Let He Who Is Without Sin

Paying close attention to the debate over American Muslims, mosques, and religion and ideology leading up to this September 11th, something has been bothering me.

It’s subtle really. One of those talking points we’ve heard endless times on cable news and blogs and in facebook debates with family and friends.

They are barbaric. They STONE their women. They are not peaceful.

They, of course, being Muslims.

I have yet to find anyone who isn’t appalled by the stoning of a woman. I have yet to find an American not shocked by the treatment of a gender in some parts of the world, Muslim nations included.

But I’ve realized what, about this debate, has been bugging me:

All these American men calling out the stoning of a woman as “barbaric” while so many American women still suffer domestic violence at home. All these men of a certain generation, and a certain region, and a certain culture- using the stoning as if they are suddenly aware that women are often beaten, raped, treated as less than equals.

I watched a family member post about this on facebook- condemning (and rightfully so) the stoning of women by extreme Muslims all the while I was thinking “but your Dad beat your Mom, your Dad beat you…yet you sit on your high horse about how this culture operates…”

I’m thankful the treatment of women globally has become a concern for some of these friends and family members…many of whom I know for a fact either suffered or saw domestic abuse in their own homes. However their sudden and vehement disgust at how extremists operate in other countries rings hollow for me, when they seem to turn a blind eye to what has happened in their own families over the years.

Was it not my grandmother’s generation that saw domestic abuse ignored and endorsed by police?

Nothing but a family matter here, sometimes these women have it coming.

Was it not my mother’s generation that bore the stigma of the “women who left” and the “women who stayed” – where I can’t tell you how many times my Dad or Mom had to enter a certain family member’s home to hide or try to take away guns and grab kids.

Not too many years ago I sat in a “hardshell” Christian church where as a woman, I needed to be separated from my husband and son.

“Well that was just a different time and those people have different ways”- was the excuse given.

The things we dismiss in our own families, in our own history, in our own culture while we call other barbarians and evil and anything but peaceful.

While Americans are in an uproar over extremists Islamic practice, we seem to fail to realize our culture can be just a brutal and our extremists just as barbaric. Or worse, hidden below the surface, where instead of a public stoning we have an Aunt who “bumped into a door” or a niece “not allowed” to wear a skirt above her shin.

While the rhetoric continues to fly, and more seem to have epiphanies about the treatment of women, I hope they also look in their own communities and remember we are not so different. We are not so much better. And we certainly are not innocent.

I encourage you to drop the holier-than-thou act, pretending this land far away is so foreign and strange and evil, while your own country and men so pure and good.

The only difference I see is these men don’t care what the world thinks and openly treat their women poorly, while you hide the cuts on your knuckles and fan away your own cultural and family history as “things were different then” or “that’s just not how that part of the family works.”

There is no excuse. Ever. Not in Iran. Not in Saudi Arabia. And certainly not here in the United States.


  1. PirateWench says:

    Indeed. You hit the nail on the head exactly.

  2. There is never an excuse or justification for domestic violence and just because they do it over in some foreign country doesn’t make it any worse than when we do it over here. If we’re really supposed to be better than them lets avoid doing the things that they do. things like beating the hell out of our women.

  3. Once again you reach into my brain and say the things I think by can’t seem to write eloquently. Brilliant. Again. I’m so grateful your voice isn’t silenced.

  4. Did you write this while watching football? That there is a powerful brain.
    .-= Kim Tracy Prince´s last blog ..The Unaccompanied Mother =-.

  5. A rock or a fist, the result is the same: a woman (or child) is brutalized.

    What’s worse, that it’s done in the name of a religion, or that it still continues in the absence of that rationale?
    .-= Cynematic´s last blog ..A cantaloupe from my garden =-.

