(The following editorial was contributed by 21 year old writer and atheist, Camille Richoux. Camille is currently a senior Biological Anthropology major at the University of Arkansas, where she is also President of Occam’s Razors, the campus’ Secular Student Alliance.)
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I recently had a conversation with a Christian acquaintance over the subject of feminism. She attempted to explain that ‘true’ feminism, from a Christian perspective, meant understanding the purpose given to you by God. The word ‘feminazi’ was dropped and I admittedly became irate. She asserted that “women deserve better than abortion, abortion isn’t a choice,” and then my brain exploded out of the back of my head.
I live in a country where my basic dignity is being constantly attacked. From attempts to legislate contraception to whether I should have to carry a stillborn to full-term, I feel like I have suddenly been dropped onto a roller-coaster and don’t know when the damn ride is going to end. Is outright insanity some new fad?
Following the news, you’ll come across a new attack on women’s rights from the conservative religious right springing up nearly every week. ’Personhood’ bills granting legal rights to zygotes have been introduced across the country in Oklahoma, Mississippi, Virginia, and other states, and some have passed. People are actually creating and passing laws declaring that blastocysts are people. Eleven states are considering bills that would require women to undergo involuntary trans-vaginal ultrasounds. Crazier and crazier legislation is being introduced that would allow doctors to withhold information from their female patients in order to keep women from choosing abortion, to let women die on the operating table rather than give life-saving abortions, and even prosecute women for miscarriages or other deaths involving a fetus.
By the end of the conversation, she knew I wasn’t swaying to her side, and attempted to patch things up with a heartwarming quote on the relationship between Adam and Eve: “Woman was not created from his head to rule over him, nor from his foot to be ruled under him; but from his side to rule with him.” I stared for a moment, fearful I was having a stroke, but alas, this was real life happening.
We didn’t break much ground with that conversation but it got me thinking that I ought to refresh my memory on the deplorable things the Bible states in regards to gender equality. I won’t drag you through all the misogyny because we’d be here for a week, so by way of a crash course, remember: submission, woman is created for man, obey, virginity is everything, rapists pay fifty shekels and must get married, and so on.
However, one verse needs to be quoted in full, particularly because it very clearly states the problem at hand:
“Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” (Genesis 3:16)
This blatantly states that women will suffer and they deserve their suffering. The mistreatment and inferior status of women is not only allowed by the Bible, it is divinely ordained by God. Women should submit, and the opposite is to rebel against their savior. They are innately bad, even more so than men, and it is declared that they shall suffer and obey.
It is no surprise, living in a country whose moral compass comes directly from the Bible, that we have viable candidates for the presidency who are able to utter heinous and dangerous views, like Santorum admitting his compulsion to vomit at the thought of the state/church separation.
This is the root of the problem we have in America. Conservative legislators are reflecting the archaic, misogynistic, Bronze Age book they believe in. And people vote for them, thinking that their religious beliefs are universal and should apply to everyone. This is not the future I envision in a country that has progressed so much over the past two hundred and thirty five years. I aspire to live in a country in which I have sovereignty over my body. I want contraception and sexual services to be attainable, affordable, and non-negotiable. I want to see slut-shaming looked down upon and see sex-positivity reign.
What I’m trying to say is I am a woman.
I did not eat a piece of fruit after being tempted by a talking snake.
I am not the cause of the world’s suffering.
I am simply a woman who wants to be treated like a human being capable of having a voice, having that voice validated, and being able to make decisions regarding my personal life and body. And if that makes me a feminist, then I am a very proud feminist.
And I hope you are too.