The Oppression and Empowerment of Women
The late Christopher Hitchens proposed an idea that, he believed, would most certainly combat the problem of poverty. It is loosely called the empowerment of women. The idea is rudimentary, as Hitchens points out, but it works:
“If you give women some control over the rate at which they reproduce, if you give them some say, take them off the animal cycle of reproduction to which nature and some doctrine—religious doctrine condemns them, and then if you’ll throw in a handful of seeds perhaps and some credit, the floor of everything in that village, not just poverty, but education, health, and optimism will increase. It doesn’t matter; try it in Bangladesh, try it in Bolivia, it works—works all the time.”
Hitchens advocated the proposition, and it has its roots in Marxism. Marx believed that women were oppressed by the patriarchal nature of religion. Marx rhetoric is wholly about human liberation and the empowerment of women for him was key in the liberation of women. Marx saw religion as alienating in nature but believed it succeeded in oppressing women, indeed degrading them.
The religious have combated the empowerment of religion wherever they have gone. Their sacred texts are full of anti-women rhetoric so if you are a fundamentalist then women become second class citizens. In Muslim countries women are wholly powerless in society.
What, historically, is the reason for this?
The reason is simple: their sacred texts contain preachings that directly degrade women to the level of inanimate objects, there to be owned and controlled, and a never ending underlying contempt for the female form. The oppression of women in Muslim culture is not surprising considering what is written in the Qur’an. The writings on women in the Qur’an are wholly degrading and disgusting to any person of morality.
It is dismissive of women and exclude them as follows, “Except the feeble among men, and the women, and the children, who are unable to devise a plan and are not shown a way”. Hence women are not strictly apart of the religion and are considered less than men, “and men are a degree above them. Allah is Mighty, Wise.” The whole section is so degrading and oppressive of women. They are written about as if they are objects, there for the pleasure of the men, who are allowed to “take” 4 wives and divorce them if he feels, at any stage.
Let us examine, in brief, the heroine of the late 20th century and early 21st century. Aung San Suu Kyi just, yesterday, left Burma for the first time in over 20 years. She is the leader of the NLD, National League for Democracy, in Burma. She has been under house arrest for the vast majority of the past 21 years since 1991. In 1990 an election was held in Burma. The NLD won 59% of the votes, but due to a technicality of sorts, she wasn’t elected and the military junta refused to hand over power. The corruption within the military junta is notorious. Burma has been under military rule for decades and the Burmese people have suffered. In 1991 she received the Nobel Peace Prize for her work on the process of democratization of Burma through non violence but was placed under house arrest and was never able to formally receive it.
The previous few years have seen an increase in her popularity. She has struggled for the democratization of her country and the end of oppression, and all of this under house arrest. David Cameron recently visited her. In 2012 the military junta agreed to an election and the NLD won handsomely, albeit in the lower houses of parliament, but this was a step forward. Burma is set to become the success story of the 21st century.
Let us look to Africa.
The church has always aided in Africa while surreptitiously handing out Bibles to the poor, one hand feeding them and the other feeding them garbage. In this manner they force their religious doctrine on them. A pitiful thing. I do wonder whether, if the church were forbidden to preach their faith, they would have ever even considered going to Africa.. ? I think not. The charity they give is conditional upon the preaching and spreading of Christianity.
And these preachment’s include the church’s stance on contraception. The church maintains that condoms are bad, immoral, and that abortion is equal to murder. For decades the church forbid use of contraception in the countries they held sway in Africa, the fraud that is Mother Theresa championing the cause, and this had a number of ghastly implications.
Number one: the already over populated countries that were already poverty stricken saw a massive growth in population. Over population led to more extreme forms of poverty. The second implication was even more severe than the first. The catholic church, with their missionaries littered all over Africa spreading their filth, being against contraception banned any form of it back in 1968 with Pope Paul VI On Human Life. He wrote that contraception and sterilization were forbidden. Pope Paul VI’s and Pope John Paul II’s stance on contraception, many doctors and activists believe, have resulted in the death of millions, and the overwhelming number of aids orphans in Africa.
This is the direct result of the religious teachings. We go back to the empowerment of women being the rudimentary measure to combat poverty, and I hope that you can see the correlation between the empowerment of women and the eradication of poverty. Dispel religion from poverty stricken regions, and as Christopher Hitchens puts it, “give women some control over the rate at which they reproduce, if you give them some say, take them off the animal cycle of reproduction to which nature and some doctrine—religious doctrine condemns them, and then if you’ll throw in a handful of seeds perhaps and some credit, the floor of everything in that village, not just poverty, but education, health, and optimism will increase”.