What you need to know »« A note was left

Delusions of choice

And now I’ll spell out exactly why I think the Collective Response is so wrong and bad.

The hijab is a statement of female subordination, and it’s also a statement of loyalty or obedience to a ferociously misogynist and coercive religion. Some people are “offended” to be told that. It doesn’t follow that it’s not true.

Women who wear the hijab without being forced are making a mistake, just as nuns are making a mistake in being nuns. Both sets of women are endorsing a religion that systematically and explicitly bars them from leadership positions in the religion and declares them subordinate and inferior overall. That’s a mistake. It’s not “racist” to say that.

The Collective Response claims that wearing the hijab is a matter of choice.

What we do find deeply problematic, however, is the questioning of women’s choice to wear the niqab and the presumption that this decision is rooted in a “false consciousness.”

To us, it is deeply troubling to be patronized by a person who insists the hijab is never a choice made of free will.

Note that in the first mention they say “niqab” – which takes their wrongness to a whole new level. They said in a comment that this was a slip of the tongue (some slip!) but they decided to leave it “in hopes of sparking a multilayered discussion that engages understandings of the hijab as well as the niqab.” This just underlines their fundamental frivolity and callousness. Yes let’s also spark a multilayered discussion that engages understandings of stoning to death and girls married off at age 9 and girls’ genitalia carved up like a roasted duck and girls and women murdered for saying No. Let’s treat it all as a “site” for “multilayered discussion” of “intersectionality” and perhaps another publication in The Journal of Pious Horseshit. Yes let’s have a fun detached multilayered chat about women wearing cloth bags over their heads with only a tiny slit in front of the eyes.

Moving on…They find it problematic that Wilde-Blavatsky questions women’s “choice” to wear the niqab and the hijab. Really? It’s clear from their use of jargon that they consider themselves highly sophisticated, but what is sophisticated about taking the notion of choice and free will as transparent and unproblematic? What do they think they mean? How would it be possible to make a free choice to wear the hijab? Free how, free in what sense? Free of influence of any kind?

The idea is ridiculous. We don’t do anything social that way. We certainly don’t wear clothes free of influence – our “choices” are shaped by what’s available and by what’s “normal” – no matter what choices we make, they’re shaped by constraints of that kind. If we “choose” to wear a leopard-pattern loincloth, that choice is shaped by various influences just as a choice to wear jeans and a sweatshirt is – and just as a choice to wear the hijab is.

And the hijab is what it is and not something else. It’s not a baseball cap or a scrunchie. It’s not secular. It has the meaning it has, and there is no “choice” that women can make that alters that fact. It’s a religious garment, with an extensive history of coercion and even violence – a lot of violence – that can’t be erased just by calling it a choice. Imagine a Jew in Amsterdam or Paris in 1946 making a “choice” to wear a yellow star. No “choice” could have erased the meaning of the yellow star. No “choice” can erase the meaning of the hijab now.

Comments

  1. Upright Ape says

    National socialism was as misogynistic an ideology it could get. That did not stop millions of women from being Nazis. That was a grave error. Pointing out that wearing the hijab is an error is no more racist than pointing out that women becoming nazis was an error.

  2. Beauzeaux says

    “The Journal of Pious Horseshit”

    I’ve let my subscription lapse. Forever.

    Thanks for a great piece.

  3. Clio Bellenis says

    I’m not sure whether the impression I get that this issue divides people down a gender divide is true or not. I hope not.

    Can I link to some comments made on a brief defence of Maryam Namazie’s position which I did for the pod delusion?
    (Please remove if not appropriate). http://poddelusion.co.uk/blog/2012/04/12/episode-131-13th-april-2012/comment-page-1/#comment-4735

    Is it typical of this debate that the considered, thoughtful and superficially reasonable comments disagreeing with me are from men?

  4. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    There are, in fact, men who wear hijab and niqab. When they do so, it is often at risk to their lives and the main way that they avoid being hurt or killed is by making sure that they interact with others in such a way that no one knows it is a man wearing the niqab and/or hijab. Assuming that men never wear a person-covering tent that doesn’t allow one to recognize the features of an individual beneath is quite the assumption, isn’t it?

