Are smart women evil?

"Smart Women" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward
“Smart Women” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

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I have a simple answer: no.

Have a nice day!

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56 Replies to “Are smart women evil?”

  1. I’ve always found the Adam and Eve garden fruit story to be incredibly stupid. Why some dumb campfire story like that ever got passed on is beyond me.

    People really need to learn to dis-Value their holy anthologies.
    In India I see the same — rationalizations of obvious horrible stories.

  2. Well – I look at the creation narrative and see that Eve was created as a “helper” for Adam. I guess that must have meant that Adam needed help.

    Surely anyone claiming that a woman being smart makes her inherently evil is evidence of a continuing need for such help.

  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you! For all the years I was involved in a conservative, evangelical church (actually about 50) I was told in one way or another that I was not nearly as spiritual as I should be because I “over thought” everything. I asked too many questions, I analyzed too much, etc. I knew deep down that I was probably the smartest person there but I learned to keep my mouth shut and my thoughts to myself. When my deacon-husband died, I left the church. Now I’m happy and carefree. And able to think about stuff to my heart’s content. Thank you for this post. I follow you daily and have encouraged some of my seeking friends to follow you as well. Your journey is an encouragement to me.

  4. The Islamic spin on the OT and NT is that Jewish and Christian texts have been corrupted whereas God’s (Allah’s) original thoughts are preserve wholesome and good in the Qur’an.

    But the Qur’an (Surah Al-Araf) also says God forbid the fruit least Man and Woman “run into harm and transgression”.

    So the bad fruit story is silly in both, even if its abbreviated borrowed story is more benign that its source.

    And I think all would say the Niqab, and the Burqa are silly, and certainly penalizing (or killing) women for not wearing these or even the milder hijab is also incredibly sexist and horrible.

    Religion is often used as a tool to suppress women in much of Christianity and Islam.

  5. I have no problem with the scarf but hiding a woman’s face in public (Burka and Niqab) are oppressive. And making laws enforcing these customs is criminal. Or do you support such laws?

    BTW, my homestay host in Pakistan (1 year) wore a Niqab in public.

  6. So, Reema, do you agree with any laws requiring women to wear clothing like burkha, niqab, chador, shayla, khimar, al-amira or even the hijab ?

  7. Remain, that’s interesting with what you say of course the “evil Eve” narrative has been down to a miss-interpretation as both Eve and Adam equally took part in eating from the tree of knowledge.

    Is there a different account in Islam?

    That’s also interesting with the different reasons for women wearing the niqab.

  8. @ Reema,
    If you don’t want to answer the simple question, you don’t have to, of course.

    As for reasons women wear the niqab etc: when a culture has a long history of suppressing women, it is often furthered by women who buy into it. Just because women seem to buy into a practice, does not mean it is not oppressive.

    I’ve seen the same phenomena in Pakistan, India, China, Japan and the good old USA. Feminists would agree.

  9. @ Reema,
    PS: I am known as anything but “cultural insensitive” by those who know me.

    And to indirectly accuse me of “Monolithic, myopic interpretations of a religious practice” — is a huge personal charge. I was attacking a story and exposing the normal Islamic position concerning other scriptures. You have not pointed out anything concrete that you object to in my statements. Instead you made personal attacks.

    You are nice and sweet until someone questions your faith.

  10. Hi Reema and Sabio. I’m fascinated by your discussion. Thank you both for your input.

    Like you Donna, I was raised in a Christian faith. And like you Reema, I made choices about behavior and dress out of my personal devotion to God and not because they were imposed by anyone. But somehow, because I am a woman, I was still afforded fewer rights and held far more accountable for male behavior than the males were! I was treated unfairly in a religion that supposedly supports the equality of value of women and men before God.

    So my question is, who’s to blame for keeping women in their inferior position? The authors of the religion, the historical keepers of the religion, or the current administrators – whoever they may be??? Because surely any loving deity would insist on the fair treatment and value of both genders equally? Surely??? That isn’t happening on a large scale in either Christianity or Islam as far as I can see. Pockets of it. So if God is all powerful, why doesn’t he bother to do anything about it???

