Feminists aren’t letting down Muslim women


2:30 pm - September 1st 2009

by Neil Robertson    


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For some reason, these past few weeks have seen a great deal of attention paid to the relationship between Islam and western feminism. The latest issue of Standpoint features lengthy essays by Clive James & Nick Cohen who both argue that feminists have let down their Muslim sisters by failing to protest with sufficient vigour at the atrocities carried-out in the name of Islam.

Meanwhile, The Guardian’s CiF ran a series which asked “can western feminism save Muslim women?” To this, The Heresiarch acidly replies:

No. Western feminism is too bogged down in its own limitless self-regard, arguing ad nauseam about the evils of sexually stereotyping adverts, or why female bankers don’t get quite such enormous bonuses as their male equivalents, to care about anyone else. Least of all the millions of subjected women living in conditions they cannot begin to understand.

Now, I have a huge amount of respect for Heresiarch (as well some for Clive James, and a little for Cohen), but this kind of statement reminds me of the folks who run around lazily claiming that hip hop’s only about violence and misogyny. Sure, there’s plenty of hip hop which is violent & misogynistic, but if you think that’s all there is, then you’re clearly not listening to enough of it.

Equally, if you’re comfortable dismissing western feminism for being “bogged down in its own limitless self-regard” or, as Cohen does, for ‘turning a blind eye to misogyny’, then there’s a pretty good chance that you’re just not paying enough attention to feminism.

For this characterisation to be true, we would have to ignore the western feminists who run Women for Women International, the Feminist Majority Foundation, or the Global Fund for Women, and ignore all the work they do in Muslim countries. Similarly, we would have to ignore the feminists who’ve campaigned to help the women of Afghanistan, support those protesting for democracy in Iran and end the practices of stoning & ‘honour’ killing.

Once we’re done ignoring the western feminists in aid organisations, NGOs and pressure groups, we’d then have to ignore the scholars who’ve written books about these issues, the activists who’ve actually visited Muslim countries and the innumerable bloggers who regularly post in opposition to oppression, or in support of the brave women who fight against it.

And once we’ve ignored all these different writers, bloggers & organisations who do exactly what Clive James & Nick Cohen claim feminists aren’t doing, then we finally get to the main (and oft-repeated) charge against feminism: that it has failed to show sufficient support for Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Dutch writer who endured some of the most unimaginable cruelty in Somalia and then faced a fatwa for daring to write about it.

Now, it’s true that Hirsi Ali has been met with some mixed reactions, and her that writings have encountered varying amounts of support & opprobrium. Some have felt uneasy with her comparison of Islam to fascism; others felt that her dogmatism would alienate Muslim women from the feminist movement. Additionally, many of the people who embraced Hirsi Ali during her meteoric rise were the same people who spent every other op-ed concocting new moral justifications for the war in Iraq, whilst slavisly supporting a Republican Party which stood squarely opposed to women’s reproductive freedom, either in America or abroad.

But feminists were able to discuss women’s oppression in Islamic states quite independently of what they thought about Ms Hirsi Ali; there’s been plenty of debate (if one can be bothered to look) amongst feminist writers about how to approach the issue, and because feminists aren’t one monolythic block, the responses happen to vary. Some warn against cultural imperialism, others against cultural relativism, but they have at least been talking about it, trying to understand others’ points of view, and sharing stories with each other of both the cruel injustices and the small victories won. In any case, what does seem clear is that the development of feminism in Islamic countries is going to look very different from how it developed in the west.

Of course, in both Clive James & Nick Cohen’s pieces you’ll find a few deferential hat-tips to women who’re on the ‘right side’ of the issue; James doffs his hat to Pamela Boone & Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, whilst Cohen mentions Katha Pollitt, Joan Smith & Laurie Penny. But by holding aloft a few token feminists, they imply that these are the exceptions; marginalised outliers in a field full of women who’re oblivious to the suffering of Muslims. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The voices are many, widespread and longstanding, and just because neither Clive nor Nick has noticed doesn’t make it untrue.

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About the author
Neil Robertson is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He was born in Barnsley in 1984, and through a mixture of good luck and circumstance he ended up passing through Cambridge, Sheffield and Coventry before finally landing in London, where he works in education. His writing often focuses on social policy or international relations, because that's what all the Cool Kids write about. He mostly blogs at: The Bleeding Heart Show.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Equality ,Feminism ,Foreign affairs ,Media ,Middle East

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Reader comments


Well I read Cohen and James. Both were enormously powerful, moving and persuasive pieces (and although I’m sure Cohen will be smeared as a Zionist puppet etc for quoting an Israeli newspaper report) I was fuming at the end..especially at Greer.

In response, your piece amounts to…”well it’s not really that bad…some of them are going through the motions…y’know…kinda…whatever”

You might well have a case. If you have..fuckin well make it properly because if this is the best you can do, I’d have to say “Game, Set and Match to Standpoint.”

Btw…the reputation of affluent and influential Western feminists took another blow on cif today…Get this for ‘progressive’….

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/sep/01/nanny-womens-work-silence

Doesn’t exactly refute the self-absorbed tag which Cohen and James pin on Western women in the meeja. Where does the Guardian find them? Is there a big barrel of them somewhere in Islington which Rushbridger scrapes every so often on his way to the office?

Damn, you got in first. I’ll give this a bash myself later.

For now, on Clive James – which feminists is he talking about? Well, let’s see which specific individuals he names in his piece…

“Western feminists…” “Australian local intelligentsia…” “Australian multiculturalist ideologues…” “legions of Australian female pundits…” “Western female thinkers…” “Writers in the serious newspapers…” “the experts” in “our feminist movement…” an “irresponsible semi-intelligentsia,” a “pampered intelligentsia,” “Anti-Western feminists” and also “Germaine Greer”.

If that wasn’t silly enough for you, note that he’s complaining not about their arguments, but about the arguments that they don’t make.

So basically, Clive’s waving the waggy finger of disapproval in the vague direction of an unspecified mob of unnamed caricatures and condemning them for things they haven’t done. This is perhaps not the most intellectually stimulating piece of journalism I have ever read, to put it mildly.

I don’t have time just now to do Nasty Nick as well, but suffice to say that if you enjoy reading the deeply dishonest hackery he regurgitates in the Observer every week, you’re going to love it now that he’s repeating the exact same silliness at UK Wingnut Central.

His main points – Some critics gave my mates’ book bad reviews, and some people don’t regard Aayan Hirsi Ali as an absolutely unimpeachable paragon of virtue. Because they are bastards.

Again, not a journalistic triumph.

In response, your piece amounts to…”well it’s not really that bad…some of them are going through the motions…y’know…kinda…whatever

No – actually Neil’s point refutes their central thesis if you actually bothered to read properly. Nick Cohen now spends most of his time writing for neo-con rags telling everyone how the liberal left is failing women. Funny he still hasn’t apologised for the hundreds of thousands killed for actually invading Iraq. But anyway.

If you read feminist websites, blogs and publications enough, you’ll find their central thesis isn’t actually true. There are plenty of links, campaigns and stories highlighted. It’s just a nice stick that people use to try and beat the liberal-left with. But frankly anyone who’s done an ounce of reading can refute it.

4. MoreMediaNonsense

“Some warn against cultural imperialism, others against cultural relativism, but they have at least been talking about it, trying to understand others’ points of view,”

So some “feminists” (how many I wonder – do you have an idea ?) think womens rights in the developing world are “cultural imperialism” do they.

Do you really think such people deserve to be called feminists ?

this is like trying to pin jelly to a wall.

We know that the proportion of feminists who are self-indulgent etc. and ignore the plight of their Muslim sisters is somewhere between 0 and 100%, and the number of feminists who are “on the right side of the issue” is also somewhere between 0 and 100% – both sides would acknowledge we are somewhere in between. How do we know which individual feminists are representative of the whole? Both sides can point to individuals on either side, both have different impressions of what the whole looks like, neither offer any sort of argument that might help anybody sort out the matter either way.

Neil shows us here that James and Cohen have failed to acknowledge lots of people on the “right side” of the argument. But a list of hip hop artists whose music isn’t about misogyny and violence, does not demonstrate that hip hop isn’t mired in misogyny and violence.

6. MoreMediaNonsense

From the Nick Cohen article :

http://standpointmag.co.uk/turning-a-blind-eye-to-misogyny-features-september-09-feminism-religion?page=0%2C0%2C0%2C0%2C0%2C0%2C0%2C0%2C0%2C0%2C5

“Julie Bindel, a veteran of radical feminist campaigns, remembers when such circumlocutions were unthinkable. She told me about a vigorous movement to force the police to investigate child abuse allegations in an Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood in London. Her sisters said that it would be racist for the police to leave it to the community to administer its own justice, as they had done in the past. They had to show that the same rules applied to everyone.

“Now they say it is racist to intervene. They’re so frightened of being called an Islamophobe, they will defend the right of men to force women to be shackled. They smugly declare that ‘we haven’t got the right to impose our values on another culture’ and think themselves liberal when they do it.””

She obviously knows some (the “they” seems to indicate more than a few) “feminists” who behave in this disgraceful way.

Personally I think the fact that any sizable number of “feminists” think like this is pretty bad. What do you think Neil – do you think the “cultural imperialist” view of feminism has any posiible validity within feminist thought ?

Louis Enrique,

Neil shows us here that James and Cohen have failed to acknowledge lots of people on the “right side” of the argument. But a list of hip hop artists whose music isn’t about misogyny and violence, does not demonstrate that hip hop isn’t mired in misogyny and violence.

Certainly, but it does undermine the argument that misogyny & violence is all there is. Equally, citing a not inconsiderable number of feminists who do care about women’s rights in that part of the world rather undermines the argument that feminism is ‘turning a blind eye’.

Obviously, as you point out, this is something impossible to quantify, but I think that if James/Cohen had done a little more reading, they might’ve been persuaded that these rather dramatic assertions were inaccuracte.

Neil,

Yes, you might well be correct that James & Cohen would have reached more moderate conclusions if they’d done their research, as you say. Fair point. Or at least they could have just confined themselves to making dramatic assertions about specific feminists, like Greer, and then said something like “regrettably, these idiots are prominent feminists”.

