Sat | Nov 17, 2018

Women, shut up! (The Bible says so)

Published:Monday | September 15, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Michael Abrahams, Online Columnist

The lead story in last week's Sunday Gleaner (September 7, 2014) dealt with domestic violence in the Church, stating that the phenomenon is under-reported and that perpetrators are found even among the clergy.

This revelation did not surprise me, for as sure as the Nile courses through Africa, so do sexism and misogyny course through the Bible, providing fertile ground for the subjugation, denigration, oppression and abuse of women.

From the beginning, it is apparent that woman was an afterthought. In Genesis, after God created man, he created a menagerie of animals, but Adam could not find "an help meet" for himself among them. It was only then that God decided to make woman from one of Adam's ribs, probably utilising some kind of advanced stem-cell technique in the Eden Regenerative Science Laboratory.

So woman was made from a piece of a man, suggesting that they owe us for their very existence. And it only gets worse after this, with women consistently getting the faecal end of the holy stick.

When Eve ate the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden and shared it with Adam, the manure hit the celestial fan, and the rest is history, or, more likely, mythology.

The Bible does not state what the fruit was, but I strongly suspect that Eve gave Adam her cherry (nom, nom, nom). Anyway, God did not like this one bit and punished them both. In summary, God said that the woman would experience awesome, epic labour pain during childbirth and be ruled by her husband. The man got off much lighter, being sent to do gardening work and told that he should eat herb, which he subsequently went and smoked.

It is obvious that women and their bodies were not valued or respected back in the good old Bible days. When a mob wanted to get down and dirty with two angels, Lot offered up his virgin daughters instead, and was later referred to in 2 Peter as a "just" and "righteous" dude. Seriously?

Moses, another "righteous" dude, said in Deuteronomy that if in war you capture a beautiful woman and want her, you should take her home and "go in unto her", but that "if you have no delight in her", you should "let her go". He then said that if a man rapes a virgin and "they are discovered", he should pay her father and marry her.

Then, as if that were not enough, he went on to say that if a man marries a woman and realises that she is not a virgin, she is to be stoned to death for playing "the whore in her father's house". No mention was made if her virginity status had to be verified by a board-certified gynaecologist, so it is possible that there were many misdiagnoses leading to fatal 'rock bucket challenges'. On the other hand, if her husband was a man whore, there was apparently no penalty whatsoever.

Then there is misogyny meister, Paul, who was obsessed with women keeping their mouths shut. In 1 Corinthians, he said that "women should remain silent in churches", and in 1 Timothy 2 he declared that he does "not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man".

Even little baby girls were not to be left out of the biblical sexismpalooza. In Leviticus, it is stated that when a woman gives birth to a daughter, she is ceremonially unclean for twice as long as when she gives birth to a son (66 days as opposed to 33 days). I guess a baby vagina passing through the birth canal contaminates it more than a little willy, huh?

At least Jesus Christ had more respect for women. When the adulterous woman was about to be stoned by the scribes and the Pharisees, he challenged those without sin to "cast the first stone", causing the crowd to disperse. (Thank God Al Miller wasn't there, or the woman might have got a concussion). Also, JC was very good to Mary Magdalene and loved her dearly. Some people are actually convinced that they had an intimate relationship, but, as Kermit would say, "That's none of my business."

It is interesting to note that when Islamic fundamentalist men make statements such as some of the above-mentioned, we condemn them as wicked wretches, but we go to church clutching a book espousing similar sentiments, written by men 'inspired by God', and tell our children that these were great men, while they shade between the lines in their Bible story colouring books.

If God inspired men to write these things, what does that say about His attitude toward our mothers, sisters, daughters and mothers of our children? Is God a chauvinistic, sexist, misogynistic despot? Or, was the God of the Bible created by man in his own image? As someone who believes in the existence of a supreme being and also loves and respects women, I am convinced that the latter is true.

Michael Abrahams is a gynaecologist and obstetrician, comedian and poet. Email feedback to and, or tweet @mikeyabrahams.