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Adding Misogyny to a Modern List of the “Seven Deadly Sins”

Yesterday, I began teaching a new miniseries at St. Ambrose College on the Seven Deadly Sins. With thirty + students in the class, we had some great discussions. One of the assignments I gave the students was to think about composing a more modern list of the Seven Deadly Sins. Well, I started composing my own list and at the chief of the list today, I would have to say misogyny probably is one of the most serious sins of our age–and who could deny its ubiquitous effects?

In Turkey today, the Turkish police discovered a grizzly sight.  They discovered the body of a young 16 year old girl who was buried alive by her relatives in the city of Adiyaman, southeastern Turkey. Her name for the moment remains for now, anonymous. The police found her body in a  sitting position with her hands tied, in a two-metre hole dug under a chicken pen outside her home in Kahta. Police believe it was an honor killing because she “shamed” her family by talking to teenage boys. So far, the father and and grandfather  have been arrested and held in custody pending trial.  The girl’s mother was arrested but was later released. An autopsy shows that she was alive and conscious as she was being buried. Even more shocking is the fact that 200 such honor killings take place in Turkey a year. According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that the annual worldwide total of honor-killing victims may be as high as 5,000, however even these statistics may not reveal the actual number of cases since most families who commit these crimes do not  exactly volunteer information to the local census Bureau.

When I discussed the incident with my good friend named Gloria, who lives in San Fransisco, she made several some poignant remarks relevant to our story.

What punishment was given to the boys who she supposedly consorted with? Probably nothing…fits right in with what I was saying about how men feel they have to control women at any cost…even to destroy one’s own child if she gives any appearance of impropriety. No issue is as important to men as that of controlling the sexuality or what passes for the sexuality of women…I got that message loud and clear when the orthodox rabbi once told me to stop singing…you probably remember how that ended up…I told the imperialistic rabbi at a boy’s hair cutting event I attended once (I also recall how he likened the boy’s hair to the first fruits. Really? Since when is hair a fruit?!) to wear ear plugs or to leave if he could not stand how he was aroused by the sound of my voice. It is always the men who want to control the women. As far as charm goes, these men have nothing to worry about, for it is highly unlikely any women will find these men the least bit appealing. “

My friend Gloria also thinks one of the reasons why men hate women so much in these cultures is because men are wholly dependent upon women for their lives. Without a mother, they could not exist; they depend upon a mother’s care for the most vulnerable part of their lives. In addition, a woman’s sexual ability far exceeds a male, making these men feel inferior in so many other ways. So, they commit themselves to controlling the feminine because they resent their dependency on women. The image of God as “Father,” may indirectly contribute the exploitation of women, according to some scholars.

Carl G. Jung writes that every man has a feminine aspect to his personality that is in touch with the  inner feminine side of a man he refers to as the “anima,”that is always present in the unconscious of the male. The “anima,” stands in contrast to the animus, which represents masculine characteristics. Assertive women, according to Jung, are generally more in touch with the masculine aspect of their hidden personalities.

Misogyny is a transcultural and transhistorical phenomena. Among many religious societies, we see how gender barriers tend to be reified and rigid. Men are men, and women are women; a psychological integration of the genders is considered taboo because it is so threatening to the  diminished male ego.  Consequently, when we observe the conflicts in Israel between the Haredi, Hassidic communities and the secular world, in almost every instance we find men attempting to control the women of their lives; weak people with puny egos will always try to exert power over people they perceive to be “weaker” than themselves.



Discussion

  1. Yochanan Lavie  February 9, 2010

    “Men are women, and women are women;” Your Freudian slip is showing…

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  2. admin  February 9, 2010

    Actually, it sounds more like a Jungian slip of the tongue!

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  3. Yochanan Lavie  February 9, 2010

    Actually, men are feminized by religion in some ways. See “God’s Phallus” by Howard Eilberg-Schwartz.

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  4. Kenneth Rexroth  February 15, 2010

    Rabbi Samuel
    That misogyny exists and may be and / or is responsible for the unjust and merciless deaths of women does not necessarily equate to sexual inferiority in all cultures or religions, as your opinion warrants. I also find it perplexing when you patently state that “a woman’s sexual ability far exceeds a male.” What sources underwrite your argument, which then begs the question; Is your pen mightier than the words used to advance your thinking? Perhaps you equate stamina with ability. If so it seems necessary to differentiate between endurance and performance. Having advanced my “opinion” it should be noted that I found your blog to be thought provoking and quite interesting.

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  5. admin  February 17, 2010

    Dear Ken,

    Great response; my opinions are not beyond criticism. However, I think the fact that a woman can achieve orgasm multiple times while most men can’t, may be perceived by some men as being somewhat threatening. Throughout human history men have tried to control the sexuality of women, The rise of feminism has also accentuated this problem for rigid gender-based societies.

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