There is nothing new about the misogyny that permeates fundamentalist Islam. I won't do a laundry list here of all the insults visited on women, both Muslim and non-Muslim, who live in or near fundamental Islamic communities. The other day, though, I was struck by how essentially misanthropic this form of Islam is too. Why? Because it doesn't trust men. Women are draped because the Islamic culture believes that men cannot control themselves around women. A recent example cropped up in connection with a change in a San Francisco mosque:
San Francisco's largest mosque — a Tenderloin refuge for more than 400 Muslims — has taken the revolutionary step of removing the 8-foot wall separating male and female worshipers.
No other Bay Area immigrant mosque has torn down such a barrier, several Muslim leaders said, and the move is rare in the United States. But leaders at the Islamic Society of San Francisco, citing the opinions of scholars, say Islam provides no justification for the partitions that separate men and women in most immigrant mosques around the country.
Even with the wall gone, however, divisions remain.
Some men who worship at the mosque say the visible presence of women invites "temptation." [Emphasis mine.]
Isn't that sad? This is a culture that thinks men are incapable of even the most basic forms of self-control when confronted by women. This goes even further than the modern man-hating culture in America, which has young women believing that all men are rapists (or at least 1 in 4). While some women may think that, American men know that's not true, and they don't act as if it is.
By the way, the article from which I quoted is a pretty interesting in that it discusses the broad variations in modern Islam. We hear a lot about the radicals, but not much about all the other stripes of Islam. It's a good reminder that Islam is not a monolithic religion. It's also a good reminder that the non-radical stripes have kept a remarkably low profile as the more radical Muslims have dominated the headlines and world discourse.