The Polemicist, a Short Story

Of course, sex is natural. Of course, it is normal. Of course, I have said this before, many times before, word following word on how we can raise sex and sexuality to where they belong in our minds, or debase them the way we do, representing them as we do, dis-understaanding them as we have. Of course, it is worth repeating, even necessary to say it again from time to time: sex is natural, sex is normal, sex is human, can be human, can be humane, can become inhuman, inhumane . . . any of these by choice.

There are too many people here in the United States who are entrenched in cultural norms other than those native to our country, and too many of these assuming an authority for their separate religious laws above that of the Constitution of the United States. Let me announce–let it be pronounced loud and clear throughout all the land, a proclamation distinct: Muslim Sharia Law–unmodified and unmitigated–has no place in America at all, certainly not above the Constitution of the United States. I have seen too many Muslims, in public spaces, arrogant enough to assume that we have to make unreasonable accommodations for their conservative religious practices in these public places. I say no, not unreasonably, but Constitutionally, democratically, and with a serious antogonism to any one of a number of cultures that are predominantly muslim, justifying their misogyny with semi-literate interpretations of Holy Qu’ran, which women are not permitted to read. No family member, allegedly operating under sanction of Sharia Law, has the right to enforce his culturally determined brand of misogyny. Misogyny is not a basic tenet of practicing religious freedom in America. Let us not debase religion, ourselves, or even attempt to do so to Holy Qu’ran (attempted but never possible to achieve).

Sexuality is often feared even in the west; the alleged sexual freedom or liberation of the west is not what it pretends to be.  Human sexuality in itself, and not that endorsed by American popular culture, has had many psychopathic responses from Muslims when the matter of this sexuality is discussed in relation to Muslim women. We fear ourselves, we fear our power, most often our power to love, to fall in love, to be in love; this is human, this fear. How cultures or religions manage this fear differs from one to another; how Muslims have traditionally managed their fear of sex and sexuality is radically different from how we do so in the United States. We cannot, though, under pretext of religious freedom, allow Muslim men to violate the rights of Muslim women that they have whether Muslim Women seek to abdicate these rights by their choices.

Sexual attraction is the awakening of love; the desire to fuck is in itself love; what we do with the love that has arisen is ours to foster or abandon, nurture or starve, or any one of the many, many variations between either extreme, very simply, by the choices we make. Adolescence is a time when we become aware of our sexuality. Adolescence is a time when sexuality is mutually interchangeable with being.  Teenagers are going to feel it, going to want it, are going to have it, and sometimes a lot of it, and sometimes often, and perhaps many times without contraception; sex, sex and sex again, more and more.  I can attest to the fact that there were entire periods in my life when the only thing I wanted was to fuck, fuck and fuck again.

I am sure this has been true everywhere for all time, about teenagers and sex. Sexuality is the Life-force; this is not a question, nor is it an invitation to a debate. Everyone everywhere has understood this in one way or another, through one set of metaphors or another. We are not going to be able to do anything about the facts of sex and sexuality; no, not ever.

Girls, then, are going to get pregnant. I guess there are a lot of forced marriages in Islam because there is no abortion, unless the midwife concocts a tea or other special brew to induce miscarriage. And this is a significant point to be made about induced miscarriages, which is what an abortion is, and how they ave been managed by midwives everywhere for all time. Yes, there are no abortions, but many miscarriages among Muslim women. This is what is. This is what has been, as this is what will be. Girls are going to have babies or miscarriages.

The point herein then is that getting pregnant is also normal and natural, for sure, as much as sex and sexuality. We must understand this; to understand as I have noted in several essays is to stand under, to be under, to hold up, to feel the weight of–woman in her role as pack-animal has often understood this; woman subjected to patriarchal religious control over her body has understood this; woman robbed of her modified personhood by marriage, becoming a female only, thus the breeder in the breeding contract that is the marriage license . . . she understands this standing under.

Getting pregnant should never be punished with threat of life or limb, not even if the girl has acted irresponsibly. In circumstances where a girl gets pregnant, I understand that if there were no boy to marry, this would be more than a problem for a girl who was of any religious or cultural tradition, or economic or educational status, chiefly because her family would most likely want her to get married and their anxiety at there being no boy to marry would be targeted at the girl. Of course their desire for her to be married while pregnant would most likely stem from the fact that they would suffer in the mind the slings and arrows of outrageous shame, embarrassment, all more or less the product of an increased narrowing of the mind. I am sure this problem about saving face as many family’s would imagine is more pressing in Pakistan or Syria, and just as likely among more traditionally minded, controlled and controlling people anywhere in the world, and even here when they find themselves among the masses yearning to be free, or the fundamentalist maniacs yearning to take control of the government while attempting to hi-jack the Constitution.

