My co-contributor Dymphna has written extensively here and at I Could Scream on the plight of Islamic women. With the de facto acceptance of the jurisdiction of sharia over Muslims in such Western countries as Canada and Britain, even those Muslim women currently residing outside the Ummah in the liberal democracies have reason to fear for their rights.
But it is not simply the religion which causes such brutal oppression of women; culture is also a significant factor. Arab culture is the epicenter of the phenomenon; the closer the society is to the Arab heartland, the more brutally it treats its women. Muslim women in Indonesia and Turkey fare much better in that regard than their Arab sisters.
So what is it about Arab culture that causes such repression and degradation of women? Last year, Phyllis Chesler posted a much-discussed article, “The Psychoanalytic Roots of Islamic Terrorism”. Referring to an upcoming book called Sheik’s New Clothes: the Psychoanalytic Roots of Islamic Suicide Terrorism, she described conditions among Palestinian Arabs:
|…Kobrin, and her Israeli co-author, counter-terrorism expert Yoram Schweitzer, describe barbarous family and clan dynamics in which children, both boys and girls, are routinely orally and anally raped by male relatives; infant males are sometimes sadistically over-stimulated by being masturbated; boys between the ages of 7-12 are publicly and traumatically circumcised; many girls are clitoridectomized; and women are seen as the source of all shame and dishonor and treated accordingly: very, very badly.|
|…Both male and female infants and children are brought up by mothers (who are debased and traumatized women). As such, all children are forever psychologically “contaminated” by the humiliated yet all-powerful mother. Arab and Muslim boys must disassociate themselves from her in spectacularly savage ways. But, on a deep unconscious level, they may also wish to remain merged with the source of contamination — a conflict that suicide bombers both act out and resolve when they manfully kill but also merge their blood eternally with that of their presumably most hated enemies, the Israeli Jews.|
With such a culture perpetuating itself generation after generation, how is it possible to hope for any kind of reform in the way women are treated?
Of course, Palestinian culture is the behavioral sink of the Arabs, so that generalizing from it to the Arab world at large may not be advisable. Still, one can assume that a similar process goes on in other Arab countries. How could anyone on the outside ever intervene to introduce change into such a destructive system? Men are just as much the victims of it as the women are, growing up angry, fearful, resentful, and self-pitying, expecting nothing but brutality and intimidation from the world at large, and meting it out themselves when given a chance, particularly to their womenfolk.
But Iraq gives us a glimmer of hope: what women need in order to begin their emancipation is the franchise. Forget for the time being the laws enforcing the hijab, the proportion of women in the universities or the government, and the laws of property and inheritance. When a woman can make her voice heard through her vote, those who get elected will tend to pay attention to her needs. It is impossible to believe that the vast majority of Arab women would not vote to ameliorate their condition in some degree, if ever given the chance.
Bring on the purple fingers.