Saturday, May 31, 2008

Can you say "misogyny"?

Think this is the 21st Century, where women are treated as equals and are given the respect due to human beings? Think feminism is an out of date notion that is no longer needed? Well, you'd be wrong. So very, very wrong.

From Reuters comes the following article. It's not very long, so I shall quote it in full.

Women break all-male Mount Athos ban
Tue May 27, 2008 11:11am EDT

ATHENS (Reuters) - Four Moldovan women accidentally violated a 1,000-year-old ban on females entering the all male monastic community of Mount Athos, when they were left on Greek shores by human traffickers.

Police said Monday the women -- aged between 27 and 32 -- as well as a 41-year-old Moldovan man were smuggled from Turkey by boat to the Greek Orthodox community of 20 monasteries, long off limits to women. The [sic] reached land Sunday.

"They told police and the monks they were sorry but they couldn't have known this was a no-women area," said a police officer, who declined to be named. "They were forgiven."

Monks spotted the women late Sunday and alerted police. Under Greek law, the violation of the ban on women on Mount Athos, considered Orthodox Christianity's spiritual home, is illegal and can be punished with up to two years in jail.

(Reporting by Renee Maltezou, editing by Elizabeth Piper)

© Thomson Reuters 2008 All rights reserved
In just 142 words we have a stellar example of the misogyny that still exists in the world. Let us take a closer look at this article. At first glance it seems a simple enough story. Women go on to a mountain reserved for the exclusive use of religious men. Women apologize for their ignorance. Men forgive them. All's well that ends well.

Those versed in feminism will see the issue. But for those not so well versed, let us examine the story further.

Though not evident from the article itself, the news story was posted in the "Oddly Enough" section of the Reuters web-site. The type of stories usually post in such sections of newspapers are meant to be taken somewhat humourously. After all, it is something that is odd. So, from the very first, the reader is meant to, at the very least, leave reading the story with a smile upon their face. We shall come back to this. For now, on to the story itself.

The very first sentence of the article inform the reader how the women arrived upon the mountain: they were left there by human traffickers. Human trafficking is scourge, and is the equivalent of the slave trade and indentured servitude that so afflicted human dignity through the 17th to 19th Centuries. Indeed, slavery is an issue still to this day with some 27 millions of enslaved people around the world. In Europe, many women who are trafficked are compelled to enter into prostitution to pay off their debt, a debt that is so exorbitantly levied that it is near impossible to pay off. But is human trafficking the story here in this article? No.

Also note the language used to describe how the women arrived at Mt. Athos. They were smuggled to the location. Like cargo. But there is more to it. Think for a moment. Would traffickers really 'smuggle' four women to a location known to be off-limits to women (that a location would be off-limits to women is itself an example of the misogyny of Orthodox Christianity specifically, and of Christianity in general) for further transport into Europe? Rather doubtful. More likely the women and man were dumped, disposed of like garbage from the side of the boat.

So, what happens when these people discover that they have violated some archaic and misogynistic religious ban? They apologize. And are forgiven. La-dee-fuckin'-dah. Seriously, is the fact that this 'violation' has occurred really that much greater than the fact these four women were being trafficked? That's the story Reuters went with? Fuck me dead and call me Jack. Yes, I'm pissed off. And where does the article end? Informing the reader that these four women are now also liable under Greek law to two years imprisonment for stepping on a piece of land that only men are allowed to. Fuck me! Though it is rather unlikely the women will be prosecuted and imprisoned for their abominable offence. The more likely outcome will be deportation back to Moldova.

So, got a smile on your face after reading the Reuters article while you think to yourself, "Those wacky Greeks and Moldovans"? Human trafficking, abandonment of people, and the possible fate of enforced prostitution for the women, all nicely summed up and dismissed in a quaint tale of 142 words about the offense against a religion and some blokes on a mountain.

Misogyny is alive and well.

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