Forget the Saudi Driving Ban: The Five Weirdest Beliefs About Women Ever

"Don't read so much, you'll become sterile!"

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Saudi Arabia is the only country where women are not allowed to drive. On Saturday, dozens of Saudi women took to their cars in defiance of the de facto driving ban and posted videos of their protest online. While some 17,000 people signed a petition in support of their campaign, plenty of conservative Saudis are happy to keep things just the way they are. Among them is Sheik Salah al-Luhaydan, a top cleric who last month warned women that they risk damaging their ovaries and rearing defective children if they drive. In honor of the sheik’s comments, TIME takes a look at some of the strangest beliefs in history about girls and women.

1. Wombs go randomly wandering

The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates believed a displaced uterus, or a wandering womb, was to blame for a range of medical problems that plagued women, from excessive emotion to knee problems. The symptoms of the disease, known as hysteria, varied depending on where in the body the uterus wandered. This is how Aretaeus of Cappadocia later described the condition:

On the whole, the womb is like an animal within an animal. When, therefore, it is suddenly carried upwards, and remains above for a considerable time, and violently compresses the intestines, the woman experiences a choking, after the form of epilepsy, but without convulsions. For the liver, diaphragm, lungs and heart are quickly squeezed within a narrow space; and therefore loss of breathing and of speech seems to be present.

2. Crippled, broken feet are super hot

Over 10 centuries, millions of women in China had their feet broken and bound with bandages to conform to beliefs about tiny feet being beautiful and a desirable status symbol. Foot binding was banned in 1912, but the practice continued underground for years. NPR spoke to one of the last foot-binding survivors in China’s Yunnan province in 2007.

3. Put down those books ladies, don’t you know that reading makes you sterile?

In 1873, a physician at Harvard, Dr. Edward Clarke, published a book arguing that women who read too much could suffer from sterility, as well as atrophy of the uterus and ovaries. It was all about blood flow, you see — too much thinking caused blood to rush to the brain and away from the uterus, and reproductive organs withered.

4. Autism is caused by bad mothers

Leo Kanner, a psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins University, identified autism as a neurological condition in 1943. Using a small research sample, Kanner observed that autistic children usually had detached, intellectual parents. He attributed the condition, in particular, to mothers who showed a lack of parental warmth.

5. American women don’t actually want to vote

As women in the U.S. fought for the right to vote at the turn of the 20th century, one major campaigner against the idea, the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage, published a pamphlet explaining why women’s suffrage was a bad idea. The best reasons included: “Because 90% of women either do not want it, or do not care; because it means competition of women with men instead of cooperation; and because in some states more voting women than voting men will place the government under petticoat rule.” The pamphlet also included housekeeping tips for homemakers, like “You do not need a ballot to clean out your sink spout.”

And if you thought all the silliest ideas about women came from men, it’s worth remembering Queen Victoria’s views on women’s rights:

I am most anxious to enlist everyone who can speak or write to join in checking this mad, wicked folly of ‘Women’s Rights,’ with all its attendant horrors, on which her poor feeble sex is bent, forgetting every sense of womanly feelings and propriety. Feminists ought to get a good whipping. Were woman to ‘unsex’ themselves by claiming equality with men, they would become the most hateful, heathen and disgusting of beings and would surely perish without male protection. 

65 comments
Quagthistle
Quagthistle

You forgot the recent myth that, when a woman is raped, her reproductive system "shuts down", thus, only concenting raped women could possibly get pregnant. Ah, you can't beat the idiocy spewed forth by Republicans and broadcast by Fox "News". They're your one-stop shop for all your crazy and unfounded rumormongering needs.

WienersPeener
WienersPeener

I'd love to ride a Saudi woman...I mean ride WITH a Saudi woman...you know, while she drives.

Segapman
Segapman

Unfortunately, I believe #5 is often true.   This is not a put down of women.   I know many who are

very accomplished, but voting and matters political is boring.  If they vote at all its from advice  from 

significant others, peers, etc.  Also, some women, even in my demographic;  white, mid income, 81, never

allowed themselves to be Lily Lebetter-ed.......The rallying cry: "If that a--hole can do it, so can I!"

dodicatty
dodicatty

At the time of Muhammad's birth, women in 7th century Arabia had few if any rights. Even the right of life could be in question, since it was not uncommon for small girls to be buried alive during times of scarcity. In the Qur'an, it is said that on Judgment Day "buried girls" will rise out of their graves and ask for what crime they were killed. Part of Muhammad's legacy was to end infanticide and establish explicit rights for women.

