From “honor culture” to “family honor”, what people really mean is something else entirely

Every day, people around the world are suffering under what we our societies are usually referring to as “honor”, be it from a cultural perspective or on a more intimate, family level. And I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to read people express fears about their family’s honor.

So before we go into detail about this, let’s have a look at the word “honor”, and how it is defined. The online version of Merriam-Webster has this to offer us:

  • respect that is given to someone who is admired
  • good reputation : good quality or character as judged by other people

  • high moral standards of behavior

What people will refer to is usually the second part, when they say shit like “my family’s honor” needs to be respected/upheld etc. as a means of justifying locking their girls up in the house, killing  a sister/daughter/brother or forcing women to wear some sort of veil. Oddly, the second part (and the complete and utter dismissal of “good”) is the exact opposite of what we consider high moral standards or behavior. Now, in all world religions, without exception, killing is wrong, and the golden rule everywhere is “to treat others as you wish to be treated”. You don’t need a PhD to get this. Killing is wrong, hitting is wrong, making people do things against their will, is wrong.

Yet all of the above is considered okay in the name of “honor”. Please people, would you get yourself a new word? Because it’s not your honor we’re talking about here. Vanity? Perhaps. Illusions of grandeur? Likely. Stupidity? Guaranteed! Non-existent self-esteem? You betcha! Let’s face it. If a man’s “honor” (this is ridiculous…) hinges on his wife’s behavior, or his sister’s or daughter’s, what a poor schmuck isn’t such man? Honestly? This just makes absolutely no sense. And to inflict pain, harm or whatever on someone else is never honorful, quite the contrary. You’re a creep! You disgust me. How do you expect me to respect you if you do not even respect your own family members?

Social Media phenomenon Qandeel Baloch was slaughtered by her own brother for allegedly dishonoring the family. Sadly, many youth still think this is a "necessary" task for male members of a family. Source: YouTube

Social Media phenomenon Qandeel Baloch was slaughtered by her own brother for allegedly sullying the “family honor”. Sadly, many youth still think this is a “necessary” task for male members of a family. Source: YouTube

Just this week, in several noted articles in Swedish papers, a Facebook group was discussed where young boys and men discuss “honor” in the light of the killing of a Pakistani woman who was a human rights champion. She was killed in the name of that wretched word. Oddly, it seems that even in our enlightened country (or so we’d like to think, here in the home of soft porn), boys are completely open about sharing such godforsaken and backwards views, saying that they’d hide, hit or even kill their own sisters if they behaved in a similar fashion. And when I say open, they do so under their real names, actually saying (only their sisters would know if they mean it) they’d kill a sister for  going out with the “wrong” guy or kill a sibling for being gay. Imagine. No shame for inciting a crime, for threatening others to their lives, for openly defying the law and the moral and any ethical standards of our nation (and just about every other one out there, because as far as I know, murder is illegal in all nations).

So, maybe we should just stop referring to “honor” killings or “family honor” and just call it for what it is: lunacy, idiocy, absolute and utter crazy. The only people with honor are the ones who try to live their lives under the loving light of the rainbow, because love will always trump hate. There is no honor in hate, never has been, never will be.

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Have a good weekend.

Hans

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