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Nov 29 2006

God: can’t live with’im; can’t seem to kill’im

Writing in the Australian, Pamela Bone complains that when a bunch of Muslim feminists (Muslim feminists! What’s next, “gay Republicans”?) met in New York last week to fix an agenda for dispelling a couple of anti-Muslim rumors going around (that they’re terrorists, and that Islam oppresses women), the media gave it a big fat pass. Bone thinks it should have been front page news on accounta Muslim feminists have the solution for the war on terror. Sadly, neither Bone nor the Muslim feminists suggest that the way to make Islam (or any other religion, for that matter; they’re all a bunch of festering nightmares) safe for the world is to get rid of Islam. There is no question that Allah is here to stay, so we must rely on women’s activism from within to dilute its toxicity to a level tolerable to its female supplicants and favorable to Western economic interests.

Bone reminds the reader that the most brackish bogs of human ignorance — pockets of primordial sociopolitical muck à la Afghanistan from which anti-Western sentiment slithers ashore like honky-hatin’ lungfish to writhe in economic agony — are notable in the main for their disobliging views toward women. Where one finds women enjoying the social status of livestock, one also finds extreme godbaggery, extreme poverty, and extreme dudes who are willing to blow themselves up to preserve this colorful lifestyle.

Bone’s antidote is to “[pour] billions of dollars into the education and empowerment of women around the world.”

Education! I cry myself to sleep at night dreaming of its pungent possibilities even as I remember that it will never happen. Nobody in a position to do so could imagine for a minute that educating poor Muslim women — or any other kind of women — might have greater entertainment value than armies and bombs and Jesus. And besides, for it to do any good, the education in question would have to be of a nature that encouraged a rational critique of the collection of atavistic ghost stories that form the global instruction manual for women’s oppression.

Naturally, nobody — Bone included — will admit to an interest in ridding the world of its fundamental godbag delusions. As always, the tone is one of universal tolerance of “the beliefs of others.” This despite that there are no religious societies anywhere in which women do not ritually get the shaft. Yet Bone remains sanguine.

“If Christian women,” she writes, “have been able to argue, more or less successfully, that the misogynistic passages in the Bible are merely a reflection of the era in which they were written and have no relevance to today, there should be no reason Muslim women can’t do the same.”

Naturally the spinster aunt is pulling for the Muslim feminists and the possibility, however slender, that they might achieve some mitigating effect on the misogynist brutality their menfolk so often seem to enjoy. But alas, Bone’s core assumption, that Christian women have been “more or less successful” in combatting the ritualized misogyny prescribed by their archaic belief systems, is in error. She has overlooked that even in enlightened, babe-a-licious countries like Australia and the US, where Christian women are all the rage, the casual observer from the planet Obstreperon would be forced to conclude that the only thing women have won is the right to enbiggen the stock portfolios* of pornographers like Joe Francis by showing him their surgically-augmented tits for free while drunk on spring break. The observer’s conclusions would be confirmed after noting that the New York Times is still writing about how women who are not currently pregnant should be forever “pre-pregnant,” women’s uteruses are still owned by the megatheocorporatocracy, women still earn less than men do and get harassed while doing it, and posts on minor blogs criticizing femininity as a patriarchal construct still get over 200 comments.

in other words, though it may differ in degree of brackishness from the aforementioned bogs of human ignorance, our own culture is no limpid pool.

Women’s liberation from patriarchal oppression depends on many things, but Job One is getting this tiresome God character off the air.
___________________________________

* “Girls Gone Wild” grosses $40 million a year

[NYTimes link courtesy of blamer Paris]

84 comments

1 ping

  1. justtesting

    Getting rid of religious belief is going to be a long haul – if the human race ever survives that long.

    Muslim women from Afghanistan to Europe have been pushing for reform for a long time, in the face of much hostility and danger . When will things change ? As ever (sadly), when men decide it’s in their interests to grant the women some kind of human status and allow them slighlty greater inclusion in society as a whole.

  2. Kugelmass

    It seems useful to define the sort of education that possesses the “pungent” liberatory qualities to which you refer. I support educating men and women in the historical foundations of belief, rather than either a) presenting belief as a “fact” with inherent truth-value, as if by learning about beliefs one learned about the actual nature of the world, or b) promoting some version of empiricism around which sexist values, and experiences of “faith,” can perform a neat end-run. (As in, “I believe in hard facts, too, but I also believe a woman is happiest at home. Those are just my values.”)

    Is any of this driving you to want to read The God Delusion?

    The quip about Girls Gone Wild was funny, but keep in mind that some Muslim activists love to frame their approach in terms of embracing the Enlightenment while rejecting Western decadence (for example, this charming essay). I’m personally hesitant to represent contemporary life in the West in ways that lead to a pick-and-choose smugness (nor I am suggesting they should convert to the West wholesale; I think people should stop thinking of culture as a consumer item, and start thinking about what they want through a culturally indifferent universal/personal binary). I would rather say something like this: “Here’s what feminist movements have tried in the West, here’s how much they’ve accomplished, and here’s where they’ve been stymied or subverted.” That would mean a critique of objectifying products like Girls Gone Wild, without suggesting that feminism in the West has led merely to a false liberation enabling more extreme forms of objectification.

  3. justtesting

    Thw whole burka vs bikini debate almost always boils down to men(and their apologists) arguing over whether women should be private or public property and what the sanctions should be for those women who step out of line.

    Which of course totally misses the real point, which is that women should not be treated as property at all.

  4. zawadi

    Kugelmass, I wouldn’t describe the author of that article as a “Muslim activist” framing his “approach in terms of embracing the Enlightenment while rejecting Western decadence”. He sounds more like a woman-hating simpleton (see the name of his website).

    Otherwise, I agree. Some “Progressive Islam” (which seems to have a lot of its strength coming from Muslims in North America – see http://muslimwakeup.com) is beginning to challenge the male establishment at the centre of the religion and its interpretation. For a more balanced view on the tired subject of Islamic Feminism re: Hijab, check this out:
    http://www.muslimwakeup.com/main/archives/2004/02/yes_or_no_to_hi.php (‘Yes or No to Hijab: Not for Men to Answer’). Sorry, I don’t know how to make links.

