The islamic rules which discriminate against women are well-known and need no further publicity here. My question is then this: how come when it comes to fasting, women whom moslems so fervently believe to be weaker and needier in a variety of ways, have to fast the same as men? Why no discrimination here? Suddenly, when it comes to fasting, islam becomes gender-blind?
For now, having observed men and women fasting over my long career, I have come to the conclusion that fasting is good for (some) men. I am talking about those crazy strong son-of-a-bitches with flashing roaming dark eyes, always jumping about, arguing (they never talk, these men- they educate and discuss and argue), yelling, leaping, always needing a good mother or wife to tend to their multitude of wants- food, sex, drink. Fasting calms them down, and makes them behave (almost) like normal people. A friend whose sons fast told me joyfully how easy Ramadhan is for her- she barely has to go in the kitchen all day and the boys are quieter. Other months of the year and it is a battlezone, constantly preparing food and feeding, breaking up fights, cleaning up, calming down. Not eating or drinking for ten hours at a stretch in summer heat is a small price to pay for hours of peace.
Frail old ladies who insist on fasting are another matter. I can barely stand to look at them, my heart twists so much- their skin takes on yellowish-grey pallor, and by three in the afternoon they can barely keep their eyes open, nor can they sleep. Another six hours left. What is for supper, mom?
If a woman isn’t allowed custody of her own children, if she has to cover her hair and body so as not to tempt men, if, if, if, then the least islam can do is give her a break when it comes to fasting. But, no, suddenly Islam is like a combination off Germaine Greer and Susan Sontag when it comes to fasting.