Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hate the bikini, love the burqa

Despite Rebecca Watson and the rest of the 'feminist' crew labelling reddit as a hotbed of misogyny, our Atheism+ friends have gone and set up shop.

When discussing the usual "Why I need feminism" campaign, (link) an interesting discussion took place.

We'll get to the discussion in a moment, after explaining a few things.

For those not familiar with the typical "Why I need feminism" campaign - it's essentially an ad campaign for a vague ideal of 'feminism' wherein it solves everything from the most complex social problems to the most banal issue had by young undergraduates. The problems are usually scribbled on whiteboards.

For example:

Either this is the most absurd statement one has read in some time, or there are a few words missing here.

You could add the word 'criminal' - as in, 'sex trafficking is the 2nd biggest criminal industry worldwide'.

Yet even that statement is quite a grand claim. If sex trafficking occupied the number two spot in criminal enterprise, it would mean that it would be larger than either drug trafficking or prostitution in the typical sense. 

That is unless one believes that all sex in exchange for money (including porn) is just another form of sex trafficking, which is not a stretch for many 'feminists'.

This is provided just as an example of a "Why I need feminism" campaign. Best not to think about it too much.

Back to the original topic, this discussion of the "Why I need feminism" campaign on reddit. It's something else.

It turns out one person (rumblestiltsken) is a huge fan of hijab-wearing muslim women being fans of feminism, while another (fifthredditincarnati) does their best to call them on it.

This is cool to start with, but I think it is particularly cool because it really shows variety.
In particular - the Islamic women both state their prime reason for feminism is "because patriarchy is oppressive, not my religion/choice of dress". Their defining reason for feminism is tied directly into how western feminists treat them for being Islamic. Pretty telling as to what they actually feel oppresses them.
A number of the guys specifically make statements about restrictive male gender rolls, which is great ... the agree that feminism is for their empowerment too.
Several women of colour make specific mention of misogynistic slurs that target women of colour more strongly - "b**ch" for example. More evidence regarding the exclusionary nature of SlutWalk, methinks.
Maybe a slight predisposition to concerns about career and rape among white women, and family issues among Asian women?
fifthredditincarnati:Yeah that Islamic women not being oppressed by their religion thing - perhaps true in the west, not so much with the vast majority of muslim women. Western muslim women need to stop speaking for all muslim women and own their western privilege.
rumblestiltsken:F**king hell. They are holding up a sign about why they, personally, need feminism.
Pick your battles. That is really dismissive.
fifthredditincarnati:That's not true, they don't get to plead "I was only talking about me" on this one. Literally yes they were, but that's not all it was. They knew they were participating in a project with a specific agenda and they tailored their message to suit that. Their pictures were selected and posted online because they fit with the agenda being advanced here.
There is a problem when that agenda does not recognize, or erases, or is dismissive of the vast majority of Muslim women in the world.
You would not be telling me to shut up and stop rocking the boat if the message in question had displayed toxic male privilege or cis privilege or straight privilege or white privilege.
The message displays toxic first world privilege. If you don't see it and don't think it's a big deal, I suggest you examine your own...
In order to do that you might need to shut the fuck up and listen. Not tell those without western privilege to stop talking about it already because it's so annoying to you.
rumblestiltsken:They are telling you that as a minority they feel marginalised by feminists. You know nothing about those women, and I strongly suspect they would be just as critical of fundamentalists and patriarchal Arab/Persian/other ME culture as you are.
They are not privileged by being Muslim in the UK. They are privileged by being in UK, like everyone of every creed is.
To hold the position you do ("dismissive of the vast majority of Muslim women in the world") is literally analagous to complaining that "UK women discussing their oppression are being dismissive of all women elsewhere in the world, because those other women have it worse".
Western women are all relatively privileged compared to women in developing countries, but they still get to express their own experience. They still get oppressed. Just because women elsewhere have it worse means nothing.
Why is it so hard to parse out anti-Islam criticism from Islam apologetics? These women feel an intersection with culture/religion and gender which is fucking obvious. Women in burqas get yelled at and spat on in the street. They get excluded from feminist spaces. How is that not a problem?
Why are you connecting "having western privilege" with this issue? You are not doing it with the non-Islamic women.

Quite a bit to parse here. Let's roll it out.

Claim #1: Muslim women choose to wear the hijab out of their own free choice, and it's 'feminist' to support women's decisions
 It is not decidedly feminist to support women's choices in all situations.

This runs the risk of infantilizing several groups, but it remains to be said that the best example of ignoring choices leading to better results is the case of children.

What does Little Bobby want for dinner? Ice cream. Are we abusing the rights of children by ignoring that choice?

Similarly when the rich and poor alike want to entirely disembowel the welfare state, (notably for different reasons) we should ignore them. Their desired action (axing the state) does not support their stated aim (more wealth for all).

To use a more specific 'men's rights' topic to compare to feminist concerns - men often should be ignored for their own sake. For example, if a man says he is 'happy' with his circumcision, this subjective data point does not support the idea that routine infant circumcision is a good thing.

In short, women that choose to wear the hijab/niqab/burqa should be treated as if they are poor tax protestors or men pleased with their circumcised penises.