  5. Pony

    Canadian Muslim journalist and filmaker Zarqa Nawaz asks why North American Muslim women are forced to pray behind barriers, away from the men, and sometimes, not even permitted to enter the (mosque) in her film Me & the Mosque, which includes archival footage and deeply personal interviews which document the debates and present the personalities on all sides of the issue.

    Me & The Mosque
    Zarqa Narwaz
    U.S.A 1-800-542-2164
    Canada 1-800-267-7710
    International (514) 283-9450

    http://www.nfb.ca

    I just happened to get this at the library today.

  6. ::Wendy::

    I love the way you set realistic achievable ghoals ;-)

    Can we just be cunning and rather than ‘kill’ god use the common strategies employed by early christians and ‘appropriate’ the festivals and iconography while turning it to align with our own agenda. Less bloodshed. Just a bit of image twisting. Education and information from the earth goddess…. ?

  7. cranterp

    Kugelmass, that article sure was nifty. Seems like women are unfit to do quite a lot. That’s a real shame. Bearing someone’s seed was previously my highest aspiration in life. Damn. I suppose I ought to just continue to be confused and aggressive.

  8. Pony

    Our prime minister is a toadie to Bush, refused to attend the international AIDS summit. He’s a Christian. Christian. Why do they always get some female toady to make these announcements?

    “We don’t need to separate the men from the women in this country…. This government as a whole is responsible to develop policies and programs that address the needs of both men and women.”

    http://tinyurl.com/y4zxb6

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.
    20061129.wsowc1129/BNStory/National/home

  9. Pony

    toadie toady. I dunno.

  10. CafeSiren

    At the risk of being unpopular: I’m one agnostic who doesn’t believe “god” is the problem, but rather people — in the form of organized religion. Even Christianity, which has for too many centuries been twisted to perpetuate gender hierarchies we inherited from the Romans, the Greeks, and whatall, began with the possibility of gender neutrality. Women, along with men, were leaders and financial backers of early Christian communities, possibly attracted my a central message of equality and basic human dignity that got lost somewhere along the way. Early (and even not-so-early) Christianity offered a whole range of symbols for women, some of which were inherently anti-patriarchal. In other words, there was a whole range of possibilities, and mysogyny was not an inevitable outcome.

    Sadly, patriarchy proved too strong for people with a vision of a god who didn’t care what you had between your legs.

    As for Islam, I can’t speak with any sort of authority, but I would suspect that the same principles apply.

  11. Mandos

    I am receiving faint “damning with faint praise” vibes.

    Also…

    Bone reminds the reader that the most brackish bogs of human ignorance — pockets of primordial sociopolitical muck à la Afghanistan from which anti-Western sentiment slithers ashore like honky-hatin’ lungfish to writhe in economic agony — are notable in the main for their disobliging views toward women. Where one finds women enjoying the social status of livestock, one also finds extreme godbaggery, extreme poverty, and extreme dudes who are willing to blow themselves up to preserve this colorful lifestyle.

    So “anti-Western sentiment” flowed from “brackish bogs of human ignorance”, eh? I’m not sure if Twisty intended to let this go by unnoticed, but this is a rather conventional view of Afghanistan, no?

  12. Aussie Liz

    I liked Pamela Bone’s article.

    I don’t think she was sanguine at all – she says “As to whether Islam oppresses women, there is no Islamic society in which women are free.” Then she goes on to list a few of the issues, and sound reasons to back up the moral imperative to address those issues.

    I agree that we’d be better off wtihout religion, but as Bone puts it, perhaps agreeing with Twisty but admitting defeat, “a half-billion Muslim women are not going to abandon their faith” so the idea of an international shura council of Muslim women – “an advisory body that interprets Islamic law for the political and religious leaders in its region of authority” sounds like a good one.

    Her paragraph on the Left’s silence on the oppression of Muslim women made me smile as it reminded me of Twisty’s essay on a similar topic a year or so ago.

    The paragraphs on how women’s issues have been invoked in the Terror War are worth reading – nothing new, but well laid out and spiced with irony.

    She also tries to broaden out the interest in women’s rights by saying it’s in our national interest, in much the same way as the power of the Stern report on global warming came from the economic argument.

    “If John Howard really cares about the rights of women, he should increase Australia’s meagre overseas aid budget and direct it into health and education programs for girls who will then grow up to have healthier, better educated and fewer children.

    If Western governments can’t manage to support women out of compassion, they should do so out of self-interest.”

    Women aren’t quite as badly oppressed in Australia as they in the USA. We’re oppressed, but we can get an abortion, for example. We have government health care, we all vote and very few men are allowed guns. So Bone’s assertion about education helping ease the effect of our dominant Christian culture is less laffable here. OK, it’s a bit laffable, but I’m sticking up for our Pamela.

    I’ve read several of Bone’s previous articles on issues affecting Muslim women. I haven’t always agreed with her, but I’ve found her to be though provoking and persuasive.

    I am grateful for having this article brought to my attention as Bone is writing less and less these days.

  13. KTal

    I’m waiting for that non-misogynist bible, I’d imagine it would be a quick read.

  14. The Scarlet Pervygirl

    Wendy, I was going to ask Twisty a similar question about her opinion on the re-definition of gods and the re-imagining from scratch of religion rather than the abandonment of it.

    I’m doing a research paper at the moment about, among other things, the re-appropriation of Lilith by modern Jewish women as a role model and, in some instances, as a god.

  15. scratchy888

    Women aren’t quite as badly oppressed in Australia as they in the USA. We’re oppressed, but we can get an abortion, for example. We have government health care, we all vote and very few men are allowed guns. So Bone’s assertion about education helping ease the effect of our dominant Christian culture is less laffable here. OK, it’s a bit laffable, but I’m sticking up for our Pamela.

