Monday, May 12, 2008

Comment of the Day

The finest summary of the problem, ever, from commenter Interrobang on PZ Myers' post recounting the repulsive story of an "honor" killing in Iraq:

People don't act this way because they are men.

Half right. They act that way because the culture has told them that because they're men, they're entitled to police what women do with their bodies, and that women aren't really human the way they are, so killing them carries approximately the same moral weight as getting rid of a malfunctioning machine.

This is seriously not an Islam-specific thing. We simply don't hear about the cases that happen every single day where women are tortured, raped, beaten, and killed by men for not conforming to the men's arbitrary standards. In our culture, we don't hide it behind a religious euphemism; we call it "domestic violence," and most people insist that it's a personal problem, rather than the inevitable, cultural result of a society that continually others and dehumanises women, and places men in the role of enforcing women's gender conformity.

When "honour killings" happen in Western society, we shrug our shoulders and call it "child abuse" or wonder what she was doing marrying that abusive loser in the first place, and asking "Why didn't she just leave?" Pointing this up as though it's specifically to do with Islam is misleading and mendacious; Islam simply provides a different sort of cover story to the standard Western narrative(s).

Incidentally, fundamentalist Christians would openly do this -- and claim it was part and parcel of their religion -- if they thought they could get away with it. They've been working hard, actually, to try to change the laws so that they can. (For a really scary time, look up "Christian discipline" and "voluntary slavery.")

I have nothing to add.


Jeff said...

We were in an Amish restaurant in Florida when we asked our waitress why all the Amish women wore little white caps on their heads. She said it was to show woman's subservience to men; we lost our appetites.

I'm Roman Catholic and believe it or not, but the nuns are leading the charge for equality in the Church.

Now if people could only understand the decision of abortion belongs to the person who owns that particular body.

Ever notice it's always the "losers" who want to control other people BY LAW?

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the reference you site is not very informed about dishonor killings. They have different origins, different modus operandi, different solutions than other forms of violence against vulnerable people.

Ellen R. Sheeley, Author
"Reclaiming Honor in Jordan"

Boltgirl said...

FWIW, a link to Ellen Sheeley's letter to the King of Jordan re: honor killings.