Friday, April 6, 2012

If I Were Christian, I'd Probably Hate Women Too

I am no religious scholar. Unlike even most people I know who are now atheists, I did not grow up with religion. The closest we ever got to magical thinking in my house was when my mom needed a break and would tell me to go look for four-leaf clovers in the back yard so that I might meet a leprechaun who would grant me wishes. Not that my relatives didn't attempt conversion- when I was 7, one of my Uncles even gave me some book on tape of "Stories from The Bible for Children"- which I actually liked (the Old Testament part, anyway.)- but it was coincidentally at the same time that I was super fascinated with the stories of Greek gods and goddesses. They were basically the same jam as far as I was concerned. 

I guess I was a pretty swift kid.

Not knowing much about Christianity in America is sort of like someone not ever having seen an episode of Saved by The Bell. It's a whole cultural zeitgeist that I just really don't get and am not a part of. While I don't think (at all) that all Christians hate women- prejudice is just as much a form of magical thinking as anything else and I don't see how it's much different than thinking you have psychic powers- I think that when Christians do hate women, it comes from a deeper place than I can really comprehend.

I started thinking about this after the "Women as Livestock" bill passed in Georgia. That's the one where women are going to be forced to carry stillborn fetuses to term (because, um, according to Rep. Terry Englund, if cows and pigs do it, women should have to as well). The whole thing was pretty jarring to me, because, I mean, not only is it cruel, but it also seems entirely pointless. I mean, even if you're against abortion... why would you want someone to carry a stillborn fetus to term? What good does that do anyone? I spent a lot of time thinking about it, because the hardest truth about people is that no one ever thinks they're being the bad guy. And then I realized- it wasn't about the fetus... it was about righteously punishing the women. For being women.

This may sound like I'm exaggerating. And I'm not saying this is a viewpoint all Christians ascribe to- from what I can tell for the most part, everyone just sort of makes their own version of religion anyway- and there are certainly Christian feminists. Given my relative ignorance of religion, I'm hesitant to go about speculating. Still, I have to think that if you really believed that we'd all be immortal beings prancing around in paradise right now were it not for some broad fucking shit up by eating an apple, if you really believed that the painful childbirth was the price women were supposed to pay for this, then maybe you'd have a bit of a chip on your shoulder too. Maybe you'd be mad that women were trying to avoid "justice." 

"To the woman he said, I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in sorrow you shall bring forth children; and your desire shall be to your husband, and he shall rule over you."

From what I can tell, women are the Big Bad of the Bible. You've got one over here cutting some dude's magical strength giving hair, another dancing around with scarves ordering a holy man's head on a platter, whatever it was that Jezebel did (I feel like it involved wearing make-up?), some other chicks getting their dad blitzed and then raping him, that dude's wife turning around and then getting herself turned into a pillar of salt. There are female demons, but all the angels are men. It seems there are a lot of stories about women using their sexuality to destroy and manipulate men somehow. A woman's sexuality is fine when it's a thing controlled by men- for instance if you want to offer your daughters up to the townfolk for rape, or have your wive's handmaid bear your child, or magically rape a virgin so that she can give birth to the savior of humanity. That's all well and good, and you are a wonderful and holy man. The problems arise when women take matters into their own hands. 

It's not something entirely specific to Christianity. After all, in Greek Mythology it was also a woman who unleashed all the badness in the world. But no one grows up thinking that story is true. I feel like growing up with these stories, with this mindset, must have a kind of an effect on a person. Because I think that when they imagine a teenager being pregnant out of wedlock, they don't see someone in an unfortunate circumstance. They see her as a vixen who used her evil sexuality to seduce a poor defenseless man and is thus being rightfully punished by god. To try to avoid that punishment is an affront to god himself. 

I could be wrong here, and I'm sure there are other factors at work. I'm not a mind reader so maybe Rep. Englund and everyone else freaking the hell out over women making choices these days have other reasons for being so fucked up. But this is at least a possibility.