    Does he not exist and we’re simply subject to a bunch of man-made rules and regulations to keep us in line? Very easy to conclude given the evidence. Or is he just not interested in the unfair plight of women? Are there more important issues at stake??? Are we supposed to sort this out for ourselves? In which case we women need to fight harder for a better deal. Is religion like FIFA? Corrupt near the top, without any hope of a change of leader???

    I have lots of questions too Donna. 🙂

  11. I have women friends who are Muslim. I taught Muslim women for 2 years. The head-coverings at first were awkward for me. I couldn’t recognize the women or connect with them. I realized that my previous conception was totally cultural. It wasn’t long before I didn’t even notice the hijab, etc. I recognized the woman, connected with them, and felt no barrier between us at all. After talking with some of them as friends, I came to discover that for them it was a badge of honor. They loved their head/hair/face-coverings. It was a style they embraced fully and even appreciated the deeper implications of their meanings. I didn’t know one Arab or Muslim woman who resented wearing it/them. There’s a cartoon of a white woman in a bikini and high-heels, and an Arab woman in a burqa. They’re look each other and both thinking the same thing: “That poor woman is totally controlled by her culture!” That is so true! I’ve come to know this is true. The west is quick to impose its cultural fantasies on all other cultures. Now… laws demanding them or prohibiting them attempt to legislate human freedoms. That’s another issue altogether.

  12. @ David,

    You would support women fighting mandatory hijab laws in Muslim countries, wouldn’t you?

    Reema seems uncomfortable answering this direct sort of question. How about you?

  13. @ David,
    So am I correct to assume that you would also object to the cultural practice of teaching that women should cover their faces or else they are should be considered showing no respect for god or disrespect for their religion. Correct?

  14. Reema – I totally agree! This is an issue of humanity. We have experienced very similar things. I worry that religion helps legitimize and entrench wrong attitudes. It certainly lags behind the rest of society when it comes to social change.

    I’m loving the dialogue. Thank you all!

  15. Well there’s one thing to have a law that women should cover their faces and a cultural expectation that women should appear a certain way. Either way, the outcome is the same… the punishment of women who don’t comply. Whether it’s a law in Islamic cultures or cultural expectations in Western ones, the outcome is the same: the oppression of women.

  16. @Shazza

    I agree “that religion helps legitimize and entrench wrong attitudes. It certainly lags behind the rest of society when it comes to social change.”

    And I think the female covering issue is just such an issue. And indeed, women can be some of the worse oppressors of women — albeit unknowingly for many.

  17. @ David
    Of course I do — wouldn’t you imagine I would?

    (1) Enforced covering of women is oppressive

    (2) Cultures use all sorts of mechanism to get women to buy into their own oppression

    (3) See this wiki map showing required clothing for women in Muslim countries:

    (4) Many women may like wearing hajib, but it may be for the benign reasons you’d imagine. Reasons which you’d see more easily in your own culture but may be willing to ignore in cultures you don’t understand. But hearing the protests of women in those countries should help you better understand.

  18. We agree, David. Add that plus the statement I just made to Shazza and you have my position. And I’d imagine you agree with that one too.

  19. I’ve come to learn that implicit expectations are just as powerful as explicit ones. The West’s fixation on Islamic culture is a projection to distract us from our own severe issues of oppressive expectations and demands.

  20. I agree that implicit expectation are very powerful.

    I am not your average Westerner — as you may know, David. I am not fixated on Islam at all, no more than I am on Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity or Judaism — as is clear in my writing.

    In fact, if you see my comment on Rees’ post on Epiphenom (a great study today), you will see I criticize Atheists too.

    But David, to play the politically correct card and try to be indiscriminately careful in not offending a Muslim or trying to show you question their faith, is a problem in itself.

    Just as you criticize Christianity, Islam needs to be specifically criticized — not in general terms, but for the specific dangers and shortcomings. Sure it is not your faith, but the problems are pretty obvious — as they are in Christianity. And ex-Muslim believers or rebelling believers tell us exactly what they are. We only need to listen.

    The rationalizing orthodox followers are similar in all religions.

  21. Well it’s kind of typical that this post that addresses a Christian issue would be dragged into a Muslim issue. I only address what I know and have experienced. My background is Christian and not Muslim. I’m a graffiti artist on the walls of religion. Smart people can make their own parallels. I’ve heard from other Muslim readers that their Imams read my blog. Because they can make the associations! My experience with Muslims, here, is that they are an oppressed, persecuted and ridiculed people. I address problems with religion and I hope people get it in any tradition. I do listen. This is what I draw and write about.

