When at crossroads of life Fear Factor: The Religious Right’s Problem With Women

Dr.Raba aka JJ

Dr.Raba aka JJ

After protracted wrangling between Washington and Kuala Lumpur for more than 1 year following the retirement of professional diplomat Ambassador Dato Rajmah Hussain, the issue of the next Malaysian Ambassador to the most powerful nation in the world has been resolved. Our new man in Obama Land is none other than a Najib crony and Member of Parliament for Rompin, Datuk Jamaluddin Jarjis.

Two verses of the Holy Quran succinctly and candidly deal with the basic concept of veil in Islam. First; in Sura An-Nur (The light) the Quran says: “And tell the believing women to lower their gazes and be modest, and to display of their adornments only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms.”(24:31)
In this verse it is clearly mentioned that sex parts must not be exposed and must be covered. “Adornment which is apparent” alludes to the common body parts between male and female sexes more for more clickhttp://www.teachingquran.com/

The world has seen the terror and confusion on the porcelain face of eight-year-old Naama Margolese, who was insulted and spat on by ultra-Orthodox men as she walked to school in the Israeli city of Beit Shemesh. The Haredi, to use Israeli term, found her bare arms so immodest that they screamed “whore!”

The video of a very frightened young girl and the furious, arrogant men, who told reporters they were perfectly justified in their actions, has become a flashpoint in what some are calling a struggle for the soul of a country.

As I watched, I wondered: What is it about women that the men of deeply conservative religions find so threatening? What runs so deep that it justifies traumatizing an innocent eight-year-old?

It’s a question that echoes throughout the Middle East and beyond. The men of the Haredi and the men of the Taliban won’t be getting together any time soon to swap philosophies. But they might find they have a lot in common. In their subjugation and abuse of women, they are brothers united.

Consider the familiar ring of some of the recent actions of the Haredi.

Women on buses that pass through or even by their neighborhoods have been physically forced to the back seats — and one who refused ignited a small riot. Park benches have been removed from neighborhoods so men and women could not sit together, and women would not have a place to sit outside their homes. “Modesty police” harass and beat women on the streets.

Just last week, a woman was attacked in her car for being “immodestly” dressed. They smashed her car windows, punctured her tires, poured bleach in her car, and hit her in the head with a rock as she fled. A crowd gathered, but no one helped.

You could easily transport those incidents from the streets of Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh to the streets of Kabul and Cairo. Cultures differ, but female separation and oppression are the master gears in the far right’s machinery of control. Without them, it appears, there is terror that the machinery breaks down.

Find a place where men oppress women, and you’ll hear the same justification: we’re doing it for their own protection. It’s not protection. It’s projection.

The logic: My sexual urges take me away from a focus on God. Women cause me to have those urges. The obvious solution is to beat them down, cover them up, and lock them away. What I can’t see won’t tempt me.

And so: women see the world through the eye-slit in a burqa, or stay covered head to toe in a brutal Israel summer. They are beaten in the streets for showing a bare arm, a bit of blush, a flash of ankle. They are locked away to become brood mares to cultures that prize large families.

Those hoping for solutions from newly formed governments grateful to the women who were on the front lines of revolution will likely be disappointed. The Arab spring is already giving way to an Arab winter for women — as governments’ first orders of business appear to restore the default settings for female oppression.

Accommodations to the ultra-orthodox parties in coalitions are an increasingly worrisome influence on Israeli policy.

As Haredi men occupy more government positions, they can impose beliefs on a greater portion of the secular majority. The mere presence of ultra-orthodox men recently prevented a noted female Israeli pediatrics professor from receiving an award on stage from the Israeli Health Ministry, or even to sit with her husband. Fear of female sexuality in religiously conservative Arab cultures often takes us from control to savagery.

Police in Saudi Arabia forced schoolgirls back into a burning building because in their terrified attempt to escape the flames they were immodestly dressed. Girls in Afghanistan had noses sliced off or acid thrown in their faces because they wanted to marry the man of their choice, or ran away from abusive in-laws. The obvious point — throw them on society’s trash heap by making sure no other man will want them.

Some studies indicate such horrors radiate from a violent collision between the imperative to repress and control female sexuality and the cultural power of shame. A female that defies the norms brings a shame to families so corrosive, that it can only be washed clean by spectacular violence — the kind that not only delivers a punishment, but leaves an enduring message. Another argument holds that a combination of religious belief and a culture of gender separation cause a deep sexual anxiety in Arab men. If females aren’t free to express their sexuality, there can be no comparison-shopping. Women dare to insist on that expression invite violent reprisal.

