Monday, January 07, 2008

When Violence Against Women Is A Must

Via feministe, I learned about this opinion piece published in Yemen:

There Must Be Violence Against Women

This title may sound strange, but it's actually not just a way to attract readers to the topic because I really do mean what it indicates. Violence is a broad term, especially when used regarding women. In this piece, I want to shed light on those instances where violence against women is a must.

The author then goes on to explain the relationship of some Koran verses to both wife beating and the physical disciplining of daughters and sisters by fathers and brothers.

The article concludes:

Dear readers – especially women – don't think that I hate or am against women; rather, I simply mean to preserve the morals and principles with which Islam has honored us.

I hope my message is clear, since it's really quite relevant to the future of our societies, which must be protected from any kind of cultural invasion.

Note the reference to "cultural invasion." It's a way of linking feminism to Western imperialism, a way of implying that the culture which is to be protected is one which is based on the ability of men to beat women who endanger it. That the women don't have the same right to discipline the men who endanger the native culture is not mentioned, probably not even realized by the writer.

Two other things are worth mentioning about this opinion piece. One has to do with the idea, common in the past around the Mediterranean region, that the honor of a family is buried in the vaginas of its women. Thus, when a woman "misbehaves" she destroys the family honor. This is the justification for honor killings, but it is not something coming from the Koran but from a cultural tradition. Sadly, as the vaginas move around whenever the women move around, the only really safe way of guarding the family honor is by sequestering its women.

The second thing worth mentioning is that whenever the Christian fundamentalists talk about protecting the traditional family they have something a little related in mind. The family is so important that it doesn't really matter if certain of its members, such as the women (and often the children, too), get forced into subservience. It's as if "family" consists of the family patriarch, pretty much. But it's certainly true that the acceptable level of physical violence to guarantee the survival of the traditional family is considerably less in most Christian sects today.