You are a man from what is often referred to as a “traditional culture”. For whatever reason you find yourself living in Australia, or considering living in Australia. There are women in your life: a mother, sisters, a wife, daughters. There are some things you need to understand, some beliefs you need to let go.
You are a woman from what is often referred to as a “traditional culture”. For whatever reason you find yourself living in Australia, or considering living in Australia. You will find you can have a very different life here, if you are supported by the people around you and the men in your life.
Last week I read an article in The Age where Dr Sharobeem is quoted as saying
”I’ve heard men with my own ears shouting [to new arrivals]: ‘This country is about supporting women. It is our rule as head of the family to keep the women away from the bad influence of the country and not let them learn English.’ ”
If you are one of those men, I ask you to think about why you are here, or thinking of coming here. If you believe so strongly in those traditions, why are you coming to Australia?
I ask you to go and look in the mirror. Do you consider yourself any less equal than any other man in the street or in your workplace? No, I didn’t think so. Now look at your mother, or remember her face if she is not with you. She brought you into the world, carried you in her womb for forty weeks. Is your mother any less equal than you? If you are an intelligent man, and I assume you are, the answer has to be “My mother is my equal as a fellow human being”. If your mother is your equal, so are your sisters, your wife and your daughters.
There are things that are illegal in Australia that you may currently consider normal or even desirable. It is illegal to marry a child. That means you may not allow anyone to marry your 12 year-old daughter OR send her overseas to get married.
Female circumcision is illegal in Australia. We call it genital mutilation.
You may not kill your daughter because she wants to date someone you would not have chosen. Honour killings are murder and you go to jail.
Rape in marriage is a crime. Women in Iraq are demonstrating to protect their rights against religious extremists: in Australia those women and children would be protected from such male subjugation.
Women are allowed to drive cars.
You may find yourself working for women. Your sons will be taught by women at school and university.
You may be seen by a female doctor or see a female lawyer. In Australia we do not send women to see female doctors and men to see male doctors although many medical clinics will have female doctors a woman can ask to see.
You have to say “please” and “thank you” to women, even your own sisters – as my boys soon learnt! Here you open doors for women to walk through IN FRONT OF YOU! Something my husband found very odd. Women do NOT walk behind you in Australia, they walk BESIDE you. Your wife is your partner, not your possession.
We do not believe men are better or superior than women. This is despite what our current Prime Minister might think – most of us tend to think he is decidedly sexist even though he claims he is a feminist. His attitudes to women as expressed over the years are not mainstream in any way shape or form, while in your culture he might be considered quite “progressive”.
Let me assure you the world doesn’t explode if you treat women as equals. Your penis won’t fall off if you treat women as you expect to be treated. You won’t starve either. There is a wonderful look at gender equality by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at the end of this article.
If you want to be like the man Dr Sharobeem quoted above, I suggest you not move to Australia. Carefully consider whether this is the country for you. We are not going to change, it is you who must adapt if you are to live here.
A multicultural society is a wonderful place. We enjoy foods, traditions and celebrations from all over the world. Some traditions need to be left behind. Cruel and discriminatory traditions have no place in this century.
If you are black, you do not expect to be treated any less equally than a white man. Why should a woman be treated any less equally than a man? I never suggest men and women are the same, for clearly the genders are not the same. But sameness is not required for equal rights. All three mainstream religions have taught subjugation of women, yet the most maligned of the three, Islam, was lead by a feminist of her time after Mohammad’s death.
A stateswoman, scholar, mufti, and judge, Aisha combined spirituality, activism and knowledge and remains a role model for many Muslim women today. The gulf between her true legacy and her depiction in Islamophobic materials is not merely historically inaccurate, it is an insult to the memory of a pioneering woman.
The writer points out those who “manipulate her story to justify the abuse of young girls, and those who manipulate it in order to depict Islam as a religion that legitimises such abuse have more in common than they think”.
As I am an atheist, I find the religious teachings about the place of women in society totally unacceptable. Jane Douglas reminds us of a little Christian “law” most Christians have, thankfully, moved on from.
1 Corinthians 14:34 (KJV)
Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.
Of course, atheism is something your children may embrace if you move to Australia. Even you may consider atheism. This is a country where both freedom OF and freedom FROM religion are guaranteed. You cannot force your family to believe in any religion.
Today is International Women’s Day. Celebrate with the women in your life. Let men and women move forward together. Leave behind traditions from bygone eras. Set your daughters free.
- Waris Dirie: ‘Female genital mutilation is pure violence against girls’
- Female genital mutilation and asylum in the EU
- Female genital mutilation: penalties tripled in NSW
- Father of 12-year-old ‘bride’ charged with procuring a child for unlawful sex
- ‘Honour’ killing abhorrent, says judge, as man convicted and son starts 18-year term
- Why I’m speaking up for Islam against the loudmouths who have hijacked it
- Your children aren’t slaves