The five million

News from Kerala:

Women in the southern Indian state of Kerala have formed a 620km (385-mile) human chain “in support of gender equality”, amid a row over access to a prominent Hindu temple.

The Sabarimala shrine was historically closed to women of “menstruating age” – defined as between 10 and 50.

Because they’re dirty? Because they can be impregnated? Both? Is there any difference?

It’s interesting, isn’t it, as an aspect of human nature, that the thing most humans probably value above all others, to wit the ability to keep the species going, the tribe going, the village going, the family going…is also the thing that is seen as dirty, disgusting, contaminating. Women are magical because they can make new people in their abdomens, but women are a taint because they can make new people in their abdomens. It’s a sacred thing women do, and it’s also a filthy polluted treacherous thing women do. Let’s be on the safe side and keep them out of everything.

India’s top court overturned the ban in September, but protesters have since attacked female visitors.

The “women’s wall” was organised by the state’s left-wing coalition government.

Officials told BBC Hindi’s Imran Qureshi that around five million women from various parts of Kerala had gathered across all national highways to form the chain, which stretched from the northern tip of Kasaragod to the southern end in Thiruvanthapuram.

Five million.

Five million.

That is some kind of organizing.

The Supreme Court decision to let women worship at the Sabarimala shrine came after a petition argued that the custom banning them violated gender equality.

But India’s ruling party, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has argued that the ruling is an attack on Hindu values.

That’s another interesting thing about humans: the fact that the more fanatically a religion is held the more determinedly misogynist and oppressive to women it is. There is no fundamentalism that treats women as equals.

Hinduism regards menstruating women as unclean and bars them from participating in religious rituals – but most temples allow women to enter as long as they are not menstruating, rather than banning women in a broad age group from entering at all.

As if that’s an improvement. That menstruation that is considered unclean? It’s how we all got here. Every last damn one of us. It was our breakfast lunch and dinner while we gestated; without it we would have shriveled and died and been expelled. It should be worshipped, but god-botherers decide it’s ewwwwww yucky. “God” is a bratty little boy.

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