Islam teaches that men and women are equal before God. It grants women divinely sanctioned inheritance, property, social and marriage rights, including the right to reject the terms of a proposal and to initiate divorce. The American middle-class trend to include a prenuptial agreement in the marriage contract is completely acceptable in Islamic law. In Islam's early period, women were professionals and property owners, as many are today. Although in some countries today the right of women to initiate divorce is more difficult than intended, this is a function of patriarchal legislation and not an expression of Islamic values. Muhammad himself frequently counseled Muslim men to treat their wives and daughters well. "You have rights over your women," he is reported to have said, "and your women have rights over you."

Muhammad was orphaned at an early age. He once remarked that, "Heaven lies at the feet of mothers." As the father of four daughters in a society that prized sons, he told other fathers that, if their daughters spoke well of them on the Day of Judgment, they would enter paradise.

Beginning from the time of Muhammad's marriage to his first wife Khadijah, women played an important role in his religious career. According to Muslim sources, Khadijah was the first person Muhammad spoke to about his initial, terrifying experience of revelation. She consoled him and became the first convert to Islam. She remained a confidant and source of support throughout their entire marriage. Though men commonly took more than one wife in 7th Century Arabia, Muhammad remained in a monogamous marriage with Khadijah until her death, when Muhammad was in his fifties.

By then, Muhammad was working to establish a new community. In that context, over the next 10 years, he married several women. In some cases, these marriages occurred in order to cement political ties, according to the custom of the day. In some cases, the marriage provided physical and economic shelter to the widows of Muslims who had died or who had been killed in battle, and to the wife of a fallen foe. Of all his marriages, only one appears to have been controversial, and it was to the divorced wife of his adopted son.

Only one of his wives had not been previously married. Her name was Aisha, the daughter of one of his closest companions. Aisha was betrothed to Muhammad while still a girl, but she remained in her parents' home for several years until she reached puberty. Years later, when absent from Medina, Muhammad often recommended that, if religious questions arose, people should take them to his wife Aisha. After Muhammad's death, Aisha became a main source of information about Muhammad, and on medicine and poetry as well.

Aisha's assertion that Muhammad lived the Qur'an became the basis for Muslims ever since to emulate his example.

Muhammad's daughters also played an important and influential role, both in his life and in the establishment of Islam. Most notable was his daughter Fatima, who is still revered by all Muslims, particularly Shiite Muslims.

Following the Battle of Uhud (625), in which scores of male combatants died leaving unprotected widows and children, Muhammad and the Qur'an decreed that, in order to protect the orphans of such families, men might take up to four wives. The permission itself is surrounded with language that discourages the very thing it permits, saying that unless a man can treat several wives equally, he should never enter into multiple marriages. The usual supposition in the modern monogamous West-that Islam institutionally encourages lustful arrangements-is rejected by Muslims themselves as an ill-informed stereotype. At the same time, Muslim feminists point out that in various cultures at different economic strata the laws of polygamy have frequently operated to the clear detriment of women. Polygamy is an uncommon occurrence in the modern Muslim world.

Today, Islamic legal and social systems around the world approach and fall short of women's rights by varying degrees. Muslims themselves generally view Islam as progressive in these matters. Many Muslim feminists hold the view that the problems presently hindering Muslim women are those that hinder women of all backgrounds worldwide- oppressive cultural practices, poverty, illiteracy, political repression and patriarchy. There is a strong, healthy critique of gender oppression among Muslim feminist authors and activists worldwide.

It would be anachronistic to claim that Muhammad was a feminist in our modern sense. Yet the same present-day barriers to women's equality prevailed in 7th century Arabia, and he opposed them. Because in his own lifetime Muhammad improved women's position in society, many modern Muslims continue to value his example, which they cite when pressing for women's rights

MaurineMeleck
MaurineMeleck

The reason people keep believing that women cause autism is because our government continues to fund absurd studies that waste millions of dollars on the causes of autism and the media continues to print these ridiculous studies.

