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  • תמונת הסופר/תYoav Levin

Feminism, Gynocentrism and Misandry in Muslim Spain and the Works of Ibn Hazm

עודכן: 8 בדצמ׳ 2021

From Ibn Hazm to William the IX and Eleanor of Aquitaine: Identification and Analysis of Textual Examples in "The Ring of the Dove" as The Female Attempt to Control Love, Relationship and Gender Narrative by Control the Courtship Process!

As standing opposed to feminist myths, the Mosarabic culture in Christian Spain in the 10th and 11th centuries did not deny or deprived women from educational, political as well as religious freedoms – exactly as it was the case in any other society which is evident from the scriptures. This, of course, has always been the case and had continued into later periods and modern history. As research shows women participated en masse even within the sphere of formal political power whereas their relative smaller number in participation as in regard to men reflected as it does today personal choices and free gender preferences. This dynamic is of course inevitably reflected in the balanced division of formal (male) and informal (female) power. Moreover, although women were never forbidden to express their desire to seek, initiate, advance a relationship with a lover, involve herself sexually, express love and even terminate a romantic relationship, the above development especially the imbalance within the courtship process of those greater freedoms granted only to women not only enhanced their literary expression and tradition but it created a monopoly on the love, gender and relationship discourse while even today it heavily dominates the popular pop and entertainment culture as well as the overall narrative on that matter.

Thus relationship have begun to reflect the sociological characteristics of this society with more and more and a growing tendency not towards gender equality but female supremacism, feminist and traditional misandry and the oppression of men. Many of the features I will analyze in the discourse, such as the supremacist role and the misandrist narrative of women among many others, revealed by women characters in various texts, strongly suggest a connection to and an existence of the knowledge of the distinctive and preeminent role of women already in its primitive form depicted in Ibn Hazm’s epoch and in his text. This connection explains the inclusion of women in "The Ring of the Dove" where women are no more the ones who're signalizing their sexual availability to men thus granting them the permission to approach and make the first move but turn to become the ones who now actively also pursue men throughout the courtship process - an occurrence not common in biological and evolutionary (gynocentric) terms and starting being common to the Western European literature from the 10th to the 11th century.

Additionally, Imamuddin, in his sociological study of medieval Muslim culture in the Peninsula, refutes the feminist lies and points out that women had similar freedoms as men, were able to achieve similar levels of culture, participated politically, owned property, were educated, and were able to divorce their husbands with due cause. This continues the even more older tendencies of the ancient world as outlined for example in Martin van Creveld's book "The Privileged Sex" and shows that the oppression of women is nothing more than a myth and overall women occupied a similar level of equality within the society of their day. In fact, those were men lacking equality while women where the privileged sex. Likewise, he states that “much of the chivalrous sprit and gallantry for which the Muslims of Spain were famous was undoubtedly due to the ennobling influence of women". So, once again not only the code of chivalry but in a wider sense, gender roles where shaped not by men but by women too and much after the Muslim Arab models originating from Spain. Imamuddin implies that the freedom and presence of women at social events in Al-Andalus forced men to increase the social worth and status of women even more, thus becoming nobler and nobler by means of virtue.

He broadens his argument by stating that “the frequent association of the sexes gave rise to a delicacy of sentiment and refinement of manners”, which allowed gentlemen to produce a “polished courtesy and an exalted feeling of honor”. The fundamental idea, implied by describing the freedoms and advances of women in Al-Andalus and the contrasting feature, unlike the more balanced female version in other parts of medieval France, is that this sociological preeminence and dominance permitted women to have an influential and significant voice, not only in society but also in all things relating to amorous interactions. As we have seen this led women to exclusively control the gender narrative, to dominate love and relationships issues as well as the whole sphere of interaction between men and women. As discussed, those notions in Al Andalus met a fertile gynocentric ground especially in the gynocentric culture of Celts whose concepts become crucial for Christian gynocentrism and that exploded to extremity in the 12th century under the queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, her court d'amour, the chivalric culture of the troubadours and the code of Pointevin and who also inherited it from her grandfather William the IX, the duke of Aquitaine. It was this William the IX who was the crucial link in bringing this legacy from Muslim Spain to France.