  22. Reema, just a note to help with understanding: We in the West certainly understand covering up the body, any parts of it, as being modest, but the idea of a woman allowing her hair to show being immodest may need some explanation. That idea is rather foreign to us, I’m afraid, so when you say that to cover your hair is to exercise modesty, that may only gain you a puzzled look. In fact, Western culture had that idea, too, many hundreds of years ago, but we’ve forgotten it completely, so it may need to be restated to explain headcoverings as modest.

    (Just an interested reader trying to clear the air. Carry on…….)

  23. @ David,

    Actually, David, for as big of a part that Islam plays in the news today, to say, “Well it’s kind of typical that this post that addresses a Christian issue would be dragged into a Muslim issue.” is sort of like an ostrich putting his head in the sand, no?

    It was a Muslim that came on to this post and told us her religion has a better version. Which is a generically classic Muslim position on scripture which looks down on other scriptures as corrupt and theirs as pure and wonderful. So I, unabashedly addressed that implication.

    Being a woman, or being a Muslim does not mean “get by free” to me. I don’t carry have that sort of politically correct bigotry.

    Also, remember, Islam claims the OT and NT stories too — so they are a subsect of Judaism and Christianity in a way. So if you talk about Adam and Eve, you ARE addressing Islam. The same set of myths, with a different spin.

  24. Concerning Reemas claims that hijab is worn for “protection” and with it, women “are protected”. See how scary that is. You see, men are scary so women must not tempt them and dress properly – let’s call that “modesty”.

    Feminists (which you claim to be David) would immediately recognize the buy-in to the Male world. That is , it is natural for men to lust for women’s bodies and go after them if they show any part of it, so women must change their dress — what about Men changing their attitudes. In fact David, I actually think you’d done cartoons on this issue. Can’t you see the parallels here and the rhetoric that Reema is supporting which her fellow Muslim women feminists would immediately object to???

  25. That’s interesting. Very! Because I didn’t read her comment as Islam is better. I read it as a little jibe that Islam COULD claim to be better. I didn’t take that as her personal view. Perhaps her comment fed into your previous prejudices?

  26. @ David,
    Interesting that you choose the word “prejudices”
    Seems like you have already determined your attitude toward me
    “knowledge”, “experiences” or any other word could have been used.
    Maybe you’d like to read on the idea of Tahrif (click here) to see where my “prejudice” comes from.

    Yes, maybe with a little more knowledge and experience you would not see me as such a bigot, David.

  27. @ David,
    Yes, pre-judge: that is what I think you have done here. With the benefit of seeming sensitive for the woman, the foreigner, the other religion.

    @ Reema,
    And why shouldn’t men then cover themselves equally. I hear women often speaking lewdly and lustfully over the body of men. Ever wonder why it is one-sided?

  28. So David, did you read the link on “Tahrif” — were you aware of this pejorative way orthodox Islam (and even much of moderate Islam) views Christian and Jewish scripture?

    As I said, earlier “classic Muslim position on scripture which looks down on other scriptures as corrupt and theirs as pure and wonderful.”

    So now do you think I am prejudging in this opinion?

  29. I hear your point Reema. Does it work? Are women taken more seriously in cultures where they are covered?

    Are women less afraid of men and thus safer when covered? Because I only know my own culture, and I know the struggles I’ve had.

    I can’t help thinking we women, regardless of culture, take a huge slab of responsibility to make ourselves heard and respected and safe and modest and not sexualised. But out best efforts count for nothing up against the selfish whim of someone stronger or more powerful. Especially if the woman can be blamed for not doing enough. When is it ever ENOUGH????

    And when I say religion, I do mean the organised network that promotes a particular belief system.

    I also agree that Muslims are oppressed, persecuted and ridiculed in our western cultures. It isn’t right or fair, especially because the women stand out in our culture with their coverings, and become the targets of abuse by ignorant people and cowards. I think it takes a great deal of courage to wear a head covering in western society and I admire that.

    I’m questioning the restraints put on ALL women in ALL religions. Where did they come from. A deity? Or an ancient patriarchal system? I suspect the latter, so lets make some changes!

