When some feminists demanded the arrest of the misguided Christian man who produced a primitive movie mocking Islam, I had to shake my head at the sheer stupidity of it. Here in the West, and in the US in particular, feminists tend to see Christianity as the one force that must be destroyed. They are so wrapped up in their hate crusade against Christians and traditional Western civilization that they will side with anyone they see as an ally in its destruction.
However they, and most other Westerners, have a very feeble understanding of Islam. We tend to look at the authoritarian governments that characterize Islamic societies and blame them for Islamic fundamentalism, which we then interpret as “anti-democratic.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. Out of the Abrahamic religions, and perhaps all major religions, Islam is the most democratic of faiths. Christianity, on the other hand, is spiritually aristocratic, while Judaism tends to be more legalistic.
Muhammad was a populist prophet; he declared all men equal under Allah. Major branches of Islam are not nearly as hierarchical as traditional Christianity. Becoming an imam doesn’t require the approval of bishops or a formal process, but rather popular recognition of one’s wisdom and spiritual authority. A young man who is well-versed in the Koran and has a good understanding of Sharia can lead other Muslims in prayer, and without any formal ordination he becomes an imam.
So Islamic society already has a very powerful democratic institution: the mosque. In prayer, the cobbler and the sultan are equal before Allah. In its pure form, it is a true brotherhood of faith.
However, human society needs hierarchy somewhere, and if it isn’t found in one’s religion, it tends to emerge elsewhere. So Islamic societies are characterized by democratic religious institutions and authoritarian governments. I think the reason that political democracy developed in Christian societies is that the hierarchical nature of the church allowed the emergence of more egalitarian governments. For Christians, the hierarchy of the church provided the necessary order, giving people a sense of their proper place in the world. This prevented the social chaos that tends to emerge as a result of unchecked egalitarianism. In other words, Christians did not need an authoritarian government, because the church provided them with social order. As an example, if we look at contemporary American society, it’s fairly clear that the breakdown of religious authority has led to a need for a more authoritarian government and oppressive, coercive laws. Perhaps that’s the inevitable result in societies that allow for freedom of religion; I suppose future historians will address the issue.
When we helped “liberate” Muslims from their dictators, what we were doing was essentially removing a sense of order from their societies. Not to say that the corrupt, authoritarian regimes were all that benevolent, but rather that we helped make religious egalitarianism, i.e. Islam, the dominant force. And, of course, women’s “equality” cannot meaningfully exist in an egalitarian society, because the real differences between men and women are too stark. In fact, it takes a great deal of authoritarian coercion to bring women up to the level we find them occupying in the US. From federal agencies to local police forces and courts, hundreds of thousands of people are employed in the business of “equalizing” men and women. One could fairly call it a domestic army.
Under Arab dictators like Saddam Hussein and Hosni Mubarak, women had higher relative social status that they do now in the freshly liberated countries of Iraq and Egypt. Feminist projects were indulged, women’s groups patronized, and so on. Now that men have been freed from the constraints of the regimes, much of this has been rolled back. Islam and feminism are now said to be mutually exclusive. Sharia has hardened, and tolerance for more liberal interpretations of Islam (not to mention other faiths) is weakening. In its purer forms, democracy is entirely incompatible with feminism. For example, if Americans merely applied Constitutional principles to family law, women’s supremacy in that institution would vanish overnight.
But still feminists live in a fantasy world in which democracy and female supremacy are one and the same. This is why they supported the Arab Spring revolts, backwardly thinking that feminism would flower in countries where authoritarian governments were removed. Perhaps not all of them are that stupid, but it seems to be the prevailing attitude, hence their disappointment when things didn’t turn out quite as they had expected.
Here at home, feminists instinctively understand that their power rests on an authoritarian state, and typically support punitive, coercive and confiscatory measures against men. Indeed, authoritarian governments overwhelmingly direct their efforts toward placing controls on the males of a given society, as they are viewed as the more credible threat to state power. So how could they make such a mistake where the Arab countries are concerned?
I think it really comes down to a desire to permanently vanquish the traditional spiritual authority of the West, and replace it with something else. Every authoritarian regime, no matter where, is a stand-in for the hated “patriarchy,” which is really just another word for traditional Christianity.
Ultimately, they may have their way. I can’t say with any conviction whether Christianity will survive or fade away. However, if it does fail, a new order will arise in its place, and I think we can say with some certainty that it will not be dominated by women, and if the rest of the world is any indication, women’s status will not be enhanced.