  6. Spot on, Erin. Well done.

  7. Beautifully put, your gift for writing is a blessing to all who read it. Your post is both succinct and profound. I remember my grandmother enduring an abusive husband, my mother doing the same which resulted in the abuse spreading to my generation. When my mother would leave the anger would be directed at me, the eldest of six siblings. I was always told by the family priest that East European men were “just that way” and that this was not abuse, it was discipline. I left home at 16, finished H.S. on my own, went into the Marine Corps and learned about real discipline, It consists of being honorable, defending the weak, and basing your decisions as a warrior on compassion and a profound sense of Justice.
    So, as a result, today I am a peace activist and in my opinion this includes the rights of all people, especially women and children to a nonviolent environment, access to health care and education.
    Your work is always an inspiration to me, isolated down here in redneck heaven, SE Texas. It stands as a constant reminder that I am not the only one in this fight. Gets kinda isolated here when it comes to social justice issues.
    Thank you Erin,
    .-= Michael Sykes´s last blog ..New external post Make a Honey Spice Cake for a Sweet New Year and Fall from the blog Slow Family Online in the group Literature- Poetry and other Beauty in Words =-.

  8. Exactly, Erin. For me, it wasn’t my grandmother’s generation.
    It was my Mother… and six of us kids. There was no protection. When my older brother was big enough, to defend us, that is when the beatings stopped. There were no shelters, there was no police protection.

    And my father? One of the kindest men you would meet, unless his anger snapped. He carried on the tradition he *learned* in his family.

    So yes, as American’s have learned to support and operate out of a healthy place in life and psychology has improved, teaching us more, so one day will the Muslim world. And they are. I talk to Muslim girls several times a month, fighting their way out of their parents culture and pioneering their own.

    Those that judge so quickly at times have the most to hide. Love has no need for judgment, fear or hate. Perhaps American’s throwing stones at a religion they choose to judge should ask themselves “What Would Jesus REALLY Say?” I bet there would be no burning or stoning of anything then.
    .-= Sprite´s last blog ..Please- Thank You &amp a Smile =-.

  9. Erin you go girl!!! Just the other day I was trying to get across to my 15 year old niece & her Mom, my sis, that, no it is not ok for your 16 y.o. brother to kick you in the knee, the one with a deep gash in it that just had it’s stitches removed from, no matter what you did (which by the way was extremely minor).

    .-= Cat´s last blog ..Sticky Velcro Review =-.

  10. Yeah, this is it. This is exactly it.
    .-= Aurelia´s last blog ..Facelifts =-.

  11. My family had little or no physical violence towards females in particular – in my time, children of any sex were still regularly physically punished. My father – who had all daughters – even encouraged us to be whatever we wanted. But I grew up in a time when there was so little that women could be, that I always dreamed of being a boy rather than a girl. When my guidance scores – brand new things then – suggested that I might be good with computers, there was no question that I wouldn’t work with any such thing, because it was not done.

    My country might not have stoned women, but we sure as hell stunted them. Not sure how that’s a whole lot better.

  12. Exactly. Violence is violence and it ALL is horrible and unnecessary. Women die in this country from domestic abuse all the time, the method used is irrelevant. We must work to change this in all societies, including our own.

  13. this post is phenomenal. Thank you for writing it.
    .-= sarah´s last blog ..New Year New Hair! =-.

  14. I think you make a great point. I also think it’s worth pointing out an importnat difference in our culture and that of Iran, as one example, and that is that violence against women there and in other places is legal. Here we are at least making huge progress – domestic abuse is against the law, we have stalking laws, and shelters, and more. So we may not have the ability to cast a judgmental glance because we are entirely free of sin and shame, but we sure aren’t the same as a nation whose laws hand out violence and approve of it regularly.

  15. Great post.
    Feminism is such a flavour of the week for this set. It drives me crazy, too.

  16. Very well done article really abuse to anyone is wrong and thankfully today in this country illegal.Which in iran is not the case thier sheria law allows it

  17. Good article.

    I do want to say the stoning of women in Iran is disturbing and I as an American do not know what to do about this issue other than to recirculate the links.

    I wish there was something America can do to help stop the evil regime of Iran terrorizing their own citizens.

