Down through the ages women have experienced domination and often violence at the hands of men. This violence has appeared in different forms: physical, psychological, legal, financial and religious.
One of the most horrific recent examples was highlighted in a trial in Cleveland this past week. A 52-year-old man had kidnapped three teenage girls and kept them captive for ten years, bound by chains, raping and beating them. He was indicted on 139 counts of rape, 177 counts of kidnapping, seven counts of gross sexual exploitation, three counts of felonious assault, and one count of possession of criminal tools. He will spend the rest of his life in prison.
More frequently this war against women is experienced in other ways. In workplaces women confront glass ceilings and the denial of equal pay for equal work. In homes they often have to cope with domineering husbands and a lack of marriage equality. And in our nation they discover other powers and principalities trying to gain control over their bodies and uteruses. In too many places fetal personhood trumps the personhood of women.
One factor that gives this war on women such potency can be found in its religious history. Church fathers and patriarchs down through the years have demeaned women as inferior, and this has had an impact on women’s lives in the church, family, and wider society. Following are some examples:
“Every woman should be filled with shame by the thought that she is a woman.” — Saint Clement of Alexandria.
“In pain shall you bring forth children, woman, and you shall turn to your husband and he shall rule over you. And do you not know that you are Eve? God’s sentence hangs still over all your sex and his punishment weighs down upon you. You are the devil’s gateway, you are she who first violated the forbidden tree and broke the law of God. It was you who coaxed your way around him whom the devil had not the force to attack. With what ease you shattered that image of God: Man! Because of the death you merited, even the Son of God had to die... Woman, you are the gate to hell.” — Tertullian.
“Woman was merely man’s helpmate, a function which pertains to her alone. She is not the image of God but as far as man is concerned, he is by himself the image of God.” — Bishop of Hippo Regius.
“What is the difference whether it is in a wife or a mother, it is still Eve the temptress that we must beware of in any woman...I fail to see what use woman can be to man, if one excludes the function of bearing children.” — Saint Augustine.
“The word and works of God is quite clear, that women were made either to be wives or prostitutes.” — Martin Luther.
“Wife: Be content to be insignificant. What loss would it be to God or man had you never been born.” — John Wesley.
“The root of masculine is stronger, and of feminine weaker. The sun is a governing planet to certain planets, while the moon borrows her light from the sun, and is less or weaker.” — Joseph Smith.
“The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” — Pat Robertson.
Misogyny has been alive and well for many years.
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This column is sponsored by Cumberland Countians for Peace and Justice and dedicated by the local writers to the theme that the lion and the lamb can and must learn to live together and grow in their relationship toward one another to ensure a better world. Opinions expressed in “Lion and the Lamb” columns are not necessarily those of the Crossville Chronicle publisher, editor or staff. For more information, contact Ted Braun, editor, at 277-5135.