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Whatever Your Primitive Religion, Women Are Shit
Don't think it's just the Muslim fundamentalists in the middle east that treat women like second or third-class citizens (for example, by not letting them drive and preventing them from having the rights men do). A woman on a Jerusalem bus gets beaten by a "modesty patrol," writes Daphna Berman in the Israeli paper Haaretz:

Miriam Shear says she was traveling to pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City early on November 24 when a group of ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) men attacked her for refusing to move to the back of the Egged No. 2 bus. She is now in touch with several legal advocacy and women's organizations, and at the same time, waiting for the police to apprehend her attackers.

In her first interview since the incident, Shear says that on the bus three weeks ago, she was slapped, kicked, punched and pushed by a group of men who demanded that she sit in the back of the bus with the other women. The bus driver, in response to a media inquiry, denied that violence was used against her, but Shear's account has been substantiated by an unrelated eyewitness on the bus who confirmed that she sustained an unprovoked "severe beating."

Shear, an American-Israeli woman who currently lives in Canada, says that on a recent five-week vacation to Israel, she rode the bus daily to the Old City to pray at sunrise. Though not defined by Egged as a sex-segregated "mehadrin" bus, women usually sit in the back, while men sit in the front, as a matter of custom.

"Every two or three days, someone would tell me to sit in the back, sometimes politely and sometimes not," she recalled this week in a telephone interview. "I was always polite and said 'No. This is not a synagogue. I am not going to sit in the back.'"

But Shear, a 50-year-old religious woman, says that on the morning of the 24th, a man got onto the bus and demanded her seat - even though there were a number of other seats available in the front of the bus.

"I said, I'm not moving and he said, 'I'm not asking you, I'm telling you.' Then he spat in my face and at that point, I was in high adrenaline mode and called him a son-of-a-bitch, which I am not proud of. Then I spat back. At that point, he pushed me down and people on the bus were screaming that I was crazy. Four men surrounded me and slapped my face, punched me in the chest, pulled at my clothes, beat me, kicked me. My snood [hair covering] came off. I was fighting back and kicked one of the men in his privates. I will never forget the look on his face."

Shear says that when she bent down in the aisle to retrieve her hair covering, "one of the men kicked me in the face. Thank God he missed my eye. I got up and punched him. I said, 'I want my hair covering back' but he wouldn't give it to me, so I took his black hat and threw it in the aisle."

I believe the segregation is due to the Jewish religious fanatic notion that women are "unclean" because they might have their periods. Yet another backward religious tradition like not eating pork -- a prohibition which may have caused Jews to have a greater tendency to get Crohn's disease.

Posted by aalkon at December 23, 2006 5:40 AM

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Is there any religion that is good news for women? Any religion that does not incorporate sexism, in that it lays down regulations and expectations that are based on what sex you are?

Posted by: Norman at December 23, 2006 3:23 AM

The description of the fight on the bus would have been hilarious, if it weren't true. Where do people find the energy or ability to lose all common sense long enough to behave like this? Spitting, kicking, punching -- it's absolutely infantile.

Posted by: Lena at December 23, 2006 5:59 AM

It's human nature, I tell ya. It's the need to look down on others.

Posted by: Crid at December 23, 2006 6:55 AM

Perhaps, Crid, but why should it be based on sex?

It all goes back to the Fall, IMO. The Fall was when we realised the connection between sex and babies. Before then, women just had babies because that was what women did, and men were not involved. Women were therefore important because they kept the tribe alive in perpetuity. When we realized that having sex 9 months prior was the key, women were demoted to mere vessels of men's seed (the woman's egg not being so visible) and then to mere objects for satisfying men's sexual needs. Women don't just have babies, men make them have babies. This is the basic religious view about women - and of course religion is dominated by men.

When did we fall? Probably about the same time as the start of farming. It would be possible to see the connection between sex and reproduction from watching farm animals. This was the Knowledge that resulted in our being sent out of the hunter-gatherer Garden, to till the ground and earn our bread by the sweat of our (male) brow, while women bore children in pain.

Actually I've just made this up as I went along, but it sounds good! Probably read it somewhere, can't claim originality.

Posted by: Norman at December 23, 2006 7:24 AM

Men go to a lot of work trying to control women, especially their sexuality. Once you see that, you realize how organized religion came into being, and what its purpose is.
Any woman who buys into it has to have low self esteem. If a woman has high self esteem, it's impossible to hate yourself as much as religions want you to. I mean really, woman as the cause of 'original sin'? Talk about men not taking responsibility for their own actions!
I like to think of myself as a Daoist now (I don't know if I spelled that right), but that's not a religion, it's a mind-set, and doesn't have rules.

Posted by: Chris at December 23, 2006 7:46 AM

The concept of original sin alone is the height of idiocy. You're an infant, and you have a black mark on your record because mommy and daddy and the mythical characters Adam and Eve fucked? Or something like that. I think it was because Adam and Eve at the apple, which maybe is bible-speak for got jiggy with each other.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 23, 2006 7:49 AM

Another interesting article today about women being denied hospitalization during birth in Israel via The Independent today:

Posted by: eric at December 23, 2006 8:41 AM

Sorry, but if there's a population within your population that wants you dead, that population's going to have a few problems. If the Palestinians were more like the Druze (ie, willing to live peacefully with the Israelis instead of seeking to exterminate them), they'd have fewer problems giving birth.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 23, 2006 10:04 AM

I've only recently begun to appreciate (or recognise, or understand ... not sure what word to use here) female sexuality. It's not that I had any principled objection, just that I was so swept up by my own sexuality that it was hard to appreciate/recognise/understand a different point of view. Especially when the expression of that different point of view was likely to divert my thoughts from analysis to something much more fun. I don't think it's any surprise that we men are wary of female sexuality - it seems so powerful in its effects on us.

