Recently, a geeky-looking guy, who goes by the name of Cardinal George, made some ignorant remarks about women’s health issues, a subject I’m certain he knows nothing about.
The Cardinal is basically a middle manager, running the Chicago-area franchise of a huge Italian corporation – the Catholic Church. According to the terms of his employment contract, he can’t engage in any carnal activity with women. He’s not allowed to cop a feel, plant a kiss on a woman’s sweet spot, or spend quality time with the ladies in any way, shape or form.
Yet, despite having no experience with women’s bodies, he has license to tell women what they can and cannot do with their bodies.
Now, I understand that Cardinal George doesn’t have much leeway when making public statements on certain subjects, like abortion and birth control. For all I know, his private feelings on those subjects may be completely different than the party line handed down by the Vatican.
Still, the Cardinal is a company man, a loyal employee of long standing. He didn’t get to be a Cardinal by contesting company policy. Whenever there’s a point of contention regarding church policy, Cardinal George will parrot the company line – a line that’s barely changed since the Middle Ages.
The Catholic Church is not alone in its patronizing and demeaning attitude towards women. Many of the world’s religions, especially the ones which came to prominence in the last 2,000 years, treat women as inferior beings.
In certain fundamentally religious Muslim societies, women have virtually no public life. They’re not allowed to drive, attend school or take a walk in a park without a male family member in attendance.
Even worse, in my opinion, is the fact that some Muslim women are forced to conceal their faces and bodies, making it very difficult to ogle them. If I’m in the right mood I don’t mind a woman wearing a sexy veil with her high heels and teddy, but some of the Faithful takes things a bit too far.
For example, there’s a hideous garment called a Burka that covers a woman from head to toe. In essence, a Burka erases every trace of a woman’s humanity and individuality. Instead of a living, breathing, vital human being, a woman in a Burka becomes a non-entity, an object with no visible distinction. I guess some men like it that way.
Religiously sanctioned polygamy seems to be another bad deal for women. A man with four or five wives is apt to be less emotionally invested in each wife. That said, I do feel a bit envious of the bigamously inclined.
I once asked the lovely Mrs. Milo if she would mind very much if I married three or four other women and moved them into the house.
“Sure, honey, whatever you want.”
“Did you hear what I just said?”
“I wasn’t really paying attention.”
When I repeated the question, she laughed and said, “No offense, Milo, but I doubt there’s three or four other women on this planet that would be foolish enough to marry you.”
I asked myself, what does God have against women? What have women ever done to piss the Big Guy off? Why do so many religions treat women unfairly?
The answer, of course, is that God has nothing to do with it.
The major religions were started by men. The Apostles, the early Popes and all the priests were male. Mohammed was a man. Joseph Smith, founder of the once-polygamous Mormons was a man. The Bible and the Koran were written by men. Church and Mosque policies have always been set by men. Males of the species wrote the rules a long time ago and women have had to live with the consequences ever since.
Not only were these religions dominated by men, they were dominated by men of their times. And those times were the Dark Ages, one of the dreariest, least enlightened periods in human history. Hardly anyone got a fair shake in those days, especially women. Thomas Hobbes wrote about those dreadful times, saying, “…the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”
It was probably a worse life for women, if the religious guys had anything to say about it.
Times have changed and the ages aren’t quite as dark. Maybe it’s time to revisit the rules.
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