America Is Not Europe
Many people – if they have recovered from their shock – are now putting the news from America into perspective, including women on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour programme, which today I listened to with even more interest than usual.
Let’s put this debate into a wider perspective though. The main question European women are asking this morning is how any American woman could vote for a man who boasts about sexual assault and who even on the most generous terms is a misogynist. I’ve never been to America, but plenty of my friends have. I’ve spoken with them; and I’ve observed America from the outside. I think too many Europeans perceive America to be a ‘different kind of Europe’ – most likely on the basis of a shared language, and many shared artistic and other cultural values.
But America’s ethical values are not at all the same as European ones. America is an overtly Christian country, where a vast number of people believe the Bible to be literally true, where astrology, ghosts and all kinds of supernatural nonsense long-since debunked in Europe hold sway, and where reasoned enquiry, as opposed to faith, is deemed somehow dubious.
(I will in due course post a guest blog from an American atheist friend of mine, which, in case you think I am exaggerating, will illustrate the true nature of atheism in America.)
It is no accident that the template of those supporting Trump was one of faith – unreasoned blind faith, unmodified by any consideration of the real world. There are a lot of people who don’t understand that the real world is real – they just interact with their own version of it. While the same could be said of some of Hillary Clinton’s supporters, it is true of a far, far larger proportion of those following Trump. And the same was true in Britain. No knowledge, no insight, no grasp of the real world: result, Brexit.
“If you ever underestimated the ferocity with which systemic patriarchy would fight a woman attaining serious power, think again. But make no mistake: underlying all the other issues in this election – demographic shifts and racism, economics and education, globalism and immigration and nativism – at the core is a terminally diseased system of male supremacy in a battle to the death with women (and some male allies) who are determined to save ourselves and this planet.” – Robin Morgan, The Guardian, 9th November.
Christianity, like all global religions, is a woman-scorning creed, one that actively and maliciously reduces women to second class citizens. Christianity and patriarchy are in many respects indistinguishable. It is the hold Christianity has over America which feeds into the standard misogyny of men to make the ethical values there even more antagonistic to women than would otherwise be the case. In Europe, we have a good few women political leaders, cultural leaders and scientific leaders. In America, women are decades behind us. Many decades.
Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is fiction, yes, but even though it is a polemical view it only needs a few of Atwood’s imaginary cultural aspects to come about to make the lot of women even worse in America than it is already.
Truly, the lunatics have taken over the asylum.