Whether it is fear of female’s temptation, obsession with her body, or weakness towards her influence, the church put full responsibility on Eve for bringing the Original Sin to mankind, and thus women were put on the road of redemption to pay for this unforgivable mess created by her. This notion has carried over since the beginning of time and laws and rules were made to limit and often diminish the influence of women and force them into submission; an obvious declaration of men’s weakness and insecurity. Women chastity became the driving force to control women’s minds, garbs and sexual behaviors. And in many cultures a woman’s virginity became the sheer representation of her virtue.
Among the chain of despicable exploitation of women, chastity belts were men’s humiliating invention to guarantee her virtue. Chastity belts are an item of clothes with a lock that was designed to prevent sexual intercourse with the sole aim of preserving the chastity of its wearer. The history of when these belts were used on women is unclear. Legends claim that they were first used during the Crusades where wives of the knights who left to liberate Jerusalem had to wear them to preserve their faithfulness. There is no credible evidence that supports that date. However, there is one fictional account that Semiramis, a mythical Assyrian queen, forced her household maids to wear locked chastity belts not to seduce her son. The truth may lie somewhere in between.
Another way of controlling women’s sexual behaviors, needs and desires is the brutal practice of FGM (female genital mutilation). This barbaric tradition that robs women of their femininity is still practiced in many countries in the Middle East and Africa. The non-religious tradition is practiced by both Muslims and Christians. Its purpose is to reduce female sexual desires and curb pre-marital sex, but along the way it transforms women to merely sex toys and reproduction machines, thus serving men’s sexual interests with no regard those of women.
As virtue and chastity of women in some cultures are condensed to their virginity, girls learn at young age that it should be guarded with their lives, which may become at stake if their virginity was lost out of wedlock, even if the woman was a rape victim. It needs not be ignored that women are always blamed for tempting men. So being harassed and raped is their responsibility. They are accused that men’s behavior is a reflection of women manners, promiscuity or attire. Never is it mentioned that if laws were drafted to punish the harassers or rapists, that the numbers of such crimes will drop.
Rape and sexual violence became global crimes that on a larger scale are used as weapons of war in conflict areas. They were used against women in Bosnia, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the region of Darfur in Sudan. In wars, rape is used to destroy the communities. It humiliates women and punishes the men. Sexual harassment was widely used against the female protestors in Egypt during Mubarak’s era and in the years that followed his ousting. Women are targeted by harassment squads to discourage them from joining in the political rallies. The UN has declared them, finally, as war crimes where the perpetrators will be punished.
Honor killing, which is practiced in many cultures in the Middle East and lately has emigrated to some western societies, is a crime committed by male relatives of women with suspicious behaviors. These male relatives are often protected by the law and may walk free with their heads high for saving their family’s honor. A virtuous bride is the one who has her hymen intact on her wedding night. The existence of this non-functional, non-important, yet sign of virtue may make or break the marriage and may be a reason to end a bride’s life. The emphasis on its moral value created a thriving business of restoring the hymen, a medical procedure practiced in cultures that worship women’s virginity.
Women are brainwashed by men who want to control them to believe in the evilness of their bodies and that their virginity is more important than their intellect. The less education they receive, the easier they are brainwashed and the less rebellious they become. Women’s talent, intellect and productivity are compromised for the benefit of male’s dominance
I am not a feminist in the sense of what the definition has become. I appreciate men holding doors for me, allow me to go first or open the car door. And neither do I have a personal score to settle with the male species other than I am against the injustices committed by them towards helpless women. I believe in equality and justice. I refuse to see women being viewed as pleasure mindless objects and detest the fact that men are the decision makers for women’s issues and choices, both in the East and the West.
I am against the deplorable abhorring social conditions that drive women to sell their bodies and the judiciary systems that drop charges against a rapist if his victim agrees to marry him. These are the same conditions that allow a man to marry a nine years old girl, subjected girls to FGM or deny them their rights of education.
After the endless exploitation of women, men have achieved nothing but become their adversaries. This makes me question if men really know what they want, or they are just trapped somewhere between their desires and their needs. Is this entrapment what really causes their insecurities and still drives them to control women at this time and age?
To be continued…..