God, are you a misogynist? On winning the war on women

The amount of violence in this world against women baffles me. Although we live in an age where there is an unprecedented number of women in power – e.g. first German chancellor Angela Merkel, USA second-time presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde, just to name a few – there continues to be a stark inequality prevalent in society between the male and female gender. Violence/inequality/fear – these are some of the words that pop up when I think about my female identity amid a developed, cosmopolitan city.

Violence

I exaggerate, you say. How could you feel these things when you live in Hong Kong? How does your experience even compare to say, a female villager living in the DRC facing the daily threat of rape while fetching water, or a schoolgirl risking her life to attend classes under the Taliban rule? It doesn’t compare. I can only imagine what it would be like to live under such oppression and assault, because I fortunately haven’t lived under such inhumane circumstances. But I can say that my hairs stand up and I am outraged on behalf of these women, for the everyday violence they face.

Violence against women exists even where I’m from too, just in a different form. To a lesser degree, yes, given that Hong Kong is one of the safest cities in the world. Yet have I felt the adrenaline rush and undulating fear when walking down a dark alley, anticipating some predator pouncing from the corner? Or the fear when taking a taxi at night alone, from a shiftier looking driver than average, driving recklessly while shouting profanities into his radio? Or the paranoia that my personal information or racier photos (if any) might land in the wrong hands and be publicised widely, as an attempt to shut me up for some indiscretion in the past? Yes. Do I have legitimate fear for all those scenarios? Am I being irrational? Prior, I know of a friend being been assaulted, a report about a missing girl, celebrities/movie stars or acquaintances whose personal data was publicised somewhere, “wall-shamed” or “wall-slutted” on Facebook, as an act of online retaliation. These are all examples that make me fear. It may be a more subtle form of violence, but enough to be a reminder that I am of the gender that is more prone to being hurt.

Reasons?

What is it about the human race that has made the case for women such a difficult one? Why have women been subject to greater violence and suppression than their male counterparts?

Biology, one can blame. Women have less strength – can that explain why rape is more prevalent for women? Or because women are the ones who have to bear children, which often backtracks everything from career advancement to personal growth? Or is it a further biological explanation that because women are the ones that bear any evidence of sexual activity (getting pregnant), before the age of DNA testing and forensics, that the male in the act can simply disappear if he so chose to? It’s the woman who bears the child, evidencing her link to it.

Religion, another obvious factor – the world’s major religions have a patriarchal perspective, some religions such as (certain denominations of) Christianity going as far as blaming women for the world’s sins – does that explain why women are perceived to have inherently lower status? A chicken and the egg question – is it because of women’s inherently weaker physical disposition that caused religious authoritative texts to be written as male-centric (Note: for those who believe that the Bible/other religious texts are God-breathed – please don’t get offended! This is merely a platform for discussion…questions from the perspective of someone who’s not religious)? Or is it because God indeed ordained women to have a lesser status than men, so that the current patriarchal world order is merely reflecting God’s will? From a Christian perspective, why should the wife obey the husband in a marriage anyway? Why should the man have the final say? Could Jesus have been a woman instead? If the Bible was written in a completely female perspective (e.g. Mother-daughter relationship and not father-son, praying to God as a “her”, having most of the prophets as female characters instead of male), would God’s grace and love be the same?

These are macro discussion points. The actual study of why women have the status they have today, and why women are subject to more violence than men, is an academic topic in itself. It’s multifaceted and complicated. Thus women’s studies and gender research – I’m no expert. But my own experience of being a woman is enough to confirm the frustrations of being constantly put down, measured, judged, and threatened with violence. I often wonder what it feels like to be a guy – or have a guy stand in my shoes for a day so that they’d understand the inherent injustices a woman faces.

