Having been raised Roman Catholic, I grew up well versed in the Catholic Church's obsession with all things sexual, and the sometimes less than subtle message that women were temptresses looking to corrupt men and/or dirty.
After all, Eve was and is depicted as responsible for mankind's fall in the Garden of Eden. Women - except, of course the Virgin Mary, are often viewed as "unclean," hence their inferior status within the Church.
Then add in the celibacy requirement for priests who are banned from marrying women, and the typical older parish priest's lack of access to women. Women were relegated to being housekeepers at the rectory, and members of the altar guild who washed altar clothes, etc. It makes for a psychologically bizarre reality.
In the wake of the Church's worldwide sex abuse scandal where the majority of victims have been boys and youths, the Church hierarchy and Catholics with an Opus Dei mindset have sought to blame the sex abuse scandal on gays within the priesthood. Indeed, these folks have sought to blame the church-wide problem on modernity, Vatican II's liberalization of the Church - anything that places the blame on something other than the Church's own insane dogma, man-made rules and sexual hang-ups toward women in particular.
Let's compare that to the situation in Afghanistan.
A look at Afghanistan and the wide-spread societal phenomenon of "dancing boys" and "boy players" would seem to demonstrate that crazy religious taboos and harsh, demeaning treatment of women can indeed set the stage for widespread homosexual conduct even among those who view themselves as heterosexual.
A story in the San Francisco Chronicle documents this long-standing societal practice in Afghanistan. It in some ways mirrors the Church hierarchy's approach of turning a blind eye toward sexual abuse by priests. This arises, in part, because of the Church's irrational and unrealistic rules on matters of sexuality and women.
Here are some highlights:
Western forces fighting in southern Afghanistan had a problem. Too often, soldiers on patrol passed an older man walking hand-in-hand with a pretty young boy.
For centuries, Afghan men have taken boys, roughly 9 to 15 years old, as lovers. Some research suggests that half the Pashtun tribal members in Kandahar and other southern towns are bacha baz, the term for an older man with a boy lover. Literally it means "boy player." The men like to boast about it. "Having a boy has become a custom for us," Enayatullah, a 42-year-old in Baghlan province, told a Reuters reporter. "Whoever wants to show off should have a boy."
In Kandahar, population about 500,000, and other towns, dance parties are a popular, often weekly, pastime. Young boys dress up as girls, wearing makeup and bells on their feet, and dance for a dozen or more leering middle-aged men who throw money at them and then take them home. A recent State Department report called "dancing boys" a "widespread, culturally sanctioned form of male rape."
Sociologists and anthropologists say the problem results from perverse interpretation of Islamic law. Women are simply unapproachable. Afghan men cannot talk to an unrelated woman until after proposing marriage. Before then, they can't even look at a woman, except perhaps her feet. Otherwise she is covered, head to ankle. "How can you fall in love if you can't see her face," 29-year-old Mohammed Daud told reporters. "We can see the boys, so we can tell which are beautiful."
Even after marriage, many men keep their boys, suggesting a loveless life at home. A favored Afghan expression goes: "Women are for children, boys are for pleasure." Fundamentalist imams, exaggerating a biblical passage on menstruation, teach that women are "unclean" and therefore distasteful.
That helps explain why women are hidden away - and stoned to death if they are perceived to have misbehaved. Islamic law also forbids homosexuality. But the pedophiles explain that away. It's not homosexuality, they aver, because they aren't in love with their boys.
As one boy, in tow of a man he called "my lord," told the Reuters reporter: "Once I grow up, I will be an owner, and I will have my own boys."
Obviously, far too many Catholic priests thought that it was fine to have boys of their own. And the members of the Church hierarchy were only too happy to look the other way.