In second grade everyone in my class was given a US President to study. Mine was Jimmy Carter, and long after I had completed my book report I maintained a crush on the peanut farmer who lusted in his heart. He just seemed like such a sweet old man–I wanted him to be my grandfather.
As I’ve gotten older, it’s hard to completely deny my affection for the man, even though he’s done some semi-obnoxious things of late, most notably, writing an infamous book called Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. Writing the book got him slammed by all sides and he definitely lost some esteem in my eyes. But two and a half years later he has made some progress with a new editorial about, of all things, women and religious fundamentalism. Here’s a highlight:
At their most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.
The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.
Think this stuff doesn’t apply to Jewish women? Think again.
I’m still not comfortable going back to my second grade level of admiration for Carter, but this is a step in that direction.