In fact, Ibn Hazm clearly typifies this sociological phenomenon in "The Ring of the Dove", which plants the seed for women to become increasingly inspired to take matter into their own hands, especially when the convention of courtly love codifies more than a century later. This idea will be explored later in this discourse in relation to the courtship process and the amorous relationship. Lois Griffen, in an article exploring Ibn Hazm and "The Ring of the Dove", analyzes Ibn Hazm’s view of women, both in the society of Arab Spain and in his treatise. While continuing the manipulative feminist narrative she claims in her analysis and states that Ibn Hazm disrupts the traditional role of woman as passive participants in the courtship process and in her own words “women appear not only as the beloved, the pursued one, but often as equal participants or the heroine smitten with love” while in fact the truth is that women began the attempt of emasculating men by trying to force passivity on them already at the basis of romantic relationships namely the courtship process.

She suggests that Ibn Hazm is unique among scholars of his days in that he views men and women as equal in their ability to experience love however ignoring the truth revealed as in such books as "The Privileged Sex" where women were never seen by most of society as such. First of all, no one in history not only hasn’t said or proclaimed that women weren't capable or not allowed to express their love but the mere fact is that it has nothing to do with it thus cannot or isn't reflected through the courtship process. In fact, un-endless texts prove the opposite. The fact that men have pursued women and in fact asked for the hand of a woman has nothing to do in that sense with inequality hence in older tradition where marriages were arranged for both sexes (thus not being a romantic choice for either of them) it reflected both the natural process of a man approaching the woman as well as the fact that in a society of arranged marriages the female while still not signalizing for the man her sexual ability had the opportunity to reject the marriage candidates (see for example this traditional courtship process within the conservative and Ultra-Orthodox Judaism).

Here it is important to understand that at the most profound level what Ibn Hasm, indeed, believed although he enthusiastically endorsed those concepts had less to do with the above nature of the establishment of relationships but that men and women are equally vulnerable to an illicit love, given sufficient time and opportunity and seductive influence”. This question, problem or the need to answer them arose, however, from a deeper gynocentric bias namely the misandrist creation myth and the subsequent portrayal of men that I have already discussed in another section of the research. Arising from this anti male creation myth where men are stereotypically and overwhelmingly blamed through the snake's male energy and Adam's inheritance of it for bringing evil to the world and especially raping Eve mainly by the snake as symbolizing men and as I said Adam inheriting it was both a female gynocentric interest, need as well as an inevitable derivative in terms of a) hiding the overt misandry to partially shifting some of the blame to Eve thus balancing the more explicit form of it; b) portraying Eve's sin as a less harmful and indeed blaming the men for her sin; c) incorporating a simple and direct consequence and unavoidable result of the misandrist portrayal of men thus needing a' and b' to disguise it.

Thus, giving the basis for the feminist claims of inequality, Ibn Hazm perverts the truth that those were not women but men who suffered under the misandrist (not misogynistic) creation myth attributing most if not all the sin to them while the partial blame of women is the result of such thinking. In fact, Ibn Hazm mixes here up cause and effect as well as the horse and the rider. This manipulation and distortion of causality is also a typical feminist approach. Then he falsely portrays it and makes allegedly a connection with the issue of equality of women in their ability to experience love in his chapter “The Vileness of Sinning”, whereas the truth is that he not only strengthens the misandry but in fact contributes to the supremacist culture of female dominance and preeminence. As always in gynocentric and feminist politics it is done as lip service with empty titles and false narrative about equality whereas in fact and as we have seen it hides the true reason which is advancing female preeminence and superiority over men.