We've recently seen these studies blaming women for causing autism: fat mothers, mothers who gain too much weight during pregnancy. women who marry older men, women who let their babies watch too much tv, women with odd shaped lungs, women who lack enough folic acid in their bodies, women who have their babies too close together, women who live in climates with too much rain, women who move too close to freeways. women without enough Vitamin D, women who wait too long to marry and have children.. And these are  only a few of the recent studies.

Imagine if they put all this wasted money into a never been done study of fully vaccinated vs fully unvaccinated children--nobody would be able to blame women for autism.

AnneDachel1
AnneDachel1

According to TIME, "Autism is caused by bad mothers" is an example of one of the "Five Weirdest Beliefs About Women Ever." Really? Please tell me why the mainstream media, including TIME, never tires of blaming mothers for autism.

How many studies have been reported linking autism to bad or defective mothers? The science is NEVER ENDING.

This includes research showing an association between AUTISM and moms with bad genes or bad antibodies, moms who smoke, drink, or take anti-depressants, old moms, fat moms, moms who marry old husbands, moms who have babies too close together, moms who don't get enough folic acid, moms who live too close to freeways. The list goes on.

Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism

AnneDachel1
AnneDachel1

Maybe for TIME's next piece, they could published one titled, "The Five Weirdest Beliefs About Autism Ever."

1. Bad behaving mothers cause it.

2. Nothing causes it (because after years and years of studies and millions and millions of dollars no one knows anything for sure about autism).

3. Autism has always been around, we just didn't recognize that one in every fifty kids had it, like they do currently.

4. Injecting children with known neurotoxins in an ever-expanding, unchecked vaccination schedule couldn't possibly cause the brain disorder called autism.

5. America will have no problem when a million autistic children grow up and become dependent on the taxpayers for their support and care.

Anne Dachel, Media editor: Age of Autism

MikeBrooks
MikeBrooks

I don't think the feminism movement did much for women.  Now, millions of American women no longer have the choice of whether to work or not, leaving their children to be raised by strangers in a daycare while they go to a job that they hate.  Surprise!  When men complained that work was a horrible grind, that wasn't a ruse to keep women out of the workplace.

SpikeWray
SpikeWray

still waiting to get a woman to fix my car or do some construction work on street crews or build ANYTHING.Men just want to do clerical and change diapers!Ladies,give us a break.


Signal2Noise
Signal2Noise

This article fails to mention the most foolish projection guys have used to keep women down:  that we are too hormonal to rule.  Think of Bill Clinton, Weiner the Whiner, Sanford in SC, etc. etc.  and ask:  are these folks in control of their hormones?  Or that women are too illogical to rule.  Compare the current GOP logic and women hating agenda with any of the women who have leadership in the world.  I'll take Angela Merkel over half the nutcases in the GOP (rape shuts down conception, b.c. pills kill babies, etc.etc.)

In short, there are still too illogical and unscientific arguments made here at home for us to think we are above it all.  No, not defending extreme Islam by pointing out extremist at home.  Just pointing out that there are unscientific arguments still in the air here  and listening to people split hairs over who is the biggest nutcase is funny but oh so sad.

JoshWeinstein
JoshWeinstein

Hey, who leaked the 2016 Republican Party platform?!?!??

AliusUmbra
AliusUmbra

"Were woman to ‘unsex’ themselves by claiming equality with men, they would become the most hateful, heathen and disgusting of beings..."

And thus Jezebel.com was born...

rar113
rar113

@Quagthistle That only happens in cases of legitimate rape.  In cases of illegitimate rape you can in fact get pregnant, and have illegitimate children.  But if that's Gd's Will, so be it.  Amen sister.

TanyaBeatty
TanyaBeatty

@Segapman I've actually helped men register to vote & had to fill out their voting ballots for them.. and these were educated men... I think there are men & women who don't care to vote.. it has nothing to do with gender, just apathy.  But you say you are 81? Maybe you would think differently if you saw how younger women felt about it.

