Friday, December 28, 2012

Don't talk about FGM

Oh. Female genital mutilation.

Don't bother telling the Atheism Plus people about it.

Why is FGM a non-issue among the A+ crowd?

Rebecca Watson essentially called male circumcision a 'first world problem' back in 2010:

To get back to drealgrin’s question, does it matter? Both boys and girls are hurt by mutilation, and neither male circumcision nor fgm can be supported by anything other than cultural or religious dogma. Both should be ended. But yes, it matters that we recognize the difference, because every time you falsely compare male circumcision to fgm with zero facts to back you up, you are not just making a case for ending male circumcision. You are belittling and undermining efforts to end a much more terrible problem.
I support the end of male circumcision, but not at the expense of people writing off the mutilation of millions of women.

Then, in June 2011, elevator gate happened.

Richard Dawkins, in his "Dear Muslima" comment, essentially called being asked for coffee in an elevator a 'first world problem'.


It would seem that we've got two camps at this point.

  1. Anti-male-circumcision advocates ('intactivists'), who are told FGM exists so get a grip and STFU
  2. Watson and Atheism Plus, who are told FGM exists so get a grip and STFU

What a gong show. It gets worse.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali leads what is likely the most reputable focused anti-FGM organization in the USA.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali also is a fellow at AEI, a right-leaning think tank.

As Atheism+ is really a weird mashup of 'progressive' ideas, they've managed to find bogus reasons to cause a fuss.

More details from an admittedly biased source

Adam Lee ( @DaylightAtheism , A+ fan ) has some winning comments.

Let me put this delicately: Growing up in Somalia, Kenya and Saudi Arabia is not the kind of life experience that I would expect to give someone a strong opinion about the feasibility of modern welfare states. I think her views have changed substantially. I even think I know how and when it happened.

Does not bode well for Atheism Plus if women growing up in these countries are not forming compliant progressive opinions! He continues:
When she took the job with AEI, she may have sincerely believed that it was just a platform for her to broadcast her own views. But I'd be willing to bet that the opinions held there have seeped into her thinking. It's a universal human tendency to adopt the beliefs of your peer group, especially when they're responsible not just for your social relationships but also for your salary. When you're rewarded for fitting in better, consciously or unconsciously, you'll often reshape your beliefs to fit in better. Not even the best of us are immune to that temptation. And that's especially true when you surround yourself with an ideologically closed circle - and I strongly suspect that AEI, like all conservative think tanks, does its best to cultivate an epistemic bubble where no dissenting views are confronted or debated.

So a well educated adult woman with an incredible story and independent success was lured into conservatism for fame and fortune.

Oddly enough, were you to suggest one of Adam's friends was in it for the money and fame, you would immediately be labeled a misogynist.

Further, Adam suggests a dangerous groupthink exists at AEI that presumably Atheism Plus is immune from.

Call me skeptical.

Where to go from here? Nowhere.

Bringing up FGM at this point does not serve the goals of Atheism Plus whatsoever, as it would derail the ongoing discussion of just who is going to speak at the next conference and the ongoing pruning of an online community.

FGM would also bring in debates about real people that would lead the effort. They might unseat the current clique of bloggers and simultaneously bend the rules to allow for strains of conservatism or more dismissive attitudes towards the complaints of western women.

So let's not talk about FGM, ok?

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