In the past few weeks the news has been full of the US military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and the impact of the Taliban take-over of government in that benighted country. In particular, there’s genuine fear of the impact on women and girls under strict fundamental Islamic law. Women will be forced to wear the burqa, they will not be allowed to attend schools or work and everything they do will be under the control of a male person. Rather like what happens now in Saudi Arabia, only with a lot less wealth involved. Let’s not forget that. Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women is apparently acceptable because that country has huge oil deposits. Or maybe I’m just a bit cynical.
The thing is, though, fundamentalism and its relegation of women to second class citizens is not restricted to the followers of Islam. Most people have at least heard of The Handmaid’s Tale, even if they haven’t read the book and/or watched the TV series. Perhaps you enjoyed the drama but thought it couldn’t happen here. Well, maybe you should take a long, hard look at Texas.
Texas was the home of the Branch Dravidian cult, an off-shoot of Seventh Day Adventists based in Waco. Some of us might remember reading about the 1993 shoot-out at their compound leading to the deaths of seventy-six people. You may have thought that was the end of the Dravidians. But that’s not the case. Their compound has been re-occupied. (One of their leaders was Australian-born. Gosh.) [read more…] So, this fundamentalist cult has risen, phoenix like, from the ashes. Some people evidently think their beliefs are worth following.
Then there’s the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which broke off from the Mormon church in the 1930s over the issue of polygamy.
“In the case of the FLDS, we’re talking about basically believing that women are there to be baby factories, and you have extreme patriarchal control of that group,” said Janja Lalich, a sociologist at California State University, Chico. 
American science fiction author Elizabeth Moon based one of her Serrano novels, Rules of Engagement, on the FLDS where a similar right-wing community controls a planet. The society is patriarchal, polygamy’s the rule and women are kept literally bare-foot and pregnant. It’s an aberration in a galaxy where women are generally the equals of men. The patriarchy makes the mistake of abducting a blonde from another planet, blondes being rare and desirable on their world. But she’s the daughter of a powerful politician who stops at nothing to get his daughter back. It’s a great read and if it’s in any way accurate in portraying how women are treated by groups like this (I think it is) it’s a chilling indictment of such cults.
But what’s happening in Texas at the moment isn’t restricted to right-wing fundamentalist religious faiths.
Despite the fact that mass shootings in Texas are alleged to be up a massive 65% this year , since June Texans are permitted to carry guns in public (open carry) without a permit. The only stipulation is that they must not have a criminal record and be permitted to own a gun under state and federal law. Presumably this is for self-protection. [read more…] You know, going into dangerous situations like shopping at the local supermarket. It’s shades of the Wild West.
Now the Texas legislature has passed a law banning abortion. Here’s a quote from NPR (National Public Radio, an independent news broadcaster).
“With the U.S. Supreme Court mum, a new law went into effect in Texas that bans abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy. That’s well before many women even know they are pregnant.
The law allows private citizens to sue abortion providers and anyone else who helps a woman obtain an abortion — including those who give a woman a ride to a clinic or provide financial assistance to obtain an abortion. Private citizens who bring these suits don’t need to show any connection to those they are suing.
The law makes no exceptions for cases involving rape or incest. [read more…]”
This is the time when thinking Americans mourn the loss of the late supreme court judge, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who worked hard to protect the rights of women. This law smacks of witch-hunting and to me it is deeply worrying.
What with everything else happening in the world today, this is another indication that the West is in big trouble. The US is actually a deeply religious Christian society, much, much more than Australia. With this one state as an example, I can quite easily imagine America sliding into the abyss of The Handmaid’s Tale.
Meanwhile in the latest round of border politics in Australia, Dear Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk and her soon-to-be-state-governor Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young have found themselves in something of a bind. On one hand, they have allowed around one hundred wives and girlfriends and presumably kids of national rugby league players into Queensland – at the expense of Queenslanders wanting to come home. People were not happy about that bit of blatant hypocrisy, bearing in mind the Dear Premier had closed the border to everybody from 25 August to 6 September, citing a lack of hotel places. It seems she has apologised for letting the WaGs in, admitting it wasn’t a good look. I expect the opinion polls were not favourable.
That apology was given round about the same time that a three year old who had been stuck in NSW on his grandparent’s farm for two months was allowed to go back home to his mother in Queensland. The Queensland health system refused multiple requests from the child’s parents. Young and Palaszczuk both denied all knowledge of the boy’s predicament. I can accept that. After all, individual cases don’t get to the top of the tree (unless they’re celebrities or elite sports players). But I think maybe the ladies should be having stern words with the bureaucrats who allowed this disgraceful situation to happen in the first place. Then again, there have been so many instances of heartless lack of compassion from both women that maybe the bureaucrats are just following the leader. Who can forget Palaszczuk’s remark that ‘Queensland hospitals are for Queenslanders’ when she refused a desperately ill NSW child’s access to the nearest hospital – in Queensland.
It seems compassion has been one of the casualties in this pandemic.