    That is all perfectly true. However, the messed up thing about this is that the wimmins all (or most of them) tend to form oppressive little hives, regulating each other and basically vetoing anybody out of their political network who is not oppressively sensitive to all sorts of matters of feeling and delicate standards of proper behaviour, which one would not wish to be sensitive to, because they undermine a sense of real freedom.

  16. Pinko Punko

    There are a bunch of things I kind of want to get into about some comments above but I think I am all bloggo’d out, so the reason I am commenting is that TF has been on a FRACKING ROLL lately, and I kind of thought this post was the apotheosis of that roll. Pun intended!

  17. jokerine

    Aussie Liz, I spent a few months in Australia a while back and though the law may not discriminate against women (much), culture as a whole is pervaded strongly by misogyny.

    Ktal, a bunch of german theologians tried to make a “Bibel in gerechter Sprache” which uses male and female words equally for persons whos historic gender is not known. Also “Gott” or “Herr” which have a male designation were often replaced with words that have female designation. It is a peculiarity of many languages that nouns have a gender. They also tried to rewrite some of the more misogynistic passages in the bible.
    As you can imagine, the book was not met with very much enthusiasm. I think at least one problem is, that it does not let their god be beyond sexuallity but treis to make him supersexual, containing both genders.

    I havn’t had a look at it, but then like Twisty, I know we would be better of with rational thinking and without religion.

  18. Catherine Martell

    Several people have brought up goddess mythology as if it might be a lady-positive alternative to all this nasty boy-religion. Good grief, no. Have we learnt nothing? Objectification is objectification is objectification.

    A goddess is not better for the women in any society than a god – it’s just another way of objectifying them. I don’t find the idea of a huge-breasted ‘earth goddess’ pumping out babies from her giant womb (but postively, woo!) any more liberating than the hijab. Nor can I really get excited about any so-called ‘powerful’ (empowerful?) goddess figures in ancient mythology. Aphrodite, Athena, Hera, Freya, Frigg, Kali, Durga, Parvati, Lilith – all are represented as being emotionally unbalanced, and often intensely dependent on their relationships with men. There’s also a strong whiff of sexual-objectification about most of them.

    I’ll be surprised if anyone can show me a goddess myth that isn’t just the projection of some sort of male sexual/repressive fantasy, or a crude caricature of femininity, or both. Religion in all its horrible forms is always an excuse to do two things: kill people and oppress women.

  19. Catherine Martell

    Incidentally, Kugelmass?

    Re: “The quip about Girls Gone Wild was funny, but keep in mind that some Muslim activists love to frame their approach in terms of embracing the Enlightenment while rejecting Western decadence”, etc.

    I’d warm to you a lot more if you stopped writing as if you were a condescending teacher marking little lady Twisty’s high-school essays.

    Could try harder, dude.

  20. antonia

    Dear Spinster Aunt,
    I entirely agree with your post. I just wanted to tell you also since a long time, you are great. You’ve mentioned this occasionally in your blog and you are right. Keep on blaming. So now after this introducitonary bit, what I actually want to say, I agree. This whole discussion on the burqa etc is just decorative….if the patriarchy really was interested in a change of things it would certainly spend all the zillions of money on slightly different things…but of course it is oin the nature of patriarchy not to be interested in the education of women, or to be interested in – oh dear – an education that enables to critique in general….
    As the good commenter of course I read your commenter’s guide and also of course the moron section about feminism – etc. And something I found striking – I don’t at all think that you are a radical feminist, I mean, the twisty revolution, that’s all perfectly reasonable, not radical. These are reasonable things envisioned there. Sad somehow one becomes a radical only for one demands perfectly reasonable things. But that’s another thing to blame patriarchy for, to make perfectly reasonable things seeming as radical and dangerous etc….so in this sense, you are of course a radical…
    dear spinster aunt, you often write what I think, but what I am yet too coward to say out loud myself. Thank you. Keep on blaming.

  21. Sylvanite

    It would be nice to remove the power of organized religion. I sort of wonder how we would deal with the apparently deep human need for ritual, which tends to be filled by religious services and holidays. It seems that it will be difficult to tease ritual apart from organized religion and a god-concept. I’d love to see it, though; I’m sick unto death fo the endless mischief wrought by religion.

  22. Hattie

    Twisty, you are so right. You can’t revise religion; you have to get rid of it, if women are to be free.
    But as you know and I know, that won’t happen.

  23. hedonistic

    Catherine Martell I swear, why don’t you have a blog? Right on! I spent decades in Wiccan/PaganLand, thinking I’d escaped my patriarchal religion, but it was the same old shit (worse, even, because it was overtly fetishized).

    I still love Lilith though, because to me she’s the original “Feminazi Strawfeminist,” and when men’s delusions aren’t making me cry they’re making me laugh.

  24. Mar Iguana

    I’m with Sinead O’Conner: “God needs to be rescued from religion.”

    Another thing that needs rescuing is the word “radical,” antonia (and, welcome by the way). It has been given a bad spin by the patriarchs because it is a beautiful word meaning to go to the root of things. The last thing they want is for people to follow the cause for every ill in humanity down to the root because that root is sexism.

  25. Pony

    Antonia WELCOME.

  26. CafeSiren

    Catherine — some goddess stories actually do start off with positive (or at least value-neutral) symbols of the feminine, but you’re right that they all tend to end up the same place: as a caricature of some gendered virtues (maternity, maidenly virginity, submissiveness) or vices (uncontrolled sexuality). Reading the progression of stories of a single goddess-figure over time is a good way to chart the progress of patriarchy in a given situation.

  27. Pretty Lady

    Women’s liberation from patriarchal oppression depends on many things, but Job One is getting this tiresome God character off the air.

    Lands! Aren’t WE radical today. Darling. Let us Calm Down. Let us Be Rational. Let us examine the notion of HOW, exactly, we get this tiresome God character off the air.

    Now, first things first. Where is the World? Where is the Patriarchy? Where are the benighted oppressors resisting freedom? Where, darling?

    If we are to be strictly rational, the answer is ‘In Twisty’s mind.’

