Peace be with you,
An honest question, and I mean no offense by it at all. But, why does the Quran condone striking a woman, and why does it say she is "below" the man? Should women not be loved and cherished?
Yes, will first of all, in Islamic thought
Men and Women are equal (spiritually) to God... however, they're unequal physically and mentally to one another. They're suppose to be compliments to one another (like ying yang, or the sun and the moon - as mentioned in the quran).
So believe me, a pious Muslim really loves the women in his family..... they're very important to him, it brings balance to his life. Love is the ultimate positive energy.
Now about the striking of women, I think you're referring to a verse in surah 4 talking about a wife that is being hostile and not supportive to you. It's important when you're reading the quran, you also understand the timing and context of the verse. So keep in mind, that based on hadiths, that this striking is to be done as the last resort, and should be done very gentally with something like a toothbrush.... to symbolically illustrate to her that you disapprove of her current state of attitude.
To elaborate more on this, consider the following analogy....
back in the 1600-1800s, when a man wanted to have duel with another man, he would slap his opponent with a glove to make the challenge.
similarly, in early arabic culture, a strike with a toothbrush (miswak) was a symbolic act to illustrate disappointment, it's very psychological
Now of course, there are some idiots, who take the verse literally with anger in their heart, and seriously harm their wife. But these people exist all over the world, and they 'follow' all sorts of different religions.
However, for someone who's really religious, it extremely unlikely they would take aggressive violent action, if their heart is pure and filled with peace.