Dispatch #42 August 6th 2018
Day 648 Post-Ascendency of White Supremacy & Misogyny
Day 573 Post-Installation of White-Supremacist-Misogynist-Pussy-Grabbing-Self-Aggrandizing-Demagogic-Bully-Illegitimate-PeeeOTUS & his White-Nationalist-Fascistic-Christian-Supremacist-Quislings
A regular reader of Dispatches from the War on Women, in response to Dispatch #41, wonders what new strategies are necessary to dismantle Misogyny.
The intertwinement of religion and politics in America enshrines structural Misogyny and erases the space for women to be respected and treated as fully human. Religion must be called out and exorcised from politics and governance.
In ‘Is Patriarchy the Religion of the Planet?’ Susan M Shaw opines:
Decades ago, feminist philosopher Mary Daly claimed that patriarchy is the religion of the planet. As I watch the headlines, I think she may be right.
Patriarchy is a system of domination of men over women. It’s racialized. It’s shaped by economic resources and political access. It benefits some people more than others and in different ways across genders. But at its core it is a system that worships power—whether it be physical, political, social, or economic—and devalues women and anything associated with them.
Let’s take the Pope’s recent visit as an example. While the media were heralding his commitments to the poor and his kinder approach to those the church has often condemned (and these are commendable changes), let’s not forget that poverty is gendered, with women significantly more like to be poor than men. We cannot end poverty without ending the oppression of women, and yet the Pope offered no gender analysis of the problems of poverty.
But as the religion of the planet, patriarchy is not simply a matter of religion. The worship of power and its parallel devaluing of women are pervasive, which was Mary Daly’s point.
So, yes, I do think patriarchy is the prevailing religion of the planet—or to make it more complex, nuanced and intersectional, as feminist bell hooks does, white, capitalist heteropatriarchy is the prevailing religion of the planet. www.huffingtonpost.com/susan-m-shaw/is-patriarchy-the-religio_b_8228710.html
Organized religions have always been integral to the incessant insidious normalizing of structural Misogyny and the dehumanizing of women.
I had explained that a woman’s asking for equality in the church would be comparable to a black person’s demanding equality in the Ku Klux Klan Mary Daly www.azquotes.com/quote/781997
If men could get pregnant, then abortion would be a sacrament. Florynce Kennedy www.azquotes.com/quote/156090
For me, religion is a serious business – a farrago of authoritarian nonsense, misogyny and humble pie, the eternal enemy of human happiness and freedom. Katha Pollitt
As the 2018 midterm elections approach, we are told that progressive Democrats are moving the party left and their victories will reclaim democratic values.
Democratic Socialist and media-dubbed giant-killer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is excitedly hailed as the future of the party in the wake of her surprising victory in a Democratic House primary. Her platform proposes these progressive positions:
Medicare for All; Federally Funded Public Schools and Universities; Universal Job Guarantee with Living Wage; Universal Family Leave and Sick Leave; Housing as a Human Right; Justice System Reform; Immigration Reform; Economy of Peace; Campaign Finance Reform; Infrastructure Reform to Enable Green Industry/Economy. www.businessinsider.com/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-platform-on-the-issues-2018-6; www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-06-27/alexandria-ocasio-cortezs-insane-political-platform-won-her-seat-congress
Hmmmm, something seems to be missing from her platform. Devoted Dispatch readers have seen immediately that protecting/ensuring the right of women to control their own bodies is absent from this otherwise laudable list.
Ocasio-Cortez’s omission of Gender Justice/Reproductive Justice stems from the Democratic Party’s long-standing unwillingness to support the women’s right to control their bodies. The consequences of Democratic equivocating on this issue – how to reconcile pro-life with pro-choice, personal aka religious beliefs versus political positions, need to be a “Big Tent” to win, the narrow focus on right to safe and legal abortion, commitment to reduce the need for abortion, “conscience exception” for healthcare providers and insurance plans – are that structural Misogyny remains invisible because religion provides the cover.
If you are interested in more commentary on this “Third Rail” issue, then check out:
The Democratic Party cannot and will not win if it turns its back on women and our fundamental rights www.commondreams.org/news/2017/08/03/responding-dems-2018-campaign-plan-groups-release-pro-choice-platform
No mention of gender and reproductive justice, despite author’s protestations that Democrats should embrace progressive positions. https://egbertowillies.com/2018/05/22/democrats-fear-progressive-wing/
Urgent plea that democrats get reproductive/gender justice www.salon.com/2018/03/03/democrats-want-to-flip-the-script-on-reproductive-freedom/
How can the Democrats win if pro-life democrats are excluded/sanctioned www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/04/pro-life-democrats-abortion-sanders-perez-party/524394/ ; https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/08/democrats-abortion-litmus-test-controversy/536352/
So how did women’s right to control their bodies become a Third Rail issue?
