“when I was thirteen, and in the grip of an eating disorder that almost cost me my life, I began shoplifting. I did it to be cool, for an adrenaline rush, and because I was hungry. I stole vanilla slices from the counter of a local bakery, where they had been laid out to cool. I figured that I could get in, take a few, and get out before being discovered. I have felt shame about this for 41 years, but discovered that this happened through no fault of my own, but was in fact the fault of the pastries, and the person who baked them. After years of being embarrassed at the idea of myself as a thief, it was liberating to entertain the notion that they, and their ‘owner’ had tempted me into taking them. I was blameless all along. Perhaps I should revisit my troubled youth and start stealing again – but only items that are clearly visible to me at any time. Apparently that will absolve me of any guilt … Who would have thought?’
Of course, my reasoning is specious, and ridiculous to say the least. I was a thief, and no matter where the pastries had been stored, or how luscious they looked, I was the one who was responsible for the act of taking, and devouring them. So, last week, when I heard that the Grand Mufti of Australia had once said that “saying non-Muslims wanted their women to walk around “exposed as a piece of sweet pastry … devoured by the eyes of men”, I laughed out loud.
Let’s get a couple of things straight.
Firstly, non-muslim women are not ‘ owned’. We are entitled to be self determining beings, just like muslim, and non-muslim, men.
Secondly, and more significantly, why is this influential man not moving mountains to encourage the men he leads to take responsibility for their own actions? If any man abducts, beats, rapes or kills a woman, the fault is his, and his alone – just as it was mine when I stole that food. If you take something that does not belong to you, it is not the fault of the thing that you have stolen. It is yours.
The only way to stop theft is for people to stop stealing. The only way for the abuse and degradation of women to stop is for people to stop doing it.
Now when I want a pastry, I buy one, like every other lawabiding person. That’s not hard to understand is it? I know, just as does my four year old grandson, that the act of seeing a beautiful piece of food does not give me rights to that food. And when he is older, he will learn that it is up to him to be powerful and decent enough to restrain himself, and his appetites, when he encounters a beautiful women.