DEYAN RANKO BRASHICH was born in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia, and is an Op-Ed columnist for Connecticut's Litchfield County Times.  He writes the monthly Letter From America column for Romania’s Scrisul Romanesc, a literary magazine and is the Editor-at-Large for  The Country and Abroad, another literary/art magazine where he authors the Dispatch from Abroad column. He is a frequent contributor to Pecat, the Belgrade, Serbia weekly news magazine, Britić, a magazine published in the United Kingdom, Ekurd Daily, a multinational Kurdish news portal and Passport, a lifestyle quarterly. He resides in New York City and Washington, Connecticut.





Civil Rights Act of 1964 – Public Law 88 - 352


Every so often something happens that makes people take notice of misogyny, sex discrimination and sexual abuse. For a brief moment this abuse becomes a cause célèbre. The will to do the right thing prevails, laws are passed, perpetrators punished, damages paid and amends made. Then things go back to normal - men go back to abusing women with impunity.

Things in the United States are now at such a tipping point. It started with the firing of Roger Ailes and his precipitous fall from grace as head of Fox News. He was soon followed by Bill O’Reilly’s demise as star television anchor after disclosure that he had settled a sexual harassment suit for $32 million dollars. Then in quick succession came movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s downfall, United States Senator Al Franken’s resignation-to-be and a bevy of Congressmen John Conyers’, Matt Dababneh’s, Trent Franks’, Blake Farenhold’s actual resignations, including Dan Johnson’s self-inflicted by gunshot suicide.

Throw into the mix Donald Trump, a sitting President, Roy Moore, a political candidate for Senate, Louis C. K., a comedian, a brace of television pundits, Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose, a couple of high profile restaurateurs, Mario Batali and Brett Ratner, Silicon Valley honchos – the list keeps growing by the day and seems never ending.

You would think that this would be the moment that marks the end of misogyny and abuse. Think again, don’t hold your breath. Things will soon revert back to normal until religion is made to toe the line, address the problem and finally treat women as man’s equal, make Title IX of the Civil Right Act of 1964 applicable to religion, as a matter of conscience not of law.

This Sunday’s New York Times Magazine tried to answer the “How did we get here?” and “Can work place culture really be changed?” questions. A number of women tried to answer and suggest a way forward. They failed because they did not address the underlying, cultural root cause of the problem, religion.       

The world’s major religions were invented by men with women, by design or chance, minimalized. Judaism, today a minor religion, was devised by God, a father figure, with Adam in the lead role and Eve, the ingenue distraction, playing a second fiddle. The Old Testament is replete with instances of blatant misogyny, if not abject slavery – Exodus declares a woman the property of her father, with marriage transferring title to the husband to do as he sees fit. So, what’s new?  

Christianity copied the Judaic model – Jesus the savior, the son of God was followed by the Twelve Apostles, all men. Mary and Magdalene were necessary props. Men have dominated the “church” in all of its many iterations with women but recently given an occasional grudging office in the hierarchy of power. Christianity still controls the levers of politics through base issues – abortion, marriage and sexual orientation – with “…the many threats that Christianity has to face in modern times, gender equality is one of the most serious”. For this very reason women have been marginalized in government notwithstanding being the plurality of the population.

The second largest religious denomination is Islam – some 22% of the world’s population. I will not express an opinion as to a woman’s role in Islamic society, be it Sunni or Shi’a, or in the Wahhabi or Salafi practice of Islam. That is far too complex a task for me. I can only report on what I glean from readily available sources. With that said, it would appear that a woman’s role in Islamic society is severely limited by custom and law. It is far less that that enjoyed by women in Christian countries. In Muslim countries it appears that women have barely emerged into halls of government.

The excesses visited upon girls and women in Muslim societies are far worse than those experienced by their western sisters – you cannot compare female circumcision, genital mutilation, death by stoning for adultery with Trumpian pussy groping and sexual blackmail, yet they all have a common genesis in a shared gender based religious dogma.      

I write from a religiously naive point of view. I am not steeped in religious history and can only rely on personal experience with the Serbian Orthodox faith, my religion at birth. A unique dogma in that faith is “Slava”, the once a year veneration of a family’s patron saint, always male, never female. I note that there are only 7 women out of the 78 saints and martyrs posted on the Church’s official list. The governance of the Church is solely in the control of men. Women play an ancillary role relegated to local parish bake sales and pot luck dinners – the traditional “kinder [children], kühe [kitchen]” role.  

Serbian Orthodox women have the following religious options: lighting votive candles, murmuring prayers, singing in choirs or joining monastic orders in some remote medieval monastery. Protestant women have more options including service as priests and bishops, while Muslim women have less.

Disregarding the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Thirty Year War, the Ottoman Empire’s brutal cultural expansion, the Holocaust, the Lebanese War, and the ongoing genocide of Burma’s Rohingya, religion has been a civilizing force. Should religion change and embody the sex based mandates of Civil Rights Act of 1964, it might yet again become a civilizing force in the war between the sexes.


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