Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Decriminalization of Domestic Violence in Russia: God-Approved

I have written about the decriminalization of domestic violence in Russia before, but Christina Cauterucci at Slate's XX Factor makes a point which I missed.

It is this:

The Russian Orthodox Church has also pushed for looser restrictions on domestic abusers, claiming that the state should not interfere in family matters and that calls to make domestic violence a crime are informed by Western influences that want to impose liberal values on Russia.
I find it shocking how quickly the battle lines of the cold war have been redrawn so that the identities of the enemies remain the same, but the reasons for the enmity are quite different. *

Whereas in the past much of the fighting was over communism vs. capitalism, now at least some of it is about "cultural values," and it's Russia which this time defends conservative patriarchal values against equal rights for women, in general, or for LGBT individuals.

Not that  there actually is any one coherent ideology that could be defined as "liberal values" in the West.  But the West is used in that manner in Russia, to create the appropriate external enemy.

This reminds me of they way the Western colonial oppression in the Middle East created a reaction based on similar arguments about "Western values," and how in that context, too, the equality of women and men and the rights of LBGT people were (and are) opposed as alien constructs and as not supported by religious authorities.

Yet, as I have written before, those civil rights which exist in the West were won only after long and hard struggles, and they are still opposed by many (even in the Trump administration).  To view human rights as an idea applicable to only the decadent** West is terribly sad.  Millions will be deprived of their human rights because of that framing.

Still, my main point in this post is the role of religious authorities in the control of women.  As far as I can tell, women cannot be ordained in the Russian Orthodox Church, but that church still makes statements about women's proper place and appears to choose to side with the domestic abusers against their victims.

This, and many other similar examples from the major religions make feminist questioning of religions always imperative.


* This is more from Putin's point of view than from the angle of, say, one Donald Trump who probably would nod his head at everything Putin says, though not necessarily having thought about any of it.

**  The concept of "decadence" is seldom defined in these kinds of debates, but when it is, it tends to focus on the assumed behavior of women, not the assumed behavior of men.  Examples are how women dress, how many sexual partners they may have, whether women stay at home caring for their children as good women should and so on.

Even though not all parts of the definition are equally gendered, most are.  Check it out, and you find that it's women's behavior (and also LGBT behavior) that truly disturbs the cultural conservatives, not, say, behaviors such as men's pornography viewing or men having many sexual partners or extra-marital sex.