Personally…

I can think of some personal examples. I detest the double standard for raising my brother and I, him having more freedom to travel and to travel with friends of the opposite gender without questions asked, where as I would face relentless scrutiny and interrogation. I absolutely detest how guys can display their sexual endeavours and claim them as trophies, boosting their confidence with their latest “conquests”, where as I have been taught always to watch my reputation, beware of my actions and guard my own “purity”. I don’t like how my figure, my skin, my looks matter so much more than my brother’s or my guy friends’. If they are unshaven or dressed shabbily it’s “scruffy”/”sexy”; if I forget to pluck an eyebrow or shave I’m “gross”/”not coping”. My own mother and well-meaning relatives constantly reminding me if I look good, tired, if I’ve grown fat, if my skin is breaking out. There is that tacit understanding that looks are a woman’s best weapon.

I guess in the end, I’m angry but also confused. These measures – having a double standard when raising me, reminding me to guard my own body, being ever-honest to me about how I look – are all ways that my mother (or dad, or relatives, where applicable) wanted to protect and care about me. But when I think of all this now I have an inexplicable anger, based the perceived unfairness of it all. Why do I have to worry about traveling alone? Why do I have to worry about getting raped when walking down deserted areas? Why are women the ones who bear the pain of childbirth, have period cramps, give up their careers to raise children, are the ones subject to closed doors in religious or educational endeavours?

It doesn’t make sense!

It just doesn’t add up in my mind. Women can’t be priests because the Church says so? Is it because Jesus was a man and God is supposedly a man too? Why couldn’t have God been a woman – if he is the alpha and the omega, the everything and the everywhere? Aren’t women a part of this world too? Why are women subject to more violence? Why is prostitution the oldest profession? Where are the gigolos?

God, are you a misogynist?

I’ve slowly developed the thought that if God were real, and if indeed, the bible is every word God-breathed, as certain Christian denominations preach, then God is one hell of a misogynist. Purely based on how he engineered women (weaker, by strength), how he punished Eve’s sin (by increasing her pain in childbirth – Genesis), or how he created a religion where women were often the film extras whereas the protagonist men went along to create historical world-changing moments (Moses, Noah, Job, Isaac, David, Joseph, Jesus, etc etc vs Deborah, Sarah, Rahab, Mary…and I’m out of examples). It could be my poor biblical knowledge but it’s hard to argue that the bible is very, very, man-centric. Oh right, but of course, the Bible was written by a bunch of men…wait, it may have been God-breathed/inspired, but at least, the scribes were men.

I don’t have any good answers. These questions are surfacing as I’m preparing to get married, and in a way I fear that I’ll lose parts of myself, becoming a wife, a daughter-in-law, a mother. Having children, expected to raise them well and judged if I don’t. Subject to a lifetime of unspoken yet present cosmopolitan violence, though it seems like getting married gives me a shield somewhat (the engagement ring seems to be a turn-off for certain types of guys – great news). My fiancé (and I’ve heard the same sentiments from guy friends), would rather have a son than daughter, because he fears the added responsibility that comes with protecting a daughter in this very violent, women-unfriendly world. Does that explain why in countries where the gender inequality is the worst (India? Mainland China?) that female infanticides happen at an alarming rate?

I want to have it all, but it seems I can’t really have it all. Some women can pull it off, and balance everything gracefully. I’m not sure I’m one of those lucky ones. I’m generally happy being a woman, and I can’t ask for more living in relatively gender equal Hong Kong, but can’t help but feel at times, having been jipped by evolution/God/nature.

Are you happy with the gender you’ve been assigned by birth?

Image credit BCCL and http://www.mensxp.com

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19 comments on “God, are you a misogynist? On winning the war on women

  1. Wow, pixie, you have a lot on your mind. Thank you for sharing. To answer your title question: No, God is not a misogynist. His enemy, however, is. And His enemy has been crafty enough to infest portions of the church and most of society.

    You wonder what it would have been like if God were a woman. Think about this: God created mankind in His image, male and female He created them. If both genders are created in His image, then His image must contain both genders. In Matthew 23 Jesus compared Himself to a hen who gathers her chicks.