Posted by: Norman at December 23, 2006 10:21 AM

That is bullshit Amy. A quick check of the car and occupants would reveal that they were not suicide bombers and could be escorted to a hospital. That one act of courtesy might eliminate another turn in the cycle of hatred. Your answer presumes the woman guilty without any qualifying behavior.

Posted by: eric at December 23, 2006 10:35 AM

I don't presume her guilty or the soldiers innocent at all. What I'm saying is, if you have a culture in which you advocate (and practice) murder against others, it isn't surprising that you might encounter a little brutality and lack of understanding on the way to give birth. If these people were Druze, a people dwelling in Israel who do not want to kill Jews, I can't imagine them having a problem in the world getting to the hospital.

A wise question somebody posed here last week: Do you think, if the Israelis gave up territory, the Arabs would let them live in peace? The Arabs who teach their children that Jews are pigs and should be slaughtered? (Per the video Patrick posted a link to last week -- the three or four year old girl reciting the hatred she's been brought up with.)

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 23, 2006 10:59 AM

And, P.S. The existence of the state of Israel (since 1948) isn't the cause of this hatred, only a convenient excuse for it.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 23, 2006 11:16 AM

Before 1948, both Palestinians and Jews targeted the British colonial forces.

Personally, the only way for peace in that region is to virtually evict every Israeli and Palestinian from the territory. Settle somewhere else in the world. Allow the G-8 nations to pay the moving expenses and new homes. The U.N. passes an international law that no one is allowed to live there, sort of a non violent Carthaginian pact. They can have the choice of moving their holy relics with them to their new host nations. The Wailing Wall in Orlando, Florida? How about the Dome of the Rock/Al-Aqsa Mosque outside Mecca? The assorted Christian sites can be scattered all over the bible belt.

I know this is an improbable solution, but not as irrational as killing someone over a few badly written verses found in various out dated instruction manuals.

Posted by: Joe at December 23, 2006 4:19 PM

> but why should it be based on sex?

Because sex is handy! With this single selection, you can look down on half the human race. It's a tremedous time saver!

> has to have low self esteem.

I hate self esteem. I hate everything about it. I hate what people say about it, and I hate what people think. Self esteem sucks.

> The U.N. passes an international law

Will it work out better than sanctions against Iran worked this afternoon?

What is the fascination with international law? Do people understand that much if not most of the respresentatives in the United Nations are not righteous, noble democracies, but shit-filled hellholes run by bad guys with guns? International law?


Nice butt, Eric. (I hope Costcos in your community are patronized by warm-spirited individuals. Some big box stores aren't....!)

It would be great if his entire generation could take to saying "nice butt" during the holidays. It would restore some of the warmth that's been lost to crass commercialism and kwanzaa separatism... Nothing crosses humanity's chasms like the admiration for a fine set o' buns.

Posted by: Crid at December 23, 2006 5:23 PM


The only religions I can think of where women get the good end of the deal are the Neo-Pagan ones. There you're more likely to run into trouble being male. Probably explains why Wicca is such a fast-growing religion.

Posted by: Kimberly at December 23, 2006 5:31 PM

Probably explains why Wicca is such a fast-growing religion.

It certainly can't be the fashion!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 23, 2006 10:46 PM

Do you think, if the Israelis gave up territory, the Arabs would let them live in peace?

If Israel wasn't there at all, muslims would just kill each other. Their religion is murderously intolerant of deviation (eg Shias/Sunnis), but religions evolve through differences and schisms.

Posted by: Norman at December 24, 2006 1:03 AM

While there are handfuls of Jewish and Christian barbarians these days (like the people who blow up abortion clinics and the orthodox Jewish thugs who beat up this woman), there are large numbers of Muslims who behave like they're two steps away out of the cave. Religion, in general, is a sick thing -- the nonthink involved in god belief is dangerous, as it can promote the following, without thought, of religious leaders who promote behavior coming out of that nonthink: for example, denigration and hatred of homosexuals based on the words supposedly written by The Imaginary Friend. It's just lucky that Christians no longer advocate slaying the infidels. It wasn't too many centuries ago that they did. At least Jews, while still believing, stupidly, in a god there's no evidence exists, haven't advocated murdering those who don't think like they do since they were first running around the middle east (like the Midianites, if The Bible is not entirely imaginary but also a sort of historical record -- which it may or may not be). Jews can at least be credited with the longest amount of time since they acted like barbarians. Well, with a few "modern" exceptions like these thugs on the bus.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 24, 2006 7:03 AM

"It's human nature, I tell ya. It's the need to look down on others."

I know. I do it all the time. But I think we should aspire to something better: Civilized behavior.

If the lady on the bus had grown up in NYC, she would've gotten up and moved away from the lunatic. You don't try to negotiate with psychos on public transit. You don't even establish eye contact!

Posted by: Lena at December 24, 2006 9:08 AM

I don't understand the connection between not eating pork and crohn's disease can you expand on that?

Posted by: Jeanette at December 24, 2006 10:20 AM

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