Two main causes for feminist facepalms all round the Eat Your Sherbert towers in the news this week. Firstly, in an appalling move to appease religious fundamentalist godbags and womanhaters in Afghanistan, president Hamid Karzai has signed laws which legalize rape within a marriage, stating that a man can expect to have sex with his wife at least “once every four nights” when travelling, unless they are ill. Not content with removing the requirement for sexual consensuality, the bill also tacitly approves child marriage and restricts a woman’s right to leave the home. Under the law, men would also be given preferential inheritance rights, easier access to divorce, priority in court, and the right to “grant permission” for their wives to seek employment or get a doctor’s appointment.
It is hard from this report to contemplate any way in which they could have more comprehensively shat on the notion of women as human beings; it seems evident that women’s rights are not such an antediluvian topic as Virginia Woolf had optimistically asserted 84 years ago. At least our own uber-enlightened post-medieval society pays lip service to the idea of women as something more than a God-given trinity of sexbot/slave/property. It isn’t by coincidence that our post-medieval society is also a post-religious one.
The second plank of splinterous wood to lodge itself firmly in the feminist eye has been the media treatment of Barack and Michelle Obama. Splashed all across the Independent and the Guardian are reports of Obama’s planet-saving negotiations, key speeches, aims and targets, and opinion piece after analysis after fancy graphic-bedecked charts scrutinizing his role in the moderately successful G20 outcome. Splashed across the same newspapers are columns devoted to the type of cardigan Michelle Obama was wearing, and her choice of shoes. One can only imagine that the Times Women Section had a field day; I personally found the coverage in the Guardian and the Independent too full of patronizing crap for words, so didn’t venture into tabloids/fake broadsheets for fear of unleashing a very portal to hell.