Your Daily Moment of Intolerance

The always-entertaining Steve H. of Little Tiny Lies rants about Islam and wife-beating.

You know what? There is such a thing as a dumb religion. There just is. If saying that makes me a bigot, so be it. In this case, that’s a badge I can wear with honor.

*sigh* I try to be tolerant, I really do. And then I go and read something like this. Well, I try to read, and then I get sickened.

Moral equivalency my ass. I can’t think of any other contemporary religion whose media and prominant spiritual leaders tell men how to beat their wives. You can’t say it’s the “lunatic fringe”, because it’s not. Nor is it a “misinterpretation” – it’s in the flippin’ Koran. It’s what millions are being taught is the right thing to do.

Yeah, religion can be harmful. Some more than others. I know there are athiests out there who can’t wait to see the day when all religions are gone. Me, I’ll wait till the one that gives us honor-killings, wife-beating, “female circumcision”, and suicide bombings is gone before I start bitching too much about the lesser offenders.

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  1. Islam has to go. I’ve been considering making a post along these lines for some time.

    Judaism, I actively like. Christianity.. well.. we’re not on speaking terms right now, but it could be worse..

    It could be Islam.

    I remember, after 9/11, when there were so many claims that Al-Qaeda was perverting the original religion.. that it was really a “peaceful religion”. Yeah. Right.

  2. *wave*

    Hi Avdi. I’m Joel. (Boy)friend of Laurie’s. Pleasedtomeetcha.

    Not to open a HUGE can of worms here, and I’m not precisely going to play Devil’s Advocate either.

    Assume (for just a moment) that you believe that a woman should be submissive to her husband. I think I should state “genuinely submissive”, which means this is a role she has been trained to fill.

    Modern society, of course, utterly rejects such a concept, but most religions advocate it (though the advocation may be either re-interpreted or rejected by modern-day society of course).

    But assuming that both you and your wife believed it, than these principles of beating take on, in fact, an almost BDSM-like cast. You do not beat to excess, you do not beat to harm, you do not beat to cause damage, etc. The goal is to admonish and correct.

    Now, of course, plenty of people would reject BDSM itself as a sick, perverted idea, so its not as if it gives poor Islam any ground to stand on. My point, however, is that there’s a modern-day, religiously-neutral behavior that seems to follow many of the same conditions.

    NOt that this means I’m an advocate of the practice–far from it.

    1. Good point.

      If I had any reason to believe (and I don’t think you’re suggesting it) that a Muslim woman’s entrance into marriage constituted a considered, uncoerced, freely-entered-into agreement to a dominant/submissive relationship with certain well-understood bounds, I would have nothing against it. Unfortunately, with possible rare exceptions in the West (where an educated woman usually has access to a wide range of ideas about marriage), that’s not what it is. In most cases a Muslim woman would be taught from a young age that submissive is the only legitimate, moral role for a woman to play in a marriage (or in society for that matter). The overwhelming societal pressure and lack of opposing influences constitutes coercion, in my opinion.

      It’s interesting that you should bring that up. I’ve recently thought that, from what I understand of it, most married couples could learn a lot from BDSM even if they never practiced it. What people who practice BDSM understand is that a consensual, well-defined power exchange with explicit limits can be mutually beneficial. Traditional marriage arrangements in any cultures constitute a consensual, well-defined (by tradition) power exchange with *implicit* limits. If you live in a purely traditional community, everybody understands the implicit tradeoffs and boundaries.

      In modern Western society, things have gotten so mixed up, that we have many conflicting ideas of what kind of tradeoffs and boundaries constitute a marriage. This in itself is not the peoblem. The problem is, in an environment where the definition of marriage is in flux, people still go by the traditional behavioral pattern where the meaning of marriage is assumed right up to the altar, with no need to talk about it. More often than not, it turns out that the two individuals getting married had at least partially conflicting assumptions about what their respective roles would be in the marriage. Even worse, usually neither of them has ever really thought it through at all, and they both harbor conflicting ideas within their own heads. For example, a woman will assume a traditional power tradeoff where her husband man has final say on big decisions, in return for assuming the responsibility if they turn out to be wrong – but then she will also subconsciously resent that arrangement because she’s a modern, liberated woman. Which leads to outbursts and sulks whose origin he can’t begin to fathom.