  30. I haven’t been following this thread closely since early afternoon in the midwestern US and I’m rather puzzled as to how we got off of “smart” and onto methods of dress. I’ve read all of the comments posted up until now and understand all sides of this, I think.

    But what has happened to being a smart woman often surrounded by a group of men intent on keeping us silent, especially in their presence. And some men I’ve known even want to keep women from gathering together, apparently for fear of an uprising! Dressing in a certain way is peripheral to the deeply embedded ideas that women, like children, should be seen and not heard. (As an aside, I once had a pastor tell me, soon after he arrived to be our pastor, that he would allow me to continue teaching my Bible Study class because there were no men in the class. Had there been one man in attendance, I would not have been allowed to continue teaching. That was difficult to hear.)

    There are fundamental, Bible-believing churches–not cults–whose very doctrine work to keep women in subservient positions. In the denomination where I grew up and served for so many years, there was never a woman pastor or deacon. My late husband took great delight in telling me, (and anyone else within earshot) laughingly, of course, that Mark Twain always said that a woman preacher was like a banjo-playing dog: you hardly ever saw one but even if you did, it wasn’t very good. I got to laugh, or at least smile, every time he said it. Like many of his “jokes,” it wore thin after several years. Privately he could acknowledge that I was as good a Bible scholar as anyone he knew. But there was no way he would ever say that to anyone else.

    Ironically, it was the result of my studying Scriptures so diligently that led me to realize that much of it I simply couldn’t buy. But that’s a discussion for another time.

    I’m certainly enjoying this discussion!

  31. Donna, you’re right! We’ve been so busy talking about how women look, we forgot all about the trouble they cause when they open their mouths!!! SMART women especially. Although it sounds like some fundamental Christian men of your acquaintance would doubt that such a novelty exists. Along with banjo playing dogs……. What a great representation of the body of Christ they made.

    I was part of a very open church in that case, because I used to preach and teach. Yet there was a limit. I could preach, but if a man came out for prayer after the sermon, I needed a man with me to pray with him out the front of the church. Not sure why, but that was the rule. I didn’t realize at first and obviously dishonored myself and the man and the church, because I needed to be ‘lovingly’ rebuked. 🙂

    Please tell me we have moved beyond the days of having to have a male “covering” at women’s meetings. I remember a particular Pentecostal movement called “Women Aglow”. Beautifully dressed and turned out laaadies sitting at afternoon tea tables or worshiping sweetly. And one man. Sitting with his scones and coffee and being treated like a king. Our covering…..

    Good grief!

  32. Many years ago my husband was convinced to join Gideon’s International. For a time he went to meetings without me. I pleaded too many other things that needed my attention, our son was young and needed me, I needed to study, etc. Finally I ran out of excuses so I started attending meetings. We wore name tags when other chapters joined us, for banquets, etc. My name tag always said Mrs. Hubby’s name. I always took the paper out of the plastic sleeve, crossed out his name and inserted mine. That raised many eyebrows and I encountered some rather negative comments. But the kicker was, at one meeting, it was announced that elections would be held that evening. We broke up into women’s group and men’s group. The women’s group was shuttled off into an adjoining room, where we sat and chatted for quite some time. Finally I got impatient and asked why we weren’t talking about filling the offices for next year. The others looked at me in some horror and soundly informed me that they couldn’t do anything until a MAN from the men’s group came in to oversee our elections. I very nearly left right then. I did stay, refusing any office, and told my husband that I really couldn’t do that again. I dropped out and let him decide what he’d tell his Gideon friends why I was no longer interested in being a part of the group. So yeah–I know about having a man present to put his stamp of approval on a woman’s activity. Arg.

  33. It’s been very interesting for me to listen to this conversation rather than do what I sometimes am inclined to do and wade in with an opinion.

    First I think it may be appropriate to confess my own prior prejudice about you David and this blog. I might have been misguided in concluding previously that there has been discrimination here against Christianity. I apologise if I have been unduly critical about that in the past and for any unintentional offence I may have caused.

    That is a great point David about the cartoon of a white woman in a bikini and high-heels, and an Arab woman in a burqa with “That poor woman is totally controlled by her culture!”

