A couple hits for this question this week. Not for the first time, I look toward Religious Tolerance for an evenhanded approach to answering this one. It offers many examples out of the old testament that illustrate the low status of women at the time. This doesn’t mean particularly that god (should he exist) hates women, but he didn’t really punish any of the men for treating the women like property and restricting their freedoms or killing them outright so it’s pretty obvious why hate could be assumed here.
Deuteronomy 22:28-29 requires that a virgin woman who has been raped must marry her attacker, no matter what her feelings are towards the rapist. “If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife….”
Numbers 5:11-31 describes a lengthy magical ritual that women were forced to perform if their husbands suspected them of having had an affair. A priest prepared a potion composed of holy water mixed with sweepings from the floor of the tabernacle. He proclaimed a curse over the potion and required the woman to drink it. If she were guilty, she would suffer greatly: her abdomen would swell and her thighs waste away. There is no similar magical test for husbands suspecting of having an affair with another woman.
On another page they offer more specific examples, some of which show women in a better light, but they’re few and far between.
The Jesus stories turn a lot of that around, showing him as rebelling against tradition in a lot of ways but as the Church gained popularity and influence, conflicting books and ideas really confused the matter.
To my thinking, the question shouldn’t be “Does god hate women?” but more along the lines of a two-parter:
“Why do certain men hate women?”
“Just how big a role has religion played in helping certain men hate women?”
Maybe hate’s the wrong word. It’s a pretty strong word, but clearly there’s a distinct lack of compassion in some men for the plights of women, and the rights of women.
It’s not all guys, it’s certainly not all religious guys, but there’s that subset of guys (and the inexplicable subset of women that support them). Those guys that, for whatever reason, continue to have political sway and want to restrict and limit women’s rights to abortion and birth control and are even willing to criminalize women who miscarry for any reason.
Rennie Gibbs in Mississippi (2011)
Gibbs became pregnant aged 15, but lost the baby in December 2006 in a stillbirth when she was 36 weeks into the pregnancy. When prosecutors discovered that she had a cocaine habit – though there is no evidence that drug abuse had anything to do with the baby’s death – they charged her with the “depraved-heart murder” of her child, which carries a mandatory life sentence.
Others are mentioned in the article.
Women in El Salvador (2013)
El Salvador is one of five countries with a total ban on abortion, along with Nicaragua, Chile, Honduras and Dominican Republic. Since 1998, the law has allowed no exceptions – even if a woman is raped, her life is at risk or the foetus is severely deformed.
More than 200 women were reported to the police between 2000 and 2011, of whom 129 were prosecuted and 49 convicted – 26 for murder (with sentences of 12 to 35 years) and 23 for abortion, according to research by Citizens’ Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion. Seven more have been convicted since 2012.
Purvi Patel in Indiana (August 26, 2014)
Women’s rights advocates see the decision by prosecutors of St Joseph County, Indiana, to apply feticide laws against Patel as part of the creeping criminalization of pregnancy in America. At least 38 of the 50 states have introduced fetal homicide laws intended to protect the unborn child and in a growing number of states – including Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina – those laws have been turned against mothers.
It’s revolting. There’s no other word for it.
I’ll end here. Thoughts?