Mind Sight: Is the Brotherhood Completely Wrong about Women?
After the UN passed a resolution condemning violence to women and advocating sexual education and the right to abortion for all women around the world, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood attacked the document as “deceitful,” and proposed an amendment that would state that each country is sovereign and can implement the UN document in accordance with its own laws and customs.
Michelle Bachelet, the head of the U.N. women’s agency, called the resolution “historic” because it sets standards for ending “one of the gravest violations of human rights in the world, the violence that is committed against women and girls.”
But the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt said the resolution “would lead to the complete disintegration of society.” It argued against imposing universal standards to fight violence against women and called on women’s organizations “to commit to their religion and the morals of their communities… and not be deceived with misleading calls for decadent modernization and the path of subversive immorality.”
Basically this represents a clash between too ideologies, each of which is set in its ways. Feminists have been protesting violence against women for half a century or more, and Muslims have been protesting Western decadence for nearly as long.
Feminists are convinced that their point of view, and only their point of view, is the right one. They believe that women are a special class of people whose rights are more important than other classes, such as men, and they focus their protest on what they contend is worldwide violence against women. Bachelet backed up this contention by noting that data from the World Health Organization and other research shows that an average of 40 percent – and up to 70 per cent of women in some countries – face violence in their lifetimes. Feminists like Bachelet refer to those who oppose their ideology as misogynists.
Muslims clerics, as well as conservatives around the world, believe that the sanctity of the family and the health of society depends upon separate but equal roles for women and men and for religious laws that sanctify these roles. The Muslim Brotherhood believes that “decadence awaits our world” if the UN resolution is followed and is convinced that its point of view advocating Muslim laws that strictly set forth the roles of men and women in society, should prevail. They regard all who oppose their ideas as infidels.
What is missing here is a middle ground. Neither side is willing to compromise on its position. Both sides site base their positions on what they believe are irrefutable sources. Feminists cite research about violence to women and argue in strident voices about women being an inferior class. Muslim conservatives base their beliefs on the Koran, and Christians on the Bible, books they stridently proclaim are sacred and divine.
The fact is that the research that feminists cite has been disputed. Yes, there is violence against women worldwide, but there is also violence against men worldwide. A study by John Archer of the University of Central Lancaster in Great Britain challenged the long-standing view that women are overwhelmingly the victims of aggression in domestic situations. It was based on an analysis of 34,000 men and women and concluded that women lash out more frequently than their husbands or boyfriends. Christina Hoff Sommers, a moderate feminist, debunked feminist claims that “every 10 seconds a woman is raped,” noting that such claims are skewed.
Extremist Muslims and Christians are also wrong when they use religious books to back up their claims that their laws about human nature are sacred. First of all, the Koran and Bible have been interpreted in different ways over the years. Second of all, many books have been written over the years, and they have all been written by human being and as such, they are imperfect just as human beings are imperfect. To claim that such books are divinely inspired involves faith not indisputable truth.
There is a middle ground that extremists on both sides cannot and do not want to see. It is the same middle ground that people in general don’t want to see. Couples who have the same fight year after year about who is right and who is wrong suffer from the same human tendency of wanting their view to be right and their spouse to be wrong. Perhaps this human tendency might be call Human Righteousness Narcissism.
At the present time feminists, after a century of protests, have succeeded in persuading much of the world that their point of view is the right one. This is nothing new. The history of the world is a chronicle of competing ideologies. For a time one ideology will prevail and is hailed as the only ideology that is totally righteous, only to be replaced by another ideology in the next era.
Whenever in history one ideology is set up to be the only valid ideology, it has led to further strife. Similarly, when husbands and wives each argue that their point of view is the only viable point of view, they are heading down the road to domestic conflict.
Feminists do make a good point when they argue that women worldwide need to be protected. But they ignore men worldwide, who also need to be protected. Muslims are not completely wrong when they argue that the UN resolution about women may lead to decadence. They can point to the rise of pornography, drug addiction and divorce in Western countries. However, some of their religious practices, such as the widespread law requiring women to cover up their bodies, are extreme and put the responsibility for the fate of male-female relations solely on women.
In order to have lasting peace in the world or in the family, shouldn’t moderation and respect for all points of view prevail?