“Unto the woman He said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” ~ Geneisis 3:16
Religion — especially the patriarchal monotheistic varieties — institutionalized sexism, racism, and classism in an architecture of aggression. It begins in Genesis with the “original sin” — a story about victim blaming, and a violent lust for power and control. In sum, the story in Genesis is used to legitimize cruelty, abuse, oppression, male abrogation of personal responsibility, dominance over women, and violent subjugation.
Whenever women tried to rise up and challenge this, men pointed to the Pope and to the Protestant reformers Martin Luther and John Calvin, citing the Bible as “proof” of their “divine right.”
The blaming of women for the entrance of sin into the world in Genesis 3:16 has led to more oppression of women than any other. Throughout history, men in societies dominated by Abrahamic religions got a free pass to be abusive assholes who were absolved of any responsibility for their actions — by a divine right which came from a religious doctrine centered on a male god.
Early church “doctor” Tertullian wrote regarding women: “And do you not know that you are each an Eve? You are the devil’s gateway. You are the unsealer of the forbidden tree. You are the first deserter of the divine law.”
Fiery charismatic reformer John Calvin described women as: “…more guilty than the man, because she was seduced by Satan, and so diverted her husband from obedience to God that she was an instrument of death leading to all perdition. It is necessary that woman recognize this…This is reason enough why today she is placed below and that she bears within her ignominy and shame.”
No wonder that rape remains the only crime where the victim becomes the criminal. And it is no wonder that many today feel perfectly justified in denying women access to reliable contraceptives and abortion, forcing women to submit to compulsory pregnancy and childbirth — this is somehow OK. No wonder the happiness, health, wellbeing, and lives of women are subordinated to that of the fetus (or potential fetus) — a potential human, in favor of an already born one (the woman).
Religion — especially patriarchal Abrahamic monotheism — has been a boon for men, but a real bust for women. Combining the “women as property” and “women as seducers” propaganda yields what? A sense of entitlement to dominate and censor female sexuality any way possible while being fully endorsed by patriarchal religion.
Words do not just communicate fact, they create fact. Language is the Rosetta Stone upon which a society is organized and structured; how norms and mores become codified within the culture. When weaponized language is used to normalize injustice, suffering results. Normalizing cruelty, abuse, and discrimination is how abuse is justified. And this is precisely what the most prominent dogmas and “holy” books to.
Consider These Statements:
1. Cancer patients do not have the right to safe and effective pain relief because pain is a natural consequence of cancer, and cancer is a naturally occurring human condition.
2. Those in burn units who are responsible for their injuries have no right to effective pain relief or compassion. If they don’t like it, they shouldn’t have burned themselves.
3. Encourage surgical patients to forego pain relief both during and after surgery. Instead, have a staff member provide one-on-one “coaching” and encouragement to not get effective pain relief. Patients should be counseled to think of their suffering as “good pain”, and be encouraged to “work with the pain”, and to embrace an **”altered state of consciousness.”** Infer that any patient needing pain relief is a weak-minded failure. [**This "altered state of consciousness" is dissociation and dissociative amnesia. It is a human response to severe physical and psychological trauma and should be avoided — NOT encouraged!]
4. Hospital policy should ensure that all palliative care patients ask at least twice before their request for pain relief is considered. If death is imminent, consider denying the request.
5. Trauma sustained during torture and food deprivation results in damaged bodies and damaged psyches. Depositing a large sum of money in their bank account will make them forget all about it.
6. Psychiatric studies show that pre-rape classes reduce the terror victims feel during and after rape.
In a civilized society, these statements and ideas would beggar belief and be ridiculed and loudly challenged. They are offensive, insensitive, and cruel. But because abuse and unnecessary suffering has been normalized for women, largely because of centuries of influence the words in the Bible have wielded, there’s a double standard.
Consider These Same Statements, ideas, and Policies Regarding the Care of Pregnant Women Before, During, and After Giving Birth:
1. Maternity patients do not have the right to safe and effective pain relief because pain is a natural consequence of childbirth and childbirth is a natural thing for women to endure.
2. Women who get pregnant should not expect choice in delivery options, nor should they get pain relief or compassion. If they don’t like it, they should have kept their legs shut.
3. Encourage maternity patients to forego pain relief during and after childbirth. Instead, have a staff member provide one-on-one encouragement to not get effective pain relief. Patients should be encouraged to think of their suffering as “good pain”, as “empowering”, and to “work with the pain” and to enbrace an **”altered state of consciousness.”** Infer that any woman struggling with labor who expects pain relief is a weak-minded failure.
4. Hospital and midwifery policy should ensure that all maternity patients ask at least twice before their request for pain relief is considered. If birth is imminent, consider denying the request.
5. Trauma sustained during childbirth results in damaged bodies and damaged psyches. As soon as you put her baby in her arms, the mom will forget all about it.
6. Psychiatric studies show that pre-natal/childbirth education classes reduce the terror women feel during and after childbirth.
These notions should beggar belief, but they actually reflect past and present obstetrical attitudes and policies, and have done so for the past several decades. In many obstetric circles in the US and other western nations, these ideas are still widely accepted. After centuries of this barbaric belief in a sick book written by sick men about a sick god, such beliefs became codified into laws and policies — even in the medical field.
A “prize”, no matter how wonderful, does not cure physical and psychological trauma in ANY situation. Offensive statements like those above isolate and further traumatize the trauma victims. Monetary compensation does not cure PTSD for torture survivors. You don’t tell someone who has lost his legs that he should be grateful he didn’t lose his arms. It is no different for women who have suffered trauma in childbirth.
The experience of the birth and the baby are two separate things. The attitude that a healthy baby makes women forget the trauma of their childbirth experience is bullshit. Women carry that experience with them for life. Fatalism and stoicism are not the same as “getting over it.”
Denying women ownership and control over their own bodies by denying them access to affordable reliable contraceptives and abortion; and denying women adequate pain relief during childbirth without a scientifically valid reason (and there really isn’t any) — is legitimized misogyny.
Systemic discrimination always involves the belief that a certain sub-group of the human race is not deserving of equal rights and humane treatment. They are considered inferior. What is unacceptable for other humans is considered acceptable for the group being discriminated against. Underlying all obstetrical bias is misogyny.
We can thank the influence in all aspects of life that the Bible wields for much of this. In the very first book, in the story of the “original sin”, we are told that women are predestined to have to suffer pain (along with possible permanent disability and death) in childbirth (whether a woman wants to be pregnant or not) in order to be redeemed for “loosing sin unto the world.”
No matter how you look at it, you cannot get equality out of the Bible. It’s a doctrine that begins with the premise that a perfect, all-knowing, ever-present and “loving” god created the world just for man to take dominion over. And everything was perfect until woman introduced “sin” into the world, so it is only just that this “god” punish her more severely than the talking snake and the man for his part in eating this forbidden fruit. And part of women’s punishment, according to the Bible, is to accept being condemned to second-class status and to accept having to endure pregnancy (whether she wants to or not) and suffer excruciating pain in childbirth.
Christians, Muslims, and Jews believe in this part of the Bible. And since Christians believe that the Bible is an inviolable truth, they believe this part of it too. And it is this belief in this part that is the most responsible for indifference to the suffering and abuse of women and girls across the nation.
For all the claims that religion brought comfort to so many such that the injustices and cruelties inspired by it don’t matter is offensive. hate speech books like “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and treatises on Holocaust revisionism also undoubtedly provide some people with comfort. But since when should the la-la-land denial that brings such “comfort” be permitted to trump the injustices and abuse it has posed for so many others who didn’t derive any comfort from it?