A Place for Abuse at the Table of Diversity?

We’ve all heard of the apalling abuses within certain religious and cultural (and subcultural) circles, from coverups within the Roman Catholic Church to executions on ridiculous grounds in the most extreme radical Muslim areas in the world. More recent events include exposure of Fundamental Christian (non-Catholic) sexual and psychological abuse/oppression of children and women and, of course, Gamergate.

There are some contradictory reactions to abuse in certain contexts, and I’m not sure what to make of it. One one hand, many people will decry all manner of abuse in our Western culture and will “out” the groups and the mindsets that contribute to these abuses, and all manner of debates will follow. I’m happy to see this increasing level of awareness in our society.

However, it’s what’s on the other hand that has me somewhat baffled. While we’re over here essentially overhauling our culture into something more tolerant and, dare I say it, better, we’re simultaneously defending the sick, twisted practices of other cultures on the grounds that it’s merely a “different culture.” I’m not saying everyone is doing this, but I’ve seen enough of this to make me hit my head against a wall.

On one hand we’re listing extreme “black and white” “us vs them” mentalities as signs of being in a rather harmful cult. On the other hand, our super-subjectivity and super-tolerance has some of us defending extreme “black and white” “us vs them” ideologies in other locales, because “who are we to judge” another culture for being “different than ours?” Some of us are so conscious of standing up for the rights of others, that they’re now standing up for the right to strip certain citizens elsewhere of their rights based on a differing ideology in that area..

There’s a disconnect somewhere, a certain inconsistency, and it’s making my head spin. Are we really setting a place for abuse at the table of diversity in the name of culture?

Religious Liberty…. To a Point.

I am an Atheist.
That said, I do not begrudge others their right to believe whatever they wish. After all, even racism is not outlawed as a position that a person can adhere to. However, racists are not allowed to put that belief into practice very much beyond who they choose to personally associate with. A racist is not allowed to enslave another, bringing that person into oppression and servitude.

Something is amiss with religion. In the name of religous freedom, some groups are taking the liberty of oppressing women in the name of “God’s Will.” Just as racists quote their “reasons” for why a person of a certain other race should serve them, these misogynists quote parts of the Bible to justify their behavior. Many women are oppressed and dominated unwillingly (google accounts of women who have come out of the Independent Fundamental Baptist Cult), but feel obligated to defend their oppressors and obligated to claim to be willingly “submitting,” in the sense that nobody is physically pointing a gun at her head. The oppression and subjection is accomplished largely emotionally and psychologically. If the women do not comply, they are under threat of being deemed “rebellious,” “ungrateful,” “disobedient,” “bitter,” and any number of other terms that would carry with them certain implications, not the least of which is that the disobedient woman is to be subject to church discipline and shunned.

Within many of these groups the woman often depends entirely on the man for support and provision, and on the church for most of their community and social needs. Their “church family” is exactly that… their family. If the woman rebels, her family may find it necessary to discipline her and cut her off… leaving her floundering without an education, income, etc., and frightened in a world that she has been indoctrinated into believing is “Satan’s system.”

She must obey or risk possibly Hell (in their estimation) if her lack of obedience is seen as evidence that she is not really a “true” Christian after all.

This is only a summary of the psychological abuse and enslavement rampant within Fundamentalist Christianity. Psychological abuse is a very real threat to a person’s well-being and ability to function normally. This abuse can be very comprehensive, and it also has the effect of causing the victim to feel the obligation to defend and protect their abuser. This effect of the abuse makes it particularly difficult to help them.

This oppression and abuse is something that needs to be addressed.

When a religion and its doctrines start infringing on the rights and health of others (yes psychologically), it needs to be reigned in. This opens a can of worms, though. There is usually little actual physical evidence of abuse in this sort of thing, so who’s to say that an individual woman is actually NOT willingly putting herself in a position of subjection? Just like we cannot allow “honor killings” in the name of religious freedom, we can’t allow this subjection of women either… it’s just more difficult to put one’s finger on.

Out of the Kitchen at Last

One of the steriotypical “woman’s places” was in the kitchen. A common catch-phrase is “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” and Fundy women seem to be taught to put this saying into practice more than most Bible passages (which is saying something).

I have no problem with cooking my man some good food, but those in the church too often take it to an extreme, where the woman’s place is to be a domestic goddess. One of the pillar parts of her “role” is to be constantly making or planning food for him and any number of children (who she may very well be taught she needs to homeschool… another topic for another post). A Fundamental Baptist woman is often measured, in part, by her performance in the kitchen.  Her skill, or lack of, is showcased at covered-dish luncheons and the like.  

Personally, I think this is counterintuitive since many of the most famous chefs are men, but what do I know? I’m a godless apostate, after all.

How do I approach the kitchen? Still with dread, unfortunately.  I have not yet been able to completely shake the feeling that I have to be in there doing something or I’m not quite good enough. I’m gradually easing out of it, though, as I’ve been able to cook a few dinners. More progress will come in time.   

I won’t be spending my whole life in the kitchen though, I can tell you that.