Priest Protests: I’m not condoning rape – just starving her until she says ‘Yes’

"I totally respect the autonomy of women and I want all the men listening to stop their women saying I don't."

Being the world’s top patriarchal religious dipshit (TPRD) is a tough competition. In terms of sheer numbers of people willing to listen and feel embarassed, Joseph Ratzinger is probably the top, but in the interests of fairness, here’s an up-and-coming talent.

Mohammad Asif Mohseni is, if I under aright, the (or a) TPRD for the Shia community in Afghanistan (a minority community in that Sunni country, but an electorally strategic one). He is also the co-drafter and an outspoken defender of the new laws which would make putting your penis in someone a right and going outside with a vagina a privilege.

He is also on record, prior to the recent demonstration against this law, as having instructed Shia men to prevent shia women from attending said protest – an instruction which did not fall on deaf ears, judging by the number of women reportedly prevented from attending by various thugs and self-appointed moral enforcers.

Choice quotes, on the subject of why men should be able to command their wives to have sex or put on make up, include:

“It is not possible for all women to pay the same amount of money as men are paying. For all these expenses, can’t we at least give the right to a husband to demand sex from his wife after four nights?”

“If she is not sick, and if she does not have another problem, it is the right of a man to ask for sex and she should make herself ready for it. This is the right of a man.”

He charitably explains that this doesn’t mean the man should rape his wife (though if he does, whose fault is it really? eh?) but simply that

“If a woman says no, the man has the right not to feed her.”

And also, presumably, the right to exercise his control of her movements to imprison her without food – wait, those sound familiar…

What I want to focus on though is “The Westerners claim that they have brought democracy to Afghanistan. What does democracy mean? It means government by the people for the people. They should let the people use these democratic rights.”

This is a trope that pops up every now and again: democracy means letting ‘the nation’ do things, even if ‘we’ think they’re bad things. ‘We’ should let ‘them’ do what they choose, out of respect for ‘their’ democratic freedom.

But who is ‘they’? How is the group who shall have the right to coerce their members selected? The only rational criterion, to my mind, is involvement: those who are heavily involved are part of the ‘demos’. For instance, a law that will apply only to Aghan citizens should be voted on by Afghan citizens and not by the tribespeople of the Amazon.

But if person X steps outside, who is involved? X is heavily involved, and a few other people perhaps are fractionally affected. Hence make a democratic decision by all means – but the ‘demos’ here is simply person X.

That is, individual freedom is the logical concommittant of democracy (i.e. of collective freedom). It makes no sense to defend national self-determination but not individual self-determination.

There are two things that might stop us from appreciating this. One would be to see some people as belonging to others, either as the individual wives/children/slaves/pets/livestock of other individuals, or as the collective ‘citzens’ of the Leviathan, the state.

Then deciding where they can walk and what they can smoke and what they can read and when they will have sex, will be the ‘self-determination’ of politicians, clerics, husbands, et al.

The other thing, less relevant in this particular case, is if ‘personal freedom’ is interpreted to mean ‘right to appropriate land, supplies, natural resources, workshops, machinery, etc.’ i.e. right to own property – bourgeois freedom, the freedom to be bourgeois.

In such a case, personal ‘self-determination’ will in fact mean controlling the liveliehoods of others, and so the connection with actual ‘self-determination’ is liable to appear less clearly.

To sum up: it is agonisingly common for abuse, imprisonment, and enslavement to be presented as a matter of personal self-determination. That is pretty weak.

3 Responses to “Priest Protests: I’m not condoning rape – just starving her until she says ‘Yes’”

  1. DOMINO Says:

    Yep. You are so right. Well said.

  2. Awais Aftab Says:

    A good post.

    There is another thing. A democratic government should be able to maintain that democracy. If you bring democracy to a country and their parliament votes to make their country theocratic, then this is not democracy. In liberal democracy, there are limits to the power which the majority can exert. The majority cannot make laws which violate the basic fundamental rights of a citizen. And if majority does so, then it would no longer by democracy.

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