Moremedianonesense,

So some “feminists” (how many I wonder – do you have an idea ?) think womens rights in the developing world are “cultural imperialism” do they.

Do you really think such people deserve to be called feminists ?

Anyone has a right to call themselves a feminist, and other feminists can then decide whether or not they recognise that person as such.

I’m personally wary of both cultural imperialism AND relativism. I won’t excuse FGM simply because it’s the custom of another culture, nor will I excuse honour killings or stonings or anything else. But I still think it’s true that the best way of achieving change comes from within those states, not from us.

For what it’s worth, in the post above, I link to a piece by Jill Filipovic which gives an interesting explanation about the practical dangers of imperialist/orientalist attitudes. (http://bit.ly/mqPkX)

Or at least they could have just confined themselves to making dramatic assertions about specific feminists, like Greer, and then said something like “regrettably, these idiots are prominent feminists”

If only that’d happened; I could’ve saved myself a good few hours of blog-writing!

11. MoreMediaNonsense

Neil – that article you link to seems to be saying that Westerners opposing FGM caused it to become a must for Muslims :

“They certainly had the best of intentions, as they saw a profound human rights violation and wanted to combat it. But the problem with Orientalist scholarship is that too often, it reinstates the very practice it seeks to fight. Western feminists and scholars framed FGM as a religious practice, and addressed it with deeply “othering” language — in essence, they defined FGM as something Muslim, putting the people who practice FGM on the defensive about their religion, and giving FGM, which was a pre-Islamic practice, religious backing. The reaction from Muslim communities in North Africa shouldn’t have been a surprise: They felt that their very religion, culture and way of life was under attack from imperialistic, arrogant outsiders, and they circled the wagons.

Al-Azhar University in Cairo, which has long been considered the most influential university in the Middle East, issued several fatwas endorsing FGM, with some going so far as to say that it is required for Muslim women. Egypt turned back its law banning FGM from hospitals. From the late 1950s through the 1980s, the practice spread to several other Middle Eastern countries. The vast majority of women in several North African countries and Egypt have had their genitals cut. ”

So if we in the West protest about something horrible and fundamentalists in the ME respond by making it more horrible we in the West are to blame ? What kind of stuff is this ? Its like saying women in the US shouldn’t push for abortion in case it makes lunatics bomb abortion clinics. Amazing.

I think the feminism that James and Cohen are rallying against certainly exists. I remember a book of responses to this essay did tread a highly relativist anti-cultural imperialist line: http://www2.law.columbia.edu/faculty_franke/Gender_Justice/Okin%20Multiculturalism.pdf

But in general, I find a lot feminist thought to be pretty critical about itself and other theories, being prepared to consider relativist lines of argument but usually dismissing them when their sources turn out to be from inevitably male heads of race/ethnic/religious interest groups.

I think rather more damaging is radical feminism’s longtime love in with Marxism. They never seem to acknowledge the advancements that liberal capitalist societies have brought to women, and often contemptuous of those who fear that sudden state intervenion will have bad effects on the rights of both men and women.

They’re so frightened of being called an Islamophobe, they will defend the right of men to force women to be shackled. They smugly declare that ‘we haven’t got the right to impose our values on another culture’ and think themselves liberal when they do it.

The police as liberals? Gimme a break. There is also a lot of police indifference or callousness towards mentally unstable people in prison (I can dig out figures of how many black men have died in police custody) and even rape. The same goes for judges. Trying to paint them as liberal do-gooders is something only Nick Cohen would come up with. Oh and the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph brigade.

14. MoreMediaNonsense

Sunny – my reading is Bindel is talking about “her sisters” not the police.

Perhaps we should ask Nick Cohen :)

Greer is quoted out of context. She is against it but sees the passing of motions at international conferences to be as self-indulgent and even counter-productive. Her point is that FGM won’t stop until the women who perform it see the need to.

By the way, Nick Cohen and Clive James have no record of fighting for women’s rights in this country yet feel they can use third world women as puppets in their argument for imperialism.

From

http://www.newsweek.com/id/88816/output/print

Why Genital Cutting Goes On
We Once Thought ‘Female Circumcision’ Would Vanish As Africa Modernized. Instead, It Has Become A Badge Of Pride.

By Germaine Greer | NEWSWEEK

From the magazine issue dated Jul 5, 1999

When FGC has outlived its cultural value it will disappear. As long as the world elite remains fascinated by FGC, and reinforces their feelings of superiority by demonizing it, this dangerous, painful and destructive practice will continue and could even spread. As Carol Corso of PATH (Program for Appropriate Technology in Health) pointed out in 1998, “FGM must be identified by the community, and by the women, in particular, as an issue on which they are interested in working. The issue and need cannot be identified by outsiders.”

So if we in the West protest about something horrible and fundamentalists in the ME respond by making it more horrible we in the West are to blame? What kind of stuff is this?

I think the post was making the point that actions sometimes have unexpected and unintended consequences, and that these can be and often are significantly worse than the status quo. The Vietnam War springs to mind as a particularly apt example of a well-intended catastrophe, although readers can perhaps think of other, more contemporary analogies.

Sunny H

“No – actually Neil’s point refutes their central thesis if you actually bothered to read properly. Nick Cohen now spends most of his time writing for neo-con rags telling everyone how the liberal left is failing women.”

Well Sunny I’d be genuinely pleased to think so. I really would. But his point seems to be..”they’re wrong…and here’s a list of links to prove it” Fair enough. However, all are organisations have a very scant media profile. I don’t doubt for one minute that they do a good job and a completely necessary one and I thoroughly applaud their stance and their actions. So why aren’t they more prominent?

Here’s why, prominent media feminists don’t publicise them. Why not? For exactly the reasons Cohen and James state? They want their cake and eat it. They want to maintain their position on what they consider the moral high ground; retaining their impeccable feminist reputations while avoiding the fuckin loony-tune accusations that would fly their way from the relativists if they started seriously and systematically campaigning against abuses in for example the Muslim world. They’ve bottled out.

Where are the regular scathing columns from the Buntings, the Toynbees, the Greers et al….the six figure queen bees of the pontificariat? They’re exactly where James and Cohen say they are filed away under “hypocritical cowardice”.

Those groups listed in the author’s links should be banging at the liberal media’s door screaming blue fuckin murder, appointing spokespeople and getting the message out…I’m sure they’ve tried…I’m sure they’ve tried the BBC…and I’m equally sure that at each turn they were met by some sneering Oxbridge twat who kinda hinted their arguments lacked nuance and sophistication and failed to take cultural sensitivities into account. Clearly I don’t know any of this for a fact but why else are such heinous abuses not aired more publicly. It’s a bloody enormous gawping anomaly. What’s your explanation Sunny? Other than some weasel report that we can’t know for certain the real extent etc etc…islamophobic hyperbole…blah..blah

It’s happening..it’s widespread and it’s downplayed orignored by prominent feminists for just the reasons James and Cohen state.

18. MoreMediaNonsense

The argument that opposing reactionaries will only make them worse so we shouldn’t bother is historically not one often heard on the Left.

What’s the correct idea now – we should only oppose reactionaries in our “own culture” ?

Sunny H

Read it again…MoreMediaNonsense is correct.

Also, I can see how outraged articles on blogs and newspapers here, just to make the likes of Cohen happy, is really going to change things on the ground in the Middle East and South Asia. You guys really think they pay attention?

‘I think rather more damaging is radical feminism’s longtime love in with Marxism.’

And psychoanalysis. And dodgy ‘literary’ theories. Radical feminism often combines Lacanianism, Marxism and post-Saussurian linguistics into a smoothie of bullshit.

Like the Green movement, noble aims tend to get undermined by the cranks.

‘For what it’s worth, in the post above, I link to a piece by Jill Filipovic which gives an interesting explanation about the practical dangers of imperialist/orientalist attitudes. (http://bit.ly/mqPkX)’

And I should also have added feminism’s attachment to the horseshit of Edward Said.

If there’s a crackpot theory based on shoddy, partial or anecdotal evidence and which can’t be disproved on account of the fact any evidence against it automatically becomes proof that it’s true, some branch of feminism will embrace it.

“So if we in the West protest about something horrible and fundamentalists in the ME respond by making it more horrible we in the West are to blame ?”

That’s a distortion of what Neil wrote. He wasn’t condemning protestors, he asserted that it was a “practical danger“.

I’m inclined to agree with monkeyfish re: Bunting, Toynbee n’ others. I’d cheerily suggest to Nick, though, that he highlight oppression himself – he’s got a mainstream column, for heaven’s sake – and stop throwing paper darts at Timothy Garton Ash.

A lot of boys up in this here treehouse. Anyway Monkeyfish,

Well Sunny I’d be genuinely pleased to think so. I really would. But his point seems to be..”they’re wrong…and here’s a list of links to prove it”

Nope. My point:
1) We have here two seperate pieces, published in the same edition, which accuse feminism of turning a blind eye to the oppression of women in Muslim societies.
2) In both these pieces the authors demonstrate a shockingly superficial knowledge of feminist work on the subject.
3) This is convenient because they’d already decided that feminists ignore Islamic facism, and any research would’ve turned up evidence to the contrary.

However, all are organisations have a very scant media profile. I don’t doubt for one minute that they do a good job and a completely necessary one and I thoroughly applaud their stance and their actions. So why aren’t they more prominent?

Interesting. So we’ve gone from “Feminists don’t care about Muslim women” to “Feminists don’t care about Muslim women, except those feminists who do, but their good work goes unnoticed and that’s the fault of feminists.” Well, that’s progress of sorts. I’ve no problem with you raging against the Buntings, Toynbees and Greers if you like – I happen to be of the opinion that the Guardian could do with some ‘cost cutting measures’ with regards its commentators. But there’s so much more out there than that.

25. MoreMediaNonsense

That’s a distortion of what Neil wrote. He wasn’t condemning protestors, he asserted that it was a “practical danger“.

I think we all know that – reactionaries will always try to fight back often using nasty violent reactionary means. Is that a reason for inaction or taking refuge in idiotic relativistic explanations ?

“Is that a reason for inaction or taking refuge in idiotic relativistic explanations ?”

