Your first instinct — as is mine — may be to mock this photo above, which asserts biblical authorization to denigrate women.
But mocking implies the nonsensical nature of what is being mocked.
Certainly, the misogynist concepts emblazoned on the tailgate of this guy’s truck are nonsensical in that, in the United States anyway, women have equal constitutional rights and legal status as men. They don’t need to submit to anyone.
However, there is nothing nonsensical about the staggering breadth of these women-hating attitudes throughout the population, much of them promoted by religious, generally Christian (because Christians are dominant in the U.S.) claptrap.
Consider that Christian fundamentalists, Mormons and other faith sects, not to mention devout Muslims, believe their holy books divinely sanction a “helpmate” status that is essentially inferior to men’s.
For a deeper dive into one tragic and brutal consequence of this kind of bigoted thinking, read Jon Krakauer’s riveting and disturbing Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith (2004).
The nonfiction book describes how in 1984 the male-supremacist ethos among fundamentalist Mormons in a polygamous Utah town emboldened a man named Dan Lafferty to murder his brother’s 24-year-old wife and 15-month-old daughter because the wife had been “bad-mouthing polygamy.” The unrepentant Lafferty calmly explained the woman had to be “removed” so that God’s work (with polygamy) would “go forward.” Lafferty’s older brother, Ron, who assisted in the killings, is on death row, while Lafferty himself, curiously, is only serving a life sentence.
So that’s the inherent problem in bigotry that emanates from supposedly divine mandates. If God Himself divines it, literally anything to achieve it can be considered appropriate and, even, profoundly moral. If you are that kind of a shallow “thinker.”
So, when I see this atrocity of a tailgate, I’m thinking how often does the Christian believer beat his wife or girlfriend when they push back against such nonsensical and dangerous hate? As they inevitably often must.
As an atheist, I am once again appalled at the lengths believers will go to justify the most unjustifiable and harmful attitudes possible.
A 2015 academic study title “The Struggle for Female Authority in Biblical and Mormon Theology,” published in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, points out that although misogynism is rampant in Christianity and Mormonism, evidence for this supposed mandate is thin in scripture:
“Related to this is the fact that although women arguably are never explicitly declared inferior as a sex in the Bible or in the extended LDS (Mormon) canon, both are replete with texts that declare women’s subordinate status through violence, political and legal structures, access to worship, control over fate and property, and general assumptions and outlook. Most scholarly commentators on the subject casually label the Bible and its underlying society as patriarchal.
Women’s agency is not everywhere restricted in these texts, but is often severely limited, especially in public spheres. Although it is important not to let the overarching androcentrism of scripture strip the texts of nuance and complexity, these observations are important for establishing a backdrop against which to contrast the texts that do show female ecclesiastical agency, even over men, since they swim against the current, so to speak, of the bulk of scriptural tradition. In such a thoroughly androcentric text, the women who occupy roles apparently reserved only for men demand greater hermeneutical attention rather than casual dismissal.”
That’s a mouthful, but what it means is that there’s some historical evidence that women did exercise some authority in the early Christian church, but because the male-supremacist cultural ethos is so widespread and persistent in modern fundamentalist churches it is hard for the indoctrinated to admit it’s erroneous — but it shouldn’t be if that’s the truth.
So today we have guys with straight faces driving around in pickup trucks plastered with signage citing 1 Corinthians 14:34: “Women shall be silent and submissive. Read your Bible. God said it. Believe it.”
These are attitudes that should be mocked as silly and nonsensical in modern America, which grows more nonreligious by the day.
But for millions of 21st-century American Christian and Mormon and Muslim men, it’s a defensible, even holy, consensus.
That’s why it needs to be mocked. It’s indefensible, unsubstantiated groupthink, in fact, a self-gratifying delusion.