Muslim men in Pakistan taking the opportunity to murder their sisters for eloping is extreme, at least in my American eyes; I do not know how extreme it is in their eyes. I have no such illusions that women’s rights are the same for Muslim women in Islamist states as they are here. I also suffer no illusions that Holy Koran has been an improvement over the lives of women, at least historically, in many of the cultures that have adopted Islam. Only so much the worse for women who had lived in societies before the advent of Islam, for whom the Koran has been an improvement over their lives. I have no illusions that our world has not gotten darker and that there are not a couple of hundred million or more Muslims who live in the direst poverty and illiteracy and a grotesque lack of education collateral with a breakdown of traditional knowledge no longer transmitted by a once vibrant folk tradition.

I am just as sure that there are people not ruled by fear and superstition, which is what most people make out of their religion, including Jews, Christians and myriads of animists. In China, this is a problem for other reasons. I am not here to talk about forced abortions in China, or the five hundred women who kill themselves every day in the People’s Republic. We are addressing misogyny worldwide when we discuss abortion rights, or if women are to be allowed access to safe and anti-septic abortion operations. It is medical practice we are talking about; that is, we must favor medical practice in opposition to the butchery or mechanical practices that take place in illegal abortions worldwide. A woman’s right to choose what she does with her pregnancy in spite of laws that support her or not is an issue of paramount importance. Woman’s rights are human rights; there is no getting around this. A man has no prerogatives of or for fatherhood that countermand a woman’s right to choose what happens to or with her body. Whoever does not know this and acts accordingly is a bearer of darkness. But then who among us defends this most basic right of choice? To choose or not to choose is every person’s to be or not.

Now, faith, class or country have no bearing on young people having sex, not really; everywhere young people feel the power of their sexuality, young people are having sex and young girls are getting pregnant. As mentioned above, if there were a boy to marry, and marriage ensued, there would be less shock involved for any parents, I presume, but for some a great relief. But let’s not put too much value on the opinions of the parents in judging whether or not we should or should not make easily available a safe and antiseptic medical procedure if a pregnant girl should want an abortion. This idea, though, of getting married when pregnant is only ethically viable where the girl wants to get married and wants to have the baby. If she should not want to get married, but wants the baby, then this is another choice. It is her choice we have to honor. If she should want to get married and not let the embryo grow into a child, this is then one choice; if she should not want either the father or a baby, then this is yet another. Choice cuts in many ways. All possible options must be available to her.

Regardless of her community, our ethical standards must remain in tact and those standards extend to a girl, a woman, and her proprietorship over her body. If she should want the baby, but not the father, the response of the family in our larger society must entertain this as practical. We can’t maintain faith with freedom for all and not think so. Respect for multiculturalism does not trump our highest ideals of freedom, universal and absolute. There is no place for Western misogyny, there certainly is no place for Muslim misogyny under the pretext of religious freedom. Sharia law does not trump the Constitution; it has no application in this country at all anytime anywhere over any person when it contradicts or countermands our highest laws, our highest ideals–there must be no equivocation over this.

We do have the right to confront Islam on the home front for any of its practices that are misogynistic; this is plain, this is simple. It’s a civil rights violation in France for even a male member of her family to force a woman to wear a hijab or niqab. And do not get your hairs up about Muslim women not being able to wear a hijab in public forums even if the woman wants to; Syria, Turkey and Tunisia preceded France in those measures. There is no place for Muslim law in America where Muslim law is a direct violation of United States laws or more forcefully, as mentioned above, where it contradicts the Constitution.

Religious freedom does not guarantee its practitioners a license to violate civil rights. We cannot–we must not equivocate on this. This should be clear to anyone who has the slimmest thread of common American political sense. The great mass of muslims are in a relationship with their religion that the great mass of Christians in the west were during the Renaissance, at best; in the middle ages, if we are to consider a little worse; and at worst, more zealous and fanatical than the hysteria that spread through Spain during the years of the Inquisition (and Spain is the one Catholic country that had direct and prolonged experience with Islam)


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