Sunday, July 18, 2010

Religion is as Religion Does

Some Gaza women smolder over Hamas' water-pipe ban

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — There are few pleasures left for Gaza's 1.5 million people, squeezed by both a blockade and Hamas efforts to impose its strict Muslim lifestyle. And women here just lost another one.

Gaza's Hamas rulers have banned women from smoking water pipes in cafes, sending plainclothes agents through popular beachside spots Sunday to enforce the edict.


The water pipe restrictions are just the latest in a yearlong Hamas campaign to gradually enforce a strict Muslim life code on the people of Gaza — many of whom are conservative Muslims themselves and not entirely opposed. But the secular minority feels the crunch.

Hamas, the Islamic militant group that overran Gaza three years ago, has banned women from riding motorbikes — mostly impoverished women riding behind their husbands on cheaply bought Vespas. Teenage girls are pressured by their Hamas-loyal school teachers to cover up in loose robes and headscarves.

Which raises two not awfully difficult questions:

1. How long until Western feminists rise as one against this imposition?

2. Are there any religions that don't attempt to stringently control women?


Blogger erp said...

Answer to:

Q. 1 - Until eternity and beyond;
Q. 2 - No.

July 18, 2010 5:09 PM  
Blogger Bret said...

1. Never
2. Wicca

July 18, 2010 6:39 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


Okay, you got me there. Hadn't thought of that one.

July 19, 2010 4:31 AM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

If you're going to count Wicca, you should also count the Church of the Sub-Genius.

But any old time religion is going to have control of women as an important theme because, back then, it was critical to tribal survival. Tribes that didn't survive didn't leave us with living religions.

July 19, 2010 6:51 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

If so, you are going to have a tough time explaining the existence of tribes that don't control women.

However, based on the type of environment, you are right: to the degree there is a significant male material investment in children, and since, unlike maternity, paternity is never certain, then such societies will strive to control women.

Which kind of makes religion just a man made excuse for doing so, doesn't it?

July 19, 2010 7:25 AM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

"If so, you are going to have a tough time explaining the existence of tribes that don't control women."

Have any examples?

"...just an excuse..."

If you accept the premise that such a thing is highly beneficial to tribal survival, "excuse" is quite the wrong word. "Codification" would seem far more accurate. It's like saying that laws against theft are just "an excuse" for controlling people.

July 19, 2010 9:37 AM  
Blogger erp said...

It's not women that men need to control, it's other men's access to their women. How else to insure that their women's children belong to them?

July 19, 2010 10:04 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Eskimos excepted.

And some others.

It's true that sexual jealousy has proven politically effective, but just because Semites, Indo-europeans and Chinese make up most of the world's population does not mean there are not other approaches to be found in out-of-the-way places.

I agree that the left feminists are going to overlook the hookah issue, but do not find that different in principle from the right masculinists overlooking, say, corruption among their client anticommunists.

July 19, 2010 11:49 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


I was thinking of many tribes in New Guinea which believe in a concept of shared paternity.

All such tribe have high male mortality, because peaceful groups of people living close to nature, oddly, engage in war almost non-stop. Also, there is little male material investment in children.

Anyway. It is an interesting question (to me, anyway,) as to why Islam so ruthlessly controls women.

Catholicism was certainly misogynistic back in the day, but from what I recall of history, nothing like Islam is now.

July 19, 2010 1:58 PM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

Yes, such alternatives (such as Innuit, or some polyandrist societies) exist but you'll only find them in the harshest conditions, where a tribe's reproductive success can easily outstrip the carrying capacity of the local environment and reproduction is not the limiting factor.

July 19, 2010 1:58 PM  
Blogger erp said...

Skipper, I know Freud is out-of-fashion now, but he had some interesting things to say about your interesting question.

July 19, 2010 2:24 PM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...


If you want to really wonder, keep in mind that Islam was an improvement in the state of women compared to what went before.

July 19, 2010 7:48 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

It is somewhat difficult, in my mind anyway, to square the 'protect paternity' stance with the 'sacred prostitution' customs that Islam, in part, replaced.

July 19, 2010 7:54 PM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...


Equally, I have no doubt that Christianity similarly improved the lot of women.

But that was then, this is now.

Harry noted this recently: Islam claims to contain perfect, complete, divine revelation.

Assuming for a moment that claim is exaggerated, it doesn't offer much hope that Islam will change gracefully to accommodate reality.

Unlike Christianity, where argument from metaphor and parable left a lot of wiggle room.

July 21, 2010 4:23 AM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

Mr. Eagar;

Temple prostitutes were not in Islam's heartland, whichis where I was thinking of. It was much more of a Mesopotamian thing.


Yes, that' all true.

July 21, 2010 6:23 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

Hmm, medieval, misogynist Islam bans women from smoking in cafes. Boooo!!! Enlightened, inclusive secularism bans everybody from smoking in cafes. Yeaaaaa!

July 22, 2010 1:25 PM  
Blogger erp said...

I think he's got it!

July 22, 2010 3:45 PM  

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