    Shazza, I like your definition of religion as “organised network that promotes a particular belief system”.That is consistent with what I think is a helpful definition of religion in keeping with British values. In the Equality Act 2010 it is stated:

    (1)Religion means any religion and a reference to religion includes a reference to a lack of religion.
    (2)Belief means any religious or philosophical belief and a reference to belief includes a reference to a lack of belief.

    In the light of that, it is an important point you made Reema about culprits and perpetrators possibly being institutions and political organizations that enforce certain schools-of-thought and practices. onto communities. What you mention about potential predators was brought home to me when volunteering as a Street Pastor with priory given to women who were on their own, often the worst for wear with drink (and therefore vulnerable to predarors) – to ensure they were protected and got home safely.

    In spite of what I have shared before about being mis-treated, I was known as “the number one son” in my family as being the first born. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but I can see how that was assigning status to in a subtle way that wasn’t afforded my siblings. I see how this can and does happen in wider society too. In church I used to think many things favoured women – songs like “my lovers breath is sweet as wine” when singing about Jesus that I found repulsive. However when talking with women, I learned that there were difficulties cause by the culture too that I had not been aware of and some that I as a man didn’t have to experience. So now I am more inclined to listen when these issues come up.

    I never have had to live in fear of any sexual predator, or be on the receiving of any comments about the modesty of my attire to the point of what I wear even being an issue. Having a disability I know what it is like to be treated unequally. It is an inequality that women should have to consider this, and other inequities and that is not OK.

    Shazza – if I might offer an explanation of a possible reason why a man might have had to pray with you when another man came to pray. There is a lovely woman I know involved in a healing ministry with her husband locally, very charismatic. I went to be prayed with her and with her passion for prayer she was making sounds – oooo ahhh’s which along with the touch of her hands on my shoulders resulted in me being sexually aroused. I was too embarrassed to say anything so while she was praying I was also praying, not with joining in with her prayer for my healing but against temptation for myself. I am not suggesting that this or anything similar is what has or could happen with you and any man you have prayed for but I would just like to make the point that it might be for your protection and for the protection of someone receiving ministry that this decision was made in your church, not necessarily it being oppressive towards women. For not dissimilar reasons, I know many men in ministry will not visit a vulnerable woman in her home for example.

  34. Wow David – I wasn’t expecting you to comment as you have.

    Though of course what you say has an element of truth. My sexual arousal was about me not her. Again I was embarrassed, and my way of coping with the difficulty I was experiencing was to pray against temptation.

    I don’t think there was anything unhealthy about my arousal. I think many normal sexually healthy males would have experienced similar in that or like situations.

    So it is interesting that you perceived what I was experiencing as an “issue”. If by issue you mean there being anything unhealthy going on in me or inappropriate in my management of the situation then I would see things differently.

    My point wasn’t to make out that she was doing anything wrong, but that in some circumstances it making be wise to be careful what we do in ministry one on one between men and women with caring and protection for each other. Again for that reason I know many men would not attend to helping a vulnerable woman in her own home.

    Thank you for affording me the opportunity to clarify where I am coming from with what I have shared of my experience David.

  35. Ducatihero – thanks for being so vulnerable and sharing your experience. I would never have thought of that! A tricky situation for sure. And I never once heard that scenario discussed at any prayer ministry training session, which is a shame. Maybe it was being suggested in some nice awkward “do not cause your brother to stumble” sort of ambiguous churchy way, and I didn’t pick up on it. How refreshing would it be to just say things as they are? The way you did?

    I know where you’re coming from too David. Thank you. Was the second man in the huddle there to make sure I didn’t get too oohy and aahy perhaps? Were we as women simply trained to protect men from themselves? That seemed to be our only contribution for a long time.

    I agree Ducatihero that it isn’t wise for a man to visit a vulnerable woman alone in her own home, but it was the norm for ages. The pastor always made his visitations – back in the olden days of the 60’s, 70’s and even 80’s. I think we started learning caution round the 90’s would you say? A woman visiting a vulnerable man alone was unheard of!

    Ah Donna. Mrs hubby. Those were the days, weren’t they??? 🙂 🙂

  36. Shazza,

    Yes, it was tricky and a shame that such a scenario should not be discussed in a prayer training session.

