Monday, November 26, 2012

Conservatives' War Against Women Started A Long Time Ago


Last night we saw how the GOP seems to have learned not a thing from the drubbing women voters gave them in the election earlier this month. But misogyny is a worldwide problem, a very old habit of conservatives and one that will take a very long time to break. Their War Against Women has helped define what conservatives are, going back a very long way in man's history. Last week we saw the uproar in the Church of England when the Church's Synod decided-- against the wishes of Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, retiring Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams and the next Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby-- that women priests are not qualified to become bishops. That was big news worldwide. A mob of Egyptian men in Tahrir Square attacking 3 women and ripping off their clothes was less reported.
On Friday, as tens of thousands converged on the main Egyptian square in Cairo, more and more reports of sexual assaults against women once again came to fruition.

One incident that sparked a fervor of worries occurred near the Pizza Hut on Mohamed Mahmoud Street, with dozens of men allegedly brutally assaulting a woman on the street. According to a doctor, the woman was the victim of “mass rape.”

...Sunday is also the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

As crowds continue to maintain positions in Tahrir in opposition to President Mohamed Morsi’s decrees that put him above the rule of law, women’s safety is again a growing concern.

Unfortunately, this is a never-ending problem facing Egyptian women when large demonstrations are called for in central Cairo.

In June, an anti-sexual harassment demonstration organized by over 20 Egyptian women’s groups in protest against the recent escalation of assaults in Cairo’s Tahrir Square was attacked about an hour and half after it began by unknown troublemakers.

The participants reported being attacked by a mob of “thugs” who attempted to throw rocks and glass at them, but the clash was over quickly as volunteers securing the protest intervened to stop it.

This was not the first time a women’s rights march was attacked in Tahrir Square.

Last March, and on International Women’s Day, a march of tens of women was attacked by a cynical mob of men who did not like women protesting for more rights.

Several female protesters were injured and one woman had to have 8 stitches in her head. Almost all of them were groped and sexually assaulted in the attack.

A 2008 study by the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights (ECWR) found that well over two-thirds of Egyptian women are sexually harassed daily in the country.

The participants held signs that read “It is my right to protest safely,” “Groping your sister is shameful for the square” and “Be a man and protect her instead of harassing her.”
I'm finishing up on one of historian Tom Holland's earlier books, Millenium-- The End of The World And The Forging of Christendom and he chances by a scene from the Egyptian Middle Ages that presages what went on in Tahrir Square last week. The Fatimid dynasty in Cairo-- the descendants of the Prophet Mohammed's daughter Fatima--fancied themselves the gatekeepers of the end of days and in the late 900s the Caliph, al-Hakim bin Amr Allah was working on reordering their world and getting ready for the end by doing some strange things-- like banning the playing of chess and the selling of watercress. And he ordered every single dog in Cairo killed. The corpses were dumped in the desert but what pious Muslim could object "when everyone knew the creatures to be unclean. Or indeed against his campaign to check the potentially even filthier appetites of women?"
A conviction that these merited regular chastisement had often been a caliphal trait: of Abd al-Rahman, for instance, it was said that he had never visited his harem without a sword and an executioner's leather mat. Even when set against such precedents, however, al-Hakim's terrors of where female promiscuity might lead the faithful were extreme. So too his plans to counter them. First he ordered women everywhere to be veiled when out in public; then he banned them from leaving their homes; finally he forbade them even so much as to peer out of windows or doors. Cobblers were instructed to stop making them shoes. Those whose voices disturbed the Caliph as he walked through the streets might expect to be walled up and left to starve.
I haven't found any evidence of caliphs demanding vaginal ultrasounds though-- or countenancing rapes of their own women as the will of God.

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At 11:07 PM, Blogger John said...

Drubbing by women voters?

R-money got basically the same amount of votes as McCracked (59mil) and Obama got about as many as he did in 2008 MINUS the 5.6 million votes that KKKarl Rove said he was aiming to suppress.

If women (50+% of the population) had done any effective electoral drubbing, wouldn't we have seen an even more lopsided outcome?

John Puma

At 11:40 AM, Anonymous Lee said...

My daughter took off a semester to travel by herself in the middle east.She left Egypt 3 weeks before the first uprising.I'm glad I didn't hear about some of the things that happened to her till she got home. She narrowly missed being raped in a taxi.

She found it was impossible to be a woman traveling alone. So she found two other male back packers to travel with. And even walking down the street with male companions was not pleasant (She speaks Arabic so she understood what was being said)
It's going to take a long time to change these attitudes and behaviors.


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