Claim #2: Islamic theology is distinct from systemic patriarchy in cultures

A bizarre statement attempted to state that Muslim 'feminists' are true critics of patriarchal cultures in the middle east and south east Asia.

The concept is that these women have a faith disconnected from patriarchy. Patriarchal culture has spoiled Islam more than Islam has spoiled gender relations.

The fact of the matter is that the Islamic holy books are simply ancient patriarchal culture codified into vague sentences and handed down through generations.

The evidence? Everything Islam says about gender roles - if one had to pick one item, polygamy stands out as particularly wrongheaded.

Claim #3: SlutWalk is exclusionary because of it's acceptance of labels many women find unacceptable

Just what is 'SlutWalk'?

It is an attempt by some to remove the negative connotations of the word and similar brandings of women. It could be classified as a 'sex positive' feminist movement.

If 'SlutWalk' is your thing, partake. If not, don't. 'SlutWalk', like FEMEN, doesn't judge.

Yet apparently 'SlutWalk' is exclusionary because some particular demographics are squeamish about words. Which is a rather curious accusation as it's precisely what 'SlutWalk' is trying to address.

Let's talk about what is really exclusionary.

How about a faith that says your fate for all eternity is suspect if you don't comply with all the rules? There is a short list of people headed for paradise, while everyone else is damned. Sounds more exclusionary than marching around town once a year to effect cultural change.

Claim #4: Arab/Persian/Middle Eastern cultures are patriarchal and muslim women/'western' feminists have a common enemy in this respect

This is related to the earlier claim about Islamic theology somehow being purer than the world it was created by.

This is compounded by the joke that Muslims or Muslim women specifically can and will address the problems of patriarchal societies on their own. Apparently western feminists are getting in the way, acting unilaterally and suppressing the voices of Muslim women.

This can only be seriously believed by someone who does not think Arabs are capable of disbelief,

What is the mantra of feminism in the west?

Leave the catholic church! Leave the convent! And take that habit off!

To eastern nations, the message changes - "leave the hijab on, we dare not suggest anything different"

This is similar to 'supporting women in the workplace' by suggesting careers that 'suit' them. It's entirely condescending to assume everyone's comfort level.

Claim #5: It's a problem that muslim women are excluded from feminist spaces

Oh, gee. Muslim women are excluded from feminist spaces?

This is an especially hilarious 'problem' to have given that a sizable army of 'conservative', 'sex positive', etc secular feminists have already been voted off woman island by the 'feminist' hive mind.

By all means welcome women embedded with opinions from one of the most patriarchal faiths into the ivory tower of feel-good 'feminism'.

Just as long as we can keep pretending that Margaret Thatcher, Ayn Rand, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Christina Hoff Sommers and all the 'MRA' ladies don't exist, there will be plenty of space for women that believe that Muhammad hooking up with a nine year old was completely halal.

Do these 'feminists' see the disconnect?

Let's try to put this into pictures, as they often say a thousand words.

Who is this woman?

The secular progressive 'feminist' answer -

The woman is:

  • Blinded by western patriarchy
  • Does not choose freely; body image is formed by the media
  • Shoving her lifestyle choices down other people's throats by stating that 'slut' is not an insult
  • An instrument of western cultural imperialism
  • Doing females everywhere a disservice

Now, who is the woman in this niqab?

The secular progressive 'feminist' answer -

The woman is:

  • A clear eyed, studious believer in one of the world's oldest faiths, as noble as any other
  • Choosing to dress up this way out of her own free will
  • Probably dressing the next generation this way so they may avoid hellfire but that is entirely her prerogative
  • Quietly devising a future for women's rights that will solve all our problems


1 comment:

  1. Interesting analysis of the nonsensical beliefs of Reddit feminists.
    GWW has an interesting video up about when female privilege has backfired. society is one of the prime examples, along with China's one child policy. I've never explored the root causes that created these seemingly oppressive cultures. Men are very much as oppressed in ways Feminism's shallow and uninformed opinion never bothered to consider. Or maybe they have since this seems to be suggesting that dismantling the culture will just not work, it's a step in the right direction.
    Over a decade ago, I made a conscious decision to stop reading women's magazines when I read a study showing that the majority of women feel worse after leafing through pages of what type of body they should have. This really hit home. From that point on, I chose to simply eliminate that source of misery from my life. Obviously they didn't seem to miss me. I certainly don't miss them. If I'm stuck with nothing but a magazine to pass the time, I'll pick up something interesting instead. But I don't need feminism to change how some genre of media must publish. I easily omitted that horrible "oppression". Some people apparently want to look through these magazines. By making my own choice to stop a self-loathing experience based on data that confirmed my experiences, it was far more empowering that whining about how society needs to change. When I eliminated an unrealistic standard I was personally accepting as the standard against which I compare myself, this helpless despair over what type of women are photographed in a magazine vanished. I really don't care about something I will not be looking at. It has zero power over my sense of well-being.
    Yes, normal women rarely look like them. But look around at real people, and notice that your average man finds average women quite attractive. Obese people manage to find significant others just as frequently as thin and fit people.
    Ok, i'm done babbling.
    Love your blog!!