    Not that there’s not a question worth asking, however. It’s just something more like: How come you never see men fighting openly for the right to choose to wear (upon themselves) the niqab/hijab the way women are openly asserting such a right?

  5. says

    @peter381 Actually there are men who wear the hijab, usually for reasons of either political protest or gender identity. You can probably imagine how they’re treated by the Islamists who want the rest of us to believe it’s merely a free choice women enthusiastically make.

    It’s another reason I’d cringe when I saw women, even in the women’s studies department, wearing these blue pseudo-hijabs for solidarity protests with Muslim women. I’m still not sure what the point was, and I doubt they were either.

    Want to show solidarity while undermining the hijab’s symbolism of women’s oppression? Hand out the hijabs to men, and have the men wear them. Yet strangely, these clubs only hand out their solidarity hijabs to women. I wonder why that is?

  6. says

    For those (like me) in need of reminding:

    “A niqab is a hijab worn ninja-style (=]). It is the hijab scarf, that covers the nose and mouth too, and is like a long dress that also covers the body.

    “A hijab is just the head scarf that covers the hair, ears, neck, and usually the front chest area.

    “A burqa [also bourker] is the long sheet-like covering that covers the whole body completely, even the face which only has a small grill-like area to be see out of.”

    I am taking this source’s word for it. That’s Abby D.

    http://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080420064525AAfQjzc

  7. says

    The danger of the hijab and the niqab is the negative implication: if a good woman wears a hijab, what is a woman who does not wear one? I think we all know the answer. So forget about choice–if you accept this nonsense, you will soon find that you have no choice.

  8. julian says

    “It reminds me I am an honored Muslim woman”

    Oh, yuck…

    And this is what today’s ‘liberals’ are defending?

  9. JoeBuddha says

    My sister is a convert. I have an iconic picture of her and her friends and family. ALL of the women are wearing the hijab. All of the men are bare-headed. This tells me all I need to know about her religion. It also makes me so angry I just don’t have the words to comment on it in public…

  10. leftsidepositive says

    @JoeBuddha–yeah, I totally agree. We have some Amish families that come to our local farmer’s markets…very nice, of course, but there is something inherently misogynistic about a religion wherein all the burden of religious identification is placed on the women and men have “passing privilege” in the sense that they can identify themselves and their religious identity on THEIR terms when THEY want to at any given moment, while the women must always interact with the world being identified by their religion from a mile away!

  11. wytchy says

    Ugh. OK. I find a lot wrong with the Collective Response article, especially since there was a chance to point out a legitimate problem with the way western feminism approaches misogyny in other cultures, particularly in Islamic cultures.

    It’s not a problem that we critique the hijab as a religious symbol of female subordination. It’s simply a true statement, and as Ophelia already pointed out, women who wear it are just as wrong as the women who wear the nuns outfit. The whole argument that agency is being erased by claiming that wearing the hijab is never a choice pisses me off because it distracts from the real place that agency is lost for Muslim women and feminists. By not lending a greater ear to the voices of Middle Eastern and Muslim feminists, we are losing out on the detailed accounts of how misogyny effects them and how they best see to combat it. THAT is where agency is lost in the feminist movement for these women, as Collective Response very ineptly tries to articulate in its shim-sham discussion of intersectionality and race. The argument presented in Collective Response only distracts us from collectively (harhar) attacking misogyny in Islamic culture and instead makes it a crime or insult for westerners to discuss the issue. And that’s not OK, dammit.

  12. Chris says

    “And the hijab is what it is and not something else… It has the meaning it has, and there is no ‘choice’ that women can make that alters that fact.”

    Can it have only one meaning? There are women who wear it and get annoyed at the presumption that they are necessarily conservative. Certainly they can’t ignore the meanings which have been attached to it over the years, but that does not mean that they hold any of these beliefs.

    I’m not a fan of the hijab, and the expectation that women will cover their heads where men don’t have to is a bit of a giveaway, but for a lot of women it is a piece of clothing, which they might wear for their own reasons, or simply because they’re used to it. I work at a university with a lot of overseas students, and the combination of jeans, t-shirt and hijab is quite common. These women are not making a conservative statement.