    Do not become agitated yet.

    It is quite literally true that the only provable location of the world, the patriarchy, and everything else, is in one’s mind. Because the mind is the filter, the locus of input, the only empirically verifiable entity that exists, from Twisty’s perspective. If you think about it, you cannot deny it; all else is hearsay.

    The question is, then, how do we get God out of Twisty’s mind?

    Well, this begs the question, ‘What is God?’

    I will cut to the chase, darlings, and quote the Bible, with tangential references to Buddhism, yoga, and various other spiritual disciplines. ‘God is Love.’

    I will also note, from simple personal experience, that when Pretty Lady succeeds, briefly, in getting patriarchy, Afghanistan, and high heeled shoes out of her mind, that Love is the only thing left. It’s quite delicious, actually. Everything just Goes Away. Love is all there is; transcendent love without subject or object.

    So my dear, I must concluded that getting this God character off the air, in my empirical attempts, has proven to be quite impossible. It is much simpler to do away with everything else.

  28. vera

    Just thought I’d throw this in: I like the hypothesis that the origin of religion involves early humans ingesting entheogens; probably from psilocybin-containing mushrooms or perhaps from Amanita muscaria (the red-capped, white-dotted mushroom one sees so much in cartoons accompanied by fairies and elves). Eating such plants puts one in contact with beings who impart knowledge — so it seems, anyway. Maybe it’s only human for people under the influence to create gods and goddesses to explain the psychedelic experience, which can be, whether you’re a devout something-or-other or a die-hard atheist, numinous.

    P.S. DON’T eat the red-capped, white-dotted mushrooms (amanita muscaria) — they can kill you.

  29. Catherine Martell

    Right you lot, own up. Who fed Pretty Lady all the ecstasy tablets?

    CafeSiren: I certainly agree with you that goddess myths seem to get more explicitly patriarchal over time. But what are these original positive/value-neutral symbols of the feminine of which you speak?

    Hedonistic: bless you, I’m blushing. I don’t have time to write a blog and, anyway, it’d be little more than a shonky imitation of IBTP. More importantly: fulsome congratulations on your de-godly enlightenment.

  30. hedonistic

    Haaaaaa de-godly enlightenment. Actually, I’m still in a pretty intense long term relationship with a Certain Divine Somethingorother, I’m just not going to waste time trying to define it to suit my convenience. My prediction: When we are finally able to flush the idea of Man as Supreme Authority, the Father God in the Sky will go poof, because our ideas about the Divine emerge from our relationships with the fleshy world:

    Live in the shadow of a deadly volcano? Vulcan.
    Live by the tumultuous sea? Neptune.
    Wander around a cruel, unforgiving desert? Yahweh/Allah.
    Farmer? Corn goddess
    Hunter? Horned God

    And so on. It makes me wonder, what would be the proper physical representation of a modern, urban god? I give up.

  31. Pony

    I think native spirituality is best. But it’s hard for whites to get into that. You’ll be called a wannabe, and either rudely rebuffed, or rudely rebuffed. Still. Worth a try.

  32. hedonistic

    Been there, done that. It didn’t ring true though: What does the (very feminine, btw) White Buffalo Woman have to say about my life? Not much: I don’t smoke a pipe, and I don’t need to be taught how to cook corn. Also, the plains indian god Wankan Tankan is presented as a Father God, even though the words actually mean Great/Holy Mystery/Spirit.

    One of the Dakota proverbs is “woman should not walk before man.” I can’t imagine there’s a native tribe anywhere where women are truly equal. If there was, wouldn’t we have heard about it? (somebody out there please prove me wrong and make my day!)

    So, it seems that if one MUST pick a religion, there is no escape from man’s screwed up notions of the Divine. Once it becomes RELIGION, it’s completely hosed up.

  33. Pony

    This added to my post about Status of Women Canada who just lost much of their funding from our Godly Conservative Christian government, (whose wives started the Real Women facade, by the way.)
    http://www.realwomenca.com/index.html

    {Aside-on-a-tangent: when I searched ‘real women’ I got prOn. Now I know.}

    This is about the only sane comment following the Globe and Mail article. Some stats on wife abuse in our god-fearing nation:

    ##

    Gill P from BC, Canada writes: In 1999, more than 27,000 cases of spousal violence were reported to police departments across the country. Eighty-seven percent of the victims were women. (Bunge and Levett 2000, 21)

    In 1996, approximately 80% of victims of criminal harassment were women. Over half of all female victims of criminal harassment were harassed by ex-spouses or other intimate partners. (Bunge and Levett 1998, 3)

    Between 1979 and 1998, 1468 women were killed by their husbands, compared with 433 men killed by their wives. (Statistics Canada 2000, 6)

    In 1996, 49% of family homicides involved spouses. (Bunge and Levett 1998, 28)

    In 1996, in 56% of all spousal homicides, investigating officers had knowledge of previous domestic violence between victims and suspects. (Bunge and Levett 1998, 32)

    In reported incidents of assault against woman partners in 1996, 72% of women were assaulted by a current spouse, and 28% were assaulted by a former or estranged spouse. (Bunge and Levett 1998, 6)

    According to the Violence Against Women Survey (VAWS), 29% of ever married women have been assaulted by their partners at least once. (Statistics Canada 1993, 4)

    In light of the serial killing trial involving the murders of as many as 60 women in Vancouver, I cringe at this decision.

    For the record

    Status of Women Canada (SWC) is the federal government agency which promotes gender equality, and the full participation of women in the economic, social, cultural and political life of the country. SWC focuses its work in three areas: improving women’s economic autonomy and well-being, eliminating systemic violence against women and children, and advancing women’s human rights.

  34. Pretty Lady

    Who fed Pretty Lady all the ecstasy tablets?

    Sweetie! I had one, once. It was New Years’ Eve, 1993/4, I believe. It was wonderful. Saved me ever so many years of therapy. Never took one again! All better!

    One of the Dakota proverbs is “woman should not walk before man.” I can’t imagine there’s a native tribe anywhere where women are truly equal.