Really? Why did you mention “blame“, then?

And, yes. If the only possible action will have a deleterious effect, inaction is preferable (in my humble, of course). I’ve no idea whether this applies here, because no one’s set out what action they’re considering.

The argument that opposing reactionaries will only make them worse so we shouldn’t bother is historically not one often heard on the Left.

Well, indeed, although I would argue that there is a long, long tradition in politics of smuggling some incredibly silly and counterproductive horseshit under useful slogans like “opposing reactionaries”. Such behaviour can and does often produce bad outcomes.

Clive James and Nick Cohen spring to mind in this regard, prone as they are to farting out a load of belligerent waffle, dishonest smears and nasty witchhunting aimed at “Western female thinkers” when they appear to mean “Germaine Greer”. It would’ve helped their case if they could’ve produced a significant number of WFT’s who met this description but of course, that would’ve required rather more effort than detailing the nasty things that go on in the middle east, then accusing “the liberal mainstream” and “the experts… in our feminist movement” of callous indifference to it, or even tacit approval.

I suggest that any feminists reading their articles may not immediately cry My God, these gentlemen are correct – I must redouble my efforts to emancipate the women of the middle east. I suspect they might, in fact, think These arguments are being made in such obvious bad faith that I shall ignore everything these self-important, flatulent ballbags have to say in future.

Hence, we have an intention – Nick and Clive want to encourage more activism on the plight of women in Africa and the Middle East – that leads to an undesirable outcome, i.e. reasonable people who read what they have to say will conclude that they are prolific bullshitters, thus making readers more likely to ignore any non-bullshit arguments they make in future.

What’s the correct idea now – we should only oppose reactionaries in our “own culture” ?

If I were to do what you are doing in this sentence, I would just pin a really bad argument on you and wait to see what happens. Not much, as it turns out, but that’s because you can’t see the hand gestures I’m making at my laptop.

There is no difference between a pampered Manhattan squaw sumitting to a $20,000 labiaplasty and an unaesthatized Somali kiddy having various bits sliced off her by a wise-woman with a rusty razor.

Both are equal victims of male oppression in the eyes of St Germaine of Greer!

Is the Polly Toynbee who y’all say is appeasing Islamic reactionaries the same Polly Toynbee who was described in 2004 as ‘the most islamophobic media commentator’ by the Islamic Human Rights Commission, and who wrote columns like

‘We must be free to criticise without being called racist: Liberals appease Muslims for fear of association with anti-immigrant thugs’

and

‘Get off your knees: Afraid of being labelled Islamophobic, the left has fallen into an embarrassed silence on religion. We must speak up’

?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/aug/18/religion.politics

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2004/jun/11/religion.world

I don’t think she’s appeasing Islamic reactionaries, I should add (and, yeah, probably don’t agree with monkeyfish, after all). I just think she’s gotten a bit vapid.

Just an observation: the law of unintended consequence is a fact of reality, and it is sensible – indeed vital – to hold it squarely in the front of one’s mind mind when making major political decisions, particularly in building a foreign policy which involves “confronting” large chunks of humanity.

It does not equal appeasement, cowardice, or relativism.

Cohen, Medianonsense et al still haven’t realised this, which is why they’ve arrived a at a position whereby the effects your actions on the ground are of secondary importance, as long as your underlying ideology is sound.

Neil Robertson

#Interesting. So we’ve gone from “Feminists don’t care about Muslim women” to “Feminists don’t care about Muslim women except those feminists who do, but their good work goes unnoticed and that’s the fault of feminists.”#

Who’s made that journey? My original post addressed youthus:

“You might well have a case. If you have..fuckin well make it properly because if this is the best you can do, I’d have to say “Game, Set and Match to Standpoint.”

You might be correct but I don’t think yours was anything like an effective rebuttal. And linking to a few feminist sites who actually seem to take the issues seriously does not constitute “making a point” does it? Any more than I’d be making an effective case that the Earth was a hollow ball by linking to three or four little known sites whose creators think it is. They’re bound to be out there somewhere.
Now if it turned out that actually substantial numbers of people actually believed the Earth was hollow, passionately believed it in fact, but nobody realised it because those “hollow earthers” who were in a position to publicise the fact were deterred from doing so then I’d hold them accountable to a large extent for the misconception.

So if you could have produced a link to some statistics showing me significant action or campaigning on behalf of victims of misogyny worldwide by the majority Western feminists I’d have commented…good point, you’ve convinced me. You patently didn’t do that. As it is, whatever you say about Cohen and James you at least have to credit them with publicising the issues (you do acknowledge the abuses at least, I take it?…you didn’t indicate otherwise) whether or not you accept their point that Western feminism should be (is.. in your view) at the forefront of the campaign.

James makes the point that he wouldn’t be writing his article all, didn’t feel it was his place in fact, but it was the absence of a prominent feminist voice which persuaded him. I accept he feels strongly about the abuse of women and I really don’t think he’s being sly and disingenuous just to deliver a warped attack on Western feminists. He sees the lack of feminist involvement as a huge concern and, personally, I’m persuaded.

#Well, that’s progress of sorts#

Personally, I don’t feel I’ve shifted at all. Here’s how I see my stance.

1) I believe there is widespread misogyny practised on a global scale.
2) I’m of the opinion that the campaign to eradicate this abuse should be led by women.
3) I believe prominent feminists should do more to publicise the fact.
4) I’m ‘persuaded’ (and could be dissuaded with suitable evidence) that a significant factor in their reticence to campaign more vociferously is the potential backlash from ‘cultural relativists’, many of whom are also feminists.
5) I accept that there are feminists…positivist feminists, if you like, who are engaged in a campaign to stop the abuse.
6) I’m not convinced they represent a majority of feminists…and I feel their numbers would increase if prominent feminists with access to the mainstream media did more to raise the profile of the suffering.

This is pretty much where I started out.

Please feel free to try and change my mind on any of the above points. I can assure you that I’m not dogmatically attached to any of them although I’m not remotely impressed with relativism. This is more about numbers and proportion, however. Please link to some.

donpaskini

#Is the Polly Toynbee who y’all say is appeasing Islamic reactionaries the same Polly Toynbee who was described in 2004 as ‘the most islamophobic media commentator’ by the Islamic Human Rights Commission, and who wrote columns like#

Strange…I can’t think of anything she’s written recently. So a couple of articles in 2004 followed by a cry of Islamophobe, and she shuts up. Now you’re here to prove my point for me I think I’ll nip down the pub. Cheers

shatterface: Like the Green movement, noble aims tend to get undermined by the cranks.

Oh yeah? Tell that to the idiots who wanted to go to war in Iraq. Perhaps you should save your anger for actual lives killed.

MMN: The argument that opposing reactionaries will only make them worse so we shouldn’t bother is historically not one often heard on the Left.

Straw-man. Who said they shouldn’t be opposed? How are you going to oppose them? Preparing an army to invade Iran are we?

monkeyfish: However, all are organisations have a very scant media profile. I

What kind of an argument is that? If you’re going to get the Daily Mail to run feminist articles then let us know. Otherwise don’t cuss someone for not having the media profile even though they’ve been making the arguments you’re not criticising them for NOT making.

BenSix: I don’t think she’s appeasing Islamic reactionaries, I should add (and, yeah, probably don’t agree with monkeyfish, after all). I just think she’s gotten a bit vapid.

The thing is, people like Monkeyfish and Nick Cohen don’t even use evidence to support argument. Just because Polly Toynbee doesn’t bang on about this every day doesn’t mean she doesn’t care.

In contrast, the only time Nick Cohen bangs on about this is when he wants to bash feminists and liberals. Oh what a surprise. Especially when he’s writing for a mag which hates liberals and lefties.

Oh sorry, Nick Cohen’s still on the left isn’t he?

I’m normally a big fan of Clive James, but I thought this was a lazy piece of writing. To write something about lack of feminist activity in any area, you would have to do investigative journalism on the various women’s groups and what they are and are not doing, and how that compares the with what they did in the past, not quote some daffiness from Greer . I remember an article in The Nation which, when the accusation was trotted out that feminists do nothing for women in Muslim countries, published a list of the organisations that in fact were doing something, often practical things, not just denouncing in newspapers.

For what it’s worth, i.e. a few quid a month, I’m an old feminist and I contribute to an organisation that educates midwives in Afghanistan, on the grounds that it helps two sets of women, those giving birth and those being educated. http://www.merlin.org.uk/Where-we-work/Afghanistan.aspx

However, I have always been a fairly idle feminist and now spend my time over at Harry’s Place shouting at some of the examples of boorish sexism that you get there. That’s a minor thing, but addressing the problems of women in, say, Egypt and finding solutions to them is a bit beyond my capacity and knowledge.

Re honour killing:- very good piece here:-

http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Features/2009/08/25/10599876-sun.html

An honour killing is part of an organized effort to subjugate women to a specific and oppressive view of society. Although the total number of honour killings in Canada is still relatively small, probably less than 50 in total to date, the impact on the community as a whole is huge. When compared to a worldwide figure of perhaps 5,000 honour killing a year the implied threat is heightened.

But numbers alone do not tell the story. Even at its height, the number of lynchings in the American South was fairly small (probably less than 100 a year) but the intimidation huge. Southern blacks knew the danger of speaking up for their rights; with honour killings, women can see the risk of behaving outside their place.

Under Canadian law, terrorism includes an act taken for political, religious or ideological purposes which threatens the public or national security by killing, seriously harming or endangering a person.

Terrorism is violence designed to intimidate for an ideological purpose.

That’s what an honour killing is — violence intended to subjugate and intimidate women.

Honour killings in this country is something where women’s groups could be helpful. For all I know, they already are eg the Black Sisters of Southall.

SunnyH

#Just because Polly Toynbee doesn’t bang on about this every day doesn’t mean she doesn’t care.#

Or she decided that the mantle of ‘Islamophobe’ didn’t really suit the Islington vibe..or the Tuscan landscape.

Sunny

#monkeyfish: However, all are organisations have a very scant media profile. I

What kind of an argument is that?#

Exactly the kind of argument someone who thinks that prominent media feminists should be doing more to publicise these groups would use.