Alittlesanity
Alittlesanity

@Segapman Honey, I know more men than women in the workplace who don't care to vote - for varying reasons, some interesting and some that would make men look foolish if considered typical. Educated women want to vote - I personally know no exceptions, tho I'm sure there are some. All I'm saying is, #5 applies to men as well, tho I guess the pamphlet should include tips on recycling beer bottles and cleaning guns?

marieta
marieta

@Segapman I  know a lot of men must like that-- exactly.  So it

is still a myth if you or anyone think it just applies to women

MaryMitch
MaryMitch

@Segapman I don't think it's true, any more than men don't want to vote.  


And let me add - women don't ALLOW themselves to be "Lily Lebettered" [sic] . What a silly assertion.

MartineAtherton
MartineAtherton

@dodicatty pity this is not reflected in Islam dominated societies where women are stoned, child marriages and arranged marriages are common place, honour killings happen and women are maimed by acid attack.   And Aisha was 9 when the marriage was consumated and there is much debate about whether she had reached puberty at all.

KenReibel
KenReibel

@dodicatty -  Thank you, Dodi. Your essay should be required reading for every right-wing, Teabagging, faux-patriot before he is allowed an internet connection.

LbrbSullivan
LbrbSullivan

@MaurineMeleck It is so sad that your groups attack environmental risk factor research in autism.  Why don't you want to know the facts?  Why don't you want others to know them?

Since when is finding that autism risk increases with age of the mother or father become "blaming" the mother?  The answer, of course, is never.  Do we blame older mothers of Down Syndrome kids?  No.  None of these are "blaming the mothers".

It's an extreme stretch to link these results to "blaming" the mothers.  It speaks to the lack of facts for your arguments that you make such false claims.

Your groups--and many more--asked for and got environmental risk factor research.  You get it and you mock it. Thankfully the work will continue, without your support.

Imagine if we hadn't wasted money on repeated studies of mercury in vaccines and the MMR.  Imagine if your groups accepted scientific results rather than dismissing and mocking results that are counter to your beliefs and agenda.

Imagine if your groups had supported research that could help autistics today.  Imagine if your groups had supported research into adult autistics so that they can be better identified and supported.  So that we could learn from today's adults and prepare a better world for the autistic kids of today.

I'm not blaming mothers. I'm blaming you.  Wasted efforts and counter productive causes.  How people in the autism community can work so hard to cause harm is beyond me.

DoritReiss
DoritReiss

@MaurineMeleck there is a big difference between blaming "bad mothers" and examining potential other causes related to factors affecting women. You can't ignore the parents in this - and to remind you, many have also been studied. As to the vaccines - you are saying it as if the question of vaccines and autism has never been studied, while it had been studied again, and again, and again, with millions of dollars allocated to examining the potential link. None was found. 

KenReibel
KenReibel

@MaurineMeleck -  Weird belief about women number six:  Autism is caused by mothers who vaccinate their children against dangerous diseases. Talk about cold and uncaring.

lilady
lilady

@MaurineMeleck It has been explained to you Maurine...every time you post about the unethical vaccinated-vs-unvaccinated study you and your pals at AoA keep proposing.

Your organization has plenty of wealthy benefactors including Andrew Wakefield, J. B. Handley, Mark Blaxill, Jennifer Larson and many others, who could fund that unethical study which would leave some children unprotected from deadly childhood vaccines.  I suggest you line up all the benefactors to cough up the cash to design such a study, get the study sponsored by an institutional review board...and just do the study.

Prove to us that such as study would reveal problems with the vaccine program and cause ASDs, submit the randomized double blinded study to a first tier journal which is peer reviewed and get it published.

Let us know when that study will be published...we will be anxious to review it and critique it.  Perhaps Jake Crosby, Brian Hooker and Mark Geier could be the chief researchers.






LbrbSullivan
LbrbSullivan

@AnneDachel1 Since when are genes "bad" and a reason to blame the mother?  How exactly do you draw a parallel between the failed idea that autism was caused by parents behavior towards their children and genetics?  The answer is simple: you can't.

It's been very strange to watch you and your groups call for environmental risk factor research and then mock results that are important, but not vaccines.  Hypocrisy.  Plain and simple.  And very damaging.

