When feminists consider the plight of women, they seem to fixate on tearing down male "privilege" (where they notice it) and providing contraceptives to coeds, rather than highlighting the real problems that women of the world face. Consider the battered in Bangledesh:
About 87 percent of married women in Bangladesh have been victims of various forms of domestic violence in their lifetime, according to a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)-sponsored survey conducted by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, released this January.
Of 12,600 women surveyed, 65 percent said they were physically tortured by their husbands, 36 percent were victims of sexual violence, 82 percent faced psychological abuse and 53 percent were victims of mental anguish.
Only half the victims received treatment, while one third said they didn’t seek treatment for their injuries over fears of a backlash from their husbands.
In Muslim-majority Bangladesh, the conservative patriarchal attitude of society is blamed for sexual violence within marriage.
The use of the phrase "conservative patriarachal attitude" is interesting, because many go to its heart to name the culprit: men. Indeed, the attitudes of Bangladeshi men are deeply troubling:
A WHO survey of 2,400 Bangladeshi men found that 89 percent of rural men believe a husband has the right to mildly beat his wife to correct her, while 83 percent of the urban males surveyed held the same view.
Moreover, 93 percent of urban men and 98 percent of rural men believed that one needs to be tough to become a real man and 50 percent of urban men and 65 percent of rural men thought women need to tolerate repression to save their families.
But there are patriarchies, and then there are patriarchies. Consider what historian Christopher Dawson has to say about the concept:
1. historians love to consider that matriarchies and polyamourous societies abounded alongside those that established traditional marriage;
2. traditional marriage is supposedly founded on economic principles, to protect property;
3. there is no date to support these theories -- all cultures say a woman must be attached to a man to have a child (a woman and her children has never been accepted as a "sociologically complete unit";
4. "It is impossible to go back behind the family and find a state of society in which the sexual relations are in a pre-social stage, for the regulation of sexual relations is an essential pre-requisite of any kind of culture. The family is not a product of culture; it is, as Malinowski shows, 'the starting point of all human organization' and 'the cradle of nascent culture.' Neither the sexual nor the parental instinct is distinctively human. They exist equally among the animals, and they only acquire cultural significance when their purely biological function is transcended by the attainment of a permanent social relation."
6. there is a vital tension to families, since all persons have to strive constantly to conquer natural appetites and embrace subordination and sacrifice;
7. and then the money quote:
The patriarchal family, on the other hand, makes much greater demands on human nature. It requires chastity and self-sacrifice on the part of the wife and obedience and discipline on the part of the children, while even the father himself has to assume a heavy burden of responsibility and submit his personal feelings to the interests of the family tradition. But for these very reasons the patriarchal family is a much more efficient organ of cultural life. It is no longer limited to its primary sexual and reproductive functions. It becomes the dynamic principle of society and the source of social continuity. Hence, too, it acquires a distinctively religious character, which was absent in matrilinear societies, and which is now expressed in the worship of the family hearth or the sacred fire and the ceremonies of the ancestral cult. The fundamental idea in marriage is no longer the satisfaction of the sexual appetite, but, as Plato says: "the need that every man feels of clinging to the eternal life of nature by leaving behind him children's children who may minister to the gods in his stead."
Thus, we weep for all women who have been harmed by marital arrangements that degrade and debase them -- not to mention wounding and killing them. We decry the cultures that don't honour women as fundamental equals to men, and we mourn the family cultures that aren't built on the harmony that flows from mutual respect. But to blame their absence on patriarchy is to misrepresent what the family is called to be.
Muslim cultures make no apologies for their customs that hold a woman's worth to be half of that of a man, the man is capable of spousal abuse, unilateral divorce, and polygamy, which introduces chaos into the home. Yes, one might refer to Islam as a patriarchal religion, but there are patriarchies and then there are patriarchies. It all depends on the source of authority: a Father-God, or an All-powerful God subject to no restraints whatsoever.