Religion & Women- A Brief Look

Now a days we hear a lot the phrase ‘war on women’.  It has become such a common phrase to hear, that one can’t help but worry.  I understand that times have changed and that news is delivered seconds after it happens, that social media has made sharing information so much more accessible, and that we absorb the good and the bad that much more easily as well.

I can’t help but wonder what the root of this epidemic, this misogyny that seems to spread like lit matches causing massive fires since we are not going to the root of the problem.  I don’t claim to be an expert but an observer.  Like all humans I have the capability to see a problem and render a solution. Whether this solution is a feasible one up to debate, but it should done by the parties who would be involved… that seems to be the biggest problem.  Here in the western world we come off as the leaders in modernity, the ones who try and qualm those forest fires around the world, but it’s done in an ethnocentric way.  Giving a solution to a problem to a person or group of people is a delicate matter.  Here is an example:

India has a problem with hunger, but one cannot go and simply say that because they have abundance in cattle that they should just eat them.  That is an absurd suggestion for the mere fact that to them the cow is a holy animal.  Now if you look at it historically this wasn’t  always the case, during Vedic times whey slaughtered and consumed cows (if you are interested in more, read on Marvin Harris and the Sacred Cow).  India a one of the few places that still has a wide range of plants growing, and if we were to look at their agrobiodiveristy one could try and understand what is going on that they are not using it to their advantage.  This is just one of the examples of what I mean by really digging deep into the root and trying to understand a culture and bring about solutions that are within their means.

Now, when it comes to women it is a bit more difficult to try and generalize it so boldly, for one, women encompass the entire world, there are more women than men, and we humans characterize each other through many different facets.

But I would like to touch on at least one of these facets, and that would be religion.  Understandably there are several religions, and beliefs.  It is one of the things at many of us hold as a corner stone in our lives.  When you are taken to the hospital and are in a dire situation they will ask what your religion/believe is, it is an integral part of many of our lives.

When taking a glance at the kind of violence that seems to consume women it seems that there is a strong correlation between Abrahamic religions and women who live in a society/country that places heavy enforcement on it through laws, and other everyday life.   Abrahamic religions are considered to be those that are monotheistic and derive from Abraham; Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Bahai Faith.

Here in the U.S we have affectionately called the southeastern and south-central region, the Bible belt.  These areas tend to be mostly conservative and apply much of their faith to everyday life.  Just recently Texas GOP lawmaker stated that rape kits can give abortions.  If you are a female and this doesn’t get you fuming, then start thinking about exactly what that sentence has placed together.  The battle to have regulate women’s bodies has been a hot issue since men realized they  couldn’t push a button and make us do as they please (once again, I am not referring to all men, but those extreme conservatives, ‘take word for word of the Bible as is’ men).   This is just one way modern society here is trying to regulate women, to under value our individual right as humans.   The constant attempts to have women forgo their reproductive rights is something that might seem as harmless to many, until you are faced with a that wall when you are in need to stretch and practice those rights.

Saudi Arabi is still a country that does not allow women to vote.  It is 2013, we have successfully been able to grow ears on the backs of mice and women in Saudi Arabia have yet been allowed to do what is only inherently human- and that is to voice their opinion as an equal, because that is what we are.  This is a country with deep religious ties, where hours are put aside during the day and pray.  It is a place where women are still restricted in their form of dress, as if temptation itself were to be possessed over men if they should catch a glimpse of their wrists.

In the Middle East women are stoned, bartered at a young age for marrige, and sold.  Women are not the equal of men.  It is stated in much of the Bible’s Old Testament that the man is the head and that women are to be submissive. That men should love their wife’s as they would love themselves, but it never says as their equal.  Abrahamic religions set women aside in many ways; women are the ones who were blamed for the fall from Paradise, coerced man to bite into the forbidden fruit, we are cunning, and dirty.  Orthodox Jews do not come in contact with women when they are menstruating for the they are unclean.  In Islamic religion women are covered up, and only given a couple of inches to see the world.  Why should women’s bodies be something that brings shame?  Why is it that there is such a need to have women treated as property and not as an equal of society who is entitled to her own views, actions, and body?

Religion has long been the scapegoat for wars, and now it is also the scapegoat for the treatment of women.  To regulate women, and put them in an enclosed sphere where they are not seen as one anothers equal.   It is somewhat clear that there seems to be a fear about women with these religions.  Why the need to have them encapsulated into such definite positions?  Why the need to cut a woman’s clitoris and sew them up?  Why is there that need to restrict the pleasure of a woman?

The Dalai Lama said something that was very poignant in regarding religion and our current state;

All the world’s major religions, with their emphasis on love, compassion, patience, tolerance, and forgiveness can and do promote inner values.  But the reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate.  This is why I am increasingly convinced that the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics beyond religion altogether.

We are becoming a world where the more educated we become, the more tolerant we seem to be.  Lack of information drives human to fear that which is unknown to them, to see it as evil, or foreign- this is all evident through mankind’s literary works and even now.  It is of the utmost importance to bring to light that women are no more different than man.