    I do not think God shortchanged women by making us physically weaker. God gave man His strength and women His wisdom. Combined we represent His complete image. Working together, shoulder to shoulder, we represent Him. Our constant struggle is with the fact that God’s enemy does all he can to defile and deface God’s image. Plus he has a personal vendetta against women, which I wrote about in my post.

    To answer your last question: I am very happy with my gender. I always have been. I would much rather have more wisdom than strength. I see childbearing as a privilege rather than a liability. I remember when I found out I was pregnant. I was struck with awe and an overwhelming, joyful feeling of having been handed an honor and privilege straight from heaven. You might be surprised to feel that way when the time comes, too. I hope so.

    All the best to you pixie.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you trb, that was a very wise and graceful reply. I’ve never been pregnant, so I can’t say I understand, but I trust your experience of having had a wonderful pregnancy and enjoyed the experience. Friends who have gone through the same tell me something similar, and I weep with them when I see how happy they are. Being a mother is truly miraculous. Maybe it is the process of pain that brings so much unconditional love. But perhaps I’m squeamish and would much rather not go through the pain if avoidable. I’d take the epidural, and any type of medically assisted form of giving birth to lessen the pain and danger. In time I shall find out…

      Perhaps I’m often tripped up by the passage in Genesis where God hands down Eve’s (and all womenkind’s) punishment of purposely increasing her labour pains. I know he didn’t let Adam off the hook either and punished him with perpetual toiling of the fields to earn his living. But why with such venom? Why the punishment of subsequent generations? I have a thousand questions. I know Jesus supposedly comes and fixes everything, but why is God so angry and vengeful in the first place? Surely there’s a better way to teach your own creation rather than punish subsequent innocent generations? I wouldn’t want my parents to say, punish my children (aka their grandchildren, or later, great-grandchildren).

      I don’t believe in the devil, therefore can’t really place blame on him/it for the world’s problems. Plus if there really was a devil an omnipotent God should have been able to annihilate him easily. Why let him exist to continue the damage, defacing and defiling the very people he so loves? I think man has the power to do good and bad, and the good and evil is a choice he makes. Unfortunately man chooses to do bad as much as the good. It’s a fragile balance.

      So I guess the question is, assuming that in my world view there is no devil, and assuming there is a creator (God), why are women where they are at today? Will there ever truly be a day when the war on woman is “won”, and male and female exist under complete equality?

      On wisdom – I don’t disagree. Many a time I’ve seen women in my social circles proven to be wiser. But most people considered wise in this world are also men. So while strength is easy to observe/measure with a clear male winner, I’m not sure wisdom is as clear-cut between men and women.

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      • Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I have theories as to why God has not yet annihilated the devil but I do not want to bog down your comment section (plus you don’t believe in him) so perhaps I’ll share them in a future post.

        With regard to wisdom: Yes, men have wisdom and women have strength. Some men are wiser than your average woman and some women are stronger than your average man. Throughout Proverbs feminine pronouns (she, her) are used when talking about wisdom. The root Hebrew word that we translate as “Eve” has the connotation of speaking forth with wisdom. I’ll probably lay that out in a post, too, so stay tuned.

        I appreciate your thoughts and contemplations and I am wondering how you arrived at the conclusion that there is no devil. I find it impossible to separate belief in One from belief in the other. Since I find God to be all good, evil must have a source that is separate from Him.

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        • Thank you trb. We’ll let the wisdom point stand – I said I don’t disagree but I also won’t base my understanding on whether women are indeed wiser, on references in Genesis/Proverbs or the Bible alone. It’s a good reference point, but if there’s a scientific study about this, I’d be interested in reading about it and probably be more convinced.