The third rail of a nation’s politics is a metaphor for any issue so controversial that it is “charged” and “untouchable” to the extent that any politician or public official who dares to broach the subject will invariably suffer politically. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_rail_of_politics
Like so many hallowed “rights” established by the US Constitution, freedom of religion actually operates as the freedom of white conservative Christians to impose their religious beliefs on everyone. The pro-life/pro-choice dichotomy is plainly and inarguably dictated by religious beliefs. The incessant regulation of government policies and programs based on anti-abortion aka religious/misogynist positions belies the mythology that America is a secular country and reveals the support of structural Misogyny. www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2018/07/31/states-voice-opposition-to-trump-administrations-proposed-change-to-federal-family-planning-program/
That white Christian evangelicals have come to ensure that religion plays a decisive role in American governance and politics is no accident. From St. Augustine to Pat Robertson, male Christian conservatives have a storied history of hating women. In her piece, “20 Disgustingly Misogynist Quotes from Religious Leaders,” Valerie Tarico notes:
With diatribes about entertainers who invite rape and moms who are destroying America by supporting their families; with ignorant arguments about fetuses that masturbate and females who might as well if they use contraception, it’s tempting to think Christian conservatives have reached some new pinnacle of hating women and sexuality. But the sad reality is that even the media’s most unabashed misogynists like Michele Bachmann, Michael Burgess, Lou Dobbs and Juan Williams are actually tame compared to their ideological ancestors, including some of the biggest names in Christian history…..
“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, Southern Baptist leader (1930–)
“The Holiness of God is not evidenced in women when they are brash, brassy, boisterous, brazen, head-strong, strong-willed, loud-mouthed, overly-talkative, having to have the last word, challenging, controlling, manipulative, critical, conceited, arrogant, aggressive, assertive, strident, interruptive, undisciplined, insubordinate, disruptive, dominating, domineering, or clamoring for power. Rather, women accept God’s holy order and character by being humbly and unobtrusively respectful and receptive in functional subordination to God, church leadership, and husbands.” —James Fowler, Women in the Church, 1999. www.salon.com/2014/10/15/20_disgustingly_misogynist_quotes_from_religious_leaders_partner/
In ‘15 Bible Texts Reveal Why “God’s Own Party” Keeps Demeaning Women” Tarico says:
As futurist Sara Robinson has pointed out, traditional rules that govern male-female relationships are grounded more in property rights than civil rights. Men essentially have ownership of women, whose lives are scripted to serve an end—bearing offspring. It is very important to men that they know whose progeny they are raising, so sexual morality has focused primarily on controlling women’s sex activity and maintaining their “purity” and value as assets. Traditional gender roles and rules evolved on the presumption that women don’t have control over their fertility. In other words, modern contraception radically changed a social compact that had existed for literally thousands of years.
Some people don’t welcome change. Since the beginnings of the 20th Century, fundamentalist Christians have been engaged in what they see as spiritual warfare against secularists and modernist Christians. Both of their foes have embraced discoveries in fields such as linguistics, archeology, psychology, biology and physics – all of which call into question the heart of conservative religion and culture. Biblical scholars now challenge such “fundamentals” as a historical Adam, the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection and the special status that Abraham’s God gave to straight males. Fundamentalists are fighting desperately to hang on to certainties and privileges they once saw as an Abrahamic birthright. If they can’t keep women in line; it’s all over. https://valerietarico.com/2012/03/09/15-bible-texts-reveal-why-gods-own-party-is-at-war-with-women/
Democrats, just like Republicans and Christian fundamentalists, have agreed to accept that religious beliefs can determine political positions with their willingness to accommodate the faux pro-life/pro-choice dichotomy. While conservative white male Christians are easy to demonize and parody, the Democrats endorse their misogynist positions by complicity.
Religion must be called out and exorcised from politics. Justice, fairness, ethics and equity are achievable without reference to religious beliefs that promote the poisonous patriarchy.
We must dare to take another view of majority rule… taking it upon ourselves to become the majority by changing the moral climate. For it is upon this majority that the life of any nation really depends. James Baldwin The Cross of Redemption Vintage International 2011