Religion and the Price of Comfort

Jacqueline S. Homan, Author: "Classism For Dimwits", "Nothing You Can Possess", "Eyes of a Monster," and "Divine Right: The Truth is a Lie"

“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.

"Divine Right: The Truth is a Lie", by Jacqueline S. Homan

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?

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8 Responses to “Religion and the Price of Comfort”

  1. ralph mcrae Says:

    I am currently taking a lot of shots over at Think Atheist, because I want a distinction made between fundamentalists and progressives in these religious communities.

    The liberals or moderates do not accept patriarchy, theocracy, and creationism. These groups within various faith communities, which are up to speed with the modern world, should not be hit over the head with the same club used on the fundamentalists who use the Bible as justification for their reactionary goals.

    • Jacqueline S. Homan Says:

      I think you’re right, Ralph about the fact that atheists need to learn when to dial back on the “A-hole” dial setting. The attitudes and voting patterns among Reformed Jews is a far cry different than what “values” are embraced by the Hasidic or Orthodox communities.

      As atheists, we might be right but being right doesn’t get one a “foot out of mouth for free” card.

  2. The Nerd Says:

    “As soon as you put her baby in her arms, the mom will forget all about it.”

    My mom told me that one. Then when my son was born, all I could think was “ew, this kid needs a bath. Can I get some sleep now?” I really shouldn’t be expected to appreciate the miracle of birth on a higher intellectual or emotional level, when I’ve been awake and starved for 25 hours and feel like I’ve run a marathon.

    • Candice Heyward-Spence Says:

      I had two natural births without pain relief – but both my son and daughter came into this world quickly with only minimal pain on my behalf, they where average sized at birth and after a mere eith hours in my arms.

      however i never forgot, i remember every push, every sweat, every time I took a deep breath.

      Stop lying to yourselves and your daughters is what we should be telling those that say “You’ll forget the pain the moment you baby is in your arms.”hahaha

      and for those that need a little pain relief – or a lot, or need other emergency life saving procedures to at least try and make sure the mother and baby are safe and healthy then religion culture or personal beliefs must be put on the back burner.

  3. Jacqueline S. Homan Says:

    Nerd: Just think how horrible it could have been WITHOUT any effective pain relief. One of my sources emailed me and referred me to a vid on YouTube that was possibly filmed and uploaded without the woman’s consent. According to the source, the woman arrived at the hospital dilated at 4 cm and had dilated “too fast” to 10 cm so she was DENIED adequate pain relief.

    Yet, she was laboring at the hospital for TWO HOURS before the birth. How is two hours NOT enough time for any pain relief to be given to this poor woman who was in agony and utter terror?

    It is not only her being denied adequate pain relief that angers me. It was the total disrespect for her needs and feelings throughout the process…privacy and respect for her dignity chief among them. What really angered me was the menagerie of judgmental comments from posters who doled out their personal value judgments against this poor woman because she was screaming from that level of pain she was in, and comments about how “nasty” her exposed unshaven vajayjay looked while giving birth.

    Women become permanently maimed, disabled, and die from pregnancy and birth. When are women going to be seen as human enough to matter?

    This poor woman was subjected to torture, and no one cares about that. She was robbed of her dignity and no one cares about that. She could have died during or shortly after the birth, but no one cared about that.

    Because women are not seen as human enough for any agonizing pain, injury, torture, violation of our dignity and bodily integrity, to matter. Instead, any suffering, torture, terror, pain, and degradation a woman is forced to endure during her most vulnerable and helpless state is made into a spectator sport — to be judged and devalued by everybody else.

    I’m sure that none of the idiot commentators ever tried getting a Brazillian wax job while 9 months pregnant. I’m sure that they never suffered beyond what they could handle like she obviously did because of being denied pain relief.

    And people tell me *I* am “selfish” for not wanting to have to go through pregnancy and childbirth? Damn right I’m selfish! It’s MY body that this would be happening to! There is NO man on this planet that is worth my having to suffer what this woman went through (or worse!).

    If my contraception fails me between now and post-menopause, I will definitely get an abortion. By any means necessary.

  4. Larry Carter Center Says:

    The unrelenting assault and threats upon women and newborn boys continues in the United States by religious perpetrators of violence. Circumcision of over half of all baby penile flesh is an abomination that too many so called fathers eagerly consent to and the stupid mothers go along with it until they become fully informed of the pain and lack of a single medical reason for the removal of 4 square inches of the most sensitive skin on a human body.

    Add this to the insane threats of relgious fanatics I call tampon terrorists at abortion clinics, and you have a lose lose proposition for women. Pain, irreparable harm and possible death from pregnancy and burning in hell forever if a woman chooses abortion.

    When you also consider how the current Nazi pope was in charge, as Cardinal, of keeping secret much evidence of priestly rape of girls and boys and continues to keep this scourge on the planet going unreformed, it is icing on the cake that MR Ratzinger alias Benedick by any number, denies a billion people United Nations condom distribution through his veto.

    This causes more unwanted pregnancies, more abortions, HIV and other disease epidemics and millions of premature deaths. Don’t forget the Nazi pope brands Mexico and Portugal that legalized gay marriage as “leading to the extinction of our species.”

    Humanity must confront religious insanity and incompetence and culpability by eliminating tax exemptions for these violent businesses called religions and expell all the worst of them from the United Nations.

    843-926-1750 Dial An Atheist. Larry Carter Center

  5. Sarah Says:

    I’ve always found it pathetic when a man names his son after him. How insecure do you have to be? I grieve for the father of “Brandon 2″ but I grieve more for Bern who shouldn’t have had to die. That news segment treated Bern’s death as ho hum and focused entirely on dad’s suffering. They should have focused on the woman dying, in the 21st century from child birth.

    Also, that natural birth video in the comments has got my knickers in a knot! I’ve got to go through that in 6 days and am NOT looking forward to it!

    • Jacqueline S. Homan Says:

      Sarah, the reason I believe they didn’t focus on the woman dying in childbirth is because we women really don’t count in society. Everything is all about the “fruit of our wombs”, to hell with us. Anything we’re forced to go through doesn’t matter because the way society sees it, we’re “less than.”

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