    All of our decisions are influenced by the society around us, but that cuts both ways. In some cultures women are not expected to cover their breasts in public, to take an obvious example. Does this mean that women who do so in other societies are making a mistake?

    You could also make a similar argument against marriage, and especially women changing their name to that of their husband. This is generally presented as a choice, but it is one only women are expected to make.

    FWIW, I agree we shouldn’t be afraid to speak out for fear of accusations of racism or neo-colonialism or whatever. I think barbarities such as FGM and the punishing of rape victims should be denounced. Ditto for coercion of any kind, including hijabs. I just think there is a danger here that we end up focussing on what women should and shouldn’t do.

  13. Amy Clare says

    The religious element is important in this argument of so-called ‘free choice’. It’s not just the threat of violence or social coercion in this world, it’s the supposed ‘next world’ where you are to be judged, that counts too.

    Muslims are taught that hell exists, among other things (ask an ex Muslim about the creepy and sadistic ‘punishment of the grave’). The message is loud and clear and starts in childhood: if you don’t want to be punished in a myriad of terrifying ways, do what’s expected of you.

    If you put a hijab on a young girl and tell her that she’ll go to hell if she doesn’t wear it, in what sense is this a free choice? Surely it doesn’t become a truly free choice once the girl becomes an adult woman, as all the religious conditioning is still there?

    Btw – this doesn’t mean I think all women wearing the hijab are secretly hating it. I think many like it / are proud to wear it precisely because they believe they are destined for heaven and are good people for doing what god wants. I’m quite sure it gives some Muslim women a feeling of superiority over unveiled Muslim women / non-Muslim women. Women are often the ones who police each other’s ‘modesty’ after all.

  14. Carmichael says

    Re Amy Clare’s comment about punishment in the afterlife. In the link below, there is a lovely 15th century Persian painting of “shameless women” being tortured in hell because they had exposed their hair to strangers. (Scroll down about a third of the way). This is the sort of thing some people are still brought up to believe. Gotta love that old time religion.

    http://zombietime.com/mohammed_image_archive/islamic_mo_full/

  15. Torquil Macneil says

    “The hijab is a statement of female subordination”

    But what do you say to your hijab-wearing friends who say it is not or that they do not experience it as such even if if it has that function in some places and at some times? In my experience, these women do not feel ‘offended’ at the any implied insult to their religion just irritated and wearied at having yet another white person explain to them what they are and how they should behave. Are there some women who are incapable of self-determination and self-knowledge and need to be told what they are by others? That is, obviously, a traditional view, but surely it is one that feminists should reject.

  16. says

    How would it be possible to make a free choice to wear the hijab? Free how, free in what sense? Free of influence of any kind?

    Well, we can never make any such “free choice”, none of us. Not when I put my undies on this morning, not when I had lunch, and I’m not even getting into the discussion about free will here.
    All our decisions are based on our own consciousness and experience and on the expected outcome.
    And there are women for whom, leaving the afterlife aside for a moment, wearing a hijab is a choice, often one that comes at a price.
    There are German women, raised by German parents, in German society that does not look favourable on muslims of any kind, who convert to Islam and start to wear a hijab.
    Do I think they’re wrong? Hell yes of course, they’re believing in an asshole sky-daddy.
    But I cannot deny their agency and choice in this.
    And there are women from pretty secular muslim families who wear one as a sign of cultural identity, or who wear one to special occasions and celebrations in a way western women wear a white wedding dress.
    This is a completely seperate issue from the struggles of women in the middle east. The muslim world isn’t a monolithic block where everything means the same everywhere.
    Which means that the same way I support muslim women in their struggles against the hijab, I still support the rights of women to wear one without losing their job.

  17. Amy Clare says

    #18 Carmichael: Very interesting (and disturbing!). An ex-Muslim friend told me about a casual saying among her community regarding this issue: apparently if you are unveiled, ‘Satan is p*ssing on your head’. How lovely!

    #19 Torquil Macneil: I don’t think anyone’s saying Muslim women are incapable of self-determination. But what some feminists are claiming is that the hijab is always a free choice, end of story, and anyone who says otherwise is a racist. And that’s patently an oversimplification.