    I can’t imagine that there’s a native tribe which sent its women ahead to serve as bait for the large, carniverous animals to encounter first, which survived long enough to write down its rules of conduct. Men are ever so much more expendable, when it comes to survival of the species.

  35. hedonistic

    Which reminds me of a joke told to me by Ion, wife of medicine man Amos:

    Why does the Indian woman walk behind her husband?

    To tell him where to go!

    Badoomching.

  36. ms_mutt

    “I can’t imagine there’s a native tribe anywhere where women are truly equal. If there was, wouldn’t we have heard about it?”

    We wouldn’t have heard about it, because the patriarchy (at least the Anglo-European flavored now in vogue) does its best to stigmatize and/or assimilate cultures that deviate from itself.

    I imagine that if any indigenous nation had true equality between the sexes or simply had gender inequalities which were different from the anglo-euro-patriarchy, that missionaries were quickly dispatched to teach that nation the “error of its ways.”

  37. Pony

    Anyway, Lady Who Is Pretty But Speaks With Mouth Full of Shit doesn’t know dick about native culture. Native cultures were and are misogynistic. When Europeans arrived, they just added another flavour to it. Don’t believe me? Ask Cecilia Fire Thunder.

  38. Burrow Klown

    But the Invisible Pink Unicorn is real! If everyone would just believe in Her then we wouldn’t have these problems.

    “The Invisible Pink Unicorns is a being of great spiritual power. We know this because she is capable of being invisible and pink at the same time. Like all religions, the Faith of the Invisible Pink Unicorn is based upon both logic and faith. We have faith that she is pink; we logically know that she is invisible because we can’t see her.”

    http://ipu.secularlife.org/

  39. Pony

    Oh I agree HPS. I just practise my own feminist variation of it. And if you stay clear of the medicine men and headmen and chiefs (as many native women do) you can practise a spirituality that is life centric. I wouldn’t call it religion.

    Of course, you need to go on a vision quest first. My quest animal was the wendigo. :)

  40. Burrow Klown

    Wait a sec….if we get rid of all religions does this mean that the slide whistle I married in Austin (in the Church of Subgenius) will be null and void?

  41. CannibalFemme

    And it just so happens that this is on IBTP on the selfsame day when I’m wearing my Flying Spaghetti Monster ‘Touched By His Noodly Appendage’ t-shirt. Sweet. But hey, Burrow Klown: thanks for the link! I’ve never seen such a wonder, and I am humbled.

    On Native spiritual practices: I hung right in there until I was refused the opportunity to sun dance due to gender, even though I swore up and down that I am not and shall never be a childbearing human, and then I skedaddled.

    At this point, religion serves me by being a catalyst for outrage, fear, horror and humor, and that’s about it.

  42. hedonistic

    For what it’s worth CannibalFemme, there is a reservation in western South Dakota that lets women do the Sun Dance, Rosebud if I recall correctly.

    Unless you’re over it by now. Frankly I wouldn’t want to sacrifice for a community that, deep down, didn’t want me.

  43. josquin

    Even the word “Goddess” is icky in that “ess” way:
    Many of the “ess” ending words seem like a female subset of the “real” male entity.
    If I see another depiction of the “Goddess” as a big breasted swirly-haired goth-y porn queen I think I will barfess. (that’s barfing but in a dainty delicate way)
    I wish we could stop giving gender assignments to the two types of energy sometimes known as Yin and Yang.
    Pony, you can’t really know what Pretty Lady does or doesn’t know about native cultures. She may know dick, she may not. When you attack silly goofing people with serious intent it just looks silly.

  44. Betty Cracker

    Twisty herself said it best in a post from over a year ago that I bookmarked because it was such pure genius:

    “Come on, girls, [religion] is like some old moth-eaten, syphilis-encrusted mattress the cat peed on. Just throw it out!”

  45. finnsmotel

    Religion, or religious mythology, as an explanation for our existence, depends on belief carrying more weight than science.

    Problem is, science is not likely to come up with a reason for – or an explanation of – any purpose to us being here. And, loads of people still need that reason or explanation to keep them going. And, most still need it to keep them from acting upon their impulse to kill one another.

    I hope for the death of religion, but, I do wish for it to be a slow death, as I fear what this place would be like if everybody figured out at the same time that nothing matters.

    It would be an ironic twist if the religious types did predict the end of the world, wouldn’t it?

    “megatheocorporatocracy”

    I’ve been trying all afternoon to sing this to the tune of supercalifragilisticexpealidotious (sp?). I put on my best Julie Andrews voice and everything. Maybe if you add another syllable or two? Help!

  46. greengirl7

    I have been pondering the meaning of a Cheyenne proverb that I read on a poster hanging in the women’s clinic in my community:

    “A nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground. Then it is done, no matter how brave its warriors or how strong its weapons.”

    Vera: Your hypothesis is as relevant as any and certainly tickles the imagination. I am reminded also of the saying: All mushrooms are edible, some only once.

    Wish I had more time to comment more.

  47. greengirl7

    “Wish I had more time to comment more”

    I am educated and intelligent. Really I am.

  48. Betty Cracker

    “I fear what this place would be like if everybody figured out at the same time that nothing matters.

    The absence of religion does not mean that nothing matters, just that superstitious nonsense is at long last irrelevant.

    We’d still have real things to care about without imaginary sky daddies, goddesses of destruction, virgin births and scam artists with talking hats and seeing stones to distract us. In fact, maybe we could concentrate on helping real people instead of appeasing imaginery gods who are reputed to go into a murderous snit without the requisite amount of bowing and scraping.

    Maybe you’re right; perhaps a bogus set of rules enacted by patriarchal con men is all that stands between humanity and all-out chaos. People who profess to be godfree can certainly behave like a pack of murderous vermin (see Pot, Pol). But on balance, the evidence does not seem to support that theory.

  49. Kwillz

    So let me get this straight: Enbiggen is a real word?

