Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Can’t Take the Rib-bing

As a Taoist who believes that all of us are part of a unified whole – different manifestations of one unifying entity, force or energy – there is no rationale in elevating one human over another or humans over any other entity. We are all part of Tao (e.g., God, Allah, Nature, etc…whatever word pleases you).

It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, black, red, yellow or white, rich or poor, attractive or ugly, right-handed or left-handed, a CEO or a janitor, female or male…it especially doesn’t matter what your gender is!

I wish the same could be said for other belief systems. Unfortunately, under fundamentalist Islam & Christianity, your gender plays the seminal role in how you may interact with the world and how that world will view and interact with you.

I don’t know what precisely served as the impetus for the differentiation of gender standing in Islam, but I’m convinced that its cause in fundamentalist Christianity is derived from the creation story in the Book of Genesis.

Actually, there are two divergent creation stories in Genesis. If you accept the first of the two (Gen 1:26-28) as the authoritative one, then you are less likely to view the feminine gender in the guise of second class citizens. If, on the other hand, you view the second version provided (Gen 2:18-23) as the real deal, then you will most likely believe that women should be subservient to men.

The crucial difference in these two versions of the same event concern when woman was created. In Version #1, man and woman are created simultaneously and, therefore, are of equal value and worth. Both are created in the image of the Almighty.

Version #2 strips woman of her equal status. Instead of being created alongside her masculine counterpart, she is now said to be created from HIS rib. In other words, man was created in the image of God and woman was created in the image of man.

The significance of difference between these two versions of human creation is stark and the latter goes a long way toward explaining why women were considered chattel in early Judaic history. One can’t very well treat an equal as a piece of property to be bought and sold on the open market, but it’s much easier to do so with someone considered a rung or two down the social ladder.

Though the Women’s Rights Movement has made some remarkable strides in the last 100 years, fundamentalist Christians – particularly the males – have clung to Genesis 2:18-23 while ignoring the earlier reference. For them, creation story #2 serves as the bedrock foundation in the vulgar belief that men are naturally the arbiters of human civilization.

1 comment:

  1. Women as equals.

    The discussion over women’s rights is a long and perhaps never ending one. We hear the debate between countries about human rights and the place of women in various societies. Recently we have been focusing our attention on how women are treated in Arab countries. Some require women to wear clothing that covers their bodies and others decry the Western jeans and tight clothing.

    I was watching a program on PBS the other night about the differences between female and male chimpanzees. It turns out that some of the disagreements between the female and the male superiority may go back to our evolutionary roots.

    It has been shown apparently that female apes learn faster and earlier than males. Females make tools earlier, faster and more efficient than males. Females are more tolerant of others, less competitive and more cooperative.

    In research of the differences in male and female humans it has been proven that females live longer, develop illnesses less often, tolerate cold and starvation better, and resist disease better than males.

    One last observation is pertinent as well. When was the last time you heard of a man giving birth?

    I think that a comment by a Saudi woman doctor commenting on the differences in the way women are treated is apt. She said, that when you know you are inferior you have a tendency to want to keep others down. Treatment of women as less than men is the product of men knowing that they cannot compete otherwise.

    The reality is that women are very tolerant of men because we know that God is on our side. She will reward us in the end.

    Susann Kaltwasser

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