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    Monday, April 03, 2006

    Reading About "The Burkha Thing"

    brownfemipower on Woman of Color Blog: This is What a Feminist Looks Like.

    Liza on Culture Kitchen: Gloria Steinem is Wrong and Don't hate her because she's beautiful ... and wears a burqa.

    Clare on The Ninth Wave: Randomish Bullets of Anger.

    These awesome bloggers are responding to this and this.

    I couldn't say it any better than brownfemipower, liza, and Clare, but I am plenty riled so I had to post. All I have is what I said in the comments on The Ninth Wave:

    I just wanted to say that I am so grateful this discussion is going on.

    Clare:This assumption that religion oppresses women is so fucking superficial.

    Bitch: I mean, my own almost sister in law was worried about talking to me because she's a former mormon turned evangelical. She was afriad I'd think she was dumb, backward, and I'd be a snob.

    I was just sad for us -- as feminists -- that this is what some of us have done to make women who might otherwise be allies feel less than. Imagine thinking that feminists think you are dumb -- when you are a really bright, intelligent, compassionate woman who is, in fact, very much a feminist.

    You know, it's interesting, but to me, the never-ending discussion about "The Sex Industry" is actually very much the same.

    If you are upset about "sexism", look not to "religion" or to "porn" for anything more than manifestations, just like most other cultural artifacts, of the sexism that pervades. (I blogged about that for Blog Against Sexism Day http://myamusementpark.blogspot.com/2006/03/blog-against-sexism-day.html).

    So many people forget that feminism was a radical movement, something that was (and in many real ways still is) fringe in Western secular upper-middle-class white culture, but somehow expect upper-middle-class white Western feminist tenets to be reflected in the mainstream of every "foreign culture" (and this includes various religious cultures, art forms, etc, etc). When the so-called progressive NYTimes has Harvey fucking Mansfield interviewed in its Sunday Mag, how on earth can we be hating on mainstream Islam for being less-than-feminist, while patting ourselves on the back?

    And here I add:

    It's like the "transpeople are reifying oppressive gender norms" thing. Like, hey, guess what? You, gender-normative person, probably are too! Most people in a sexist culture are at some point involved in something that, at least on surfaces and to certain perspectives, looks sexist.

    You hear this stuff from "mainstream feminists" all the time: If I want to wear high heels, that's my choice and I shouldn't be assumed to be 1. available 2. a slut 3. antifeminist because of it. I totally agree. But extend the same courtesy to other women to participate in culture(s) as they see fit.

    Edited to add for follow-up:

    The comments section is looking good on Woman of Color blog, so, if you just read the article I linked to, I recommend returning to read and maybe add to the discussion.

    Also, Tennesee Guerilla Women (who just won a Koufax!) posted a response. I understand some of what they're going through: the way that everyone so quickly assumes they know what went on or did not go on in the decision-making process of any feminist action - I've so been there and I know how frustrating it can be.

    But this comment showed me the problem again, so clearly:

    The veil is an artifact of patriarchy, not Islam. When Christians were patriarchal, they veiled their women, too.
    Sadie Baker | Homepage | 04.03.06 - 3:34 pm | #

    Excuse me- when Christians were patriarchal? Ummmm. Yeah. Because the Westerners have long since figured everything out.


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