“It is the contempt that the [biblical] canon and civil law alike express for women that has multiplied their hardships and intensified for man’s desire to hold them in subjection.” – Elizabeth Cady Stanton
I never really considered myself a feminist: a person who advocates or supports the rights and equality of women, until the moment I heard my father tell my mother in a demeaning tone that I would never graduate from college. The belief that my father held bothered me for decades and influenced my (sometimes disastrous) decisions I made as a woman. Over the years, I have realized that he was wrong, not only about me but about women in general. I have come to believe that I am capable and have the right, as a woman and a human being, to live my life as I choose. I chose to graduate from college; not only did I graduate, but I graduated summa cum laude. Now, as a writer and as a somewhat prolific reader, here is a short summary of my latest read:
Woe to the Women the Bible Tells Me So: The Bible, Female Sexuality & The Law by Annie Laurie Gaylor is a compilation of the many biblical references and stories portraying women, as the author states, “as either superfluous or as diabolical.” In the bible, women are deemed the “cause of all sin that entered the world” and are instruments and instigators of evil. Gaylor argues that the bible is a handbook for the subjugation of women. The first part of this book summarizes the different areas of oppression of women in the bible, and the second part is a thorough compilation of biblical scriptures to support her assertions that the bible denigrates and subjects women to men.
Woe to the Women the Bible Tells Me So: The Bible, Female Sexuality & the Law examines biblical teachings about women’s “nature,” prostitution, sexual assault, and incest, so-called “uncleanliness,” motherhood, divorce, adultery, grooming, abortion and more. Annie Laurie Gaylor makes apparent the biblical stories of women who are bought and sold, used as commodities, made to become wives with no rights, who are raped, mutilated, stoned to death, and makes apparent the story of a woman who was later chopped into pieces after she had died from enduring a gang-rape all night long. (Yes, this is all in the bible.)
As a product of a religious Catholic and Christian upbringing, this book was rather shocking for me to read. I had never been thoroughly exposed to the undeniable violence towards women in the bible, and to the contemptuous belief that women are instruments of evil whose very existence is to be subject to men until I was exposed to Annie Laurie Gaylor’s book. There is no possible way to misinterpret the atrocities that are explicit in the bible as shown by Gaylor that deny human dignity to women. My conclusion is that the only way to do so would be to deny what is explicit in scripture, and I cannot do that. My view of the bible, therefore, has forever changed.
A bit about the author, Annie Laurie Gaylor:
Annie Laurie Gaylor, along with her mother, is the founder of Freedom from Religion Foundation, the largest national association of free-thinkers working to protect the constitutional principle of the separation of church and state. She is editor of Freethought Today, the foundation’s newspaper, and has a degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Gaylor is also the recipient of the 2010 Humanist Heroine award by the American Humanist Association. To learn more about Annie Laurie Gaylor, please visit Freedom from Religion Foundation.
To purchase a copy of Woe to the Women the Bible Tells Me So: The Bible, Female Sexuality& the Law by Annie Laurie Gaylor, visit Freedom from Religion Foundation.