Property Rights

The news media has helped make us all aware of the plight of oppressed women across the globe, especially those in fundamentalist Muslim states that specifically deny basic rights and freedoms to women. What the media generally fails to discuss at any length is the fact that any conservative, fundamentalist belief system tends to degrade and marginalize women, Christianity included which today is evidenced by this article on Purity Balls. This article describes Christian fathers treating their daughters as property, to be given to the new husband by the father on the wedding day, and controlled by the father until the husband can take over.

This approach to women is utterly disgusting, especially so in a culture that claims to, and sometimes succeeds at, recognizing women as equals. The problem is that ‘moral’ system conservative Christians have bought in to is based on some pretty messed up principles when it comes to how women should be treated. There are a few key themes about women found throughout the Bible: women are property, cause men to do terrible things, and need to be controlled. Here are a few specific examples:

  • Genesis 19:8 Lot offers his virgin daughters to a wild mob to ‘do ye to them what is good in your eyes’
  • Exodus 20:17 Even in the 10 commandments women get lumped in under property
  • Exodus 21:7,8 How to sell your daughter in to slavery, with fewer rights than a male slave
  • Leviticus 27:3-7 The value of a human life, women are worth only 60% of what men are worth. Now, if only insurance companies could lay it all out so plainly
  • Colossians 3:18,19 Here women are instructed to ‘submit’ to their husbands. Many say the following verse that men should not be ‘bitter’ to their wives means it’s OK to be controlling, as long as you are nice
  • 1 Peter 3:1 Again with the subjection to men

These are just a very few examples of the subjugation of women found in the ‘good book’ that should be disgusting to modern people. Yet somehow we have managed to recognize that it is wrong to make women wear oppressively uncomfortable garments, it is wrong to refuse to educate women, but yet somehow, it is OK (as long as you are in America) to treat young girls as property and promise to deny them the right to choose what happens with their bodies and deny them the education to understand their own bodies, their options for birth control, deny them the understanding of what sex is really about.

It is appalling that we’ve come so far and appears that large segments of the population are about to slide back in to an unenlightened view of women as property. And it is frustrating that so few people seem to see the parallels between these ‘purity balls’ and purity rings and so forth and the burqas forced on women in other parts of the world.

Thanks to Skeptics Annotated Bible for compiling a great list verses related to women, some of which are referenced above, a much more extensive list can be found on their

~ by BK on 26 March, 2007.

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