was reticent about writing on this subject, and I was going to comment on it
earlier this year when Senate hopefuls, Todd Akin, and Indiana State Treasurer,
Richard Mourdock came out with some crassly stupid remarks on the subject but
decided to leave it as a topic for another day, sure that it would come up
again but I never envisaged that it would be in such shocking terms.
death of the young woman in India from injuries sustained from a
violent gang-rape has sickened and shocked me, and I am not one who is easily
shocked. This young woman was stripped and gang-raped for an hour before
being badly beaten and then thrown into the street.
feel physically ill when I think of how utterly helpless and terrified she must
have been. The thing that is missing in relation to many discussions about
rape, is that very little attention paid to the long term effects and
aftermath. Over the years there has been a lot of nonsense written about
rape, mostly by people who know nothing about it. Some say that it has nothing
to do with sex that it is about power. I disagree, it is about sex and
power but it is also about immaturity, and cultural and religious
beliefs. The question has been asked many times, why do men rape?
Well, the simple answer to that is, because they can, and mostly because they
know they will get away with it. Just to clarify, when I say men, I mean it
only to denote male in gender because no real man would ever rape anyone and
would be abhorred by the idea of forcing themselves sexually on another human
being. The preoccupation with sex in our society merely reflects our own
immaturity in dealing with it, and is also reflected in the fact that almost
every woman I know has, at some point in her life, been sexually assaulted by a
man, the only difference is the degree to which it happened. I remember as
a teenager, even before the assault, being hunted like an animal by young men
who thought they had the right to manhandle me in any way they chose.
There was nothing extraordinary in this, it was almost a social norm.
attitude of the man who assaulted me and the men who assaulted this young woman
is exactly the same. It is two-fold, on the one hand it comes from their
overblown sense of entitlement, culturally they have been socialized to believe
they have the right to do and to take what they want. On the other hand, it can
reflect the religious and cultural belief that a woman is of less value than a
man. The Bible is often used to justify this belief and we saw it in action
recently in the vote against women bishops in the Church of England. The
Bible is an amazing book, it contains a lot of history and also a lot of truths
about humanity and our origins. But people have used it many times to
justify their own prejudices and to give credence to beliefs about the
superiority of men over women and other ridiculous ideas like Manifest Destiny
and the superiority of some ‘races’ over others. Within the Bible you could
find a passage to support any argument, just by virtue of the volume of
writings contained within it. We also need to remember that the Bible was put
together by men not God. It has been edited and re-written in part by several
Popes. Its texts are selective and reflect the times in which they were
written and what has been left out of the Bible is almost as significant as
what is contained within it.
these archaic cultural and religious ideas of a woman’s inferiority are still
prevalent throughout the world, even in supposedly more advanced
countries. It can be seen all around us from the extremism of the Taliban,
to the front benches of the present Government and again the only difference is
in how it manifests itself in action, is in degrees. We all remember Mr
Cameron’s patronising ‘calm down dear’ to Angela Eagle.
societies, ours included, has patriarchy as one of its foundations and when
something is that inherent it is very difficult to change. It was only recently
that the primogeniture rule in relation to the Crown was changed to allow a
first born female to be monarch.
caste system and the class system are no different in practice, they both
promote the idea of inferior and superior people. The most extreme case of
this was in Nazi Germany, which is often presented as an aberration in history,
a one-off event. This is a lie. Nazi Germany was the accumulation of
2000 years of bigotry and prejudice against the Jewish people, driven in the
greater part by the ‘Christian’ Churches. Again, I use that term lightly
because too often the Churches act in ways that are far from the Christian
really is time for a re-think on these issues but I don’t hold out much hope of
it happening soon. It would be wonderful if the horror of this incident
changed attitudes, maybe it will, but I think it will take a lot of time. I
do, however, take heart from the younger generations here
in Ireland where I see change happening and fathers being much more
involved in the care of their children than past generations.
long as we continue to create social hierarchies among people, as long as we
continue to bring up our males to believe in their superiority, as long as the
class and caste systems remain in place, and as long as these cultural and
religious beliefs go unchallenged, unfortunately, incidents like this will
continue to happen.
as usual, are welcome.