DoritReiss
DoritReiss

@AnneDachel1 the "bad mothers" referenced here directly attacked the mother's behavior and stigmatized her personally. There is a difference between that and examining physical or genetical attributes: it's not the same blame. Equating them is like saying it's the mother's fault the child has down syndrome or other genetic problems - it's unfair and create inappropriate guilt. You can control your behavior, but not your guilt. 

And would you suggest they ignore potential maternal factors? Wouldn't that be incomplete research? 

KenReibel
KenReibel

@AnneDachel1 -  You left out "Moms who are paid my Jenny McCarthy's anti-vaccine organization to spam comments because the mainstream media stopped publishing your nonsense years ago."

KenReibel
KenReibel

@AnneDachel1 -  The only thing weird about Anne's "weird beliefs" is that anybody would take then seriously.

BAD MOTHERS: Some types of autism can result when a mother is exposed to the flu virus during pregnancy. And we've know for decades that a maternal rubella infection during the first trimester of pregnancy can cause severe birth defects, including autism. Given that flu and rubella are both vaccine-preventable diseases, a case can be made that vaccine rejecting parents can cause what they think they are preventing.

NOTHING CAUSES IT: Most autistic spectrum disorders are genetic. We know this because scientists have identified physical changes unique to autism that occur during gestation. Only a paid publicist for an anti-vaccine website associated with Jenny McCarthy would say "nothing causes it" is the same thing as indentifying a genetic origin.

ALWAYS BEEN AROUND: Dr. Langdon Down described autistic behavior in 1887. The word first appeared in the medical literature in 1911. Until 1980, autism and schizophrenia were considered one and the same. Two-thirds of the children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder today would have received a different diagnosis, or no label at all 25 years ago. So while we can't say autism "has always been around", there is good reason to believe that autistic behaviors are part of natural human variation.

THE TOXIN GAMBIT:  Oh my, where to start? Every substance on the planet it toxic, depending on dose and concentration. Too much water can kill. Pure oxygen was the number one cause of blindness among newborns in the 1950s. There is no evidence that the dose and concentration of thimerosal once found in some scheduled childhood vaccines were associated with autism or any developmental disorder. Dozens of studies have looked for, and failed to find, an association. Dachel wants us to believe that thousand of scientists, academics, writers, health care workers and others have conspired over the last twenty years to cover up the mass poisoning of a generation of children. That is only slightly less crazy than telling us the moon landings were faked.

THE COMING STORM: For some reason, the anti-vaccine movement wants us to fear a coming tsunami of autistic adults that will flood our social welfare agencies and flatten our economy. But the fear is built on an increase in diagnoses, as opposed to actual numbers of people with autism. The last CDC survey showed that one in five autistic eight-year-olds were either undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. And not every person with autism is "dependent on taxpayers for support and care," unless you define autism as a condition that necessitates taxpayer assisted support and care, which nobody does, except for Anne Dachel. Except for when she doesn't, as when she tells us one in fifty children have autism.

DoritReiss
DoritReiss

@AnneDachel1 As to children growing up - some evidence for your numbers, more specifically: evidence that there are a million autistic children that cannot be independent when they grow up even if given the appropriate support as children. I'm not trying to downplay how challenging it is for the family of such a child, or how scary the future must look, and I think we should work to make sure there is a support structure in place for those children; but - a. I'd like to see the numbers. b. that requires positive work, not just attacking vaccines. 

DoritReiss
DoritReiss

@AnneDachel1 The vaccination schedule was examined - no connection to autism found. And which neurotoxins do you have in mind, now that thimerosal - which was in too small amounts to be harmful - was removed? 


lilady
lilady

@AnneDachel1Did you happen to read this blog, Anne?  The author clearly states that Kanner's belief that mothers of children were cold and uncaring was, in her opinion, one of the five weirdest (i.e. not true and since disproven) that women caused their children to be autistic.

You also make this fantastic claim about autism (that) " Nothing causes it (because after years and years of studies and millions and millions of dollars no one knows anything for sure about autism).  We have a lot of knowledge about autism, because real researcher have provided us with chromosomal and genetic causes of specific syndromes which have features of autism.

