Religious hypocrisy and feminism

Where I live, women who walk the streets are treated as pieces of masturbation fodder.

James Baldwin once said to be black and conscious was to be in a constant state of rage. The same can be said of women. I write after Tom Brokaw’s retirement as anchor of NBC’s “Nightly News.” No woman was seriously considered as a replacement. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd said her piece on this matter.

As long as women are treated as inferiors, there will be a need for feminism. Indeed, the issue of women’s rights is everywhere. First Lady Laura Bush is content to sit back and waste her position away being little more than President George W. Bush’s arm accessory. Where I currently live on Lake Street, women who dare walk the streets are treated as pieces of masturbation fodder – garnering howls, honks and slow-driving cars.

Earlier this fall, I asked a few questions after a “Jesus and Feminism” presentation by True-North Campus Ministry. I found out they believed only men were competent to lead their church and were chosen by God to be leaders. To them, Jesus was a “I’m a feminist, but Ö ” type of figure.

Last month, Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered for broadcasting a film critical of of the subjugation of women in Islamic society. In Africa, young girls have their genitalia butchered in the name of local tradition and suffer psychologically and physically for the rest of their lives. Infanticide is still common in India, Pakistan and China. Some say baby girls deserve to die.

This year, the Roman Catholic Church blamed feminism for the destruction of the family and reduced it to caricatures of hairy, man-hating and bra-burning lesbians.

The women’s rights fight is with religious doctrines that advocate second-class status for women. Feminism is not against a homemaker who chooses to be with her children, nor a call for the extinction of men.

Feminism is a critique of a culture that advocates a viewpoint that women are tits-and-ass, weak, stupid and should “stay in their place.” It is a complaint against the pressures for a young woman to be smart, but not too smart, beautiful, but not too beautiful. It is a critique of beer advertisements on bus stops with busty models standing next to phallic beer bottles, and of a culture and industry that won’t accept a pop star unless she shakes her booty or breasts.

It is a fight against the 35 percent of college men who say they would commit rape if they could get away with it, or to change the unacceptable reality that one in three U.S. women will be raped in their lifetime, both according to the National Center for Victims of Crime. It is a confrontation with the domestic violence so common behind closed blinds.

Feminism’s fourth wave will see religious texts opened up to interpretation. Women will become more prevalent in leadership positions and here and abroad. There will be an expansion of birth control where not only women will have the pill, but men will, too. The wage gap will close. Sexual harassment will become increasingly unacceptable.

Those who say feminism is dead are dead wrong. At worst, there is currently just a lull between waves. The fourth wave will happen in our generation. We will be part of the backlash against the backlash against feminism’s third wave in the 1960s-80s. It will start when society realizes women are not dumb toys and men cannot behave like animals. It will start as institutional leaders are forced to confront hypocrisies they perpetuate.

Karl Noyes is the senior editorial board member. He welcomes comments at [email protected]