    There will always be women in any culture or situation who say they don’t feel oppressed. That doesn’t mean they’re not. They’ve just internalised the messages to the extent that it doesn’t matter to them that they’re expected to do different things to men. I would say the vast majority of women fall into this category, Muslim or not.

  18. Boomer says

    Women who wear the hijab without being forced are making a mistake, just as nuns are making a mistake in being nuns. Both sets of women are endorsing a religion that systematically and explicitly bars them from leadership positions in the religion and declares them subordinate and inferior overall.

    May I make a very important distinction, here?

    A nun’s veil ( and I am NOT defending Catholics!)and the hijab, though similar in appearance, represent two very different sets of circunmstances for women.

    A hijab marks a women as a man’s property. The women who wear them are ultimately destined to be wed and bred and to then lead a life of domestic and sexual duties. the hijab represents total submission to the islamic patriarchy.

    A nun’s veil, otoh, signifies a complete rejection of men. The hijab on a young women means she’s “reserved”, whereas a nun’s veil signals that the women wearing it isn’t available and isn’t interested. It represents a situation wherein its wearer is completely free of men, childbirth, marriage and domestic duties.

    There are no nuns in Islam because Islam considers celibacy to be the ‘enemy’ of Allah.

    Catholic and Orthodox women CAN chose to eschew, men, marriage, sex, childbirth and all the rest of that.

    They have the right to remain celibate/single, to voluntarily form associations ( nuns orders) with other likeminded women in order to lead a life free from male domination.

    In short, a nun’s veil symbolises a rejection of and a freedom from men, whereas a hijab symbolises submission to men.

    If unlike Christian women, Muslimas aren’t free to remain single, and if they cannot remain celibate, and if they cannot eschew sexual relations with men, and if they cannot freely form associations with other like-minded women, then just what freedoms, in comparison to Christian women, do they have?

    This isn’t an idle detail or some sort of cryptic christian apologetics.

    A few years back in L.A., the Cardinal ( forget the coward’s name) attempted to confiscate a pricey convent belonging to The Poor Clairs ( I think) in order to pay off lawsuits brought against the diocese for priestly abuses.

    The women didn’t back off. They rebuked the cardinal in a lawsuit and his designs were completely quashed.

  19. Chris says

    Boomer,

    “A hijab marks a women as a man’s property.”

    Always? What about the substantial number of Muslim women around the world who wear them and still lead their own lives other than just being “wed and bred”? Your comment seems to be quite a generalisation.

  20. Amy Clare says

    #23 Chris: I believe the hijab is to be worn so that only men related to the woman (whether that’s by blood or marriage) can see her hair. You can be unmarried, independent etc and still reserve the sight of your hair only for your male family members. You might argue that hijab-wearing doesn’t matter if a woman can choose other aspects of her life such as her career or living arrangements etc… but it’s still a sexist tradition, rooted in ideas about the ownership and control of women’s sexuality. And too many men still see it in this way.

  21. says

    “Torquil Macneil” @ 19 – try rephrasing your question without the “yet another white person.” That’s just the same dreary and stupid game the Collective Response played, and I refuse to play it.

  22. says

    Chris @ 16 – I’m not saying it can have only one meaning, but I am saying it can’t shed the meaning it does have. Sure, women can wear it without intending to send a conservative message…but that doesn’t mean the message isn’t in fact conservative, or more precisely, theocratic-femalesubordinationist.

  23. Boomer says

    Always? What about the substantial number of Muslim women around the world who wear them and still lead their own lives other than just being “wed and bred”? Your comment seems to be quite a generalisation.

    Female celibacy isn’t allowed in Islam. The right for a women to remaine single, to eschew marriage, children and families is a fundamental right of which Muslim women can’t avail themselves. Now, if a women cannot choose to remaine single and childless, and if she is ultimately destined ( forced? )to marry and bear children, then she has no controle over either her body or her reproduction, does she?

    They can swan around in a BMW, take a law degree and drink lattés, but at some point EVEN they are destined, due to arranged marriages and such, to be touched, groped and molested by men some of whom they detest.

    In traditional Muslim society women are almost always married off, even the ones with jobs. I once ran into an eager progressive who claimed the fact Iran’s universities had more women attending than men proved Islam doesn’t oppress females. However, one of the primary reasons so many women in Iran attend university…some well into their 30s…is to stave off the inevitable; husbands, marriage, children and ‘wifely’ duties.