  18. So many, so blind, to so much.
    .-= Adrienne´s last blog ..Remember- Believe- Grow- Love =-.

  19. Skirts above the shins? I know plenty of girls in fundamentalist Christian homes who aren’t even allowed to wear PANTS–even when doing manual labor. And I have cousins who are part of a religion in which the men are totally mainstream in appearance, while the women are marked a mile away by their anachronistic dress, hairstyles, etc.
    .-= Belinda´s last blog ..You Muskmelon Make This Jam =-.

  20. Exactly. I think this often about a lot of debates. Let us remember we are all faulted, regardless of what god, or lack there of, you believe in.
    .-= Mrs. Flinger´s last blog ..I hope you wore all your white shoes yesterday- AKA Goodbye to Summer – A multi-media event Part 1 =-.

  21. I was paired up with a Japanese student for a project the last time I went to university. I asked “How did your parents feel about you coming to the US for school?” and he said “They were worried – they thought all Americans carried guns and were always shooting each other.”

  22. Jewish Action, the magazine of the Orthodox Union carries an ad most issues from a Jewish organization offering assistance to victims of domestic violence, usually women by their husbands. This has been prevalent in that community for some time, where nominal authority of the husband can be interpreted as having the authority for physical reprisal when displeased. While those households are the exception, it is only recently that the tacet tolerance has been challenged in a very prominent way.

    That is very different from gender separation during worship and different roles for men and women in child rearing and home maintenance. That same Orthodox Union will not accept a synagogue for membership if its sanctuary lacks a physical gender barrier called a mechitza, nor do those congregations provide gender equality or parity in ritual performance. It is only in the 20th century that formal schooling for girls started in Poland and spread through the rest of the Orthodox world. In many congregations, including mine, the opportunities for women are in evolution, and the tradition expects men to treat the women of the community with appreciation and deference, which most of us do.

    Unlike Fundamentalist Iran, where people who assess themselves as victims of the culture have no alternative, that has not been the case for the Jewish community where attrition from the observant community has been commonplace for centuries. In fact, the establishment of women’s schools in Crakow came about to stem the departure of women into the more secular Polish world. In contemporary America, most of the Jewish women attend congregations that do not have that mechitza. They have access to seminaries to make them Rabbis, they can read from the Torah on Sabbath morning. Like any freedom, this one comes at a price. Demographically, it is within those secular and nominally tolerant forums that attrition in our day has become most problematic. In exchange for that mechitza at worship, women receive a coherent sustainable community and access to knowledge and tradition which the more secular options have not been able to duplicate.

    No, we do not stone adultresses, or even hang them, or even follow the Torah specifications for determining whether they really are adultresses, which specifies trial by ordeal rather than trial by evidence. And the public position remains one of our houses and places of worship have sanctity, which would proscribe violence of one person to another. While it works like an honor system in school, it has the same problem of the honor system in school. Part 1: don’t cheat or don’t beat your spouse, people uphold pretty well. Part 2: turn in cheaters or turn in purveyors of household brutality, we do not perform quite as well.
    .-= furrydoc´s last blog ..Erev Rosh Hashana 5771 =-.

  23. Ginger Kenney says:

    Well Said Erin, it really was not all that long ago that women and children were considered chattel in the U. S. and the attitude carries on through the generations in far, far too many families here. It has to stop here and I wish those who are speaking out against violence against women in other countries would direst some of that energy toward women here.

  24. Thanks for writing what I’ve been thinking. A point well written and well made.

  25. People who use the example of a despicable act to degrade another culture, while when the same act is perpetrated by their people they rationalize it away, should wake up … that said, condemning stoning is not a bad thing inherently. To say we shouldn’t criticize because ‘we’re no better’ or ‘we’ve done it in our history’, diminishes those who suffer from those acts.

    Perhaps the people who do so see it as a matter of averages … stoning is to the death, while domestic abuse ‘isn’t as bad’ because the person survives (it’s murder when it’s no longer ‘just’ abuse). Both cross a terrible line, but the apologists say that they don’t go as far over the line as the other guy.

  26. I am of the opinion that the central issue here is not culture vs culture, nor apologists of any sort. My understanding of the term “apologist” is one who seeks to enlighten and educate, not spin or justify.