  50. jennie

    Sylvanite

    It would be nice to remove the power of organized religion. I sort of wonder how we would deal with the apparently deep human need for ritual, which tends to be filled by religious services and holidays.

    Anyone can create a ritual. All you do is decide on a bunch of actions that must take place in a certain way at a certain time, and that carry a certain meaning for the participants. No god needed, if you don’t want one.

    Let’s say I want a ritual that clears the week’s work out of my brain for Friday night—something that lets me walk away from the office and my job and symbolizes the beginning of a weekend spent for me. So every Friday evening my sweetie and perform a ritual cleansing with readings and songs, followed by a ritual pizza-baking and eating ceremony with a bottle of wine.

    Okay, this may not have the mystic woowoo of a church service, but it’s serviceable and we have a ritual that works for us, and that, furthermore involves pizza and no reference to a god-dude of the patriarchy.

    Works for me.

  51. cycles

    There are many rituals we perform that don’t have gods attached. One example: football in Austin. As the kicker runs at the ball for the first kickoff in the half, fans hold up their Hook ‘Em horns. The catholic version holds that the horns come down when the ball flies into the air; the reformed version dictates that the horns stay up until the receiver catches the ball or it hits the ground. But everybody does it at the same time, almost like a hymn or a chant.

    Actually, sporting events are highly ritualized. I’m not saying you can separate them from the patriarchy or belief in god; we are talking about SPORTS, and rah-rah-for males is what they’re all about. But many of the rituals, which adherents take quite seriously, don’t hinge on a belief in a diety. Like I said, just one example, and an imperfect one.

    I’m also thinking of holidays like Valentine’s Day, which is celebrated, or, in my case, anti-celebrated but acknowledged, widely. That’s not a religious holiday, yet we have the heart-shaped candy-box ritual, the fancy dinner ritual, the I-hate-V-Day-let’s-watch-horror-movies ritual.

  52. cycles

    Speaking of, how about rituals that aren’t directly worshipful, but are open to interpretation? I’m thinking of things like the “moment of silence” that replace preacher-spouted prayers in some public spaces. People can attach whatever meaning they want to the ritual, so it may represent a prayer to one person, a time to think about the grocery list for another.

    Yet someone in power is telling me that right now I need to shut up because we’ve designated this particular 90-second block for silence and reflection. The implication is that you’re supposed to jump from whatever’s on your mind to intensely deep and reflective thoughts at the same time as everybody else. Shades of religion without actually being religion.

    I guess, by their nature of being pre-defined and symbolic, rituals reflect a power structure in that someone up the river decided what makes it into the tradition we all follow, and what doesn’t.

  53. MzNicky

    Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s “Women’s Bible.” All ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

    ECS wrote it, I believe it, that settles it.

  54. Jill

    I’ve had the pleasure of taking a course in law school this semester with one of the leaders of the modern Islamic feminist movement (although she’s hesitant to call herself an “Islamic feminist,” though she is both Muslim and feminist). These women have actually had quite a bit of success, since they tend to be exceptionally well-informed about scripture and can argue most people into the ground (Amina Wadud is a great example). So I’m glad you’re posting on this.

    The one thing I have a little quibble with is the idea that anything would be better if Islam or Christianity or any other organized religion were obliterated. Islam doesn’t speak; people speak for it. Those people have agendas and biases, and, given their level of power, can make the religious texts support pretty much whatever benefits them. If Amina Wadud had half the power that the clerics and imams at the Islamic University in Cairo have, modern Islam would look very different.

    Point being, even if religion didn’t exist, our lovely patriachy would still find a way to justify oppressing women. Consider in particular that religion was created by and for men, and has been used by men to beat women over the head for centuries. If it wasn’t religion, it would be something else (philosophy, biology, evolution, whatever). And we’d still have to be using someone else’s starting point to argue for our rights. We would also have to use that same starting point to counter its very construction.

    So I’m not sure it’s fair to blame Islam itself. And of course, as usual, you’re blaming the patriarchy, and so I applaud.

  55. Pretty Lady

    Native cultures were and are misogynistic.

    ‘Misogynistic’ is a concept unrelated to the concept of ‘foolishly impractical to the point of cultural suicide,’ much as I wish this were not the case. And the person who goes first on the trail also has to clear away weeds, thorns, vines, briars, and spider webs, either with a machete or with his face. If I were a smart native woman, I would have made up that rule myself.

    The one thing I have a little quibble with is the idea that anything would be better if Islam or Christianity or any other organized religion were obliterated. Islam doesn’t speak; people speak for it.

    Finally! An individual with a glimmering of common sense. Organized religions, largely, lay out some guidelines of practical ethics in order to instill some semblance of social order, while many nefarious individuals attempt to bend the rules to their nefarious ends. The next time you hear a religious person spouting some form of hateful cant, think, “Very well. And what would this person be doing if he or she were NOT religious?” Usually the answer is, “running amok to a wholly uncontrolled degree.” Place the blame upon the person, where it belongs, not upon the religion, which is doing the best it can in a highly chaotic world.

    I fear what this place would be like if everybody figured out at the same time that nothing matters.

    I rest my case.

  56. Pony

    “I’ve had the pleasure of taking a course in law school this semester with one of the leaders of the modern Islamic feminist movement (although she’s hesitant to call herself an “Islamic feminist,” though she is both Muslim and feminist). These women have actually had quite a bit of success, since they tend to be exceptionally well-informed about scripture and can argue most people into the ground (Amina Wadud is a great example). So I’m glad you’re posting on this.”

    Isn’t that neat gals, what he/she/it just did there? Sheit took a class from and expert and now is an expert too. I love it.

    As for the ignoramous about native culture, the fur trade, native women’s role in, and trail clearing, keep it up, I’m enjoying this too much, it’s minus 41 C and I have no other entertainment.

  57. Pony

    josquin you silly goofing person, yes, I can know what LWIPBSWMFOS knows about native culture. Nada. And it appears, ditto for you.

  58. Mar Iguana

    Pontificate much?

  59. josquin

    Pony’s incessant and monotonous attacks call to mind the expression “one trick pony”.

