (25:4) Tertullian, one of the early church fathers, took misogyny to new heights when he wrote:
“In pain shall you bring forth children, woman, and you shall turn to your husband and he shall rule over you. And do you not know that you are Eve? God’s sentence hangs still over all your sex and His punishment weighs down upon you. You are the devil’s gateway; you are she who first violated the forbidden tree and broke the law of God. It was you who coaxed your way around him whom the devil had not the force to attack. With what ease you shattered that image of God: Man! Because of the death you merited, even the Son of God had to die. . . . Woman, you are the gate to hell”
Christian men, like it or not, have a long history of treating women as chattel, and up until recently, it was still legal for a man to beat his wife and husbands who beat their wives were exempted from prosecution. We won’t even get into the five-hundred year long period of Church history that saw unending and perfectly legal torture and murder of “witches” because Exodus 22:18 says, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”
Women have always and largely continue to hold subservient positions in Christian churches. Most denominations do not allow a woman to be clergy, particularly the role of pastor. Even the denominations that have acquiesced to women pastors, they are few enough far and in between to be seen more than just tokens. Christian men will argue that the church has made many advancements over the years, but this is simply untrue. The patriarchal church still views women as property and this is glaringly obvious with respect to the control a woman has over her own body. The Catholic Church still has reservations about contraceptives and has put considerable time, money and energy into supporting further restrictions on abortion laws.
The bible is rife with misogyny and degrading passages about women. It relegates them as equal to slaves. It treats them as property and chattel to be traded for a variety of things in ways that can only be described as prostitution. It is very clear that the life of a woman does not hold the same value as that of a man, and that men are the only ones who are to hold any positions of authority. The Christian views the bible as the inerrant, infallible and sometimes literal word of their god. For the life of me, I cannot understand why any self-respecting woman would choose to be a Christian.
I have assembled the following passages from “the good book”, Protestant and Catholic versions, to illustrate my point:
- “No wickedness comes anywhere near the wickedness of a woman…..Sin began with a woman and thanks to her we all must die” (Ecclesiasticus 25:19,24).
- “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I don’t permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner” (I Timothy 2:11-14).
- “The birth of a daughter is a loss” (Ecclesiasticus 22:3).
- “Keep a headstrong daughter under firm control, or she will abuse any indulgence she receives. Keep a strict watch on her shameless eye, do not be surprised if she disgraces you” (Ecclesiasticus 26:10-11).
- “As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.” (I Corinthians 14:34-35)
- “When a woman has her regular flow of blood, the impurity of her monthly period will last seven days, and anyone who touches her will be unclean till evening. Anything she lies on during her period will be unclean, and anything she sits on will be unclean. Whoever touches her bed must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening. Whoever touches anything she sits on must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening. Whether it is the bed or anything she was sitting on, when anyone touches it, he will be unclean till evening” (Lev. 15:19-23).
- “If a man takes a wife and, after lying with her, dislikes her saying, ‘I married this woman, but when I approached her, I did not find proof of her virginity,’ …and no proof of the girl’s virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of the town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house. You must purge the evil from among you.” (Deuteronomy 22:13-21)
- “A bad wife brings humiliation, downcast looks, and a wounded heart. Slack of hand and weak of knee is the man whose wife fails to make him happy. Woman is the origin of sin, and it is through her that we all die. Do not leave a leaky cistern to drip or allow a bad wife to say what she likes. If she does not accept your control, divorce her and send her away” (Ecclesiasticus 25:25).
- “Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God…A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head” (I Corinthians 11:3-10).
- “They called out to Lot and said, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Send them out to us so we can have sex with them! Lot went out to them at the entrance and shut the door behind him. He said, “Don’t do this evil, my brothers. Look, I’ve got two daughters who haven’t had sexual relations with a man. I’ll bring them out to you, and you can do whatever you want to them. However, don’t do anything to these men, because they have come under the protection of my roof.” (Genesis 19:5-8)
Misogyny has been responsible for some of the most heinous crimes against women in history, and in many ways the Christian misogynist not so dissimilar to his Muslim counterpart. As long as American society upholds the bible as a moral guide, misogyny will exist and women will continue to be disrespected by never-ending sexism, objectification and discrimination in almost every area of life. Pastor’s all across the nation continue to advise abused women to stay with their husbands and Christian children are taught misogyny to be perfectly acceptable every week in Sunday schools across the nation. These children grow into adults who continue to perpetrate this dogma toward their wives, mothers, sisters and daughters.
The misogynists would like nothing better than to take this country back to the days of television “Father Knows Best” and “Leave it to Beaver” which kept women at home, in the kitchen and subject to the authority of their husbands with little or no thought of pursuing a higher education and “interfering” with things that are better left to the menfolk.