The Second Major Sexual Rupture
Millennia after the establishment of patriarchy (what I call the first major sexual rupture) women were once again dealt a blow from which they are still struggling to recover.
Millennia after the establishment of patriarchy (what I call the “first major sexual rupture”) women were once again dealt a blow from which they are still struggling to recover. I am referring to the intensification of patriarchy through the monotheistic religions.
The mentality of rejecting the natural society deepened in the feudal social system. Religious and philosophical thought constituted the new society’s dominant mentality. In the same way that the Sumerian society had synthesised the values of Neolithic society into its own new system, the feudal society synthesised the moral values of the oppressed classes from the old system and the resisting ethnic groups from the remote areas into its own internal structures. The development of polytheism into monotheism played an important part in this process.
The mythological features of the mind-set are renewed with religious and philosophical concepts. The rising power of the empire is reflected in the multitude of powerless gods that evolved into an omnipotent, universal god.
The culture concerning women that was developed by the monotheistic religions resulted in the second major sexual rupture. Where the rupture of the mythological period was a cultural requirement, the rupture of the monotheistic period was “the law as god commands”. Treating women as inferior now became the sacred command of god. The superiority of man in the new religion is illustrated by the relationship between the prophet Abraham and the women Sarah and Hagar.
Patriarchy is now well established. The institution of concubinage was formed; polygamy approved. As indicated by the fierce relationship between the prophet Moses and his sister Mariam, woman’s share in the cultural heritage was eradicated.
The society of the prophet Moses was a total male society in which women were not given any task. This is what the fight with Mariam was about.
In the period of the Hebrew kingdom that rose just before the end of the first millennium BCE, we see, with David and Solomon, the transition to a culture of extensive housewifisation. Woman under the dual domination of the patriarchal culture and the religious state culture play no public role. The best woman is the one who conforms best to her man or patriarchy.
Religion becomes a tool to slander woman. Primarily, she – Eve – is the first sinful woman who has seduced Adam resulting in his expulsion from paradise. Lilith does not subjugate herself to Adam’s god (a patriarchal figure) and befriends the chief of the evil spirits (a human figure who rejects being a servant and does not obey Adam). Indeed, the Sumerian claim that woman has been created from man’s rib has been included in the Bible. As pointed out earlier, this is a complete reversal of the original narrative – from women being the creator to being the created. Women are hardly mentioned as prophets in the religious traditions. Woman’s sexuality is seen as the most wretched evil and has continuously been vilified and besmirched. Woman, who still had an honoured place in Sumerian and Egyptian societies, now became a figure of disgrace, sin and seduction.
With the arrival of the period of the prophet Jesus, came the figure of Mother Mary. Although she is the mother of the son of God, there is no trace left of her former goddess-ness.
An extremely quiet, weeping mother (without the title of goddess!) has replaced the mother-goddess. The fall continues. It is quite ironic that a mere woman is impregnated by God. In fact, the trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit represents the synthesis of polytheistic religions and monotheistic religion.
Whilst Mary too should have been considered a god, she is seen as merely the tool of Holy Spirit. This indicates that divinity has become exclusively male. In the Sumerian and Egyptian periods, gods and goddesses were almost equal. Even during the Babylonian era the voice of the mother-goddess was still heard clearly and loudly.
Woman no longer had any social role bar being the woman of her house. Her primary duty was looking after her male children, the “son-gods”, whose value had increased much since the mythological period. The public sphere was totally closed off to her. Christianity’s praxis of saintly virgin women was in fact a retreat into seclusion in order to find salvation from sins. At least, this saintly, cloistered life offered some deliverance from sexism and condemnation. There are good and strong material and spiritual reasons for choosing life in a cloister above the hell-like life at home. We can almost call this institution the first poor women’s party. Monogamy, which had been well established in Judaism, was taken over by Christianity and sanctified. This praxis has an important place in the history of European civilisation. A negative aspect is that women are treated as sexual objects in the European civilisation because Catholics are not allowed to divorce. With the coming of the prophet Muhammad and Islam, the status of women in the patriarchal culture of the desert tribes improved somewhat. But in its essence, Islam has based itself on the Abrahamic culture; women had the same status during the period of the prophet Muhammad as they had in the period of David and Solomon. As then, multiple marriages for political reasons and numerous concubines were legitimate. Although in Islam marriage is restricted to four women, in essence it is unchanged because owning of harems and concubines became an institution.
Both the Christian and Muslim cultures have become stagnant in terms of overcoming the sexist society. The policies of Christianity towards women and sexuality in general are what lie behind the crisis of the modernist monogamous life. This is the reality behind the crisis of the sexist culture in Western society.
This can also not be solved by celibacy as it is demanded from priests and nuns. The Islamic solution, giving priority to male sexual fulfilment with many women in the position of wife and concubine, has been as unsuccessful. In essence, the harem is but a privatised brothel for the sole use of the privileged individual. The sexist social practices of harem and polygamy have had a determining role in Middle Eastern society falling behind Western society. While the restraining of sexuality by Christianity is a factor that has led to modernity, encouraging excessive sexual fulfilment is a factor that has led to Islam regressing to a state worse than the old desert tribal society, and to it being surpassed by the society of Western modernity.
The effect of sexism on societal development is far bigger than we assume. When analysing the growing gap between Eastern and Western societal development, we should focus on the role of sexism. Islam’s perception of sexism has produced far more negative results than Western civilisation in terms of the profound enslavement of woman and male dominance.
Societal servitude is not just a class phenomenon. There is an order of subjugation which is more deeply hidden than the slave owning system itself. The softening of this truth contributes to the deepening of the system. The fundamental paradigm of society is a system of servitude which has no beginning and no end.