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Wednesday, March 08, 2006 

Where (Female) Angels Fear to Tread

According to the Sofia News Agency, women in Greece have started to demand access to the Athos Monasteries. This is the first I've heard of it. Greeks are always demanding something or other but it's usually related to better wages, pensions or American foreign policy--not access to a 1,000 year old monastic community. Other than MEP (Member of European Parliament), Anna Karamanou, I don't know of any Greek woman, let alone a Greek women's movement which collectively demands access on legal grounds. I'm sure many women would love to visit the site out of historical curiosity but would they take the necessary steps to file a lawsuit against the Holy Mount? If they do, it certainly won't be a simple and clear-cut matter.

Karamanou believes that the ban should be lifted on the grounds of gender discrimination and freedom of movement which are fundamental rights guaranteed by the EU. However, Mount Athos (Άγιο Όρος-Agio Oros) is an autonomous state protected by the Greek Constitution. Also, Mount Athos is also protected by another of the EU's fundamental rights--the right to manifest religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.

So which rights take precedence? Do the rights of women supercede the rights of Athos to practice their religion in their Constituonally protected territories?

As much as I am a firm believer in gender equality, I don't think that Mount Athos should be forced admit women to its monasteries any more than a Jewish synagogue should be forced to seat women with men or the Catholic Church to ordain women priests. Religion is a personal choice and if women don't like that their religion treats them as second-class citizens, then they can exercise their right to practice and worship in another religion of their choice. I am disappointed that I won't be able to see the all the centuries-old icons and relics they have but does that mean I have the right to see them? If that's the case, then maybe I should start my own movement to demand access to the Pope's personal Papal Chambers in the Vatican.

Unless a religion advocates and encourages practices which endanger lives, then I, personally, am not bothered if they won't let me take a gander at their religious trinkets.

I agree with you on this. I am for gender equality, but I don't have a problem with not allowing females on Athos. I think some issues perhaps go to far. If these women want to put pressure on issues of women's rights, why don't they work to get equal pay for women in Greece? Better working conditions? More placement of women in certain jobs?

We don't need women wasting their time trying to get us permission to visit Mount Athos.

These women who are demanding access to Mount Athos, would do better to look for husbands and find meaning in their empty lives with raising a staid family, instead of meandering and palavering with the monk's domain. They are freak feminist with plenty of idle time in their hands. Unable to raise a family they find solace by wreaking havoc with their environment and traditions.

I say to these women, be careful what you wish for.

I remember being a kid and visiting some monestary (it was famous for hiding someone in this large bush from the Nazis who looked everywhere but inside the bush) with my mother and aunt. The monks couldn't stop touching them (just on the arms). It was pretty weird.

I certainly agree the comments about more important priorities.


Mel...Yes, Mel...there are so many more IMPORTANT issues which need to be resolved before we see the inside of a monastery. I'd love to know who, besides Karamanou, even thinks this is an issue.

batraki...Some traditions need havoc wreaked upon them but not this one. I doubt I'd label her as a freak feminist though and I don't think all women should be dismissed just because they don't want to stay stuck in a house for the rest of their lives raising children.

ball..haven't seen you in awhile...nice to read a post from you again. :-)


Thanks! I don't read as many blogs that I used to, but yours is in my list of Greek blogs that I try to keep up with.

I'm just at home sick right now, lamenting the fact that it is snowing outside, which means great snow in the Washington Cascades. It's probably the last chance for good powder this year. Sigh.... At least today I did scan in some old pictures (1920's & 30's) of my papou and yiayia. When I come to Greece in September, part of my trip will be to gather more pictures and information about my family.


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