Another Happy Day Like That...

Happy International Women's Day? So long as religion rules our lives, our status as women will be regarded as inferior.

The bank staff wished me a "happy International Women's Day," but I told them I would rather receive cash. During the day, I was asked twice to take part in radio programs devoted to the question of whether the time has come to end the feminist struggle, and why women continue to bore men.

The magazine "Blazer," like a report published last week in a local Tel Aviv newspaper, referred to feminism as "hatred of men." In fact, feminism is first and foremost a human rights struggle. Even the vilest people dare not completely deny the necessity of human rights - if not for all human beings as such, than at least for people like themselves. Even Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who does not acknowledge the rights of non-Jewish children, fights tooth and nail for the rights of people from his own community.

Yishai, who is so conscientious about the rights of Jews in general, and those of skullcap wearers in particular, draws a distinction between human rights and women's rights. "The honor of the king's daughter is within" (or in other words, women should stay home and not meddle in important matters ) - that's the answer every interviewer gets to the question of when a woman from Shas will serve in the Knesset. Just last week, perhaps with International Women's Day in view, Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef explained about the irreconcilable differences between men and women.

Women, in case you didn't know, cry when they see a cat that's been run over. Even though it's only a cat. It's too bad we can't simply ignore the rabbi completely. But it's clear that lurking under his robe is a misogynist who leads a growing movement to repress women in Israel.

The feminist struggle will never end - especially not in a country like our own, where there is no separation between religion and state - until there is such a separation. So long as religion rules our lives, our status as women will be regarded as inferior, and not just on issues of personal status.

Moshe Katsav, the rapist former president, was supposed to have been sentenced on International Women's Day. And there could indeed have been an encouraging symbolism in granting legal force to a relatively new idea - that the droit de seigneur is now out of fashion for every type of feudal lord - precisely on International Women's Day.

The time has come for all feudal lords to internalize the fact that the bastards really have changed the rules, and it won't matter how clever, prestigious and well-connected their lawyers are - even though a recently published research study shows that in sexual harassment cases, courts are far too influenced by the status of the lawyers who represent the sides. Thus whoever lacks the resources to hire a leading attorney like Avidgor Feldman is at a disadvantage.

I only wish the feminist struggle were the most important battle we had to fight here in order to confer a tinge of justice and equality on an increasingly debased society. "My son killed your boy," the aunt of one of the youths who murdered their classmate, Siam Abu Qais of Rahat, out of jealousy said on television this week. "So take one of my children and murder him. But why burn down the whole village?"

Six times I replayed this broadcast in order to hear a mother of children utter this sentence - a woman who is apparently prepared to let her child be killed in order not to harm neighborly relations between the men who rule Rahat's clans.

Apparently when you spend your life as a fourth-class citizen of your own family (below all the men ), it is easier to give up the life of someone who is not considered to be yours, but rather your husband's. The inequality faced by Arab women is far more dire than what we deal with.

Many long years will pass before the feminist struggle can be considered to be irrelevant. That will happen mainly once the people working to bring about improvement are women. Who will receive inferior wages, of course.