    It was a risk to share about that and it is not without recollection of the feeling of embarrassment that I had. I appreciate you giving the affirmation I needed with your thanks and describing what I shared as refreshing and sharing things as they are and the way I did, thank you.

    Yes you are probably right about a man visiting a vulnerable woman in their own home with learning to be cautious in around the 90’s.

    That’s an interesting point about women being trained to protect men from themselves. I wonder is there a feeling of a need to speak up among women to do so resulting in men feeling under pressure to be afraid to appear to be anything other than “nice”, in the light of how woman have sometimes been mistreated by men? Is there a pressure on women feel afraid of men because of such mistreatment?

    So then how do we discern when mistreatment of women is happening in church / the wider society and work together in addressing it? I guess we will be a while figuring that one out?

  37. For me, it is as simple as this: would a man in the exact same situation be treated with more or less value than I, as a woman, in the exact same situation? In a gender-neutral situation, obviously. A man going to a hospital complaining of labor pains should absolutely be treated differently than a woman, for obvious reasons. Is my intellectual opinion being taken for it’s merits or based on the gender of the person speaking? And yes, my experience in church was to absolutely hide my intellect, not question, don’t be sarcastic (the most recent church that I went to defined sarcasm as “the tearing of the flesh” regardless of the tone and nature of the sarcastic comment. Did you know that sarcasm is a sign of intelligence? But lets stifle intelligence in church. Enough to drive me crazy!) However, I am intelligent, I question everything (part of being intelligent,) and I’m sarcastic because it is how I deal with life. Without sarcasm, I’d probably go crazy.

    What I wear is my deal alone. How others react to what I wear is their problem, alone. I’m responsible for myself. They are responsible for themselves. But, I am a feminist. And I am not religious. I spent enough time being oppressed and then the time getting over the hurt of that oppression. Not going through that again.

    A man being aroused by me, when I am not attempting to arouse them, is solely their issue. I don’t see someone chastising the UPS guy for wearing shorts that cause my mind to wander. That is solely MY problem and in no way his. But for some reason, when it comes to male arousal, it is always either normal or the fault of the female. I don’t see that accommodation being made for women, if their arousal is even considered in the first place.

  38. Wendy, I’m sorry to hear about your experience being to hide your intellect in church, enough to drive you crazy. Do you see this primarily as a gender issue or for anyone with their intellect?

    That’s an interesting point you make about male arousal being considered normal but you not seeing that accommodation being made for a woman if their arousal is even considered. I would hope that we all could talk about and experience such without feeling embarrassed or feeling treated unequally due to gender but our sexuality being treated as normal natural and healthy. Why do you think that has been your experience and what do you think would help?

  39. That was of course tongue in cheek humor. But the deeper meaning behind my post was that arousal is completely natural and nothing to be ashamed of. I grew up being taught that sexual thought was sinful and we needed to restrain and control every passing hint of sexual desire. I have come to recognize that church teaching as complete and utter hogwash. The product of a church history of sex negative hysteria started by deeply disturbed early church fathers bearing little to no basis in honest scriptural teaching.

  40. I appreciate what you say Gary about arousal being natural and nothing to be ashamed of. I appreciate what you mention David about it being natural and good. I still couldn’t help feeling embarrassed when it happened in the instance I talked of. It would be easy to go away from that feeling ashamed unless I thought of it as being healthy, normal, good and nothing to be shamed of. The only shame being if such a scenario is not being discussed in any prayer ministry training session as Shazza rightly mentioned.

    I suppose with my history of being treated in a certain way with my conduct being considered inappropriate at school, being lacking in effort, complacent and careless, with what I gave off not being recognised as a dyslexia, I have been used to burying down feelings about such things. So to not be able to talk about such embarrassment had been a hindrance for me at the time rather than the time of prayer ministry being a help. My choice therefore at the time was to either not say anything, or to avoid similar.

    Since being diagnosed dyslexic, and my confidence growing, I have been enabled to take more risk in sharing emotion and speaking up. I’m not sure how I would deal in situation that would be similar but my hope would be that though (as you rightly say David) my arousal was my “issue”, whomever was involved in prayer ministry would not want me to leave being worse off than I came but rather be served by the ministry.

    If they are not willing to consider and act on that then surely it’s best that scenario in their “ministry” be avoided?

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