Paul wrote: “There is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, between slaves and free people, between men and women; you are all one in union with Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28). This call has, however, done little to check the unthinkable oppression and discrimination women have gone through for millennia.
Many may say illiteracy, poverty, culture and sheer male chauvinism are to blame. But does anyone suspect that the very scriptures and religions we trust are the culprits?
The Bible, Qur’an and other Holy Scriptures can be reduced to mere male-domination-strategy texts.
Despite Genesis 1:27 saying that God created man and woman as equals, the author quickly retracts the statement in the next chapter (Gen 2:18-25). Here, Eve is shown as created to patch Adam’s loneliness. Thus, a woman is objectified. If Adam never felt lonely, a woman would not have existed.
Next, Eve – who, if we look carefully, wasn’t there when God told Adam not to tamper with the knowledge tree (Gen 2:17) – is shown being tempted by the snake. Many have hated women from this verse but don’t know that God Himself had created the snake as the most intelligent animal (Gen 3:1).
God is all-knowing: He knew what He was doing and He had his reasons for not keeping the snake away or grabbing the fruit from Eve. Both Adam and Eve ate the fruit but it is Eve who got the worst punishment.
Woman was from then on cast into subservience. God said: “I will increase your trouble in pregnancy and pain in child birth. In spite of this, you will still have desire for your husband, yet you will be subject to him.” (Gen 3:16).
Genesis 3:16 equips man to rule over woman and one would argue that desire was thus made for women which is why in the mid 1800’s, the Church of England used Gen 3:16 to prevent use of chloroform as anaesthesia in childbirth as discovered by Young Simpson.
One Church father, Marcion of Sinope, suggested that the God of the Old Testament was cruel. He was criticised and his teachings are to this day deemed hearsay.
Jamaican poet Mutabaruka has also raised eyebrows on man’s motive in religion.
“They say God, the Father; God, the Son and God, the Holy spirit; no God, the Mother. Why?” he asked.
Mutabaruka’s argument can easily be revoked because of his Rastafarian status which most dismiss as hemp-motivated. A deeper look at the Bible would suffice, then.
In Leviticus 12, for example, God tells Moses that when a woman gives birth to a boy, she shall be unclean for about 40 days. But when she gives birth to a daughter, she shall be unclean for 80 days. There should be something wrong with a daughter, then.
The author of Ecclesiastes also has a share of scorn as he said he had seen few trustworthy men but no woman. In fact, he suggests that death is the only other bitter thing apart from the woman (Eccl 7:26-29).
Many have since rejected the Old Testament and said the New Testament is the future of the modern world. However, unpacking the compilation reveals some disturbing verses cementing stereotypes against women.
Paul is responsible for the outlook of the church today. He wrote variously and some dogma he dictated still causes controversy today.
Take what he said in his first letter to Corinthians. He explicitly said husbands are supreme over wives: “... he [man] reflects the image and glory of God. But woman reflects the glory of man ... for man was not created for woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for woman’s sake, but woman for man’s sake.” (1 Cor. 11).
Probably the most questionable verses are 1 Cor. 14:34-36 which suggest that women should keep quite in the meetings. “...they are not allowed to speak; as the Jewish Law says, they must not be in charge...”
Is the Bible God’s word? If yes why does it hate? And why should the whole Christian church base on Jewish culture? And since culture is dynamic and the Bible static, what should the modern church do?
Paul prohibits women from wearing makeup, expensive clothing and jewels; he prohibits women having authority over men and says that women will be saved by having children (1 Tim. 2:8-15).
Paul argues that women should be subdued because they are the ones that broke God’s law and because they were created last (1 Tim. 2:13-14).
One wonders why one woman’s sin is carried across millennia when men have broken heinous records before, like the first murder (Cain), the first rape and incest (Lot) and drunkenness (Noah)?
The Qur’an is no better. It states that women are at par with men (74:38) but quickly contradicts itself. “And they [women] have rights similar to those [of men] over them, and men are a degree above them.” (2:228).
Many have accepted into their daily routine reading and interpreting scripture but they don’t want to question God’s word. And musicians, poets and philosophers have also developed their works based on the age-old injustice, further cementing man’s hegemony.
The message in Lee “Scratch” Perry’s Conscious man, for example, is that women are crooks. He sings: Solomon was wise, but he couldn’t see the secret of a woman; and Some strew are strewn ... by a woman.
And Samuel Butler, the English poet, wrote: “The souls of women are so small that some believe they've none at all.”
Such is the hypocrisy that goes about women. Many have spoken well of women but few have given them leadership roles. Tokenism and rhetoric continue to be used by modern leaders: political and apolitical.
It is time to critically look at religious texts not only as solutions to problems but also as causes. God never said He hates women. Writers say so. And the solution lies in rejecting or amending some of these teachings.