Anyway, Ibn Hazm first states the gynocentric notion of the traditional idea that passion controls only men (as in regarding and mixing it up with sexual desire): “I hear many people say, ‘Complete subjugation of the passions is found only among men and not among women (because according to the gynocentric notion those are men that are oversexed animals and thus needing to put an end to the natural urges and desires). Than having no other option (because he wants women to control the courtship process) he contrasts this notion by stating that “men and women are exactly equal in their inclination towards these two things [“that which lies between his moustache and beard, and that which lies between his two legs”] while he disguises his motives of using the truth in a perverted manner not to advance equality but the superiority of women.

Now, understanding the original misandrist creation myth which puts the blame on the creation of sexuality through rape solely on the men (the snake as male energy and Adam inheriting it) thus also seduction as its consequence while having to play on the one hand with the facts and on the other hand still disguising the misandry though still having the aim at creating a misbalance in the favor of women in the courtship process, Ibn Hazm explains now that men and women are equally vulnerable to seduction of the opposite sex. This however although true will not be used now to dispel misandrist myths but on the contrary to force this world view even more. He begins by describing the sin of seduction and temptation, that is, men who experience temptation imposed on them by women: “The man does not exist who, having been offered the love of a pretty woman a long time, and there being no obstacle to prevent him, will not fall into Satan's net, will not be seduced by sin, and will not be excited by desire and led astray by concupiscence”. In order to demonstrate how women have been created with a similar propensity toward sin, he states that “there is no woman who, if invited by a man in the selfsame circumstances, will not surrender to him in the end; it is the absolute law and inescapable decree of destiny”.

This is interesting because one of the pillars of feminism alongside with gynocentrism and misandry is androphobia or even misanthropy. Not only that men and women CAN resist temptation as in regard to infidelity, modern unbiased research shows that most human beings despite the gender do not cheat. However, androphobia and misanthropy as a feminist hallmark can be already found in Ibn Hazm's works. Anyway, as a part of his androphobic and misanthropic world view, both men and women are seen in association as perpetrators of the same sin, which is enticing the opposite sex into sinful activities. It is not that Ibn Hazm allegedly dispels the notion that only women are exclusively culpable for such temptation and places both sexes on the same level of responsibility but he is doing this in order to be later in the position of misusing the idea of an alleged equality to actually strengthen the misandrist attitudes against men blaming them not only for everything else but using the situation to cause imbalance and seeking female privileges. He also goes as far as to create misantrophy based on those notions.

This is basically a tactic of damage control where he has to claim "equality" for certain aspects whereas he does not deal with the basic inequality in describing men as being inherently evil (as also especially in relationship and in regard to other aspect) which in the end only causes more widespread and pervasive damage. Thus this alleged "equality” does not erase the basic notion of men as the embodiment of evil giving now women on behalf of biological evolutionary nature of the courtship process the position of power to control the various stages of the process that is also seen and understood as being just another mean to tame men and their evil nature due to the male need of restraining his sexual desire. Whereas, the female "sin" here is perceived from a lesser degree as being the result of male evil, aggression and violence while the woman's true nature is still asexual the man's sin is a greater one as he is the instigator of this all. This is the basic idea of the monotheistic traditions of a woman as having to participate in sex against her nature and true will so that she can tame the man and his evil sexuality while this is the frame of monotheistic idea of marriage as well as the feminist concept that all sex, even the marital one, is a form of rape. By the way, at its deepest level western concept of celibacy (as standing opposed to the Buddhist one for example) comes from this dark place!

