…if you don’t mind a somewhat scholarly discussion of history, theology, and misogyny, anyway. You know, a little brain candy.
Yesterday, I learned of the just-published Does God Hate Women?, by Ophelia Benson and Jeremy Stangroom, who also co-authored Why Truth Matters and are co-editors of Butterflies and Wheels. Academic non-fiction is what I read most of the time, anyway,* so I may actually go out and buy this one, since it’s not even in libraries yet.
The book’s publisher, Continuum, blurbs the book thusly:
Ophelia Benson and Jeremy Stangroom, philosophers and authors, ask probing questions about the way that religion shields the oppression of women from criticism and why many Western liberals, leftists, and feminists have remained largely silent on the subject. The lives of women in the industrialized world have improved enormously in the last hundred years, especially so — in social, cultural, and political terms — in the last forty. But throughout the rest of the world, a great many women lead lives of misery and sometimes plain horror. They are often considered and treated as the property of men and have few, if any, rights. Such treatment is generally sustained and protected by a combination of religion and culture. Does God Hate Women? explores instances of the oppression of women in the name of religious and cultural norms and how these issues play out both in the community and in the political arena. Drawing on philosophical concerns such as truth, relativism, knowledge, and ethics, Benson and Stangroom assess the current situation and provide a rallying call for a progressive politics that is committed to universal values. This important new book will appeal to anyone interested in issues of global justice, human rights, multiculturalism, Christianity and Islam.
I have a wee bit of an issue with that “feminists have remained largely silent” bit…I don’t think there are a lot of feminists–not just the godless ones like me–who don’t think that fundamentalists of every faith are misogynists to their core. And those I know are decidedly unsilent on the issue. When I mentioned a new book “arguing that misogyny’s roots are in patriarchal religions” to Becky Sharper, who is a woman of faith, she said “Duh. That’s gonna be a short book.”
If you want a positive review of the book, I suggest you check out Johann Hari’s take in the New Statesman (Hari is, like the authors, an atheist). If you want a shall-we-say different view, you might read Sholto Byrnes, who is clearly not atheist) at The Independent. I haven’t yet seen a review of the book by a woman. Funny, that.
Anyway, once I get my hands on it, I may do a little review myself. However, in my ignorance, I’ll hazard a guess that this really isn’t a book about god, or gods, or God, or G-d. It’s about humans. Dude-humans. Certain kinds of dude-humans, even. But the title “Do Certain Kinds of Dude-Humans Hate Women?” isn’t as elegant, or scandalous.
Speaking of scandalous…although it claims to cover most religions, it does seem to focus rather heavily on Islam, if the chapter titles are any indication. There is some concern that authors’ views will lead to protests from Muslims in the US and UK (Benson is American, Stangroom is British) and elsewhere. Sadly, Islam has no monopoly on misogyny.
Anyhoo, I can’t say much more about it at this point, but it’s on my To Read list, and I thought I’d let y’all know about it, too.
* Although now that I blazed through a couple of loaner books, a great text called The Heritage Crusade and the Spoils of History, and Oliver Twist, I’m turning to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which I’ve never read, absurd since it’s set in my neighborhood)