MISOGYNY

EXCERPTS

"When I told people I was writing a history of misogyny I got two distinct responses and they were divided along gender lines. From women, came an expression of eager curiosity about what I had found. But from those men who knew what the word 'misogyny' meant, there came a nod and a wink in an unspoken assumption that I was engaged in justifying it. If I had said I was writing a history of racism, I do not think anyone would have concluded automatically that I was a racist. It suggests that unlike racism, misogyny is not seen by many men as a prejudice but as something almost inevitable."
>>(Chap.8) Body Politics:

"From the nineteenth century onwards, when Western influence on the Arab world began to challenge Moslem customs, the practice of veiling women has been at the centre of a contentious debate involving Westerners, Islamic reformers, Islamic nationalists and Islamic fundamentalists. It has frequently provoked revolution, violence and bloodshed. The West in its drive to dominate and control Arab nations held up veiling as proof of the backwardness and inherent inferiority of Islamic cultures. In response, those who fought against colonial powers often seized on the custom as fundamental to the preservation of a Moslem identity as it confronted the overwhelming political, economic and cultural might of the West. Meanwhile, women whose welfare and status was supposedly at the heart of this battle, were ordered to veil or unveil at the dictate of whichever tendency had achieved hegemony. The West's concern for their treatment has usually not been allowed to interfere with the more important goal of domination.

And always behind this and other arguments looms the question of Islam's inherent misogyny. It would indeed be a miracle if a religion so closely related as Islam is to both Christianity and Judaism did not exhibit powerful misogynistic tendencies. Islam after all accepts the Biblical tradition as one of divine revelation, including its misogynistic stories about women. The Fall of Man myth is as important in Islam as it is in Judaism and Christianity as the key to explaining woman's lower status." <<
Even if we accept the argument that misogyny was a secondary motive for the witch-hunt, it does nothing to mitigate the appalling picture that it presents. It merely means that thousands of women perished in the flames and at the end of a rope in order to assuage men's doubts. The flames affirmed the duality of Christianity, inherited from Plato, which saw the everyday world as contemptible, and the world of the spirit as true reality. For women, dualism could not have had a more horrific consequence.
"The God of the Old Testament was remarkable, if not unique, among divinities, in being both grandiose and extraordinarily petty, one minute creating the universe, the next making the women's hair fall out."

It lies in the complexity of the relationship between women and men. It is biological, sexual, psychological, social, economic and political. It is a Gordian knot of interwoven dependencies, involving our very existence as individuals and as a species. If we cut through that knot, where among the tangled skeins will we find the source of men's contempt for women?