# If you’re going to get the Daily Mail to run feminist articles then let us know.#

Shoddy stuff Sunny…you’re better than that…aren’t you?

#Otherwise don’t cuss someone for not having the media profile even though they’ve been making the arguments you’re not criticising them for NOT making.#

huh?? one too many ‘nots’?

38. MoreMediaNonsense

Sunny – the article in feministe that Neil linked to and I quoted a chunk from seems to be saying that FGM became more widespread in the 50s to 80′s because Western feminsts linked it to Islam and as a reaction Muslim fundamentalists made it a Muslim duty.

So she is saying that Western feminist action opposing eg FGM can make things worse for Muslim women.

Do you disagree with my reading ?

I wouldn’t worry about not meeting Nick Cohen’s gold standard for helping Muslim women, since it is so obviously a bogus standard.

His argument on Islam and women reduced to its basics is that Muslim men hate and oppress women (apparently solely because the Qu’ran tells them to), and therefore any feminist not hostile to Islam, and not unquestioningly committed to any and all methods suggested of fighting virtually any Muslim entity, is failing women.

Never mind that blindly insulting and warring against anything associated with the Islamic faith has barely any chance of liberating more Muslim women than it kills.

“Strange…I can’t think of anything she’s written recently. So a couple of articles in 2004 followed by a cry of Islamophobe, and she shuts up.”

That’s ‘shuts up’ as in ‘is currently president of the British Humanist Association and an associate of the National Secular Society’. So, for example, the organisation which she is President of ran the advertising campaign ‘there’s probably no God’ earlier this year. Not exactly the sign of someone who is scared of upsetting Islamists for fear of being shunned at Islington dinner parties, right?

Polly Toynbee is an example of a “prominent feminist with access to the mainstream media raising the profile of the suffering caused by misogyny”. She’s been writing on this subject for more than a decade. Is it so hard to accept that you and she agree on this particular issue?

#….people like Monkeyfish and Nick Cohen…#

Oh FFS!

That is just pathetic. If you care to look back at Nick Cohen’s cif pieces over the past three years or so I think you’ll find he has no sterner critic Sunny…well possibly Hank Scorpio (who incidentally I was thinking about emailing and getting over here…was gonna tell him this was a genuine left friendly environment…then you lump me with Nick Cohen…what the fuck’s that all about? Me and Nick fuckin Cohen?…I happen to agree with him on one little item and all of a sudden it’s me and….even a broken clock etc etc)

I think I’ll email him anyway…people like Sunny Hundal and Daniel Hannan…

#She’s been writing on this subject for more than a decade. Is it so hard to accept that you and she agree on this particular issue?#

Well actually I’d find it hard to accept that we agree on the difference between an arse and an elbow. I sit on my arse…dunno about her. You may have a point here don but other than the atheist bus campaign which she may well have rubber stamped, was not aimed directly at Islam and was the work of Arianne Sherine, what has she said lately since being called an Islamophobe that criticises Muslims over their treatment of women? There might be something I missed…but I missed it.

Right I’m off to the boozer..think my work here is done

Monkeyfish,

Alas, I suspect I often receive low scores from the Rebuttal Effectiveness Judging Panel. Can’t perform a pirhouette to save my life. There are, however, factors which mean this isn’t a fair contest. For one, James & Cohen both wrote articles; I wrote a blog post. James & Cohen also get to write for a living and can use that time to do top-notch research (or not, as the case may be); I have a diminishing number of hours to bash something out and if, during that time, I remember to hit the spacebar whilst typing, then that’s an achievement.

As has already been addressed further up the thread, there is no way of quantifying how many feminists, at any one time, care about, write about or work towards improving the lot of Muslim women. I am, however, slightly surprised that you’re demanding some statistical nugget from me when, however unscientifically it was gathered, I’ve already offered far more evidence of feminist engagement in this issue than either Cohen or James have offered to prove feminist disengagement. It seems you’re asking for far more from me than you’d expect of either of them. Plus, I reply to comments.

As it happens, I don’t doubt James’ sincerity, and have already stated that I respect him as a writer & critic. His piece is also the better of the two. Cohen, on the other hand, is a polemicist with a track record for artlessly bludgeoning his former allies and claiming that they’ve all betrayed his values. He maybe sincere, but I don’t trust his motives.

Anyway, I was looking at your ‘stance’ and I suspect that much of our disagreement can be found in the word ‘prominent’. You regard it as vital that ‘prominent’ feminists complain loudly about the things done to women in the name of Islam, and are therefore minded to agree with James/Cohen.

By contrast, I’m not all that bothered what the likes of Germain Greer says about the subject, but can scroll down my RSS Reader and see – every day, without fail – something some feminist writer has written on this subject. But these are people who, whilst prominent in within online feminist discourse, aren’t prominent in the sense of having international renown, a teaching place at a top university, a list of bestselling books, or a weekly comment slot at the Guardian.

So you think that a lack of noise from ‘prominent’ feminists supports Cohen/James’ points; I think that the noise being made by less ‘prominent’ feminists (and aid groups/NGOs) shows their pieces up to be ill-researched rubbish. Maybe I’m wrong, but this might just be a relatively minor, though irreconcilable, difference.

Enjoy the boozer.

Despite being pleased to be hattipped in Cohen’s article, I did say a LOT more than that. I tried, you know, I tried to tell him that a lot of work IS being done and writing articles about how it isn’t just perpetuates that misconception. But I think he had his article planned out already.

I’m pretty disgusted with the Graun’s approach to feminism these days in general, apart from Sarah Ditum. More from Sarah, I say.

“Despite being pleased to be hat tipped in Cohen’s article, I did say a LOT more than that. I tried, you know, I tried to tell him that a lot of work IS being done and writing articles about how it isn’t just perpetuates that misconception. But I think he had his article planned out already.”

You’re not the first person to come away from an interview with him saying that.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jul/19/mathematicians-libel-law?commentid=56d3059e-81a6-48da-a408-8e6ff87ffa31

But I think he had his article planned out already.

He has a habit of doing that a lot, actually. He pretty much did the same when it came to ‘the left is betraying liberal Muslims’ attack. And then when faced with counter-arguments he ran away and tried to pimp his book. Tsk.

I think I’ll email him anyway…people like Sunny Hundal and Daniel Hannan…

heh. Yeah well, monkeyfish, I think you should have engaged with Neil’s argument a bit better rather than dismissing it off-hand, and then finding out that all the assertions you made after (Polly Toynbee and others) turned out to be rubbish.

#heh. Yeah well, monkeyfish, I think you should have engaged with Neil’s argument a bit better rather than dismissing it off-hand, and then finding out that all the assertions you made after (Polly Toynbee and others) turned out to be rubbish.#

Matter of opinion that one Sunny…anyway I take back the Hannan thing…people like….Sunny Hundal and Polly Tonbee…nice

Neil Robertson

Still don’t see how you can underestimate the inaction of prominent feminists. It’s sorta difficult to draw an analogy here since it’s not really possible to regard feminism as a coherent movement…which is as it should be…let alone the “feminist community”…that’s worse than stuff like the Muslim community…black community etc…too much assumptions / presumptions come into play..

However consider NuLab..or the Labour Party as was..and its attitude to Iraq. I don’t know for certain but I think it likely that in total (traditional supporters, party members, local councillors, MPs) a majority were anti. But if, based on that assuption, I said New Labour was against the invasion of Iraq, you’d think I was a fuckin lunatic. Sure there were dissenters, even in the cabinet but because the leadership was so intent on keeping it’s head firmly up Bush’s rear…you have to say New Labour supported the Iraq war.

As I say, an exact analogy isn’t possible but given that prominent feminists are hardly queueing up to castigate misogyny around the world..etc etc.

I’ve read back through the thread and, other than the fact that Luis Enrique actually nailed it in comment 5, the glaring thing is the lack of women involved. Surprised at Laurie Penny’s reaction. If I came onto a thread where the usual middle class media types were yet again opining about the working class, future of the Left etc. I’d be fuckin fuming…who d’ya think you are etc etc. Likewise if I was a woman I’d be a bit bothered that a thread full of men were doing the same (well after stocking up on wonderbras and everything). I bet Cath Elliot would have something to say.

Wouldn’t it be better if Clive James (et al.) talked about fighting the abuses of women carried out in the name of Islam, instead of critiquing “feminists” for the extent to which he believes they have or haven’t done so?

Or is Western-feminist-bashing higher up his list of priorites than the suffering of Muslim women?

They need to get a Feminist Brigade together (as in the Spanish Civil War), arm themselves with some AK47s and take the fight to the Taliban. That would be direct action, why leave it to the male dominated paras to bring liberation….

Don’t you just love it when men sit around al la Clive James (et al) bemoaning how women aren’t doing enough to stop men’s abuse of them?

Ay yi yi

52. the a&e charge nurse

I didn’t read it that way LB [51] – isn’t Clive James saying that in the hierarchy of concerns ‘cultural sensitivity’ trumps physical mutilation (in the minds of certain commentators)?

Maybe James & Cohen have not done their homework but I doubt that will be of much consolation to those who have painfully lost vital bits of anatomy?

We should ALL condemn FGM unequivocally, and I think the practice of male circumcision (for religious reasons) is an abomination as well.

Monkeyfish,

I see where you’re coming from, but let me respond with a slightly different analogy. In ‘What’s Left?’, Nick Cohen basically accuses everyone who attended the massive anti-war protest of marching in support of Saddam Hussein. He and a few others (Hitchens & Andrew Anthony spring to mind) frequently attacked ‘the left’s appeasement of fascism’ by citing a few far-left nutters and some Guardian columnists who’d long since passed their sell-by-date. For me, ‘the left’ was in no way acquiescent to terrorism or theocratic regimes; there were just a handful of prominent folks who said & did stupid things.

Just as the ‘guilt by association’ stunt was being used against the left, so too is it now being used against feminism, and it’s done no more artfully here than it was from ’03-’06. If you feel certain prominent feminists are failing, that’s fair enough, but that should not be seen as indicative or representative of feminism.

