“Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak: but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.”
I Corinthians 34
The misogyny of the christian churches is yet another reason that governments should not keep pouring money into these corrupt institutions, strengthening their grip at the core of society. We must speak out.
The Cross was cranky last week that the Qld Government released a tender for a domestic violence shelter designed so that only the major Catholic organisation on the very short list of those invited to respond could conceivably win it.
Last week’ essay revolved on the theme that Governments should not support an organisation that has been proven time and time again to abuse the defenceless individuals supposedly in its care.
Governments resist this simple logic because large institutions can meet government reporting requirements. In the same way that small businesses buy from small businesses and large corporations buy from each other, governments prefer large organisations with similar reporting regimes and economies of scale.
The Cross argues that governments must overcome this tendency because large institutions inherently put the interests of the institution ahead of the individual. Community organisations are inherently less corruptible, if more difficult to deal with, because they are beholden to the communities which they serve.
That whole argument leaves out the historical misogyny of the christian churches. This specific, damning history of persecution makes it totally inappropriate for christian institutions to be involved in any way in the protection of women.
Cardinal Pell, who is yet to appear before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Sexual Abuse, told 9,000 young Christians gathered in Sydney in 2002 that they should defend the church against criticism for its institutional protection of the paedophiles in its hierarchy by noting that “Abortion is a greater crime than sexual abuse.”
Asked to justify this statement in a number of subsequent interviews he argues that abortion results in death where as sexual abuse does not. Death may be the greater sin in the eyes of the church but the victims of abuse who chose suicide over a life of shame and pain, were obviously driven by different priorities.
Pell’s logic runs on the same well-worn road to abuse of women as infamous atheist John Dawkins and the disgraced catholic PM of Australia, Tony Abbott who compounded his abuse of privilege by appointing himself Minister for Women. You, Dear Reader can match the quotes to the misogynist.
“Rape by someone known to the victim is clearly less of a crime than rape by a stranger.”
“This notion that a women’s right to say No somehow trumps a man’s desire for sex needs serious reconsideration.”
In all cases the woman is expected to give up her rights as an individual to serve the interests of men because it is assumed that this is her role.
The churches’ fundamental justification for this goes back to Genesis where women are created by God from Adam’s Rib to accompany men.
Paul explicitly refers to that in his epistle to the Corinthians exhorting men not to cover their head in church “Forasmuch as he is the glory and image of God: but the woman is the glory of man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.”
And so the fear of Women, Floods and Blood has been institutionalised and practiced throughout religious history. Karl Theweleit would nod sagely at last week’s news that the Hindu Sabarimala temple is banning women until a “period detector” is invented that can determine “when it is the right time for women to enter the temple”.
We do not need to invoke Dan Brown’s unhistorical quote that “Church inquisitors, with Malleus Maleficarum in hand, burned five million women at the stake”. Others put the figure at nine million or more.
More rigorous scholarship points out the petty nature of evil.
Lyndal Roper in Witch Craze: Terror and Fantasy in Baroque Germany, for example, writes:
“The Malleus Maleficarum or Witches Hammer is indeed a spectacularly misogynistic and twisted book, compiled by the Dominican inquisitors Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger, published in 1486 and an essential guidebook and inspiration for witch hunters throughout Europe.
“The facts, though are that it was not a sweeping, coordinated effort to exert control by a major historical player, but … a collaboration between lower-level authorities and commonfolk succumbing to garden-variety pettiness, vindictiveness, superstition and hysteria.”
And so we see, again, that the implicit institutional acceptance and support of a fundamental prejudice unleashes hatred and murder at the extremes and an insidious, institutionalised terror in the mainstream.
Howard’s implicit support of Pauline Hanson begat Abbot’s official misogyny and misanthropy which, in turn, begat Reclaim Australia and the vilification of Islam, homosexuals and feminism on the streets.
And so, police sergeants, local magistrates, and well-meaning volunteers in church run organisations refuse to listen to or support women attempting to leave violent partners. It is not that these people support wife beating or murder, it is just that they do not make the connection between the assumption of male privilege and the terrible abuse of women that has seen two women a week murdered by their partners in Australia this year.
The same failure to join the dots leads to the refusal of abortions, the closure of family planning clinics and rape crisis centres. Women who are not serving the interests of society by conforming to the demands of men are not deserving of respect and therefor the support of official institutions.
This is the key to Dawkins statement on random rape by strangers. Rape within a relationship only hurts the woman, rape on the street endangers not only the victim but the status of her husband and children as well. As the man’s property and bearer of his bloodline her rape causes harm to others.
All the more frightening then, that a female premier, with a cabinet of eight women and seven men can continue to compound these errors by pandering to the church and continuing the handouts that keep the church at the centre of our social injustice system.
There are secular organisations, starved of funding, explicitly established to break these traditional prejudices. We should be supporting them.
[Interact with The Cross at https://www.facebook.com/Crossycrosscross/]