Men make mountains of religions and ideologies with which to stone and imprison women. They make bestiaries of isms in which to cage and exhibit women. I believe violence and terrorism are rooted in this tragic history. I believe thousands of nihilists would rather die than reunite the human race by lifting this ancient siege on women (Athena, inset). They fear a world ruled by all of us, not half of us.
I believe we are never addressing the right thing—whether it is free trade, terrorism or democracy—if we are not redressing injustices against women, and therefore injustices against ourselves. There is no game if the pitcher throws half a ball, and there is no game or use that does not restore humankind to wholeness. Everything else is bilious blather if we cannot find decency in ourselves to heal this horrific wound.
What is it men fear in women that they invent religions and wars to evade their inability to love, that they turn the idea of deity into an old bearded fart who hands them a permit to beleaguer women? Freudians might answer: performance fear. God knows men have not performed well. But I think this is too express and narrow a view. I think men are riding the tiger. They fear that the creative impulse in women might reorder our priorities. Living in harmony with the earth might seem more inevitable than letting developers buy us off to rape it. Perhaps women would prove, as men have always feared, insatiable, but what if that insatiability were for sensibilities seemingly now beyond our reach?
The Taliban says they desire a theocratic state: should they be believed in their obscene hurry to beat and imprison women and assure the ignorance of children? What can be theocratic about denying half of humankind dignity and enlightenment? But lest the West too quickly gloat about the arrant hypocrisy of Muslim fundamentalists, shouldn’t it ask itself why curbing stem-cell research and the right to choose is more important than justice for half of God’s people? Shouldn’t it ask itself why the issues it chooses to argue so hotly are more important than the continued denial of women’s most elementary rights?
I believe religion and ideology are evasions. They distract men from their fear of a world of which women might make greater sense. I believe divinity is insulted by these patriarchal systems for relegating women to chattel. I believe the hotter the debate, the more heightened the fear-mongering, the more we may suspect the underlying reason is a dark, self-destructive fear of women. I believe mindless terrorism and mindless response are two sides of the same coin, a coin of the male realm: do anything, bring on the Apocalypse, but don’t give justice to women. In brief, I believe terrorism is about the oppression of women.
Muslim fundamentalists think Western women are more empowered than in fact they are; I believe women to them are as much the Great Satan as the Western society they mistakenly think has empowered women.
Cast the great concerns of Osama bin Laden, Al Gore, Hugo Chavez, Achmed Ahmadinejad, the Greens, the President, the candidates, the dictators, the economists, the fat cats, et al, in this despised light, and I believe it would be as if a beam from heaven were to shine on earth and lead us out of this morass of conflicting ideologies leading nowhere but to further disgrace.
(Also of interest: Women and the Jewish right).
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