Just a little fact here if you are so inclined:

Did you know that we all start out in our early developmental states (while still in the womb) as female?  The embryo may have inherited the needed XY chromosomes to genetically render it a male, but it is the chemical timing and release of hormones at an essential developmental stage that will conclusively project this outwardly.

I apologize if I was all not as structured as I would have liked it to have been.

Violation of Women’s Health Care

When it comes to politics I am not one that can hold much back.  This is not to say that I will not listen, this is to say that I stand by what I believe and respect to its end, unless given valid proof and facts that support otherwise.  Nowadays with the way government officials play bill maker you need to take a strong stand in what you see as unjustified, unconstitutional, and an outright assault on our basic natural rights.

The Virginia Senate has approved a bill in which women will have to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion, and a waiting period of 24 hours.  This is an amended bill, which now excludes rape victims and victims of incest from having to undergo the ultrasound if they have reported it to police.

This bill was passed yesterday 21 to 19.  Sens. Charles Colgan, Prince William, and Phillip Puckett, Russell, were the only Democrats to vote for the bill. Republican Sen. John Watkins, Powhatan, voted against it.

NOTE:  The originally proposed bill wanted to have an invasive transvaginal ultrasound…

Now, where do we begin? I understand that abortion and women’s reproductive rights have always had a strong influence in politics, and with this being an election year no one is holding back to get voters to think who they want to vote for this coming November.  The media has had a field day covering all the Republican debates and one of the main things that they have been making clear is what they wish to change; apparently it seems that our personal private life, whether we have sex, when, with whom, and what we do with our reproductive system is a big topic for them.   This bill is an outrages violation of women’s health care rights.

Lets start with the amendment which was made by the Democrats, which has victims of rape or incest excluded from having to undergo the ultrasound if they have made a report to the appropriate law enforcement officials.  A woman who has undergone a traumatic experience such as rape is not always ready to go and let anyone know, even less one whom has had it from a family member.  The shame and psychological damage that a woman goes through is hard to understand. It may take years to gain basic trust and feel comfortable to even start talking about; reliving a traumatic experience is in no way an easy task. Many cultures consider it taboo taking about such things as sex, so telling someone, even if it a law enforcement official can be difficult, and may even not be an option for many.  I am not only speaking as a woman, but as someone who has had to deal with sexual assault.  An abortion is a time sensitive procedure usually done best within the first trimester.  How can someone who has such a traumatic experience deal aside with that as well?!

It is not the role of government to subject victims of rape and incest – for those Virginians who choose not to report it – to a humiliating procedure that is meaningless, so that some elected officials can engage in political posturing and promotion of their anti-woman agenda,” Sen. MamieLocke, D-Hampton.

Medically, what is this bill trying to achieve? Over 90 percent of abortions in the US are performed within the first trimester. Senator Ralph Northam D-Norfolk, is  the chamber’s ONLY medical doctor had a couple of things to say about this, “I might as well put the ultrasound probe on this bottle of Gatorade, I’m going to see as much.”  This has no medical necessity, “when we as a group of non-physicians start telling a doctor and a patient ho w they should practice medicine and the kind of medical care they receive, we are getting in way over our heads…This is a tremendous assault on women’s health care. It is a tremendous insult to physicians practicing in the commonwealth of Virginia.”

Who is to pay for this? To shame women for even considering an abortion? Is this a way to restrict our own agency on a matter that is private?  Of course! And to think that the original proposal wanted a transvaginal ultrasound.

A woman who has decided, or is contemplating an abortion has thought about this.  An abortion is not something that is taken lightly, it is both costly, and hard on the body… it is after all a medical procedure.  Even if you aren’t well educated, places like planned parenthood take you through the steps and explain in detail what exactly is going to take place, they answer questions and understand that this is a decision that may require time and so they are not pushing you go through with the procedure.  For those educated women we understand what it is, and we have made the decision to go through with it.  It is something that in the world that we operate in is done in a way as to not disrupt our daily life. You call, you make the appointment, try to fit it in to your schedule as seamlessly as possible so that you have time to recover and go back to work as normal. Why you wonder?  Because it is a PRIVATE MATTER.  There is no need for anyone to know. So this 24 hour waiting period is to say the least, absurd and UNNECESARY.

I would like to understand what the uproar that pro-life people have against someone who is pro-choice.  When women considers an abortion it is not on a whim like getting a manicure.  It is a responsible and difficult decision.  Responsible, yes, because there are a number or factors that play into it;  Financial means, readiness and maturity to start a family, if it is a viable fetus,  or just not wanting a child.  There are according to UNICEF 143 to 210 million orphans worldwide.  More than 250,000 kids enter foster care in the United States each year.  These numbers are astronomical, and why I see women who have one as responsible.  Like it or not, we do have a population problem.

A woman’s choice with her body is a personal matter, and one that she makes on her own.  Placing restrictions and obstacles for something like this is unconstitutional, and an assault on women’s health care.

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