      BDSM practitioners understand that in a world of infinite possibilities, you have to be very explicit when setting up an exchange of power. I think a lot of the stress in modern marriages stems from the fact that the two people involved have different assumptions about the “correct” tradeoff of power in their relationship, and neither of them has taken the time to really think about, let alone articulate, that expectation.

      1. I think you’ve hit on something very important. One of the advantages of a traditional society is, in fact, that you know your role. This is not to say that those kept in underpriviledged / weak roles are happy about it (we don’t want to perpetuate the myth of the happy Southern slave, so to speak), but there IS a sense of “the way things are supposed to be.” In Western culture this idea is defined as the great chain of being, originally set forth in the Bible. Even Hobbes, when he wrote “Leviathan”, put a featureless human on the front, its body composed of myriad smaller people.

        In modern society, though, we are simultaneously yanked in at least two directions, and more often three, four, or five. We claim to have improved the situation for women “You can have a career or you can have a family”, but in reality we’ve made it, in some senses, far more difficult. Now women often feel presssured to perform as breadwinners (especially in dual-family incomes) and yet simultaneously feel the natural need to breed.

        Once upon a time we judged a woman as a mother and a man as an earner. This was hard enough. Now we judge a woman as both. I know girls who feel guilty because they aren’t mothers AND careerists.

        For thousands of years we claimed motherhood as a job, a sacred responsibility, a career-unto-itself. Now we put simultaneous pressure on women to have successful careers as well.

        Am I implying (even a little) that women shoudl be forced back into the home? Of course not. But we’ve designed massively conflicting roles for ourselves. Men, on the other hand, are supposed to be lumberjacks of machismo while remaining the Tom Hanks of sensitivity. We’ve eroded the civic and public institutions that once informed our conception of what it meant to be active in society, and replaced them with very little.

        Getting (at least slightly) back on topic, your points about BDSM and marriage are well-made. From my limited experience / observation, BDSM relationships encourage and require a great deal more communication than is present in many “vanilla” relationships. Of course the cynic in me might argue that this is because there’s so much more drama to navigate in the gothic / fetish crowd.

        “I’m so goth i don’t paint my nails black, I smash them with a hammer.”


        Anyway, before I condemned Islam for wife-beating, I’d want to know just how many practiced it. The bible, after all, does make some pretty evil statements about treating other people certain ways, but modern interpretations of Christianity tends to gloss them over or vague them out. If wife beating IS prevalent in the Islamic world, I’m not real inclined to be favorably disposed to it.

        1. I’m so goth i don’t paint my nails black, I smash them with a hammer.

          One day a long time ago I was at the bookstore, and an older guy noticed my nails and said “Wow, that must have hurt!”. I explained it was just nailpolish. He was very understanding.

          I’d want to know just how many practiced it

          True. I have an impression from past reading that it’s widespread, but I can’t really back that up with hard figures. I suspect it’s one of those things that’s not easy to gather accurate statistics on. It does seem that if it’s accepted by popular religious leaders and in the Arab media, it would be fairly widespread.

          1. One day a long time ago I was at the bookstore, and an older guy noticed my nails and said “Wow, that must have hurt!”. I explained it was just nailpolish. He was very understanding.

            *goes to get you a stapler – for easy hand/forehead stapling*

          2. What an interesting icon. What does a quote from Princess Bride have to do with that picture?

          3. It’s from a Buffy/Princess Bride icon set made by a friends of mine.

        2. “I’m so goth i don’t paint my nails black, I smash them with a hammer.”

          Now *there’s* an idea. (KIDDING!)

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