As for this,

the glaring thing is the lack of women involved. Surprised at Laurie Penny’s reaction. If I came onto a thread where the usual middle class media types were yet again opining about the working class, future of the Left etc. I’d be fuckin fuming…who d’ya think you are etc etc. Likewise if I was a woman I’d be a bit bothered that a thread full of men were doing the same

I wouldn’t wish to speak for Laurie, but I suspect, sadly, that she’s probably used to it by now. LC’s always been quite top-heavy with men, and I don’t think the male-female comment ratio on her own pieces is much better than it is here.

I generally try to avoid writing about feminist stuff, because even on the off-chance that I avoid coming across like a shallow, soporific dilettante, there’s still something missing when you get a bloke writing the piece, and then mostly blokes commenting on it. Now, obviously I wouldn’t wish for a moment that any of our passionate, smart & constructively critical commenters not enter the debate, but there is often a lack of balance, and that’s a shame.

Neil Robertson

Well I think we’ll just have to differ on this one. Tbh…I know very few middle class feminists, mainly because I know very few middle class people. My knowledge of prominent media feminists comes via the media. I used to bump into the middle class…used to do up their houses, build conservatories, loft conversions etc. There was often an attitude on display which really took me back. It might possibly be just a widespread dismissal of builders as helpless, knuckle-dragging morons but they did exhibit a very odd attitude to my efforts.

I distinctly remember one job (in Crouch End) when I had a fuck of a job knocking through the living room and dining room (she was quite shocked that there was so much dust!). Anyway, when we’d nearly finished I heard her on the phone to her mate.”Yes…it’s nearly over…soon be able to get back to normal….we’ve knocked through the living room and dining room into a one big….”
….and I’m standing there thinking “hang on…WE?…I thought I’d done it” I didn’t say anything because I hadn’t been paid yet, but it did set me thinking..just how far this attitude extended. Does she get her car back from the garage and tell her friends “I put in a new clutch” etc?

One area where I’m sure it extends is into the rarefied reaches of the commentariat. Sitting at the monitor looking for this week’s hot topic then knocking out a few hundred words on the dearth of decent childcare or another glass ceiling expose is OK I suppose but it seems to translate in their imaginations into “agitating for gender equality” or “undermining the patriarchy”. Now maybe it is just that…maybe people read this stuff and are enlightened, enraged…jolted into radical action…I’m not sure..but it can’t do any harm. However, since that end of the media appears such a close-knit, self-obsessed cabal, a 20 minute knocked out piece pseudo-concern can have an influence far in excess of its literary or analytical merits.

It would take so little effort on their part to keep this right up at the top of the media agenda…little more than a little flurry of the fingertips…and given some of the outrageous ‘lifestyle fluff’ some of them resort to on occasions, it can’t be that there are so many other burning issues holding them back. I am still firmly convinced that the reason that prominent feminists abstain from this stuff is a basic moral cowardice…a fear of losing their pristine progressive reputations once accusations of cultural insensitivity start flying and, to that degree at least, I’ve gotta say Cohen and James are on the money.

Still open to persuasion on the extent of wider feminist involvement, but I’m not bowled over by the evidence so far.

…a fear of losing their pristine progressive reputations once accusations of cultural insensitivity start flying and, to that degree at least, I’ve gotta say Cohen and James are on the money.

I hadn’t thought of it that way – So Cohen and James are absolutely correct about the repellent statements that fictional stock characters from tabloid editors’ nightmares don’t make?

None of this is to say that you absolutely won’t find a feminist somewhere in a population of 60 million who thinks that female circumcision is just magic, but let’s be honest – Cohen, James and Monkey already seem to know they exist without presenting any actual evidence, and why bother looking for them when you can just pull a lot of hackneyed cliches out of your arse?

56. the a&e charge nurse

[55] No, not “just magic” but not wrong either (in the opinion of some commentators).
Take this for example;
Female genital cutting persists today because of its socio-cultural significance. This paper has shown that the value of belonging to one’s group and being recognized as a gendered, meaningful and fully participating member of society can outweigh the pain, as well as the health and psychological implications of the practice. It is clear that in most cases women are as responsible as men for a practice which dates back some 2500 years, and are as liable for its continuation. Thus it is difficult to see how the language of ‘oppression’ can apply in this situation, and that instead of a choice between barbarity and cultural imperialism, in which the issue is reduced to a “continuum of alienation and rescue”
http://rspas.anu.edu.au/maapd/papers/wp-07-01.pdf

On the other hand we have observations like this;
After surveying studies of female circumcision and comparing the data with the rhetoric about its harmfulness, Dr. Shweder concludes that “‘First World’ feminist issues and political correctness and activism have triumphed over the critical assessment of evidence.”
http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/11/30/a-new-debate-on-female-circumcision/

Leaving aside the robustness (or otherwise) of Cohen and James’s research it seems that there is still a fair amount of ambiguity around this subject?

Perhaps we need a few more intellects to advise us if such practices are to be condoned or condemned – on the other hand we might simply prefer to draw our own conclusions about the value of FGM in order to fully belong to the group?

And I now sit back in confident expectation of FlyingRodent’s link providing solid, objective evidence that the reason these “fictional stock characters from tabloid editors’ nightmares” (I’m sure Bunting, Toynbee, Zoe Williams and the rest at the Graun for instance will be somewhat put out to discover they’re just succubi conjured up in someone else’s fetid dreams) don’t make these statements is in fact….er what? Dunno? Do you?.

I know they aren’t making them. I know they should be…I think it’s a glaring and culpable omission…so what’s the reason Flyingrodent? They aren’t saying these things…they should be…seems nobody knows why, so it’s very much open to speculation…and the most convincing explanations I’ve heard so far are Cohen’s and James’s.

But now I’ll find out the real reason…cos you’re here..and there’s not the slightest chance you’re talking out your arse is there?

Please just avoid…

1) The whole misogyny saga is a cooked up CIA conspiracy.
2) The Zionist Patriarchy love nothing more than a bit of misogyny, specially when brown skinned women are involved..so why is the NWO dominated MSM going to do jack shit about it?
3) On the whole fluffy filler pieces about embroidered fairtrade duvets are far more important.
4) Any combination of the above.

So I’ll just sit here, muse on my errors and wait for FlyingRodent to put me straight. I might whittle a little turtle from a bar of soap while I’m waiting.

PS…you don’t live in Crouch End do you? Was it your house?

Leaving aside the robustness (or otherwise) of Cohen and James’s research it seems that there is still a fair amount of ambiguity around this subject?

You mean, leaving aside the question of whether the central premise under discussion is fundamentally a load of utter bullshit? That doesn’t strike me as a very productive line of inquiry.

Would you say that the examples you’ve just cited were in any way representative of, or even related to, “mainstream opinion” and “the liberal mainstream” (Cohen), or “Anti-western feminists and “our feminist movement” (James)?

I don’t think so, but their obscurity confirms to me yet again why Cohen, James and a number of sundry jokers prefer arguing with and condemning abstractions – because the fiery condemnation of nasty lefties is the main reason why they they wrote the bloody things in the first place. The issue of whether said nasty lefties even exist means nothing to such people.

59. Luis Enrique

monkey @54 – aw come on, say I got the roof fixed the other day … quite possibly I might tell somebody on the phone “we’ve fixed the roof ….” not, I think, because I have some weird middle class attitude of appropriating the efforts of others, but just because I don’t use language very precisely, and I’d assume my interlocutor would realize I didn’t mean I was up there on the roof.

60. the a&e charge nurse

[58] the fiery condemnation of nasty lefties is the main reason why they they wrote the bloody things in the first place – how do YOU know, FR?

Is there even a vague possibility they were written primarily because Cohen & James regard FGM as abhorrent? And since you are especially keen to speculate, rather like an amateur psychologist, about the covert motives of both writers have you considered the possibility that your rebuttal of them is tantamount to little more than a projection of your own cynicism (gosh, it’s fun playing Sigmund Freud, isn’t it)?

A minute ago you were screaming for ‘evidence’ but as soon one or two articles are supplied (highlighting different schools of thought) you immediately shout them down because they do not represent mainstream opinion.
Yet we both know the terms ‘feminism’ and ‘muslim women’, or MSM for that matter are so porous as to mean anything and everything depending on which line of argument you are pushing – in that sense Neil’s proposition ‘feminists aren’t letting Muslim women down’ is well nigh on impossible to answer in any objective sense.

@Monkey

I think it’s a glaring and culpable omission… They aren’t saying these things…they should be… so what’s the reason Flyingrodent?

Not only that – I’ve just Googled the writers you mentioned, and it turns out that there are literally millions of crimes and atrocities in loads of non-western countries that they haven’t Condemned. In fact, these so-called “feminists” appear to have spent 99.9% of their adult lives not Condemning Things, a character flaw they appear to share with practically every single writer and journalist on Earth. The fiends!

Even worse, Googling my own name, I discover that I myself have repeatedly Failed to Condemn everything from female circumcision to slavery in Mauritania, thus meaning that I have betrayed every principle I have ever held dear.

Perhaps somebody could prepare a list – book-length at least, I think – of all the crimes, atrocities and horrors that bedevil the world and then we could all sit down and tick little boxes marked Condemned! Endorsed! and Blind to the Horror due to Ideological Fixation on Multiculturalism!

Or – and this is just a suggestion – we could recognise that attacking people for the things they don’t say is Ye Oldest Rhetorical Ploy In Ye Bullshitter’s Armorie, and instead laugh and point at the kind of twunt that deploys it. That, I think, sounds like a more reasonable and fruitful enterprise.

@ Chargenurse

Is there even a vague possibility they were written primarily because Cohen & James regard FGM as abhorrent?

There could well be, and I’m generally inclined to cut Clive some slack – although let us note that Cohen has form in this regard. If this is their primary concern, I think their writing would be more effective if it laid off the allegorical liberals and stuck to, you know, facts.

you immediately shout them down because they do not represent mainstream opinion.

Uh, of course I do. The topic under debate is “Are western feminists and liberals insufficiently critical of the Muslim clit-choppers,” and it’s Cohen and James that started on mainstream opinion, not me. Had the topic been “Can anybody Google up some nutters,” instead your links would have been full of triumphant WIN.

