What do the vicious gang rape of a young medical student in India and the crackdown on American Women Religious by the Vatican have in common? One word: patriarchy. To be sure there is no comparison in terms of brutality or in the outcome; horrific death in the former, male authority and control in the latter. But the underlying causation can be traced to the same root: male domination and its preservation. It attempts to justify the brutality by insisting on the authority: Only males have certain rights and privileges which women should never try to obtain. And deftly endeavors to blame the victims for its outrages: She was asking for it. They never addressed our demands.
Women are seen as the property of males, not as their equals. As long as this status quo remains and is even upheld by religions worldwide, brutal rapes, sexual assault, degradation and harassment, will go hand in hand with daily debasement, belittling, derision and condescension. Patronizing and patriarchy have the same root, “pater.”
The answer to both concerns is equality, pure and simple. Women are not lesser than men in any way, biologically or spiritually. By insisting that women cannot be priests and moreover must submit to guidance of men, the Vatican not only perpetuates its own injustice but contributes to the subjugation of women everywhere. Church hierarchy attacks women’s minds and violates women’s spirits and in so doing gives tacit consent to violence against women’s bodies.
Will a new pope address this atrocity let alone inequity? I doubt it. Think of the repercussions. Male superiority and privilege is a stake: the superior status apparently conveyed solely on men by the Creator of both men and women, and the privilege to “lord” it over the “weaker” sex.
For more on the Vatican and violence against women check out the Globe and Mail