Revolution #194, March 7, 2010
Correspondence from a Prisoner on International Women's Day:
On Religion, Atheism and the Subjugation of Women
The following letter was written by a reader who is in prison:
Although I won't be able to physically show my unwavering solidarity for the International Women's Day 2010 demonstrations—I'm glad to have this opportunity to do so through my words. I'm an adamant believer that proletarian internationalism's strength and power is only enhanced by our recognition that women are just as capable, deserving, and integral to our collective emancipation as any man.
Over the past several months, I've been coming to appreciate the broader implications of atheism when it comes to the question of women and their collective liberation. I've recently written in a project I'm working on, that "atheism is feminism on steroids." And I certainly believe that upon a number of levels.
First of all, religion has played the biggest role—second only to the class factor—in the oppression of women. It has historically been the most relied upon justification when relegating women to subservient roles in all societies. What's the most despicable about all this, is that most young girls grow up with internalized feelings of inadequacy, of being "the downfall" of "mankind," of being less than the opposite sex, and so on. It's kind of like how I felt growing up with the belief that I was somehow inferior to whites because of "the curse" that Noah had placed on the descendants of Ham (Canaan, his son) (Genesis 9:24-27). I've never lived in the shoes of a woman, personally, but I do know how it feels to believe once, that God, Himself, had sanctioned my race to endure the humiliation and dehumanization of slavery. Such a feeling makes you feel as if the whole universe had conspired against your very existence. So in that sense, you can say, I was born a woman through my experience of living as a black person underneath a Christian dominated worldview for most of my life.
It's funny to me now when I hear moderates of all faiths, claim that their religion is a religion of equality, brotherhood/sisterhood, and love. I'm forced to think to myself at those times, "You must haven't read 1 Timothy 2: 11-14 then," which states that:
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man: she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. (New International Version of the Bible [NIV])
Whenever I hear a Muslim say the same thing—that their religion is a religion of equality, brotherhood/sisterhood, and love—I'm forced to think to myself, "You must not know what Surah 4:15 says," which states that:
If any of your women are guilty of lewdness, take the evidence of four [reliable] witnesses from amongst you against them; and if they testify, confine them to houses until death do claim them, or Allah ordain for them some (other) way.
The above is only a small proportion of the "holy decrees," which have oppressed, subjugated, and demonized women for millenniums with the belief that there was something innately wrong with their existence; but I'm glad to inform my sisters that they no longer have to internalize such beliefs of self-hatred any longer.
I believe atheism is the most potent vaccination against all fallacies based upon "divine decrees." The scientific materialism which is inherent in an atheist world outlook, allows women and men alike, to recognize the validity and implications, for instance, of Ardea Skybreak's book, The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism—thus not only falsifying the creation myths of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and all other superstitions, but also strips away the justification for why women should forever play subservient roles within society. In that book, Skybreak includes a quote from the physicist Steven Weinberg, that should resonate with us all, especially women, when he mentioned that, "One of the greatest achievements of science has been, if not to make it impossible for intelligent people to be religious, then at least to make it possible for them not to be religious. We should not retreat from this accomplishment."
In a wider context, I mentioned, that "atheism is feminism on steroids." What I mean by that, is once we are compelled to sever God and Religion from our social discourses on women, we'll be in a position for the first time in human history to define our gender and sex relations upon a concretely human-centered basis. Ultimately it forces men to confront their biases and conditioned responses by reexamining our relationship to women mundanely as well as within the context of the proletarian revolution. If every communist is a microcosm of the world we wished to bring forth, then it's imperative that we start by resolving these sexist notions internally in order to eradicate them the most effectively externally. Marx once remarked that, "Right can never be higher than the economic structure of society and its cultural development conditioned thereby." (Critique of the Gotha Programme by Marx.) If that's the case and we are representatives of the far superior society of socialism-communism, then surely our right must be higher and richer than the male chauvinism now prevalent within bourgeoisie society. And I'm certainly of the belief that it absolutely is.
I'm aware that the RCP Publications is the publisher of Phony Communism is Dead...Long Live Real Communism by Bob Avakian. I would like to be sent a copy of that book, if it's possible. My comrades and I have heard about it, and we would definitely like to get our hands on it. Thanks, either way.
Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund
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