We can also turn our view to the West, where female repression is alive and well in the precincts of the religious right.

The actions may not be as extreme, but the insistent urge to control female bodies is the same — from reproductive rights (we’ll tell you the answer to the unknowable question of when life begins in your body) to approving reimbursement for Viagra (which facilitates pregnancy) to denying reimbursement for birth control pills (which prevents it). As someone said: if men got pregnant, birth control would be a sacrament.

So the questions remain:

Why is female sexuality and empowerment so deeply threatening to the conservative religious cultures? What would happen to those cultures if women were free to make their own sexual choices, and exercise their own personal power? Would free, healthy, sexual, productive women bring down a society or dramatically strengthen it?

Whether we admit it or not, everyone wants apartner high on the oomph meter, says a study

You are fooling no one with the ‘looks don’t matter to me’ line. For researchers at anAmerican university found that no matter how much people say they are looking for someone smart, who they can trust and laugh with, they have an unconscious desire to get a sexually attractive partner – which applies both to men and women.

Dr Kersi Chavda, a psychiatrist, explains, “It is possible that the first impression of an attractive person causes the most positive reaction. However, overtime physical attractions tends to dip. A relationship does needs physical attractiveness to grow.” He says, “As one becomes more mature, physical attributes are not enough. Conversational chemistry also becomes essential, and it gets impossible ‘to continue’ in a relationship based only on physical attributes.” He also stresses that physical chemistry is vital. “And whether this chemistry could be due to a person’s figure, or smile or part of the anatomy, is immaterial.” There has to be some attraction he says, adding, “Often this attraction is different for different individuals.”

Psychiatrist Dr Kamaljit Singh terms such chemistry as the “click.” He attributes such attractions to the evolution of the brain. He says, “Our brain has learnt to pick up signs for health. These are scanned and a possibility of producing a healthy offspring is calculated,” and the best ones convert into attraction signals for us.

Dr Singh says we are well-equipped to screen the best partners. “After the physical attraction settles down, the prefrontal cortex can think about other areas and scan the person on other compatibility areas.”

Every once in a while I’ve been a junction or crossroads, personally and professionally, and I’ve wondered which route to take.

Sometimes the prospect of immediate gain, be it a job or relationship, has seemed an easier route to instant gratification. But not all short-term gain is desirable and if the end result of the action means deviating from, blurring or losing the larger picture, it’s simply not worth it. So how do you know when to take on a short-term endeavour or which route to take when you come to the fork in the road? My mom had once told me to shut my eyes and visualise a perfect day from the moment my eyes opened in the morning to the time I slept at night when I am 65-years-old. Where do I wake up? Am I in India or abroad? What does my home look like? Who’s in the home with me, a partner, my grown-up children, perhaps my grandchildren? If I have a spouse, what would he be like? What are the qualities in him that I am in tune with and appreciative of, now that the external appeal has diminished? What do I get up and do? Do I have servants or do I make my own breakfast? Do I work, have a hobby, or perhaps involved in social causes? What is my source of income? How do I fill my day? Who are my friends and what do we do together? She told me to visualise that one perfect day to its smallest detail and if the decision I take today in the tiniest way leads to the manifestation of that perfect day and life, it’s the right one to take!

Just a couple of days back I met a guy in my gym and we became friends. We exchanged numbers and since then he has been messaging me constantly. I don’t like this at all. How do I tell him to stop messaging me without hurting him?

You gave him your number with the intention of being friends and then get upset he’s being friendly? I suggest you take at least 15 hours before you reply to any texts and decline the enthusiasm levels by stating you’re just too busy with family, work, life and other commitments to be able to respond frequently. Keep your messages short or monosyllabic, polite with no fluff, no great dramatic excuses. He will get the message very quickly.

I am 18-year-old and am in love with this guy from college. We dated for ten months but my parents came to know about it and told me to break up. He’s not from a well-to-do family and if my parents are not happy with the guy I am with, I do not see any point to continue. But I just cannot take him off my head. Should I continue dating him?

I’m glad you are sensible enough at 18 to see the sense in your parents apprehensions regarding him and the implications of such a liaison emotionally, physically and financially. Most importantly, since you have stated that you do not see any point in continuing it, your focus should be academics, a happy family life and to enjoy your teenage years without chaos and unnecessary self-inflicted pressures. Enjoy these years. There are so many wonderful people out there. Do not settle for the first misfit that comes your way.

I am in a relationship with a guy who is a year younger to me but he doesn’t seem to take anything seriously. My parents are fixing my marriage with someone else but I do not wish to do so. Please help me.

