It is typical of the ungratefulness of the Australian character that after years of struggling and blundering our way through our lives without a clear and concise guide to the correct way in which to discipline uppity women, when somebody does finally provide one, we do nothing but complain.
I am speaking, of course, of Muslim cleric Samir Abu Hamza, a man who has been much maligned in the press in the past week for what some have termed "controversial" views on marital relations. While I cannot hope to replicate Hamza’s full course of instruction here, let me begin to abridge it by saying that he has been recorded on video telling his followers that it is acceptable to beat your wife, and that wives must always submit to their husbands’ sexual demands.
Now, it is true that this is not the modern way. These days we tend not to hit our women — we have more civilised ways of keeping them in line, disabling them with such things as stiletto heels and soap operas.
But there are many complex issues at play here. Firstly, no matter what you think of Hamza’s views, we have to be honest: women are a problem. They always have been, going back to Biblical times, when Eve sold Adam an apple for 30 pieces of silver, which led to him being eaten by a dinosaur. Most of human history has been the story of figuring out just what to do about women. Who are they? What do they want? What are those noises they keep making?
We tend to pretend things are otherwise, but friends, we can speak freely here, as I’m pretty sure women don’t have computers. Women are indeed a riddle, wrapped in a bra, and it is understandable that a student of human nature like Samir Abu Hamza should seek ways in which to make them a little less vexatious. However, it must be said that his method may not necessarily be the best way to go about it. For one thing, some women are large and muscular, and if you hit them, they’ll hit back.
The other big issue is Islam. Now Islam is, of course, one of the world’s great religions, and it’s become something of a craze in Australia. Everywhere you go, young folk are talking about Islam, holding rowdy Koran parties, wearing "Muhammad is the Shiznit" t-shirts. And it’s because of people like Hamza, who make Islam relevant to the youth. Young people today want direction. They want moral guidance. They want sexual repression and luxuriant beards. This is what Hamza, and other prominent young Muslims like Keysar Trad and Paula Abdul, provide.
And so let’s look at his comments. Are they really so bad, or has the reaction just been another case of the hysteria so common in today’s manufactured-outrage, jump-up-and-down, take-offence-at-the-slightest-mention-of-the-joys-of-marital-rape society?
First, let’s clarify a misunderstanding. Hamza did not say it was "OK" to rape one’s wife; he said it was impossible to rape one’s wife. "How can a man rape his wife?" he asked in that jolly way of his, and it should be noted that he was not asking for instructions, but saying a woman is required, under Islam, to submit to her husband whenever he desires sex.
This is of course the ultimate male fantasy — a woman ready to engage in passionless, unwilling intercourse upon demand. It’s no wonder that Islam is the fastest growing religion among young males with low standards. As Hamza says, if a Muslim wife is "preparing the bread on the stove" and her husband cries out for a bit of pants-time, she must leave the stove immediately, scurry to the bedroom, and hoist the hijab. She must then be forced to attend a cookery class to learn that in this country, we make bread in the oven.
It is true that the view that a woman needs to put out whenever she’s told to may not exactly be "politically correct", or "feminist", or "conducive to a fulfilling relationship", but please remember, Hamza’s lecture was titled "The Keys to a Successful Marriage". A successful marriage. Not a happy marriage, or a fair marriage — a successful marriage. And in marriage as in life, you need discipline, and rules, and a grim determination to lie back and take what you’re given. Hamza understands this; he has an innate grasp of gender relations rarely seen in Western society in the post-war period.
Next, let’s look at the "beating". What did Hamza actually say? He said that as a "last resort", if your wife absolutely refuses to obey, you should give her a few crisp whacks to put your point across. You must not make her bleed, he emphasises, or bruise her, and you can only hit her on the hand or leg, not the head.
Now, does that really sound so violent? Let me ask you this, ladies: would you rather have a husband who hits you with moderate force on your limbs when he’s out of ideas, or a husband who beats you to a bloody pulp every time you over-pepper the omelettes? Oh sure, I can hear you say, I’d really rather a husband who doesn’t hit me at all. Well, I’d really like a weekend on Stradbroke Island with Nicola Roxon and a box of horse tranquillisers, but we don’t all get what we want, do we? This is real life here, girls — time to quit dreaming. Given that men are inherently violent and enjoy destroying beautiful things, eventually your husband will hit you. If you want to turn your back on Islam and get your teeth knocked out, your choice.
And isn’t it better that when men hit women, they hit them with a certain amount of love and genuine piety, rather than in a vicious, irreligious way? Isn’t denying men the opportunity to throw a few haymakers at the fairer sex exactly the kind of bigotry towards alternative lifestyles that we’re trying to stamp out in modern Australia? It’s like Hamza says, "the beating that Mohammed showed is like the toothbrush that you use to brush your teeth". And it’s true; beating your wife does give you a whiter, brighter smile.
In any case, it has now emerged that Hamza was speaking metaphorically and was not speaking of a physical assault, but a "wake-up call". Who owes who an apology now, Mr Rudd?
So let’s boil it down: yes, it seems abhorrent to condone domestic violence and forced sex. But we are speaking here of Allah — or at least of Hamza’s version of Allah — and of the opportunity for an eternity in paradise, should we please Him. And consider this: if you thump the missus a few times, and don’t take no for an answer when it comes to the bedroom, and it turns out there is no God — why, what have you lost? Nothing; in fact you’ve had a pretty fun time. But if you don’t bring the little lady to heel, and it turns out that Allah was indeed watching, he is going to be mighty angry with you. And Allah is no gentle Buddha or lovey-dovey Jesus.
Remember also that if Hamza is right, every good Muslims gets 72 virgins at the end of it all. Although, knowing how reluctant virgins can be, we’ll probably have to touch them up a bit before we get anywhere. Jesus, I feel positively converted.
Look, I have no idea whether Islam is the one true faith, or simply a global scam perpetrated by the kebab industry. But I know that religious intolerance has got to stop in this country. I’m sick and tired of people hating others just because they wear different clothes, or follow different dietary habits, or have different uses for a toothbrush.