A lot of things are said within the United Nations. Most don’t really go anywhere, so it’s more symbolic than anything else. Still, some symbolic gestures cause more screaming than others. Consider the reaction of Egypt’s current ruling party to a U.N. declaration on women’s rights:
The Islamist movement that backs President Mohamed Mursi gave 10 reasons why Muslim countries should “reject and condemn” the declaration, which the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women is racing to negotiate a consensus deal on by Friday.
The Brotherhood, whose Freedom and Justice Party* propelled Mursi to power in June, posted the statement on its website, www.ikhwanweb.com, and the website of the party on Thursday.
Egypt has joined Iran, Russia and the Vatican – dubbed an “unholy alliance” by some diplomats – in threatening to derail the women’s rights declaration by objecting to language on sexual, reproductive and gay rights.
Iran, Russia & the Vatican. I’m guessing this alliance across religious boundaries in favor of imposing boundaries on women simply for being women is not what the owners of cars around town I see with the “coexist” bumper sticker had in mind…
A major sticking point for the Muslim Brotherhood, according to their statement, is the concept of marital rape. Basically, that they see treating rape legally as rape as somehow absurd in the context of marriage. This logic defines marriage as permanent consent, as if simply because a woman has entered such a relationship they are at the man’s disposal for sex at any time, regardless of her having a mind of her own. Needless to say, if this is part & parcel of marriage in Egypt, it’d be quite understandable if women there opted to stay single in large amounts.
Older readers or those with more than a passing knowledge of U.S. legal history should see this as familiar, since similar anti-women legal loopholes were prevalent here until the 1970′s. I can even imagine our own religious ultra-traditionalists at the time — the Christian Brotherhood, if you will — railing against such as The End of Society As We Know It. That record has skipped endlessly, playing the same old tune with each even minor shift towards measures of equality:
- “Women able to vote? Society will collapse! Are you mad?!?”
- “Blacks able to vote? There goes America, down the drain…”
- “Women able to not consent to sex in marriage? We’re doomed!!”
- “Laws against anal thrown out? God’s wrath shall come by dinner time!!”
- “Gays getting married?!? AAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!”
It’s a common refrain: assumption that the way things are is the way things must remain for mere survival & stability. Well, life is not that fragile, and the only society that doesn’t move *at all* is one that is dead, awaiting the taxidermist & a spot on the mantle.
Speaking of gay marriage, there’s a bit of news in the U.S. on that front, with Senator Rob Portman — a Republican — declaring support for it, basically because his son is gay. That this decision had to come about on Not Hating Your Children grounds rather than on the basis of “they’re adults, why do you give a shit?” says a lot about how foreign the concept of empathy is to “our” rulers. Yet we aren’t exactly immune, as polling shows support for same-sex marriage jumps substantially when someone knows a gay person.
To the ones in the aforementioned poll that said they didn’t know anyone who was gay: you do, you just don’t know it yet.
To the folks over in Egypt complaining about equality for women: you all know women, what’s your excuse? You’ll live, we did.
* – Oh, the irony of a party with a name like “Freedom & Justice” defending such a contradictory concept. Why, it’s as if they define “freedom” in terms of cultural authority rather than individual liberty! Somewhere, Jonah Goldberg has a grin on his face he can’t quite wipe off…