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New Scientist Will cancer vaccine get to all women? - News:
Sometimes we might be deluded into thinking that we've turned the corner into the age of civilization. The people around us all seem to have their knuckles a sufficient distance off the ground. But when they open their mouths, such things come out...
"Giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially harmful, because they may see it as a licence to engage in premarital sex"
Don't put away the tools just yet. There's still work to be done, especially amongst some cultures where the conservative attitude is still dominant.
"We found that some Asian women in Britain are afraid even to get tested for HPV infection, because they say if it is positive they will be killed, never mind that their husbands probably gave it to them"
So, men who sleep around and give their wives a sexually transmitted virus might kill them if they are tested to prevent cancer? What kind of backwards thinking is this?
Sex is a sin, especially for women, who are to remain chaste and pure and innocent till the day they are married. So the argument goes, but why is this important?
One fortunate by-product of my Catholic school upbringing has been my exposure to the Bible. Not because I think its the inerrant word of God, or that I think its a useful guidebook to a moral life; because I don't. But it does give people a common framework to talk about history and society. If you read through the middle of the Old Testament its mostly just a historical accounting of a tribe of people trying to survive. Except for the supernatural aspects of the story (which I regard as mythmaking) its a remarkable account of what it was like to live through an era where many of the rules of society where just being formed.
But, and this is the mistake that modern day biblical adherents fail to grasp, the rules for that place and time were very specific to that way of life. I can look at the social behaviors of the Israelites and conclude that swapping livestock for women might have been a useful way to build alliances across family networks. So protecting the "value" of women with strict laws of conduct were vital in maintaining family wealth and power. Marriage was important for family prosperity and keeping women pure was important in securing a good marriage arrangement.
I'm a firm believer that most of what we ascribe to the will of God is simply our own traditions and laws given the weight of divine rule. Religion has always been about government; the control of people. What higher form of law is there? I won't knock the usefulness of religion in making people conform to social norms. I don't think its merely a coincidence that the more successful civilizations to rise to power placed a high priority on religion. Social cohesion has its benefits, especially when it comes time to smite your enemies, or to defend your tribe from annihilation.
But I don't think that its an accident that modern societies have begun to reject religion in favor of greater personal freedom. There's always been a tradeoff between greater individuality and greater national/tribal unity. As long as the benefits of religion outweighed the drawbacks, people were willing to make some sacrifices. After all, what good is being free if tomorrow a highly motivated group of people come along and kill you.
There's not much freedom in being dead.
Social conservatives still make the appeal, that even now we still need religion. Religion, they say, is the tool we need to survive the threat of terrorism. We have let ourselves become too focused on individual gratification and have ignored the will of God.
Much of the conservative appeal comes from an innate sense of self preservation.
I can go along with the idea that we need to have a general agreed upon approach to deal with such New World threats like terrorism and nuclear weapons, but what I can't agree with is the idea that we should adopt the social laws of an obsolete culture, even if we do think it "God's Will". Forcing women to remain virgins, and making sex taboo is not going to help us. Controlling the sex lives of women just doesn't have the same value that it might have once had.
Ironically you can't fight stupidity with stupidity.
(more at eschaton and The Light of Reason)
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Dissolve into Evergreens