Atheist Feminists Message Board The London Feminism Meetup Group Discussion Forum › Richard Dawkins current More4 TV series Sex, Death & the Meaning of Life

Richard Dawkins current More4 TV series Sex, Death & the Meaning of Life

Sue M
sue.mayer
Group Organizer
London, GB
I have emailed members & asked them comment on the first part of Richard Dawkins current More4 TV series Sex, Death & the Meaning of Life

Following his now recognisable pattern, of approaching his subject from the point of view demonstrated by a well meaning Christian preacher-teacher, RD gathers the young people being taught those views and simply questions them. His questions are to the point. He asks simply, without prevarication, why they agree with what they are being told and asks them what the evidence is. IME it is a classic way of making people examine their own thinking. It is not telling them they are wrong, that they should think something else, and not doing the thinking for them. It is simply posing different questions that demand their participation in a way that makes them question themselves.

I believe it is essential that to counter one sided indoctrination it is necessary to stimulate critical thinking, something that the religious notion and practice of ‘education’ does not, cannot, foster – for obvious reasons. This is why they are so adamant in keeping themselves so firmly in the position to preach to children in all schools and in the public media.

In the hour long programme he dealt with the mainly biological and evolutionary issues and the designation of sex as sinful. But in my view he failed to include the basic reason why the religions do this. And the clue is that not all religions have this prudish and punitive attitude to sex. Hindus and Budhists for instance. It is the patriarchal Abrahamic religions, that preach the worship and obedience to the almighty Father God in heaven - the almighty Father gods – men, in the family and in society. Attitudes to sex and the ownership of women by men, is an essential part of that attitude.

It is about the attitude of patriarchal religion, Judaism, Christianity and Islam towards the inferiority of women and their role in sexuality and reproduction. It is noticeable that all the aspects of sex that are stigmatised as sinful are those outside of holy matrimony, for the procreation of children i.e. illicit sex is sex for pleasure or money , outside the institution of ‘the family’ e.g. ‘prostitution’, homosexuality, ‘promiscuity’, even solo sex – masturbation. From this viewpoint it is easy to see why the patriarchal religions have had to devise a system of distorted attitudes and public prejudice against all forms of illicit sex, and embed these prejudices into the cultures it dominates, including The West.

Only when people understand this, will the importance of changing attitudes towards women’s autonomy, freedom and equality, that have been devised by the patriarchal religions be seen for what they are – the subjection of women.
Sue M
sue.mayer
Group Organizer
London, GB
Post #: 3,310
On 16/10/2012 10:09, Hilary Leighter wrote:
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> Hi Sue and everyone
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> This is a copy of a reply sent by email by Hilary (I have asked that discussion take part on the discussion group as some members do not want discussions in their in-boxes.
>
> I agree with you, and would like to take your argument further. The people in charge create their gods in their own image, to give them authority. Unfortunately it is not true that Hindu and Buddhist countries are a haven of equality for women – it was in India that suttee was invented so that the community did not need to pay for the upkeep of widows.
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> So it is not only in the countries under the domination of Judaism, Christianity & Islam where women may be considered to be owned by men. It is the culture of the whole country you need to look at – religion is part of that culture. Though of course losing all religions and associated beliefs would be a step towards the ideal world described in John Lennon’s “Imagine”.
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> Best Wishes
Sue M
sue.mayer
Group Organizer
London, GB
Post #: 3,311
I think we have had this conversation before Hilary, when you accused me of writing something that I did not write or think -

I specifically wrote:
"not all religions have this prudish and punitive attitude to sex." which I think is largely correct.
I certainly do not think that Hindu and Buddhist countries are a haven of equality for women, as you suggest.

I am very aware that the position of women is one of subservience. But I would also say that their attitudes to sex and other aspects of exuberant human enjoyment do not (AFAIK) compare with the misogyny of the patriarchal religions. They certainly do not frown on colour, display, dancing and erotica.