  60. Twisty

    It does seem, Pony, as though your trademark open hostility has reached something of a new high. What gives?

  61. Pony

    Let’s all ake asshole comments about someeone else’s race/culture for a bit shall we?

  62. Twisty

    Quoth Pretty Lady (it burns my fingers to type those words): “The next time you hear a religious person spouting some form of hateful cant, think, “Very well. And what would this person be doing if he or she were NOT religious?” Usually the answer is, “running amok to a wholly uncontrolled degree.” Place the blame upon the person, where it belongs, not upon the religion, which is doing the best it can in a highly chaotic world.”

    I submit that the high degree of chaos to which you allude is the direct result of mass cognitive dissonance between reality and belief. Education, I speculate, is the antidote to runnings-amok of all varieties, godbaggish or otherwise. Even a rudimentary understanding of the cosmos would do wonders for weltanshauung of all but the most clinically insane. Of course, I’ll never get to test my theory, because all the world’s energies are perpetually funneled into enormous expressions of god-based amokness

  63. CafeSiren

    Catherine –

    Been at work all day, but in answer to your question, the best example I can think of off the top of my head is the Mesopotamian Ishtar/Inanna mythos: In the Babylonian period, she is powerful enough to be the one to sanction the rule of kings (yes, a patriarchal government, but the king gets his power from the goddess, not Enlil or Enki); by the later periods (neo-assyrian? neo-babylonian?) her dominant feature is out-of-control sexuality, linking female power to danger to the patriarchy.

    For Christians, we can look at how stories of the saints, the Virgin Mary, or Mary Magdalene are reconstructed, augmented, and repurposed to serve whatever the patriarchy’s current version of the perfect woman is.

  64. MzNicky

    josquin: Thank you.

  65. designergen

    Hi there, long-time reader first-time commenter. Just wanted to say, count me as one atheist who has plenty of pro-social morals and no desire to run amok. The purpose of life? LIVE! Every day I’m thankful simply to be alive. It’s a precious gift.

  66. Pretty Lady

    Education, I speculate, is the antidote to runnings-amok of all varieties, godbaggish or otherwise.

    Depends, darling, entirely upon of what the education consists. Rigorous attention to the basic tenets of logic, check. Fundamentals of grammar, as attendant upon basic tenets of logic, check. Laws of physics, economics, mathematics, geometry, structural engineering, check. World history, with focussed attention upon Mistakes that Were Made, and Why, so as How Not to Make Them Again, check. Love thy neighbor, check.

    Thou shalt blow up thy infidel neighbor, whether that neighbor be Christian, Jewish, Muslim, gay, homophobic, or even an Oppressive Patriarch–not so much.

    (In addition, an in-depth look at the underpinnings of violent religious fundamentalism, the reasons it arose, and the distinction between fundamentalist extremism and religious tradition in general, in a sociopolitical context, would not come amiss.)

  67. al

    Women aren’t quite as badly oppressed in Australia as they in the USA.

    Aussie Liz, are you sure you’re on the same continent as me? ‘Cuz last time I checked, this piece of dirt was crawling with beer-swilling ocker idiots, sexist yobbos and charming teenage asswipes who yell “show us yer tits!” and spit at you as they drive past without provocation—unless you count not looking fuckable enough, or not “Australian” (read: “White Anglo Saxon”) enough.

    It’s weird that women here think we’re better off than almost anywhere else just because our country’s not very religious. But a lack of religion doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of sexism, racism or the boozy, leery, unreconstructed masculinity for which Aussie men are famous.

    At least there’s some kind of resistant female culture in the States. In Australia, we have virtually no feminist-influenced popular culture, rarely any famous young women who aren’t models or Miss Universes or don’t fit the slim-nonthreatening-girl-nextdoor stereotype (Kylie Minogue, Jennifer Hawkins and Elle McPherson are our chief exports), and no female buddy movies. And yet we still get all misty-eyed over the Aussie concepts of “mateship” and “larrikinism”, conveniently forgetting that these concepts (at least as they are commonly represented) exclude us and always have done.

    Our national pride may not consist of trigger-pulling and Bible-thumping, but it’s really not enlightened as we pretend it is. At all.

    Forget religion. Kill patriotism.

  68. al

    That should be “as enlightened.” And I didn’t mean to sound narky. I’m just in a very anti-Australian mood.

  69. Catherine Martell

    CafeSiren – I don’t think I know enough about early Mesopotamia to judge whether Ishtar started out all fully-realised and comfortable-shoesy. I was under the impression that she was a mother goddess (snore) but perhaps there was more to her early on.

    Interesting stuff: thanks for the tip. I’ll look into it.

  70. justtesting

    Jill So I’m not sure it’s fair to blame Islam itself.

    Huh ?

    Islam (or any other religion) isn’t some seperate sentient entity which exists independently outside of men’s influence. As you say in your own post “Consider in particular that religion was created by and for men, and has been used by men to beat women over the head for centuries.”

    Islam (or any other religion) is an invented social system of subjugation with rules as to who gets to subjugate who and how. It can – and should – be blamed just like any other hierarchical system.

  71. Lya Kahlo

    “”It would be nice to remove the power of organized religion. I sort of wonder how we would deal with the apparently deep human need for ritual, which tends to be filled by religious services and holidays. It seems that it will be difficult to tease ritual apart from organized religion and a god-concept. I’d love to see it, though; I’m sick unto death fo the endless mischief wrought by religion. ”

    This is a good point. I found this to be true about myself once I finally admitted (after years of studying religion) that I am an atheist. Wanting ritual and holiday traditions didn’t vanish with the last remnants of god-belief. It finally occured that celebrating the traditions of our hertiage is a proper substitute. Not religious traditions, but customs, etc.

    For example, my family is half Irish and half Hungarian. So for Yule we make traditional dishes, decorate, sing folksongs, tell tales, etc of each culture. It helps to recognize our hertiage, while symotaneously erasing deities altogether. It also allows for our religious relatives to particpate without our having to listen to all the god-babble.