“Perhaps somebody could prepare a list – book-length at least, I think – of all the crimes, atrocities and horrors that bedevil the world and then we could all sit down and tick little boxes marked Condemned! Endorsed!”

Make it a Web site. With an API so we can condemn things automatically as they arise, then ping the condemnations across to facebook, twitter and libcon.

It’d be a smash hit.

Louis Enrique

Ever had that new clutch fitted…”I fitted a new cltuch”?…Operation…”I’ve just whipped out my appendix”?…I’m not saying the roof example isn’t correct…people do say it..but only when it’s a builder.

FlyingRodent

So in answer to my question…basically…you haven’t got one…just a far flung attempt to divert the issue with a little riff on all the other stuff they haven’t covered. But…here’s the problem…and dispute it if you like:, I happen to think (and you may well not agree) that for any feminist, the misogynistic abuses covered in the articles should be dominating the feminist strand of their writing. (By all means inform me why I’m wrong about this). The far lesser indignities landed on Western women pale into nothingness in comparison. So where’s the condemnation?

Sure they’re not talking about the plight the red squirrel or the difficulties in getting hold of a hand-stitched kilt in the Cotswold but that’s neither here nor there; a lame attempt to disguise the fact that you’ve got no substantive answer to my original question.

#Or – and this is just a suggestion – we could recognise that attacking people for the things they don’t say is Ye Oldest Rhetorical Ploy In Ye Bullshitter’s Armorie, and instead laugh and point at the kind of twunt that deploys it.#

Well…yes…we could do that…or we could acknowledge that there’s a well established concept which could be identified by the term “sinning by omission”…what’s was saying again?…Oh yeah…“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. Mind you..that was Edmund Burke…a fat white Tory…so what would he know?

Maybe you go with the funky post-modern version: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to recognise that doing anything might lead to accusations of cultural imperialism and significantly fuck up their chances of an invite to all the hottest Islington dinner parties”?….Yep…that’s more like it.

Twunt??? You wanna call me a twat or a cunt do it. Twunt just makes you sound like a prick.

64. Luis Enrique

FR,

I presume you don’t think it’s never meaningful to say some movement or other, be it feminists, left-wingers, right-wingers, are failing to say something they ought to be saying, by their own standards?

I know these things are amorphous and very hard to pin down, but I’d be surprised if you’d rule out “attacking people for the things they don’t say” altogether. I think glaring omissions should be pointed out, where they exist.

I don’t see how we can rule out, a priori, that the feminist movement, however you might define it and measure what says or fails to say, might be somehow letting itself down, over womens’ rights in Islamic nations.

If we were somehow to agree on what constituted the set of “prominent feminists” in the UK, isn’t it meaningful to ask how well they have acquitted themselves with respect to women’s rights in Islamic nations? Presuming you think this is a question that admits of an answer, how do you answer the question?

[perhaps you have no view, which would be fair enough - I cannot claim enough familiarity with prominent feminists to have one myself, I'm just intrigued you appear to be against James & Monkeyfish on principle]

65. the a&e charge nurse

[62] No, I don’t think that’s the point, Neil – its not so much how many feminists condemn FGM, its more a case of feminists (as well as other members of the liberal establishment) feeling uncertain about the correct position to take on the morality of such practices.

The significance of FGM is that it intersects the dividing line between liberal sensibilities and cultural autonomy in a way that makes the liberal mind rathe uncomfortable.

For example, FR characterises two academic contributors on FGM as ‘nutters’ [see 56] yet they are clearly well intentioned even though they arrive at diametrically opposed conclusions.

This is can what happen when the liberal mind is pushed to far out if its comfort zone.

66. the a&e charge nurse

[63] Never mind Burke, monkeyfish, the concept of OMISSION is an essential component in the nursing code of conduct as well.

“As a registered nurse, midwife you are personally accountable for your practice. This means that you are answerable for your actions and omissions, regardless of advice or directions from another professional”.
http://www.mentalhealthnurse.co.uk/images/NMC%20Code%20of%20Prof%20Conduct.pdf

So in answer to my question… basically… you haven’t got one…

Here it is again – the proposition “persons (x) have not condemned (y) with sufficient ferocity to escape suspicion” is fundamentally invalid. It’s almost exclusively deployed to smear and delegitimise political opponents without the hassle of actually considering their opinions and is a great favourite with witch hunters and liars.

I’ve already spent God knows how many hours arguing with the type of person who regards the Condemnathon as a devastating argumentative knock-out to know that it’s an endless and pointless exercise, since each Condemnathon leads directly into another.

The far lesser indignities landed on Western women pale into nothingness in comparison.

Well, I did suspect that this was at the root of the argument, but didn’t want to say so. I hope you can see why this falls into the category “Extreme Logic Fail” just by rereading it.

I presume you don’t think it’s never meaningful to say some movement or other, be it feminists, left-wingers, right-wingers, are failing to say something they ought to be saying, by their own standards?

Indeed, but as a standalone argument it is feeble, feeble. Larding it up with a lot of mealy-mouthed misrepresentations as Nick Cohen does – e.g. I invite you to read what Timothy Garton-Ash wrote about Aayan Hirsi Ali, if you have the time, and see whether Nick has fairly summarised his comments – makes the argument weaker, not stronger.

perhaps you have no view, which would be fair enough – I cannot claim enough familiarity with prominent feminists to have one myself, I’m just intrigued you appear to be against James & Monkeyfish on principle

I’ve no strong views on western feminists, as it happens, but I am well-familiar and strongly opposed to the rhetorical tactics that Clive James and Nick Cohen use in these articles. They’re used to cloud the issue rather than clarify, and to smear rather than engage, and they are an excellent indicator that the speaker is Up To No Good.

This is why, when you ask isn’t it meaningful to ask how well they have acquitted themselves with respect to women’s rights in Islamic nations? I would have to say Not if it’s asked the way Standpoint are asking it. And especially not if the best example of an anti-western feminist the authors can raise between them is Germaine bloody Greer.

FlyingRodent

So in answer to my question… basically… you haven’t got one…

#Here it is again – the proposition “persons (x) have not condemned (y) with sufficient ferocity to escape suspicion” is fundamentally invalid#

“Fundamentally” suggests to me that just one counter-example would do to disprove this statement. Do you really want me to come up with one…or, say, fifty?

#Well, I did suspect that this was at the root of the argument, but didn’t want to say so. I hope you can see why this falls into the category “Extreme Logic Fail” just by rereading it.#

Nope…go on illuminate me.

The significance of FGM is that it intersects the dividing line between liberal sensibilities and cultural autonomy in a way that makes the liberal mind rather uncomfortable.

I really don’t think this is true. Yes, there may be some mental contortions on the postmodern fringe, but they can play their own games.

I suspect the bigger disagreement in the mainstream is not whether cunt-cutting is a good thing or not, but what to do about it. *If* more mainstream liberals and feminists are deemed to be inadequately furious about genital mutilation (and I’m not convinced that this is true), I suspect the reason has more to do with not wanting to supply the mood music for the next bombing campaign that Cohen and James call for.

Monkeyfish 54 – “There was often an attitude on display which really took me back. It might possibly be just a widespread dismissal of builders as helpless, knuckle-dragging morons but they did exhibit a very odd attitude to my efforts.”

Monkeyfish 63 – “The far lesser indignities landed on Western women pale into nothingness in comparison.”

Either you’re wrong to raise a problem you have when there are people suffering more, in which case STFU about this time you overheard someone say something about you that you didn’t like, or you’re not, which would invalidate a lot of what your argument’s turning into.

More importantly, you might think you’re being terribly clever and subversive when you try to switch the argument from (all) western feminists, which is the original topic of the articles, to ‘prominent feminists’ (i.e the ones that you’ve heard of / support your argument, however unpopular they are within a lot of the feminist blogsphere), but it’s really not convincing anyone. Not only is it childish, annoying and an obvious attempt to disrupt actual constructive debate, it says a lot about your actual level of interest in and concern about the oppression of Muslim women that when presented with several feminists who do write about this topic, you spend your time tring to defend your original, ill-informed, point of view and recounting irrelevant anecdotes about yourself rather then actually reading them.

Lizzie

#54 was an insight into the way certain specimens the middle-class mind overrate their involvement and influence in basically anything really which led on to an inference concerning a similar trait amongst other similarly constituted middle-class minds.

#Either you’re wrong to raise a problem you have when there are people suffering more, in which case STFU about this time you overheard someone say something about you that you didn’t like, or you’re not, which would invalidate a lot of what your argument’s turning into.#

Well fuck me…hold the front page…the singular most fatuous argument of all time. viz: Until I suffer in a way which puts all other suffering into the shade, never complain about anything. I take it then my posts have aroused in you such a state of mental anguish that you now consider yourself to be suffering more than anybody else on the planet at the present moment? I’m assuming this is the case or you wouldn’t have written your post, you’d have been commenting instead on someone whose need was greater, yeah?

The post in question was about the relative merits of focussing on Western Women’s issues rather than the considerably greater, more problematic and serious (often fatal) issues facing women elsewhere…as you well know. The emphasis on the former has not been explained by anybody…other than Larry Teabag who presumably assumes I’m on this thread to drum up support for my campaign to immediately bomb Iraq. He’s right of course, and I’d be doing it now if certain malcontents in the Monkeyfish Imperial Airforce hadn’t sabotaged my nuclear arsenal in a dispute over expenses claims. I notice you too impugn my real motives without ever properly addressing the point…how strange..couldn’t possibly be that you don’t have any answers either?

#Not only is it childish, annoying and an obvious attempt to disrupt actual constructive debate#

…which you’ve engaged in by coming on to call me childish and skirt the ‘constructive debate altogether…well done

#More importantly, you might think you’re being terribly clever and subversive when you try to switch the argument from (all) western feminists, which is the original topic of the articles, to ‘prominent feminists’ (i.e the ones that you’ve heard of / support your argument, however unpopular they are within a lot of the feminist blogsphere)#

Oh a mindreader! But you nor I nor anybody else can speak for all feminists (why the brackets? kind of a giveaway Lizzie…you know very well it was never “all” feminists) and the articles certainly don’t try to implicate “all” feminists since they refer to Western feminists who see or saw themselves as fairly isolated voices. You seem to be implying they weren’t. Were these would be mavericks wrong to assume they were in a minority? That has been the point of the debate. You, presumably have new evidence to support the fact that the majority of feminists are vigorously engaged in a struggle in support of their oppressed sisters. I’d love to see this evidence, as I have indicated from very early on. Maybe you can provide some?