Sue
A former member
Post #: 1
Hi Sue/Hilary,

A couple of points

-I completely agree with Hilary, there is this false notion that women suffer more under patriarchal religions (specifically the Judeo-Christian ones) , not true at all, conditions are exactly the same even when it comes to a religion like Hinduism. The problem is the complexity of the religion itself, with a wide number of deities, incarnations of god, ritual practises that vary from north to south, it can seem a bit confusing to someone who is used to the simplicity of the judeo Christian myths. When you look at it from a distance, the thing that strikes you the most is how a lot of the deities like Saraswati Devi (http://en.wikipedia.o...­) and Lakshmi Devi (http://en.wikipedia.o...­) are female. But once you start dismantling the intricacies, and start studying the religion in detail, you find dogma that is impeccably similar to the patriarchal religions, you even find it in the holy books like the Ramayana (which has good strands on morality but is overwhelmingly misogynistic especially towards the end of the story).
As Hilary pointed out Sati (http://en.wikipedia.o...­) which was outlawed decades ago, is still practiced widely in many rural areas where people live in extreme poverty, the government and political parties are very well aware of this, but will dare not interfere for fear of losing out votes.


-Growing up in India, I always noticed this weird cognitive dissonance, on the one hand the culture is steeped in matriarchy , the reference to the nation as Ma (which translates to Mother)
In literature, holy books, and pop culture is a great example of this. The country has no problem electing women into parliament, into ministerial posts at the state and central government level, it has had two women lead it in the past sixty years (Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister and the previous president Prathiba Patil). But on the other hand, society seems comfortable with ignoring wide spread human rights violations like unequal pay for women and sati.
Sue M
sue.mayer
Group Organizer
London, GB
Post #: 3,312
Jake, Thank you for coming onto the message board.

Let me start by saying that I think that all superstitious belief, the most widespread and organised forms of which are the religions - are harmful to individuals and society. It also prevents rational discussion on how their prejudices and attitudes to women's role do, or do not determine their attitudes to sex.

In saying this I am saying that sexist attitudes to women are not the same as the attitudes towards sexuality i.e not the same in the different religions (particularly the monotheistic, male dominated religions)

Religious attitudes towards the value of women - as not autonomous individuals - lead them all to devalue women and demand sexual contol, though like all religions they claim the opposite, putting women an some supposed pedestal that cannot be sustained.

Their attitudes to sex are determined by their attitudes to the 'natural' subservience of women & their ownership by fathers, husbands & other male relatives. In these attitudes to women they are probably the same in most respects.

But in this thread I am addressing the reason - for their strict strictures on sexuality, and their attitudes towards what they consider the 'second class' value of human happiness (compared with religious ecstasy) - as the explanation of their distorted attitudes to sex for pleasure - that demands punishment - mostly for women.

I think there can be little argument that there is a significant difference in the celebration of human pleasure in sexuality between the male dominated monotheistic religions and other religions as I have already said. They are NOT "exactly the same" on their attitudes to sexuality.
A former member
Post #: 1
Sex, death and meaning of life.

I think what is important to be raised from this first episode is what is said at the end; that as religion shrinks our beheviour has become more civilised, less deaths through war, less rape and domestic violence, less child abuse. However, the media constantly tells us all these things are getting worse. It reminds me of the notion of the development of fear in USA especially since 9/11.

Also the Naomi Klein "Shock Doctrine" argues that the Chicago Boys prey upon ailing countries to present their unpalatable views of Capitalism. When people are in crisis they are more willing to try ideas that would not normally be tolerated i.e. mass unemployment, selling off of state assessts, relaxing corporate laws etc.

So ideas that the world is becomming a safer place need to be promoted. It seems a radical idea to tell people that we are doing OK!

Jill

Sue M
sue.mayer
Group Organizer
London, GB
Post #: 3,318
I totally agree Jill.

I think this is a major part of the explanation of the 'apparent paradox' that the two great countries with secular constitutions also have mass religion - the US and India. (And children do not have honest and objective education about religion and its history)

I think as you say, people who are insecure, in poverty with no escape - kept one step away from the gutter, clutch at straws, however flimsy and ineffective.
I wrote it up some years ago as a discussion paper Here
Sue M
sue.mayer
Group Organizer
London, GB
Post #: 3,319
What did anyone think of the second programme - on death? I thought that apart from the bio-genetics it was a bit . . .dense? . . . .or was it wooly? . . . . Sorry, I need to watch it again.
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