October 28, 2006

Whose Responsibility?

When I first heard the story of Adam and Eve, it seemed a little wrong. If God could create Adam, why was it necessary for God to create Eve that way? If he were all powerful, he could not create Eve in the same way? What was going on with that rib thing? It really struck me as wrong; when Adam ate the fruit and all knowledge was lost and the lost was blamed on Eve. Now, I was very, very young when I heard these stories and I did not analyze them. I just knew something was wrong. When I became a young adult, I began to think these stories gave justification to men’s superiority over women, with the exception of some aspects of morality. Adam being tempted became the allegory for seduction. The feminine is totally defined by seduction and so Eve must forever repent for that sin of seduction by being morally responsible for Adam and so must all women. I refused to be that woman, but it doesn’t matter, because their have been and still are circumstances that our society requires it. You still will bear consequences for some man’s actions.

Recently, the public, focused on the treatment of women, have been looking at Islamic communities. On the one hand, in dress and veiled, we are told that it gives women freedom from being objectified and it is their choice to honor their tradition. Then on the other, a woman must be responsible for his desire, sexuality and perversions; since her actions, dress, speech and movement are subject to wreck the morals of men. It appears that some Muslim clerics believe that it is not a woman’s choice at all. It is commanded. You then wonder if sermons like this are being given in every mosque; as the Khaleej Times Online reports, this sermon is delivered in a prominent mosque in Australia, by Sheikh Taj El-Din Hamid Hilaly.

In a Ramadan sermon last month, the mufti of Sydney’s biggest mosque, Sheikh Taj El-Din Hamid Hilaly, said sexual assaults might not happen if women wore a hijab and stayed at home.
“If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it ... whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat? The uncovered meat is the problem,” Hilaly said, according to a newspaper translation.
Read the entire article.

This sermon has caused much controversy and the Sheikh has apologized, but has not really backed away from his sermon. Even though his analogy is gross, it is representative of attitudes in the Muslim world. We may abhor those ideas, but we must not forget that it has not been the only religion or culture where women have been expected to be responsible for male morality. Is it too much to expect of men to take responsibly for their morality?


Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

"Is it too much to expect of men to take responsibly for their morality?"

No, it's not too much to expect, but my sense from various Muslim sermons -- which I know of only from the news -- is that the Imams almost always blame the woman.

Shariah legal principles make proving rape almost impossible, for the woman has to produce four eyewitnesses. If she cannot, then pressing a charge of rape is interpreted as an admission of adultery.

Four eyewitnesses. Almost an impossible standard.

Jeffery Hodges

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Hathor said...

That is why it is hard for me to understand Islam. It bothered me when watching women wearing burkas and carrying rifles giving praises to Ayatollah Khomeini for bringing back values and justice to Iran. I wondered just because he only slaughtered prostitutes in the streets, what would make them exempt if they slipped and did something from their previous modern life? I would suppose, their loyalty to Khomeini.

Isabello said...

The catholic religion defines women as a lower class. They cannot be priests; they certainly cannot hold the higher "ranks". Islam today seems to be at the same stage the various christian relgions were 3-400 years ago, i.e they have the same ideas, but present them in a less subtle manner. It seems that most (all?!) organized religions are run by men with a fear of womens' true power in life. They fear this power and seek to marginalize women through cheap tricks of words and "it is written" crap! It disgusts me!! If I have offended any religious sensibilities I do not apologize; this offends mine!

Hathor said...

What bugs me more, is that the woman's status is decided in the creation story. Its the first thing that is throw at you when you are little and its expected that you understand, when they tell you its your fault.

Anonymous said...

Horace has no knowledge of rape laws in Islam.
See here: