Repairing the Mothers

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.

6 thoughts on “Repairing the Mothers

  1. The Broken Covenant
    As appalling as Arab misogyny is, isolating men and women has the effect of making the male/female rolls more important. The father in Arab culture characterized as an aloof tyrant while the mother as an all powerful saint. The mother eventually takes a back seat as the first male born grows into the role of co-tyrant.

    What strikes me is, not that the fathers want to preserve this old order, but that the Muslim women seem to be just as adamant to preserve it as well.

    Since the liberalization of sexual roles in the West, there seems to be an uneasy peace between men and women in our culture. In fact, it would appear that whatever covenants that existed between men and women in the West is now gone, and no one seems to be able find a new one in its’ stead. Some Western women are “traditional” and feel at ease with the old order, other women are absolutely appalled by a “male dominated” hierarchy and demand complete independence from it, while yet others want it both ways at their choosing.

    All I’m saying is that the West has successfully dismantled the old order but has yet to put something permanent in its’ place.

  2. Hi Baron,
    You know, I read that article by Phyllis Chesler, and similar articles by Walid Shoebat and Nonie Darwish. I must say that, while I suspect these things to be, at least in part, true, I would not publish them on CUANAS, because they are hearsay.

    Do you have reason to believe that those observations are anything more than anecdotal. Being that Palestinian society is closed, it’s unlikely that any formal study has been conducted.

    I would love to get to the bottom of this story.

  3. Mouse — You are quite right: here women are better off, but we do tend to live in an armed truce.

    The fact that Arab women help preserve the status quo of their oppression is the classic abused wife syndrome writ large, IMHO. Dymphna used to work in a battered women’s shelter — maybe I can get her to come on here later and write on the topic.

    Pastorius — I believe there is other evidence. See Dymphna’s story about Mukhtar Mai — the whole sordid mess began with a gang-rape of a little boy.

    But facts and statistics about such things will presumably remain hard to come by. In a severe shame-based culture, they will be kept hidden at all costs.

  4. It *is* hard to countenance such stories, isn’t it? But how about the public hangings for adultery or lewd behavior? The infamous one in Iran of recent note –the girl was a 16 y.o. orphan who was rebellious and difficult to manage. The town ‘bad girl.’

    The particular judge who pushed for this hanging and insisted on putting the noose around her neck himself had been spurned when he offered to make her his day-time wife. In this country, we’d call it (or used to call it) being her “sugar daddy.”

    But she’s not the only one. There are a number of European activist sites which are trying to save the life of a 13 year-old who was impregnated by her brother. The two of them were turned into the authorities by their father and were imprisoned.

    It was planned to hang her after she delivered the baby. However, public pressure was severe enough to commute that to lashings and imprisonment. They may simply wait until she turns 18.

    Just google some of the terms –both these stories took place in Iran — and you’ll have no trouble finding the details. Our dial-up is just too slow right now to find them myself.

    Thanks for your comments. It has given me ideas for a post or two. Or six.


  5. Dymphna and Baron,
    I appreciate both of you responding to my question. As I say, I tend to believe Chesler and Shoebat, but am wary of the anecdotal nature of these stories.

    At the same time, it would seem that such stories need to be examined, because, in a way, they are like the undocumented stories of the torture of Christians which are coming out of China. I think it’s probably a matter of where there is smoke, there is more than likely fire.

    Gates of Vienna and I Could Scream have quickly shot to the top of my reading list.

    To Dymphna: I must say, I admire your work. I plan on posting some of your stories, but I have not yet had the time to go through them as I desire to do.

  6. Re: Islam as an ESS
    I have not studied religion except in the areas that it impacts on women’s lives. This means studying all religions in some respect, particularly Christianity and Islam, the two religions which concentrate on the submission of women. (Judaism does in its fundamental aspects I think, where women cut their hair and wear wigs. I cannot understand that at all.) I know little about Judaism and still have not had a proper answer as to why people are anti-semites. The only thing I myself can come up with is envy. Jews are clever and rich. In the final analysis, I would rather cut my hair and wear a wig (are women allowed several?) than wear a burka. Having been brought up Catholic, I know the truism that if you stuff enough superstition into the head of a child, you set a thought pattern for life.Hence the new mosque in London for women and children. They will be pressured to spend most of their time there, thus separating them from ‘contamination’. The reason for the repression of women, apart from controlling reproduction, could be that women are viewed as the ‘weak link’ in the transmission of religion. Do Muslim women go to paradise? What are they promised in the afterlife? It must be pretty good, considering the poor deal they get on earth. The Koran may have enforced an ESS but it has also limited a mind set which was once capable of science, art and literature, mathematics, and astronomy. This mind set must also have deletorious consequences. Innovation will remain a prerogative of a free society. The important thing will be to prevent the bloodbath which will eventuate if (perhaps when?) European men realise their power base is being threatened.

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