          On the existence of the devil, I don’t think it needs to come hand in hand with God’s existence. God, assuming that he does exist, is all encompassing, all powerful – he alone is. My thinking: (assuming) God created the world. God is all good. Humans are created in God’s image, and supposedly should be, like God, all good. But God also gave humans free will. They can choose good from evil (I’ll source this from the tree of knowledge – which allows those who eat from it to tell good from bad). God created the tree of knowledge. God creates everything. God created good and evil. Adam took the fruit from the tree on prompting from Eve and could then tell that he was naked (an embarrassing, ‘bad’ thing). Eve’s choice to take the fruit was ultimately hers, as was Adam’s. It began with their desire to be as omnipotent as God himself. Good and evil existed in Adam and Eve themselves – already planted in them when they were made. They can be good. Or they can evil. It’s ultimately, their choice. God gave them that choice.

          The devil is a convenient way of explaining away the bad things that happen in this world. When we do evil, it’s on prompting from the devil and us giving in to his persuasion. When natural disasters happen, it’s doing of the devil. For all the good things and ‘miracles’ of this world, it is God’s hand. For all the bad, it’s the devil’s doing. It’s not a fair view. God created this world. He created everything. If there’s evil in this world, God created that too. God created both sides of the spectrum, in order to give humans free will to choose how to live.

          I’d rather believe that every person alone, as a separate entity, chooses to do good or bad. The bad is inherent in every person There is no prompting by a devil figure in the background. Every human being is given the capacity to choose (free will), and can elect good or bad. The consequences are based on the appropriateness of his choices.

          Ultimately, it’s a personal choice what to believe. I respect those who believe in the devil, and perhaps there are people in the world who have had first hand encounter with him. But I can’t really believe it until I see it.

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  2. “Ultimately, it’s a personal choice what to believe. ”

    I agree with this and I respect your well-articulated views. You seem to know the Bible quite well. I am guessing you were raised in the church, or perhaps in a parochial school.

    Just for clarification, I do not believe that natural disasters are always of the devil. In the case of the earthquake described in Numbers 16, it was from God.

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    • Thank you trb. I’ve gone through Numbers 16 and it’s clear that God opened the earth and brought fire to take those he deemed wicked. My question would be how does (or can) one discern whether that is the case in modern times? Whenever any religion deems that it’s the work of god bringing upon natural disaster to a people, I have trouble accepting, because often the innocent equally perish along with the supposedly wicked.
      I was brought up in the faith – baptist in fact – for a short while. The older I got, the more exploring and reading I did, and certain things didn’t add up. The overall faith relies on instilling fear and guilt to keep a community together. Yes, there is the overarching theme of love. But people’s weaknesses and selfishness often get the upper hand, resulting in an imperfect church body that preaches and practices imperfect (and like you occasionally point out, wrong) teachings.
      Reason and rationality – that should be our guiding stick. If God truly exists, the most rational of minds should be able to deduce him. I find it sad that certain denominations resort to brainwashing and coercing to make sense of literally interpreting the Bible: e.g. how old earth is, based on biblical deduction vs the true age of earth based on astrophysical deduction and scientific proof.

      That said, I remain interested in Christian theology – it shapes our modern world, affects laws, influences morality, changes behaviour. To ignore it would be to ignore an important building block of society. I’m not negating God, but I don’t believe in blind faith.

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  3. I wasn’t sure if to comment here, being new here etc, and being a guy but as I read the post in some instances I re-read just leaving the word Woman out, and I still think that it rings true. Your examples of course are valid ones, a female villager facing the threat of rape etc, but then there are also examples of boys in Africa being taken to become child soldiers.

    In saying that I am not trying to make light of violence against Women, indeed Violence against anyone is a concerning trait of human beings, from both Men and Women that portray unnecessary violence against other Men, Women, Boys, Girls and even animals.