    The main issue is the overcoming of any form of violence, we started with baby steps, such as the Hittites Codification of Law, (with revolutionary regard for women and children’s rights) which led to the Greco-Roman concepts of Law that have blended with the Nordic and Celtic concepts of Law etc.

    The idea, as far as I am concerned is the condemnation of any sort of human being Chattel, Abused in any manner by violence, be it physical, psychological or spiritual in nature.

    We exist in a time that is far separated from the last several thousand years of baby steps, now we have the technology to be aware and to communicate on a global basis and the process of the emergent HUMAN CULTURE is accelerating by that awareness.

    I applaud anyone who stands against any form of Tyranny, in the US or anywhere else in the world. We must utilize this form of communication to bring about the acceleration of this process. Erin is a true trail blazer in that sense, a Warrior for peace and social justice with a track record to back it up.

    This particular piece is written while under extreme personal and familial duress and is demonstrative of a level of compassion that is truly awe inspiring.

    My main point here is simple, by whatever means the peace makers are taking Giant Steps now. The goal of those who follow, applaud or criticize should be to open our hearts and support her bearing witness to the abominations of the archaic idea of us vs them.

    No one is safe until everyone is safe.

    Peace and Light to you all, Dialogue is the path; respect and justice are two sides of the same coin.
    .-= Michael Sykes´s last blog ..New external post On-site at the ICC Toronto Mayoral Debate from the blog Finding Clarity» Finding Clarity in the group Fascinating Things To Think About =-.

  27. And this is why I carry rocks in my pockets at all times.

  28. Not to mention the extremists in our country that take pre-teens as their wives and use religion as their back up. Really? We’re not in an uproar about those little girls in our own backyards?

    I wish we’d look at policing our own house before judging others. But then again, those casting stones never see that they are doing anything wrong. 🙁

    There are many things that go on in other countries that we do not agree with. However, I don’t know any moslems that are practicing stoning women here around me and I’m sure the news would have jumped on it. I’m going to stop posting now as I’m getting angrier by the second. Off to vent by blog post instead. As a Native American that is told to get over what has happened to my culture and family over the centuries, it makes me sick to listen to so many hypocrites. (not talking about here on the post specifically)
    .-= Val´s last blog ..Shit My Dad Says =-.

  29. two words: Thank You!

  30. And let’s not even getting into a culture that denounces women as “prudish” because they’re resisting cultural/media influences that seek to pornalize their daily lives & those of their children.. If encouraging 10 yr olds to wear makeup, thongs and micro mini’s isn’t abuse I don’t know what is.
    .-= geekbabe´s last blog ..Learning takes time =-.

  31. Actually, most domestic violence is mutual, and women have been found to engage in nearly as much physical violence as men (not to mention emotional violence, which is an incredibly destructive thing).

    And to equate being slapped with being stoned is a massively slow-witted comparison. Yes, being forced to wear a burkha and being buried up to your head, then having stones thrown at your face until you die, is worse than being slapped. Especially since it is legal, and encouraged.

    This article smells (reeks) of a selfish attempt, by you, to take attention away from an issue (one that doesn’t even GET much serious attention), and to give it back to your own petty problems. Are you even being beaten by anyone currently?

  32. @Paul ” This article smells (reeks) of a selfish attempt, by you, to take attention away from an issue (one that doesn’t even GET much serious attention), and to give it back to your own petty problems. Are you even being beaten by anyone currently?”

    Have you no dignity or ethic at all sir, do you know who you are speaking to or her history at all? Shame on you, Your comment is pathetic and totally uncalled for. I write about these same issues and often find this same “canned” comment on various pieces that I have published. Apparently there is an entire industry of right wing apologists spewing forth the same flavor of comments on anything that questions the validity of anyone seeking peace and promoting the egalitarian future we all deserve.

    Peace and light are coming whether or not you like it or condone or understand it.
    May the universe continue to provide the brave women that stand up and take the offensive on questioning the American Culture like Erin.
    Michael Sykes

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