Interview with Ophelia Benson
By MAIA CARON
Added: Thu, 21 Jan 2010 00:00:00 UTC
Thanks to Michael for the link.
MAIA: Welcome Ophelia. First, Iâd like to say that I loved Does God Hate Women? and agree with Nick Cohenâs comment that it is âAt once a joy to read and a call to arms.â With straight forward logic, you and Jeremy Stangroom take apart the arguments of religious apologists and expose their ignorance at a foundational level, even though, as you write, itâs considered that, âReligious law is âsacredâ law….and thus fixed, peremptory and inviolate.â
In your book, you say that â… religion has for millennia helped the stronger to go on dominating the weaker.â You also write, âThe control of women is dual. The goal is to deny access to womanâs genitals to all men in the world minus one and to guarantee access to oneâ and âMost people who have grown up in liberal secular societies fail to realize how taken for granted it is elsewhere that girls and women have no rights over their own genitals or their own lives.â And âItâs impossible not to notice what a convenient theology this is, for the men who originated it and the ones who perpetuate and preach and enforce it. Itâs impossible not to think that God and the Prophet are simply a fig leaf for a naked and brazen system of sexual slavery.â Because religion is âman-madeâ is it simply a proxy for men to enforce their will over women?
OPHELIA: Religion isnât simply that, because religion is a lot of things. But are religious rules governing women and their bodies and their sex lives that? Broadly speaking, yes. Mind you, I donât think itâs as simple as men sitting down and thinking, âNow whatâs the best way to guarantee each man exclusive access to at least one woman? I know – pretend itâs what God wants.â I think itâs more like projection. âThere is a way things should be; this includes women belonging to men and not being allowed to roam off whenever they feel like it, and it also includes men being in charge and women being submissive. Because that is how things should be, naturally it is how God wants them to be.â There is no need to think of it as a conscious trick – on the other hand I think it is reasonable to think of it as a large failure of imagination. Itâs taken humans a remarkably long time to realize that treating some people as radically inferior is really neither necessary nor desirable.
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