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The Religious Oppression of Women

The Religious Oppression of Women

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I know a lot of people won’t like what I have to say in this article, this is your warning to stop reading right now before I offend you. Truthfully, if you read this entire column and your response is anger towards me, I want you to know you’re a part of the problem, BUT if you open your mind to a different perspective, perhaps you can be a part of the solution as well.

Do you remember the archaic practice of making a woman apologize in front of her church’s congregation for being pregnant out of wedlock? In my country, the practice is not as common anymore, but it was very popular in my parents’ generation. Interestingly enough, this practice goes back to slavery time. Back then, after the woman was thoroughly “shamed” for being impregnated out of wedlock, she was embraced by the tribe, so that she may feel their love and support for her and her unborn child. It is not shocking that black churches would embrace this practice, as the Bible often places a lot of importance on marriage and the atonement of sins. However, what I find fascinating is that men were not subjected to this same treatment. As a matter of fact, men are almost never socially punished for abandoning their children. Somehow, in our twisted society a woman having sex before marriage brings more shame than a man abandoning his own flesh and blood.

No one likes to admit it, but most religions including Christianity have a pattern of blaming women for simply existing. Even in the story of Genesis, many pastors preach that it was Eve who damned us all by eating the apple and that her punishment was painful childbirth. However, Adam was there when she took the apple and he ate it as well, Eve did not force Adam, nor did she lie to him.

Yet, the story has been moulded to place the blame squarely on Eve and by extension all women. A second example would be Deuteronomy chapter 22, which speaks about male rapists paying 50 shekels (the price of a bride) to the family of their rape victim. The victim would often marry her rapist to restore honour to the men in her family. Could you imagine marrying someone who violated you? I know I am viewing these biblical stories with a modern mind, but these stories form the very bedrock of our society. They still dictate much of our lives as they are used to write our laws and shape our morality.

We live in a world where to this day, women are stoned to death for being raped. To bring this closer to home, we live in a country where two men can confess to raping a minor and walk free. It is time we started holding men accountable for their sins. I am not asking you to question your Bible, I am asking you to read the words with fresh perspective. Quite frankly, it is exhausting being female, and I wish I were born with a penis. Many men believe that being a woman is simply putting on nice clothes and doing your hair. The truth is we both have it hard because of patriarchy, and the only way to fix it is to hold men accountable for their toxic behaviour. Let us also not forget the women who raise vile sons and protect them from retribution. I see you, the world sees you, and we will not forgive you.

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