Sexism in the World

This past semester, I taught two survey classes of world religions. Most of my students came from either a background in Christianity or Islam. I would rather have a more diverse background, which included Jains, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Zoroastrians, or any other of the major world religions. The diversity benefits the learning process.

However, for most of the 17-week semester, the students were objective, until we started addressing either Christianity or Islam. Then, for many students, questioning their religious backgrounds wasn’t easy for them to do. Even though they knew this class is a religiously neutral class, raising of questions about their personal beliefs often rattles some students.

In each class, there will be students from either Christianity or Islam that will question and diss beliefs from within their religious backgrounds. I love teaching, but to be able to utilize those students in class is extremely beneficial. They can put forth questions or comments as a believer to their peers rather than from me. A couple students like that each semester is a great experience for the classes. I don’t care what they believe at the end of the semester, but I do care that they think.

One of my educational jewels, a student that questions, is Rawa. I have written about her before. However, we finally were nearing the end of the semester. We dealt with Christianity and started on Islam. The last week will be devoted to the Baha’i faith.

Rawa, who is a Muslim, addressed the issue of sexism within her faith. To be clear, all religions have had a bad track record related to sexism. Name a religion started by a female, where a female is the head of that religion, or have clergy that are females. Only a few religions have finally allowed females to become clergy-types.

Rawa went on about sexism within Islam here in America and overseas. I posted this reply to her comments.


You and the class have heard me rail against sexism in every religion all semester. Now, methinks that sexism is a cultural issue and not a religious issue initially. What has happened is that the cultural issues are reinforced by some religious cleric. That is how sexism is coopted into a religion.

Now, if you or other Muslim women want to address sexism, don't wait until men view you as equals. For the past 200k years, you haven't been equal...

You need to address it. Blacks in the States didn't get equality by waiting. Interestingly, a woman, Rosa Parks was the first to stand up or rather sit down. She wasn't the first black to sit down...another woman was her role model, Elizabeth Jennings.


This was Rawa’s response.


Women in the Middle East Cannot simply fight as Rosa Parks did. Women can stand up against irrationality. But you see, most women are raised into submission. That is why it is hard for a girl like me, who was raised in America, to go and say...hey that is not fair. why do you not speak up? It is hard to find a courage based spirit who does not fear her voice being heard. Usually musicians and female singers stand up to the occasion and try to motivate women. But sadly, women think of beauty, education as a label of prosperity, and standard of a man who they marry to be high. They do not think independently. I see change in today’s society of course. But not a lot with gossip going around. When I visit Jordan, I am bombed with curiosity from other girls. "OMG do you really drive to school by yourself? How does your dad let you? You go to a mixed school? It must be intimidating." It is about experience. You can't wake them up with words only. You need to let them open their eyes to not give up their seats.


I replied.


All semester, you have been a Muslim version of Parks or Jennings. Women are people. Their liberation will not occur due to white males. Period. Continue to be an example; we all learn by example--from good or bad examples.

This is my list of mentors: Brooks Oakford, Louie Palmer, Teddy Roosevelt, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Bobby Kennedy, T. E. Lawrence, Carl Sagan, Steve Biko, Don Quixote, William Forrester, Anne Perry, Barack Obama, Steve Jobs, Aung San Suu Kyi, Randy Pausch, and Elizabeth Warren. Man, that will give you an idea of what drives me. Every one of them was or is left of center.

Now, this is a challenge to you. Give me a list of 12-mentors. Exclude family members but name outsiders. If I did that with some Saudi woman, I'm not sure she would know what a mentor is.


Then, as I often do, I added a post-script about an item regarding the UN.


I'm back.... I posted this link in the other class yesterday about the UN.


Interestingly, this UN decision addresses the issue of sexism head-on, and it isn’t from a religious mindset. It is societal sexism as reflected in the UN’s decision. Historically, sexism started in society and then morphed into religion. All religions reflect the human condition, which is sexist. Religions merely adopted the fear of women and prohibited women from equality. And, you should be asking why?

Sexism isn’t about women; it is about men and their inferiority. Women can do something that men can’t do, which is create life. Therefore, men have subjugated women since the times back in the caves. Essentially, sexism is not the expression of male superiority but rather male inferiority. There would be no reason for males to diss females if males felt superior to women. Think about that. When men diss females, it is because males feel lacking.

Men came up with the term, the weaker sex. Well, the weaker sex has children and raises them. Additionally, women will outlive men on average by about a decade. Now, tell me again about the weaker sex.

Also, Bryan Sykes, who is a genetics professor at Oxford, wrote Adam’s Curse. Sykes claims that women, the so-called weaker sex, will outlive males. In other words, males may become extinct in 125,000 years due to the male Y chromosome because of various mutations. Sykes claims, “We could survive as a species with no men at all by arranging fertilizations not between sperm and egg, but rather between one egg and another, and the techniques for that are already here.”

Therefore, while all religions need to address their theological sexism, sexism needs to be addressed in the UN and everywhere else. We are all equal, which needs to be reflected in all that we do.

Finally, I posted to Rawa and Bayan.

Bayan and Rawa,

Pain is good. Embrace pain. Feel it. Get mad. Then act. I just replied to Rawa about Middle Eastern women living there now. You all have a choice: act or sit and pout. Choose wisely. (-;

Interestingly, go to Read it and then believe it. How's that for a man telling women how to act? Do it anyway. (-;


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