We’ve all heard the recent calls to ban the burqa. Paul Dellit writes that the calls are the loudest from Christian conservatives.
The current Australian Prime Minister, who has regularly displayed himself through wet Speedos, recently advised the world that he found the Burqa confronting. (He meant Niqab, but ignorance has never stood in the way of ingrained prejudice. As Waleed Ali has informed us, the Burqa is Afghani apparel as rare as hens’ teeth in Australia).
As confronting experiences go, the sight of heavily layered, chalk-white pancake makeup with a deep, blood-red score mark in the middle, may provoke uneasy feelings regardless of one’s cultural frame of reference.
But to return to topic, a racist dog-whistle from an LNP Prime Minister is not unexpected. Nor is this PM’s publicly displayed penchant for attacking women. It was there for all to see before the Australian people voted him in. Why then, did some women and a majority of men think that this character trait was not so egregious as to rule him out ab initio?
My thesis is that the ‘Burqa’ ban is really just a symptom of a much larger problem – a problem now, but a practical necessity when it was initially adopted by the majority of social groupings: the patriarchal society.
As we know, patriarchies arose and became the norm because men were physically stronger than women when physical strength was essential for survival, and women were preoccupied with babies for the larger part of their active lives. Men held sway within their families and grouped together to direct the affairs of their social groups.
Skipping ahead, it is unsurprising then, that it was patriarchal men who devised the religions of The Book and equally unsurprising that that they framed these religions in their own image and for their own convenience. The advent of these religions merely codified and gave a specious moral authority to men to treat women as their property and use them as they wished.
Patriarchies have now outlived their practical utility and moral authority, albeit that the latter is still proclaimed by the religions of The Book.
Secular Australian society has come a long way towards removing sexism and towards greater equality of the sexes. But as we see when a hard right-wing party gains office, progress is thwarted and the kind of nonsense they currently indulge in under our current PM again becomes the norm. It is significant that the degradation of principals of social equality has been the work of a Cabinet dominated by adherents of the religions of The Book.
Religions of this kind lie at the base of many of our social problems, from paedophilia to sexism to political corruption, and lately the resurgence of terrorism and oppression of the kind that was once the preserve of the Roman Catholic Church.
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