In a way regarding the debate of sin my inclusion is to say that many feminist concept as polyamory and open relationships including infidelity as a way to empower women are actually also coming from this place. It is both the relationship between gynocentrism, misandry, misanthropy and androphobia that are leading to such often contradicting and perverting results simply because they are based on a profound delusion of human nature thus also on internal bias and contradiction resulting from it. Such contradictions within the gynocentric approach can be seen in Ibn Hasm's attitude that all relationships lead to extramarital affairs are of a sinful nature whereas the modern form of gynocentrism, feminism and misandry deteriorates back to the idea that being evil by nature one just should flow with and rationalizing that all people cheat so it is better to "legalize" it. Thus Ibn Hazm's twisted understanding of "equality" resembles a lot with the selective understanding and cherry picking nature of reality as is also used by modern feminism. On the one hand, one uses equality as lip service, sometimes one perverts the meaning of equality in that it becomes oppression towards men, sometimes one uses it selectively to do so but no matter what one does it always should benefit women at the cost of everyone.

At times "The Ring of the Dove" reverses the traditional model of men pursuing women in the courtship process. Ibn Hazm speaks about several instances in which women actively pursue men, not only in search of establishing a new amorous relationship but also in order to advance one already in progress. The true meaning here is that women are now controlling all stages of the courtship process and turn men into passive and emasculated bystanders. His most overt example is found in his chapter “On Union,” in which Ibn Hazm describes a slave girl in love with a young, noble man and aggressively pursues his love: “I know of a young slave-girl who was ardently passionate for a certain youth, the son of a noble household, but he was ignorant of her sentiments. Great was her sorrow, and long her despair, so that she pined and wasted away for the love of him”. In this passage, Ibn Hazm provides an example of a relationship possessing many qualities that pertain to the convention of courtly love: a lover seeks affection from a beloved of higher social status and the lover experienced a blessed suffering as a result of falling in love. The lover, however, is female and enthusiastically pursues a gentleman of higher social status, which is not a typical occurrence in tales of courtly love. Ibn Hazm continues by describing the emotional state of the female lover:

“As time went on, however, and the girl felt more and more certain of the state of her heart, she at last complained of her plight to a sagacious woman who enjoyed her confidence, for she was her old nurse”, which proves not only the lady’s ability to experience love, but also her resolve to take action. An additional noteworthy element here is the use of the intermediary, which seems necessary given cultural norms imposed not necessarily upon women as in many traditional societies there is an intermediary that arranges marriages and so on. As most societies were matrifocal while balanced through patrilineal and patrilocal elements this was more of a technical aspect rather a one degrading women as I have discussed in the above paragraphs. The intermediary suggests that the lady lure her beloved by means of the written word, which is common to courtly love, although men typically write to women: “The [old women] said to her, ‘Hint at your feelings to him in verse’”. As Ibn Hazm noted himself that there were none restrictions of women, those claims would be a factual contradiction thus it is clear that none of these dynamics was aimed at oppressing or degrading women. Anyway, after several unsuccessful attempts, due to the youth’s inability to find the occulted meaning in the lady’s words, the lady takes action: “Finally the girl's endurance was at an end; her emotions were insupportable. [. . .]

Finding that she could no longer control her feelings, when she stood up to leave him she suddenly turned and kissed him on the mouth, then, without uttering a single word, coquettishly swaying she withdrew”. The resourcefulness demonstrated by the lady affects the gentleman in such a way that he quickly falls in love with her. Subsequently, they initiate an idealistic relationship: “Such was the beginning of a love between them, which continued many moons”. This passage provides one of many examples by Ibn Hazm of women successfully seeking men, not in terms that such an idea was not possible within the traditional society, especially that in France, because the fact that it was accepted there in a quick manner shows (due the very slow nature of human change) that without such earlier dynamics it would be actually it wouldn’t be possible to be embraced in France, thus the European view of courtly love has also changed so that in fact and at the end it went to out of control ending affecting not only the courtship process but giving women the monopoly on family, love, relationship and gender narrative. Thus Ibn Hazm, was the conceptual foundation that stood at the basis of Eleanor's of Aquitaine gynocentrism, courts of love as well as the troubadour, courtly love phenomenon and chivalry as the code make to female relationships and gender norms.

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