72. MoreMediaNonsense

Lizzie & Laurie Penny :

As I mentioned above Julie Bindel (a fairly well known feminist AFAIK) is quoted in Nick Cohen’s article thus :

Julie Bindel, a veteran of radical feminist campaigns, remembers when such circumlocutions were unthinkable. She told me about a vigorous movement to force the police to investigate child abuse allegations in an Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood in London. Her sisters said that it would be racist for the police to leave it to the community to administer its own justice, as they had done in the past. They had to show that the same rules applied to everyone.

“Now they say it is racist to intervene. They’re so frightened of being called an Islamophobe, they will defend the right of men to force women to be shackled. They smugly declare that ‘we haven’t got the right to impose our values on another culture’ and think themselves liberal when they do it.”

She accuses “her sisters” of quite disgraceful attitudes.

What do you think about this ? Is Cohen misquoting her ? Are Bindel and “her sisters” atypical in your experience ? Is there a real problem here or not ?

73. douglas clark

Well.

There are some women who think FGM is an issue. The Iraq and Kurdish Womans Rights Organisation for instance. I expect there are many others. Whether they count as famous, or even feminists, I don’t know, but I think they should, don’t you?

#There are some women who think FGM is an issue. The Iraq and Kurdish Womans Rights Organisation for instance. I expect there are many others. Whether they count as famous, or even feminists, I don’t know, but I think they should, don’t you?#

Yeah..I do..well at least on the days when when I’m not clubbing seal clubs with Nick Cohen, throwing over-ripe vegetables at my basement full of sex slaves or plotting to invade Middle Eastern countries.

He means clubbing baby whales with the dead bodies of baby seals prior to an evening of hare coursing

“Logic fail…” Nope…go on illuminate me.

Well, there’s significantly worse poverty in sub-Saharan Africa than there is in Glasgow, but only a lunatic would conclude that someone who wrote mainly about poverty in Glasgow was automatically some champagne-snorting Hooray Henrietta urinating contempt into the pleading faces of the African poor.

@MMN

She accuses “her sisters” of quite disgraceful attitudes.

Have you read any of Julie Bindel’s columns? She accuses everyone of Quite Disgraceful Attitudes.

More generally, I’m heartily sick of this idea that everybody has a duty to Condemn Things loudly whenever some jumped-up Observer columnist demands it. Contrary to what Nick and Clive would have you believe, Condemning Things does not in fact magically resolve Things for the better.

People might notice that Israel/Palestine, for instance, has prompted lots of ostentatious Condemnations from western writers, and yet I think a case could be made that the main effect has been to encourage both parties to believe that the whole world is right behind them/poised to cheer on their annihilation, with violent results.

It should be patently obvious to all by now that Condemnathons exist purely to marginalise and discredit political foes, with the repression at stake a distant second. That’s why Nick and Clive spend so much time bitching about “mainstream opinion” and “liberals” rather than a series of named individuals… Or, indeed, shutting up about those distracting allegorical liberals and just talking about the repression itself.

And as it happens, Larry’s point is a good one – lots of humanitarian workers will tell you how infuriating it is to have their reports conscripted to support some insane military adventure. Lots of people got their fingers burnt over the Iraq debacle, for instance, and it is entirely right and proper that such people wouldn’t want their campaigning work co-opted into entirely counterproductive wingnut schemes for glory.

77. the a&e charge nurse

[69] Your position seems to be that only a tiny minority of cultural relativists are defending FGM? – but given that foreskins are regularly chopped (including Cohen’s I would imagine) a fairly strong precedent for harming children has already been established in polite society (providing the bogus rationale is dressed up in the right way).

Your question about what should be done is the crux of the matter, although I think we can rest assured that the chances of clitoris-related blanket bombing is fairly remote.
Oil-related, yes – damaged young females, sadly, no.

I agree with FR that a condemathon is unlikely to save future generations from a similar, painful fate but the emotional impact of FMG operates at a level that soon overrides the more capricious frontal cortex.

#Well, there’s significantly worse poverty in sub-Saharan Africa than there is in Glasgow, but only a lunatic would conclude that someone who wrote mainly about poverty in Glasgow was automatically some champagne-snorting Hooray Henrietta urinating contempt into the pleading faces of the African poor.#

But, if we dealing with writers who identified themselves as taking an interest in global poverty (were self-described pro-prosperity writers in fact), you might start to think there was something amiss when sub-Saharan Africa was largely ignored altogether and your mind might start to speculate on the cause of that omission.

But, if we dealing with writers who identified themselves as taking an interest in global poverty… you might start to think there was something amiss when sub-Saharan Africa was largely ignored altogether and your mind might start to speculate on the cause of that omission.

Nothing wrong with a bit of speculation, so long as you recognise that speculation about the absence of evidence makes for very weak arguments – arguments that are significantly weaker than that presented in Neil Robertson’s post, which does marshall evidence. If somebody doing that showed willingness to examine new evidence and to alter their opinions accordingly, these would be intellectually honest and honourable positions.

Of course, people who are rather more interested in fragging their political foes might find themselves launching into hilariously bellicose attacks on the vague concept of anti-poverty writers, Condemning! a series of unnamed individuals based entirely on speculation and deliberate misrepresentation. If you found yourself doing that, you would be Nick Cohen and you should be hauled off to a rubber room and injected with thorazine.

To repeat, if the foundation of a journalist’s argument is Persons (x) do not Condemn (y) often enough, ergo they are bastards then you belong on the BBC’s Have Your Say or FreeRepublic, not in the print press. Decent journalism should be able to pass the laugh test.

Flying Rodent

#Nothing wrong with a bit of speculation, so long as you recognise that speculation about the absence of evidence makes for very weak arguments#

Oh that’s just pathetic. You are getting yourself mixed up here; conflating an absence of evidence with a lack of evidence…I’m assuming you meant to type “lack”. There is no lack of evidence since in this case an absence of evidence, or the absence of regular condemnatory articles and concerted campaigns from feminist groups are exactly what Cohen, James are citing in support of their contentions.

As you are so given to triumphantly concluding: ““Extreme Logic Fail”

#If somebody doing that showed willingness to examine new evidence and to alter their opinions accordingly, these would be intellectually honest and honourable positions.#

Now this is getting just a little tiresome Rodent. I have stated repeated that I’m willing to listen to new evidence…virtually begged for new evidence…where is it? What I get instead are ill formed ad hominem ramblings, strange formulations that you suppose pass for logical argument and dissembling. For what must be the seventh or eighth time now…please give me some new evidence. As I’ve already said, I find Neil Robertson’s somewhat scant, selective and unconvincing. Stop playing the logician or the polemicist, you’re sadly deficient in both roles and let me see the evidence Rodent.

While your looking for some cast your eyes over Heresiarch’s response…maybe he’s just a bloodthirsty neocon as well.

#Of course, people who are rather more interested in fragging their political foes might find themselves launching into hilariously bellicose attacks on the vague concept of anti-poverty writers, Condemning! a series of unnamed individuals based entirely on speculation and deliberate misrepresentation. If you found yourself doing that, you would be Nick Cohen and you should be hauled off to a rubber room and injected with thorazine.#

I refer you to my previous statement on your shortcomings as a polemicist.

#To repeat, if the foundation of a journalist’s argument is Persons (x) do not Condemn (y) often enough, ergo they are bastards then you belong on the BBC’s Have Your Say or FreeRepublic, not in the print press. Decent journalism should be able to pass the laugh test.#

indeed it should.

You are getting yourself mixed up here; conflating an absence of evidence with a lack of evidence…I’m assuming you meant to type “lack”. There is no lack of evidence since in this case an absence of evidence…

Well, that all makes perfect sense.

I have stated repeated that I’m willing to listen to new evidence…virtually begged for new evidence…where is it?

We seem to have full communication breakdown here. Here I’ve spent all this time saying that I never participate in Condemnathons – that they’re pointless, since they only lead to more Condemnathons; that they’re almost never honestly used, and that even if they were, Condemning Things on demand has no impact on reality whatsover…

…But this doesn’t seem to be getting through. Did you imagine I would respond with Monkeyfish, why don’t you grab a cold beer while I tear around the internet for you looking for examples of people Condemning Things, so that you can judge whether the Things have been Condemned to your satisfaction? If not, I’ll just scoot right along and find more examples you can reject as excessively conditional or insufficiently furious.

Well, cheers for the invitation to bang my head against a brick wall, but you either accept that this tedious game of Condemnation Bingo is a pointless exercise, or you don’t. Clearly, you don’t.

#Well, that all makes perfect sense.#

You’re just a bit thick aren’t you FlyingRodent? OK, here’s a simple little tale to illustrate how completely fallacious your “absence of evidence” charge is:

You come home and notice the back door’s open..”strange” you muse “I’m sure I locked it…never mind” You grab a cold beer and settle down to watch the telly. You press the remote…nothing happens…the telly’s not there…”shit” you exclaim..”I’ve been robbed”.

You ring the police…”I’ve been robbed…yes Ok…OK yep ..I’ll do that”

Three days later when a copper turns up you point at the space where the telly used to be and say “look..it’s gone”. He looks and says “but there’s nothing there”…”Yes I know” you reply “It’s been stolen”…..”But there’s nothing there?” he replies….”Yes I know, I’ve been robbed”…he looks again and says “Yes, but there’s nothing there”…he looks at you like you’re crazy…

The point of this little parable, Rodent, is: You’re the copper.

You want evidence of a lack of condemnation. When I reply “but there isn’t any…or at least not enough…that’s the point”…you say “Where’s the evidence?”….I reply “There isn’t any…that’s the whole point”…You reply “Yes but where’s the evidence?”….I reply….”There…blah blah fuckin blah…..