Another of your inane posts..."Autism has always been around, we just didn't recognize that one in every fifty kids had it, like they do currently."  Another of your inane comments.  Tsk Tsk Anne you cannot be that ill-informed to realize that the changing DSM dianostic criteria and diagnostic substitution as well as our ability to identify children at an earlier age have resulted in children and adults along the Spectrum are now classified as having ASDs...not just the classic regressive autism that Kanner identified.

Here's another unsubstantiate claim from the media editor of that anti-vaccine anti-science group Age of Autism..."Injecting children with known neurotoxins in an ever-expanding, unchecked vaccination schedule couldn't possibly cause the brain disorder called autism."  How about looking at these recent studies published in first tier peer reviewed medical journals that disprove vaccines, the ingredients in vaccines and the spacing and timing are not implicated in the onset of autism?

http://www2.aap.org/immunization/families/faq/vaccinestudies.pdf

Stop your shilling for AoA Anne and for gosh sakes stop Spamming comments with your same tired...and untrue repository of canned Spam...it is all so trite and utterly not based in science.






MichelleKirkwood
MichelleKirkwood

@MikeBrooks  

No,both men and women have to work for the simple fact that one income alone dosen't pay the bills any more. Do some research and stop making up things about feminism---you obviously know nothing about it!

hillkja
hillkja

@MikeBrooks wrong.  economics is what drives anyone to work.  feminism ensure that women would have a close to equal opportunity to get a job that can help support their children.  stop parroting stupid stuff.

CymCamilleCoffman-Mitch
CymCamilleCoffman-Mitch

@SpikeWray  so sorry if you are waiting , you must be looking in the wrong place-- how many car engines have you built by the way?- I'm a girl and I have built a few, was a mechanic for 15 years. and did all the " women work " at home too. and I have worked with a few other female mechanics over my years. I really enjoyed it

hillkja
hillkja

@SpikeWray there are actually a lot of female auto mechanics, you haven't been looking.  I see women on construction crews all the time. 20 years ago, there were househusbands on either side of me in my neighborhood.  my husband's law firm has a male receptionist. my niece is a diesel mechanic.  you need to get your ass out of the 1950s and stop repeating stuff you heard from your atavistic father.

krate5
krate5

@SpikeWrayHey there. I'm a 48-year-old mom, and let's see: I built my dining room table, my front entry gate, my computer desk, and my kitchen island --just to name a few furnishings. Oh, and I renovated a crumbling circa-1909 dance hall into the cozy five bedroom/three bath residence where I have lived for the past decade. And I did it all myself: electrical, plumbing, windows, doors, walls, floors, tilework, plaster, stairs, fireplace, woodstove, masonry, porches, roofing, gutters, and decks. Rebuilt the tranny and transfer case on my Jeep, too. No penis required. And @raidx259: when I get home, my wife and son are thrilled to see me. So ask yourself: What are you doing wrong, brother? Enlightening yourself about what women are capable of might be a good start toward a better life, no?

raidx259
raidx259

@SpikeWray And when you get home from breaking your back and sweating all day at a construction job and risking your life, you get home to a pile of whining and how tired she is and how you need to help her more, whine, whine, whine...

raidx259
raidx259

@JoshWeinstein You didn't take your medications today, huh?

Realworldnonfantasyland
Realworldnonfantasyland

@JoshWeinstein I'm confused whose supposed to be on which side with this one.  Equal rights for women but supporting middle east because every country is better than America.  I know one party is anti gay but the other party supports the country who kills its gays.  I'm confused

#libtardedamerica
#libtardedamerica

@KenReibel

now too bad we can't get some required reading for smug, self-absorbed libtards. (oh, and FYI, supporting an administration that's running our country into the ground doesn't make you a "patriot", no matter how many times you use the term "teabagger")

MichelleKirkwood
MichelleKirkwood

@raidx259

Yeah, because SHE'S tired from working at her job out side the house AND inside the house taking care of the kids!

KenReibel
KenReibel

@Winchestermom @KenReibel @AnneDachel1 :  Good point. The CDC's 2008 survey consisted of examining administrative records from schools. It's also true that diagnoses follow services: when school districts develop meaningful support and accommodations for children on the spectrum, parents are more motivated to seek out a diagnosis, and school personnel are less reluctant to pass out labels.