Mother Jones Thinks It’s a Racket, Too

They’re talking about the Anti-Muslim Ponzi Scheme operating here in Tennessee. It strikes me that there’s something interesting about that quote at the end–about joking that Muslims are wife-beaters. If you work with any women’s organizations here in Tennessee, you know that it can be very hard to provide services to women because of the push-back you get from ministers if it seems like you are even remotely encouraging women to make decisions without the approval of their husbands or decisions that might cause women to leave their abusive spouses.

This is a very real and very damaging reality for many of the women in our state–that being Christian means tolerating abuse because the social sanctions against women who don’t is so severe.

So, this is an interesting intersection, right? Sally Snow is a bigotted asshole who hates Muslims. Her behavior directly harms Muslims. But by setting up Muslims as “wife-beaters,” she’s attempting to define wife beating as something “we” don’t do, “we” being good American Christians.

Don’t get me wrong, what she’s doing is fucked up and she should be embarrassed to be so unneighborly.

But I think it’s interesting to watch these conservative white Christian women trying to make more room for themselves and to make the room they have more pleasant. It’s pretty sad that here we are in 2010 and what Snow is advocating for is to be taken seriously as someone who knows what she’s talking about AND for Christian women to not be beat. But, hey, small steps. Yes, some of us are not inherently stupid and not fit to speak in public and some of us should not be beat.

Next we can work on “no woman is inherently stupid and not fit to speak in public and none of us should be beat.”

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7 thoughts on “Mother Jones Thinks It’s a Racket, Too

  1. “This is a very real and very damaging reality for many of the women in our state–that being Christian means tolerating abuse because the social sanctions against women who don’t is so severe.”

    What is your source for this statement?

  2. I don’t see Islamophobia as a cover for trying to get Christian women a platform and some violence-free space; I see the “Muslims oppress women and Muslim men are allowed to beat them” trope as projection. Just as the trope that “Muslims want to force everyone to live according to their laws and be the supreme identity group in the world” is.

  3. I have a bit of a problem here. It seems like you’re generalising as much about the state of Christian women as some of those Christian Women are about Muslim men.

    Our next door neighbours for the first 5 years in our house were a Muslim man, his Catholic wife and their 3 children. The marriage ended when the police came to arrest him for spousal abuse.

    When I worked in the travel agency there was a Muslim man in our documents office who beat his white Christian girlfriend’s 3 year old son from a previous relationship to death by slamming his head repeatedly into the faucet in a tub after anally raping the little boy.

    It’d be really easy for me to draw some generalised conclusion about Muslim men from these two data points. Wrong, but easy.

    In the same way I think it may be too easy to make a sweeping generalisation about “Christian Women” because somebody knows somebody who had trouble with some Freed Hardiman Church of Christ woman who was being abused but “took it because that’s what the Church of Christ tells them to do.”

    Yes, there are certain segments of Christianity in Tennessee that are attractive to a very doctrinaire mindset, and that same mindset is probably more likely to commit abusive actions toward a female spouse and excuse those actions with misnterpretations of Biblical passages.

    Likewise I’m sure there is a similar segment within the Muslim faith. Many times men who are drawn to a faith–whether Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Jainism, Hasidism, etc–are so drawn because they like the idea of a divine right to back up their bullying. It’s really less about the faith they’ve chosen and more about their individual personality.

  4. I’m limiting my field of conservative Christian women to those who exhibit aggressive Islamophobia,* and I don’t think I’m generalizing all that much about them.

    *and I’m not suggesting that all Islamophobes are conservative, Christian, or female. I’m commenting on the area where the circles overlap in the Venn diagram.

  5. Well, this was kind of sloppy on my part, because the women I’m thinking of, who are attempting to aid women, are also Christian and it’s not as if being Christian makes one a wife-beater. As Coble says, there are assholes who like having the cover of religion, regardless of the religion.

    But, we live in a predominately Christian state, by far, and so, by far, the most common religious excuse to justify abuse is Christian.

    That’s what I find so interesting about Snow’s maneuver–by setting up a dichotomy between what “we” do and what “they” do, she is working out a means by which she can police “our” behavior in a way that could be beneficial to “our” women.

  6. She might actually be doing that, but I’d think you’re being overly kind by trying to find a good motive for her behavior.

    It seems far more likely she’s just stating what she actually thinks and is a bit naive and idealistic.

  7. I think you misunderstand me. I don’t think she has a good motive at all, or at least not a wholly good motive. Pretending problems your community poorly deals with, which are endemic to all of human kind, are reserved solely for the group you hate isn’t good.

    It’s pretty vile.

    I just think it’s interesting.

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