The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

The Keys To A Successful Marriage = Physical And Sexual Violence

Posted by Leah on January 22, 2009

You may have seen this news popping up in the media today – the story of a 2003 lecture by Melbourne cleric  Samir Abu Hamza (titled ‘The Keys To A Successful Marriage’) in which he allegedly claims men are entitled to be physically and sexually violent with their wives. I can’t say I’m surprised – there always seems to be people about happy to spread this kind of repulsive thought. And I do take heart that the issue of violence against women is apparently important enough for the Prime Minister to speak out against Hamza’s statements – even though he said Hamza’s comments had no place in modern Australia…which insinuates that they DO have a place elsewhere, or in another time…which I would beg to differ with!

I’ve been thinking about this story all day, and thinking about how to channel my angry response into some constructive action. Any ideas? Letter writing? Turning up at one of Hamza’s lectures and attempting to engage in a dialogue? Or something less reactive, supporting White Ribbon Day? Fundraising for a women’s shelter? I sometimes feel overwhelmed by this kind of hatred against women and just want to throw up my hands.


11 Responses to “The Keys To A Successful Marriage = Physical And Sexual Violence”

  1. Nina said

    All the PM meant was that violence against women is unacceptable here, even though it might be acceptable in other cultures (whether they differ from modern Australia in place or time). There’s no doubt that many cultures, past and present, have viewed violence against women as acceptable (though, of course, what is deemed acceptable is not necessarily what is right).

    The only thing I can think of to help is to support and empower women that are part of cultures where violence against them is seen as acceptable. For the current situation, that would be women within Muslim cultures. Although obviously this support and empowerment is required by all women to varying degrees, not just Muslim women.

  2. Kat said

    It all seems very easy to tut tut at blatant comments such as the ones expressed here, but are the views expressed that different from an aggressive nature which is prevalent and often celebrated among men in general.

    The comments about being ok to hit, as long as it doesn’t bruise, wouldn’t surprise me if it was said during The Footy Show or as a response from an Andrew Denton interview.

    Whenever someone talks about another culture (ie not white, mainstream, could live on ramsey street) being openly sexist or racist I generally think it’s only because they don’t code the sentiment… the mainstream hide almost identical messages in acceptable language and behaviours.

  3. Tricky said

    You know there are too many right wing religious Christian nutters from so called 1st world countries that that go on with same misogyny yet the tabloid conveniently ignores them.
    Recently there has been a bunfight over this guys sermons
    I notice a lot of Australian MRA types are picking up and using the rhetoric.

    Sigh, misogyny – it is an endless battle.

    Best solution is to go out and directly empower women by giving them to tools to be independence of thought & choice. Help women’s shelters; support the education of young disadvantage girls.

    If you are despairing about misogyny this blog post is interesting –

    There are some great feminist writers on the internet.

    Some of my current favourites

  4. caitlinate said

    I found issue with Rudd underlining Australia every second word. There are so many people in Australia – regardless of colour – who hold these views. It’s useful for the media to find one guy – and oh, oops, he happens to not be white and a Muslim – and hold him up as the terrible bogey man saying these terrible things. But the views he subscribe to are far more widely held than anyone would like to admit and instead of activism against them we just condemn one dude and all feel good about ourselves.

    Fundraising for women’s shelters sounds awesome. I don’t think expanding energy on specifically this guy will have particularly constructive results but amp up your day-to-day activism around womens stuff. Yay!

  5. Scream Riot! said

    I cannot begin to describe the anger and frustration that spewed within me after hearing about this.

    I cannot begin to describe how much I want him to approach me, so that I can brag to him that “I am a powerful, ex-Muslim female living in Australian society and there’s nothing you can do about it”.

    It is so tempting. I wish I lived in Melbourne.

  6. Jo MacD said

    If you’re looking to take action, you could promote something similar to that done in the US in response to Sarah Palin’s position on women’s reproductive rights. Thousands of people across the US donated to Planned Parenthood – citing Gov Palin’s name and her campaign office address. So of course for each donation, a thankyou note was sent from Planned Parenthood to Sarah Palin at her campaign office. A great way to support reproductive rights, and let Gov Palin know what people thought of her position at the same time.

  7. Nico said

    I think it’s irresponsible to see one Muslim man’s views representative of those of all Muslim men. Skewed attitudes towards women do exist across cultures, like others have noted.

    Constructive responses like the womens shelter idea are the most empowering.

  8. Leah said

    Kat, I completely agree that these kinds of attitudes to women are common amongst different cultures, that’s a central reason why I’m a feminist. But I don’t see that that point means we shouldn’t ‘tut tut’ comments like Hamza’s. However they are expressed (directly or coded) and wherever they come from (the Footy Show, colleagues, Hamza, whoever) I think it’s a good thing that these kinds of attitudes are noted and responded to.

    Nico, are you inferring that my post, or any of the comments to it, claimed that Hamza’s statements were representative of all Muslim men? It’s unclear to me if that is indeed what you are saying, but if you are let me point out that no one claimed anything like that. Of course he’s not representative of all Muslim men, I completely agree with you. No single person is ever representative of a group, since groups are always heterogeneous. Many Muslims have condemned Hamza’s comments. I wrote my post about him as an individual and the comments he has made, not as some kind of representative of Melbourne’s Muslim community. If I’ve misunderstood your post, my apologies.

    Jo MacD, wonderful suggestion, thanks for posting it! I hadn’t heard about that strategy.

  9. Steven said

    It was a lecture given in 2003, and posted to YouTube in June 2008 (and YouTubeIslam in July 2008 ) – why is it in the media spotlight now, rather than in 2003, or 2008 (or was it commented on then and I’ve forgotten about it)?

    I generally agree with much of what is said against it, since what I read of his lecture went beyond a mere factual description of what is allowed by Sharia law (though in this country thankfully Sharia law is not the law that governs us) and passed into the realm of ‘you should do X,Y,Z’. The claims made later that it was a ‘metaphorical slap’ just sound like rubbish to me, I don’t think that was taken out of context.

    But why is it drawing comment from the PM now? Is he working his way through a backlog of stuff that pissed him off before anyone cared who he was/is? it just seems strange that this is making headlines now when it is 6 months old news at best, and was actually said at least 5 years ago?

  10. Amy said

    My thoughts also (KAT Jan23 2009). The only reason they made a fuss was because he was Muslim. This type of violence is everywhere in Australia but it has been disguised and justified by society – helped along nicely by the sex industry who assist men to fulfill fantasies of violence and oppression against woman. I have the unfortunate pleasure of knowing many crowds of men who think that a woman is just a hole to dump their sick fantasies on to. If you don’t do whatever sick thing they have come up with they either just take it against your will or say they will go elsewhere. And…there is always some unfortunate person out there that will – it saddens me that not only do men treat woman this way – but woman are starting to accept it, because it is becoming too hard to fight against it in this sick world.

  11. Kat said

    In my initial comment I probably didn’t go far enough to say that I believe the way in which the media and the PM have treated this story pays lip service to feminism, but in practise causes more harm than good.

    As mentioned, this is long after the initial lecture took place… I wonder if it’s proximity to Australia day (and the racism cloaked in nationalism which surrounds that day) was a coincidence…

    Reporting in a knee jerk way is more likely to keep women away from seeking assistance, especially if they believe that speaking out is going to reinforce the prejudices which already influence their day to day lives. Feminism has a history of criticising “other women” for standing by “their men” and being paternalistic and colonialist in its response to international issues. I feel like now feminism has the language and the knowledge (and responsibility) to be able to bring up these other issues.

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