    It works for us.

    There are some positives of co-opting some religious obsevances for secular use. For example, part of the time I spent studying religion was spent on Judaism (Orthodox – beacuse apparently I was insane in my early 20′s). The Sabbath is something I still observe. I don’t do the religious parts of it. However, there is something to be said for turning off all the electronic equipment for 24 hours a week (except cellphones in case of emergency) and just relaxing. I don’t drive anywhere, buy anything, work or sit passively in front of the t.v./computer. For 24 hours, there’s peace, “quality time” and battery recharge.

    It works for me.

    We can rid ourselves of deities and still have rituals and holidays.

  72. Sylvanite

    Mmmmph. I disagree with Pretty Lady’s assertion that crappy, hateful religious people would somehow be even worse without religion keeping them in check. People have a truly astounding ability to justify their worst behaviors and convince themselves that they will be exempt from any of the punishments that religion promises for certain behaviors. I think many people have had run-ins with people who genuinely believe that accepting Christ means that they can do whatever they want and it won’t be considered a sin because they’re “forgiven.” I think we’re getting to enjoy the full measure of their crappiness and hatefulness already. The idea of hell is not really restraining them.

  73. norbizness

    Well, it’s better that the reformers exist than don’t exist. Unfortunately, the whole problem of the holy texts (which do exist as an entity) is that they were written 1400 years ago. I wouldn’t use a travel guide published only 75 years ago to see Europe, a medical book published 150 years ago to perform surgery, or an interpretation of the Constitution developed 200 years ago to get a primer on the legal rights of non-white non-property owning non-male persons.

    The usefulness of such a book would therefore be inversely proportional to its actual relation to common, everyday events and interactions. Talking about metaphysics is fine, because there’s no expiration date on fiction. At least modern science, on balance, has dispelled more myths than it has propagated. Although even it moves too slowly.

  74. Craig Ewert

    “(Muslim feminists! What’s next, “gay Republicans”?)”

    Log Cabin Republicans (cause maybe Lincoln was gay). I bet you knew that already.

    “Women’s liberation from patriarchal oppression depends on many things, but Job One is getting this tiresome God character off the air.”

    I agree that killing God is a good and necessary step, but it won’t even put a dent in patriarchy. To do that, you have to kill men. Or, if you have generations, breed women and refrain from breeding men. If you breed at all.

  75. Pony

    There’s no good answer to the problem of breeding. One thing I can think of this morning, just one, is that breeding, for those who vociferously defend it and wax on about how wonderful it is, this miracle of carrying another being within our wombs, bringing it to life, watching it waddle around saying cute feminist things (until it’s about six) and looking just like you, is that someone is going to have to support and nuture it until it can do so itself, and for some children that can mean never. Think on that. Think on the fact that this forever parent is almost always, virtually always, a woman. Animals know instinctively when there is something wrong with their young. They either don’t feed, or kill it.

    Can’t we all put our minds to finding an option to breeding?

  76. flea1

    …no female buddy movies…

    I always thought Muriel’s Wedding was one of the best female buddies movie ever.

  77. Branjor

    Unfortunately, Craig Ewert is right. Blaming the patriarchy’s for wimps. Patriarchy is not a natural phenomenon like grass or trees, it did not drop out of the sky like rain. It is not a real thing, but an abstraction. It does not “do” anything. It is the people who are behind it, who constructed it so that *they* could do things they would not otherwise be able to do. I blame men.

  78. Mary Sunshine

    Branjor said:

    “I blame men.”

    So do I, and for exactly the reasons that you stated.

    M.S.

  79. al

    I always thought Muriel’s Wedding was one of the best female buddies movie ever.

    I thought someone would bring that up after I hit ‘blame.’

    But, really–how long ago was Muriel’s Wedding? Oh yeh–1994. We’re hardly prolific.

  80. Mar Iguana

    “To do that, you have to kill men. Or, if you have generations, breed women and refrain from breeding men. If you breed at all.” Craig Ewart

    Yeah, that’ll happen. Feminism does not kill people. And, few women on Earth have the right to chose whether, what or if they breed.

  81. Jill

    “Isn’t that neat gals, what he/she/it just did there? Sheit took a class from and expert and now is an expert too. I love it.”

    Where did I say I was an expert? I shared my thoughts, just like everyone else here.

  82. Bewareofthegod

    Australia: packed with Parallel Universes
    …………………………………..

    I’m as startled by the country Aussie Liz lives in (less oppressive, more healthcare) as I am by Al’s version where we aren’t very religious.

    Well, maybe ‘we’ aren’t. But the Federal Government of Australia contains enough activist religious zealots to ensure that the discourses of power here are strongly faith-inflected. That faith is certainly entwined with the ascendancy of violent nationalism Al notes; I would just like to suggest here that they are not separate phenomena.

    Here are some dossiers on the religio-political backgrounds of various Australian pollies and movements:
    http://www.bewareofthegod.com/?cat=10

    …………………………………..

    And as for the country where Scratchy 888 lives, with the oppressive hives of lady bees, I haven’t been there, either.

  83. Infallible Female

    “There is no question that Allah is here to stay, so we must rely on women’s activism from within to dilute its toxicity to a level tolerable to its female supplicants and favorable to Western economic interests.”

    Obviously, all oppressed people (such as Islam’s “female supplicants”) deserve change for the better. But why “must” we hope that Islam’s “toxicity” is made more favourable to Western economic interests? It’s just that kind of attitude which exacerbates the whole *terror* situation. Besides, you seem usually to consider these economic interests to be synonymous with patriarchy (and hence to be your day-to-day enemy) anyway; until, that is, you see something you can hate even more.

    Most women deserve a far better deal than they are given by the established order. And so do most Iraqis, Afghanistanis, Pakistanis, et al. However, the plight of the latter can never justify terrorism and that of the former is not served by your insane rants. *You* are the enemy of free women and of peace.

  84. Cass

    And don’t take that as a compliment!

  1. Sod off, God! Week continues at I Blame The Patriarchy

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