Sunday, June 19, 2011

I'll Try To Give As Good As I Get

'Freedom of choice' sounds super fantastic when we're the ones getting that freedom, no?
But when it's someone else you're giving that freedom to, it can be a little galling. ESPECIALLY if you're convinced they're completely and utterly wrong.

I'm talking about that completely and utterly ridiculous Obedient Wives Club. When news of it first broke the surface, I (predictably) reacted with total rage and feminist war cries. Let me tell you, it's especially frustrating to be all ball-busting feminist against my own gender! Everybody had an opinion, that they're ridiculous, that they have a point, that men are bastards, that men are kings and should be treated as such. There were calls for the club to be shut down, etc etc etc.

I seethed as I read about people CONDONING the club, and would passionately join in the denouncement of these completely sex-oriented misguided women. And then one day I read a tweet that said, in essence, Mind Your Own Business. The guy doesn't condone the OWC but he said - and he has a point!- that the thing about freedom of choice is that people are FREE to choose what they want to join and what they want to say. We demand for greater freedom of speech, we demand for more freedom, BUT we refuse to give people one iota more than we deem is 'right'. Then what sets us apart from those we feel to be our oppressors? Nothing, that's what. Who am I to tell people that their beliefs are wrong? That's the thing about freedom, you see. It goes both ways. They're free to try to spread their ideology. We're free to try and spread our own in direct contradiction to theirs. But we're not free to ask them to shut down just because we don't like their ideas. Muslim men are free to marry up to four wives, and women are free to reject proposals from men with wives if they don't believe in polygamy. See, freedom. The OWC is free advocate first-class prostitute sex, and we're all free to decide whether or not sex alone can make a good marriage. The right to make our own choices is something we shouldn't hoard, don't you think?

P/S: I personally think that first-class prostitute sex (from both wife AND husband, mind) coupled with mutual love and respect can only do a marriage good.


k0k s3n w4i said...

Now, I have not called for their abolishment. In fact, I attributed their ideology to an underlying cause - the religion of Islam itself (and I have made my case). And I agree with you FULLY that if a bunch of women wants to be mere objects of sex and abuse of men, they are entirely free to do as they like.

I wonder then, should there be a limit to the freedom of belief - when beliefs are harmful? I'll take an example from my field of expertise; parents are the legal medical proxies of their children in that they are empowered to decide what's the best treatment for their kids when they are sick. What if the only way to save a kid is to give him/her a blood transfusion, but the parents are Jehovah's Witnesses and won't allow it. What if the parents are from the Christian Science Church that disallow any medical intervention besides praying for a cure? Do we strip them of proxy power and deem that they are of unsound mind and judgment? And if their refusal of medical treatment results in the death of their child, do we prosecute them even though it's their religious beliefs?

Maznah Taufik, one of the pioneers of the OWC said: "Domestic abuse happens because wives don't obey their husband's orders."

This can only lead to good things, I bet.

I'm not disagreeing with you by the way. I just wanted to throw a little complexity into this issue ;)

May Lee said...

Haha i read your post about it and felt a little chill: it totally seems like they have religion on their side, does that mean that all the muslim women who oppose the owc are actually going to hell??

and yes i read that stupid woman's statement. bah. well, that's one woman who has chosen to have a black eye.

in relation to the questions you've posed: of course, there are never any absolutes, nothing is ever purely black or white. when i said freedom, i meant freedom within reason; and that was in reference to the club only. if we're going to talk literally of life and death, i think that the religious views of the parents have to be respected (and religion and the law have a long history of clashes), if only to avoid lawsuits and accusations of religious intolerance. HOWEVER there are certain limits, too. Not being a legal expert, i cant point to an exact spot and say 'here, this is the limit to which religion plays a part in medical proceedings', but i DO feel that parents such as the ones you described should have someone (who doesnt brusquely discount their beliefs) sit down and explain the risk they're taking. i may be being overly optimistic, but i'm sure that if they aren't feeling defensive over their values, they might be more open to persuasion. if the child is old enough to reason, i honestly believe the child should have a say. after all, it's his or her life to live or lose. if the child isn't.. i don't know, really. parents generally want what's best for their child, but 'best' is such a relative term. in terms of freedom of choice, i think that if it can be proven that what they did was within their religious beliefs, and that they truly had their child's best interests in mind (and here i'm talking about intense questioning, questioning friends, family and neighbours, etc) then the law can't persecute them. i know it seems like i'm condoning the release of child murderers, but the whole area is just so grey. but that's just my opinion, and i'm sure there are other viewpoints that i'm not aware of. whew! now my brain is tired!

k0k s3n w4i said...

the thing about the crazies from the christian science church is that they wouldn't even show up at a hospital for us to try and change their minds. they'd keep their kids at home till permanent damage or death visits them. by the time the public know, it's always because the parents are charged with criminal negligence or manslaughter. in my profession, we have to show no prejudice against anyone's beliefs or practices. we'd treat paedophiles and say nothing about it. and when we tell parents that their kid requires a certain medical treatment in order to survive, we aren't going to criticise their religion at all. doctors have no business passing judgment on their patients.

there is a rather famous study charting the life expectancy of christian scientists (as they call themselves) and it was found that they have significantly lower lifespans compared to normal people who are treated with modern medicine and vaccinated (surprise!). when there's a clear cut scientific proof that their beliefs are harmful to their children, shouldn't that be put under child abuse? what if it's someone's religious conviction to beat kids till they are injured or rape them? what about parents trying to exorcise their children of demons they thought had possessed their offsprings by doing rather violent rituals (some of which had resulted in death). they may be lacking in mens rea, but i disagree very, very strongly that they should not be severely punished for their crimes. i don't believe in giving religion a free pass.

as for asking the kids to decide, there's actually one case where a jehovah's witness boy refused blood transfusion because of his religion. but you must remember that he was brought up to think that blood transfusion is against god and that he might go to hell for it.

i believe in the freedom of religion. i really do. i care a lot of about free discourse. but there are some lines that need to be drawn and i think here's where we should draw it.