Relationships are serious business and I firmly believe age has little to do with maturity. I have met 24-year-olds with uncanny wisdom and depth and in direct contrast 60-year-olds that exhibit practically no signs of maturity or ageing gracefully. When you think of marriage, both partners have to be serious about it and the words stable, loving and well-matched must pop-up. If either is missing in him, give the man a miss. That works both ways, with the man you love and with the man they intend for you to marry.

I am a 17-year-old girl in 12th standard. Due to some problem in my family I feel I am more mature than my counter parts. I cannot maintain a friendship with anyone but I do have a lot of friends around me who think I am orthodox in my thinking because I do not go out and freak out with them. I am more comfortable while talking to guys. I am a little disturbed. Please help.

You’re still in your teens and full of questions and confusion about life, the opposite sex, relationships, etc. First of all, just know it’s normal to be feeling this way. Secondly, I suggest you stop judging yourself and putting yourself in any bracket. This is a stage to simply enjoy being you, enjoy growing, learning, and developing different facets to your personality. It doesn’t matter what people think of you because as you evolve, so will their perceptions of you. Enjoy being who you are and do not be pressured to fit-in and do things that make you uneasy. Do whatever makes you happy and comfortable and whatever comes with a guilt free tag attached

Study says…

People will readily tell you what they value in a romantic partner – that’s usually attributes like being understanding, intelligent, good sense of humour. But study after study shows that those preferences don’t predict whom daters are actually attracted to when they meet flesh-and-blood partners.

Zodiac zing

Astro Sciences also recognise the ‘law of attraction’ and rate Scorpio, Leo and Cancer as the sexiest signs of the zodiac.

Scorpio (October 24 – November 22)

In Saudi Arabia, for example, compensation for a Muslim man is greater than that for a Muslim woman, which is greater than that for a Christian woman, which in turn is more than that for a Hindu man. Conversely, in Yemen, the compensation for a Jew is greater than that for a Muslim, on account of the former’s status as a protected member of the tribe. In Iran, compensation is not necessary for victims whose blood is considered mobah, or able to be spilled with impunity, such as members of the Baha’i community.

Can there be equal treatment?

Even if we were to accept uncontested the notion of the quantifiability of human life in cash terms, it is clear that there is a strong possibility for equality before the law to be compromised under such a system. The fact that we already bear witness to unaddressed inequalities in Malaysia, borne by adherence to some notion or other of ethno-religious supremacy, reflects badly on the prospect for equal treatment should qisas be implemented.

Above all, we must consider how guilt and innocence are determined in syariah law. The existing literature is not encouraging.

Human Rights Watch issued a report in 1999 detailing a case in Pakistan involving a man who murdered his wife’s lover upon finding them in a “compromising position”. In this instance, it was ruled that, as men were the “guardians of women” (according to Surah An-Nisa, 34), the jealous husband had merely been “protecting his property” when he killed the cuckolding man. It was accordingly adjudged a case of self-defense and no punishment, not even diyya, was levied upon the husband, who was declared innocent. The deceased victim, on the other hand, was deemed guilty by virtue of his complicity in adultery.

That the system of beliefs these moral justifications are based on is not one all Malaysians subscribe to merely compounds the problem. Apologists will, at this point, trot out the well-worn argument that syariah laws only apply to Muslims and not to non-Muslims, and therefore its wholesale implementation should not be of concern to non-Muslims.

That line of reasoning is a poor one. More than one-third of Malaysians are non-Muslims who live cheek by jowl with their Muslim countrymen and women, and sooner or later a non-Muslim will perpetrate a crime against a Muslim or vice-versa.

When this comes to pass, one of two things will happen, both of which are contrary to the purportedly exclusive nature of syariah. Either non-Muslims will be treated differently, in which case we go back to the problem of legal parity, or they will be treated identically, which would necessarily require the imposition of Islamic law on non-Muslims. There is no such thing as compartmentalised law in a multi-cultural society, regardless of what PAS would have us believe.

Hudud is thus only a small symptom of a much larger predicament. What is truly at stake here are the very notions of universal equality and justice. One hopes the majority holds these things dear.

This is said to be the sexiest sign in the entire zodiac. Those who have dated a Scorpio can vouch that they have an irresistible power of attraction. There’s a joke that even the ugly demented ones can get people to do what they want. The mystery surrounding them turns everybody on.

Leo (July 23 – August 23)

It is the next sexiest sign in the zodiac. People are often attracted to the warmth and charisma they exude. Leos make their partner the centre of their world. For a lot of people that kind of attention is very sexy.

Cancer (June 22 – July 22)

The third sexiest sign in the zodiac is Cancer. Cancerians have a zany sense of humour, and are very romantic.

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