    Suppression wise I think that is mainly down to middle eastern countries, from what I read religious beliefs in those countries do not generally have women at the top of the food chain so to speak and so that filters down, I cannot see there being a solution to that, least not in my lifetime. Of course in the west we have women hitting the “glass ceiling” in corporate environments and that is very much an attitude on the male big wigs. I wonder if as those old school cronies retire and die off and younger, maybe more open minded individuals step into those roles that things will not be so bad. Only time will tell on that one.

    The points you make under your “personally” area I completely agree with, I am not sure how those ever came about, I know I’ve probably been guilty of those same things when I was younger, I like to think I am more open minded now that I am an old man… erm I mean older.

    I don’t think it is gods fault though, mainly because I do not think that such an entity exists, I just have to look in the paper or on the news or seek out example like you have given here to know that, if god does exist then well they are just not very good at their job.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, thanks for the detailed reply, moi. You win a prize for reading and commenting so much on my blog! I think it’s healthy to have a perspective from the male side, so it’s great you jumped in. Agree, men face difficulties and atrocities too. They may not always be as ‘violent’ as what women face but it nonetheless is serious violence in some countries. Like trb pointed out above, men are the ones who have strength, and because of this they’ve been the ones traditionally drafted into war. Come to think of it, the whole “women and children” first (as in Titanic and various war movies) assumes that men are willing to, and should, die first, before women and children. So from that perspective, it seems like men’s lives are more … disposable. That isn’t very fair to men either. I guess if a guy wanted to write a post about all the things that get done wrong to him as being simply, male, he could too and he’d have a lot to say.

      I was trying to imagine a world where true equality exists – where women have all the conveniences and physical powers that men do – and see where the world will go from there, with a more balanced women perspective representing social norms. I still hold the view that worldwide, there seems to be a disproportional amount of violence against women.

      Regarding there being more women in leadership – I think it’s already happening, but seemingly not fast enough. In Hong Kong at least, women are now the majority in studies such as medical school, which are traditionally male dominated. If our laws on maternity leave are made more women friendly (I’m thinking like the Scandinavian countries if ever possible – many get up to a year’s worth maternity leave!), I would imagine they can make it to the top much more often than now in a few decades.

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  4. I’m not sure if God is misogynistic or not, but he surely seems to have an odd, rather biting, sense of humor… I have a slight quibble with your question – is gender really assigned by birth? Sex, yes, but gender, especially these days, is for many very fluid. As for my sex…yes! I thank God, misogynistic as he may be, that he assigned me to the male team. 😉 Great post again, pixie.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Kurt,
      Good point – ‘sex’ would perhaps be the more accurate word. In my writing I’ve used the two terms interchangeably, but if I’m writing in an academic context the distinction would be important.
      I was curious as to how ‘gender’ is used, and a quick wiki search lead to this: “[the distinction of gender and sex] is useful in principle, but it is by no means widely observed, and considerable variation in usage occurs at all levels” (American Heritage Dictionary 2000). So to the layperson, interchangeable use is common. It seems that ‘gender’ had been used historically to describe the biological male and female sex. Nowadays, however, in our gender diverse world, its use to describe “the proposed social and cultural constructions of masculinities and femininities” (wiki) is perhaps more fitting. Thanks for raising this important point.
      As to being happy with one’s sex, it’s great that you are. The challenge is to be happy with our given physiology and living a fulfilling life regardless of the sex we are assigned. It’s not always easy, especially given the historical and present suppression of women. But I think we’re at a much better place – at least in my city. I couldn’t imagine myself being born in an era were e.g. foot binding was mandatory for ladies.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, most don’t really understand what the term gender means. But when I find someone who really has something to say about the issue, it becomes important to me that it be used in the most correct way possible.

        As for being happy with my sex…all I know is that when my wife delivered our first child, I nearly passed out. I am not tough enough to be a woman.

        I like your style, pixie. I’d like to look for possible collaboration opportunities in the future. I have a human relations background and I intend to focus more on such issues in the future…mostly through guest contributors. Until then, I’m looking forward to visiting your site often and reading what you have to say about your perspective on life. It’s very interesting.

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