Eventually, you triumphantly announce….”I told you so, you haven’t got any evidence”

It’s me that should be banging my head against the wall Rodent. But I’m a balanced sort of individual…instead, I ask you repeatedly for evidence that I’m wrong and there is indeed widespread and popular support out there for a campaign against abuse. You don’t provide any…then you announce…

#Monkeyfish, why don’t you grab a cold beer while I tear around the internet for you looking for examples of people Condemning Things, so that you can judge whether the Things have been Condemned to your satisfaction? If not, I’ll just scoot right along and find more examples you can reject as excessively conditional or insufficiently furious. #

hmmmm…you’ve had a few days now…why, if it’s so plentiful would you need to tear around? Surely a well informed feminist like yourself could have linked to a few examples of this well supported, mainstream campaign in a matter of seconds?

#….but you either accept that this tedious game of Condemnation Bingo is a pointless exercise, or you don’t. Clearly, you don’t.#

Dunno…I’d have thought that to play “Condemnation Bingo” a few examples of condemnation were required…why not fetch a few?…then it’s eyes down for a full house…get a few convincing ones and I might even shout Bingo….but for all your smart-arsed bingo sohistry…we’ve never actually played…when we have I’ll comment on whether or not I think it’s pointless. You’ve prejudged my reaction before I’ve ever played the game…I’m really starting to be seriously convinced that the callers taken the balls home…if indeed they ever existed.

Random replies:-

Laurie@Comment 45

I’m pretty disgusted with the Graun’s approach to feminism these days in general, apart from Sarah Ditum. More from Sarah, I say.

Do write a column on this, Laurie. I only get the Guardian now and then. Does it still have a women’s page? It did used to be THE feminist newspaper with lively, humorous feminism (eg from the sadly late Jill Tweedie) as well as the serious sort, but a lot of the battles it fought in the 70s and 80s have been won. Is there much in the way of interviews with the likes of Fadela Amara say? Instead of columns by female apologists for theocracy?

Neil comment@53

I wouldn’t wish to speak for Laurie, but I suspect, sadly, that she’s probably used to it by now. LC’s always been quite top-heavy with men, and I don’t think the male-female comment ratio on her own pieces is much better than it is here.

Well, that’s the political blogosphere for you. The ratio of men to women must be 10 to 1. Just like the world would be, if a load of female infanticiders and feticiders had their way.

Monkeyfish@comment 54

I distinctly remember one job (in Crouch End) when I had a fuck of a job knocking through the living room and dining room (she was quite shocked that there was so much dust!). Anyway, when we’d nearly finished I heard her on the phone to her mate.”Yes…it’s nearly over…soon be able to get back to normal….we’ve knocked through the living room and dining room into a one big….”
….and I’m standing there thinking “hang on…WE?…I thought I’d done it” I didn’t say anything because I hadn’t been paid yet, but it did set me thinking..just how far this attitude extended. Does she get her car back from the garage and tell her friends “I put in a new clutch” etc?

Kingsley Amis illustrated that turn of speech in The Russian Girl:-

He made allowance for the fact that the kitchen meant something special to Cordelia because she had built it herself. It was with much wonder that he had once heard a schoolmate’s landowning father profess to have ripped up a patch of woodland several acres in extent, shifted a road to the other side of a hill and stuck a bridge for two lines of traffic over the river at the bottom. Later study of language had suggested to him the name of rich person’s installative for this verbal category. . .

85. MoreMediaNonsense

monkeyfish – I admire your tenacious behaviour here, but really FR isn’t worth it.

Like Sunny, FR suffers from extreme “Harry’s Place Derangment Syndrome”, I know it all too well (guess what I’m associated with said site) , that’s why both of them are going on about “bombing Iran” like the embarassing loons they are.

There’s no point, honestly mate…

FlyingRodent

Hold it mate…stop your tearing around the internet…just found this for you…a US “head up her own arse” feminist clarifies the issue…the reason they don’t need to bang on about third world oppression is….drumroll…it’s just part of “one great continuum”. So, I’m guessing that by fighting the good fight at home for say, equal executive pay…there’ll be a knock on effect which will lead to the eventual eradication of FGM…it’s so clear to me now!…(Slaps forehead in disgust!)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2009/sep/03/women-developing-world

Especially liked this comment…nailed it for me personally:

# AllyF

Yes, when I read Manu Ndulu describe a woman giving breach birth in the dirt outside a hospital, her baby suffocating to death, and those who attempt to publicise the scandal being prosecuted on pornography charges, I immediately think of the equivalent struggle for equal sports funding in the USA#

KB Player

Tell me about it..

Medianonsense

I think you’re probably right.

FlyingRodent

Get this woman…tool of imperialist oppression?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/sep/04/sudan-woman-trousers-trial

The Guardian’s given space to a CIA dupe who’s probably gonna bring on a carpet bombing raid because she’s been suckered into criticising men in the Sudan. If only she understood what a fool she was for wearing trousers…it creates just the kinda negative view of Islam that the warmongering hawks thrive on. Someone should cover her up…and keep her indoors.

Demonstration: Friday September 4th 2009
Opposite the Embassy of Sudan, 3 Cleveland Row, London SW1 1DD
13.00 – Speakers
13.30 – Leaflet distribution
Background
13 women were arrested on July 3rd 2009 in Khartoum, under Article 152 of the Sudanese Criminal Code. They were arrested for wearing trousers, and sentenced to flogging and bail of $100. Three of the women and journalist Lubna Hussein rejected the punishment and requested a lawyer and a trial. All four were granted a presidential pardon, which they refused, challenging the judge to eliminate Article 152 of the Criminal Code. Lubna Hussein’s trial is scheduled for September 7th.
Article 152 stipulates that any conduct or clothing in violation of public decency should be punished with 40 lashes. But the Article is vague on what constitutes indecent clothing and stands against the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (2005) between North and South Sudan, which recognises the human rights of all Sudanese citizens. The Article is used to harass women in the streets of Khartoum and all over Sudan.
Our protest
The organisers are a group of women and men who are outraged about what has happened to Lubna Hussein and thousands of other women in Sudan. We want to show our solidarity with Lubna Hussein and to add our voices to those calling for an end to this barbaric treatment of women.
The demonstration will be held on Friday September 4th between 13.00 – 14.00 outside the Embassy of Sudan, 3 Cleveland Row, London SW1 1DD.
Speakers:
* Dr Amal Sidahmed from Sudan
* Ajok Wek Athian, Chair of Sudanese Women for Peace and Equality
* Third speaker – to be confirmed
Lynne Featherstone MP, (Liberal Democrat) and journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown are sending messages of support.

http://womensgrid.freecharity.org.uk/?p=3446

Hope you attended, MonkeyFish.

There was quite a long piece about it on Weekend Women’s Hour as well.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00mdy46

#Hope you attended, MonkeyFish.

There was quite a long piece about it on Weekend Women’s Hour as well.#

At last…I must’ve shamed them into taking a stance ;)

Although if you check post 91, you’ll see I was aware of the case. Was working Friday…and, that apart other than the 400 odd mile round trip, I would have certainly have attended. I hope Polly T was there though.

Wait, are people still arguing that Nck Cohen has done all his research and really really cares about the Muslim women of the world?

And what about the North Korean women of the world eh? When has he ever given a fuck about them? I want to see Nick Cohen advocating that we invade North Korea to liberate those women otherwise I think I’m quite right in assuming he has an obsession with Muslim women over N Korean women.

Maybe he’s doing one place at a time…mind you, now you’ve got Afghanistan covered to can move on. Who can say who’ll be next?

as far as i can see, the main problem about feminism the world over is this tendency to focus just on the blokes. mothers, sisters, aunties, peer pressure from girls, are very central to the continuation of the “feminine” construct . individual women are co-opting each other into the gender stereotype system whatever that involves. this makes all the ‘blame the blokes’ stuff far too facile (and alienates so many people). for some reason, this kind of ‘feminism’ is what gets far too much press. i daresay the journalists like it..

gender unfairness goes both ways. if i were a bloke, i’d be well pissed and be taking whole leaves out of the victorian feminists books. a true libertarian approach to being free of gender stereotypes should take into account the fact that it is unfair to an individual male that he cannot wear a skirt/wig/make-up without being thought ridiculous, or ‘effeminate’/wanting to be a woman/gay/trans-gendered. Maybe he just wants to wear a skirt- why do we have to speculate on his sexuality? Masculine and feminine are just constructs at the end of the day.

Why should men be automatically expected to be financially responsible for any children? Is she going to be pregnant all the time? Probably not, in which case there is no reason why a mother should not be expected to go out to work and have the father stay at home. What about non-biological parents – e.g. gay couples who adopt a child? which man should work?? a lesbian couple who have a child – which one has to go out to work after the baby has stopped being breast-fed?

Some may think my questions are a tad odd/or even irrelevant..but actually I think what post-feminism needs to be is really a focus on individual rights – the right of any individual of whatever sex to not be constrained because of their gender.

I think Sonia makes good and constructive points, but I think it is important to remember why it is called Feminism: namely that the political, legal, economic and sexual inconsistencies of gender-bias do tend, across all cultures, to be in favour of males, and to the material detriment of females.

That this fact is to the detriment of all people should not be used to cover up the fact that by convention, it is misogyny, rather than misandry that is and always has been the dominant cultural motif, and that in the interests of a just society, there is rather more work to be done as regards how bias and stereotype impacts upon women’s lives than men’s. I mean in terms of the basics – violence, reproductive and sexual freedoms, literacy, employment, civil rights – rather than the right to wear a skirt without judgement, or not have to be the breadwinner.

Of course, all these things are related, but it is perhaps interesting that in regards to notions of stereotypical masculinity there appears to be more protest by and on behalf of men against such things as compulsory clothing conventions, heterosexuality, breadwinning, and liking football (say) than against the aspects of traditional masculinity that entail dominance and misogyny (to a more or less subtle degree).

The key, I believe, lies in acknowledging and understanding the causes and motivations of misogyny (in all genders), and in acknowledging and understanding why there is so much resistance to this, even among those with the best of intentions.


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  3. sunny hundal

    Have to say, I'm amused to see Nick Cohen fashioning himself as defender of feminists. Reminded of: http://bit.ly/bWuy4U





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