    They cannot opt out. They have no sanctuary, no shelter, no convent, no safe space where they are free to live as they please, independant of men.

    A hijab signals submission to men, whereas a nun’s veil signals a high degree of autonomy and independance from men.

    Very similar garment, very different purpose.

  24. Torquil Macneil says

    All right Ophelia, I understand your objection and I agree that the phrasing is a bit provocative and it is often used dishonestly although in this case I think it is more justified than it usually is because we will, nearly always, be talking about a particular, identifiable, and vulnerable ethnic group. But you could put it like this, less provocatively, and make the same point:

    In my experience, these women do not feel ‘offended’ at the any implied insult to their religion just irritated and wearied at having yet another person from a relatively privileged social group outside of their own explain to them what they are and how they should behave.

  25. LeftSidePositive says

    @29, yeah, no, it’s still bullshit.

    Saying “but people like you have been mean to me!!!” is a way of deflecting substantive criticism. Furthermore, people outside a group may actually have some insight into the implications of behaviors that are taken for granted/invisible by those in the group. This is why, for instance, we atheists criticize the religious and mock “but if you’re not Mormon you just don’t understaaaaand!” and “but actually we believe housewives are really special and respected and of course men and women are equal even though he has absolute control over her!” for the bullshit it is.

    Now, if someone’s “insight” is wrong, you’re welcome to say, “You are wrong and this is why: …” and you can even say “Here is how your privilege is blinding you to certain facets of this situation…” but don’t say “But you’re privileged! You’re not part of our group! You can’t say anything!!”

  26. says

    Really. It’s completely bullshit; it’s bullshit in the same way as the Collective Response is bullshit. It changes the subject; it assumes many things not in evidence; it’s a stupid overworked guilt-trip; it’s an essentialist view of “identity”; it’s a trap.

    We are in fact not talking about a particular, identifiable, and vulnerable ethnic group; we are talking about a religion, which is not the same thing. Islam aspires to be a universal religion, in fact the universal religion. Trying to make it into an ethnic issue is just a dodge to protect the religion.

  27. Lyanna says

    But it is an ethnic issue. As far as I know, the Quran says nothing about the hijab, niqab or burqa specifically. It says a lot of horrible misogynist things, but not that women must cover their heads or faces.

    That particular garb is an ethnic tradition, which has become incorporated into Middle Eastern Islam and its cultural descendants. Ethnic traditions aren’t above criticism either, but it’s important to acknowledge power imbalances and bigotry when someone from one culture criticizes another culture’s tradition.

  28. Lyanna says

    I realize my last sentence may have been unclear. What I mean is that, when criticism of Culture A by Culture B has been mixed up in a long history of oppression and bigotry, we in Culture B need to (1) admit it, and (2) try and make future criticisms in a way that (if possible) won’t fuel bigotry.

    A good way of accomplishing (2) is by acknowledging members of Culture A who want to change their own tradition.

    I do NOT mean to say that any intercultural criticism is bigoted.

  29. Siverly says

    Ophelia, I couldn’t agree more. As Maryam Namazie has pointed out too, the burqa symbolizes misogyny in the same way as the chastity belt does. It simply cannot be divorced of its meaning. The fact that it is up to women to take responsibility for men’s sexual urges, by veiling, is both pathetic and degrading- for both women and men. Women can be deluded. Women can be wrong. And because there are women who have no choice whatever but to wear it, in all the many ways families and communities can coerce people into obeying the rules- I’ll always be uneasy about it. In the past 10 years I seldom saw women in veils, niqabs and burqas. Now I see it everyday. Everywhere. I find it depressing.

  30. Carmichael says

    #21 Amy Clare. Disturbing, yes but perfectly reasonable given certain beliefs.
    1. God told women to cover their hair. 2. People will be punished in the after life if they fail to do what God has told them to do. Here’s what that punishment might look like for this particular failure to obey.

    Proposition 1 is debatable, but it’s hard to argue with Proposition 2, given the contents of the Koran and the fact that it is God’s word. Probably safest to adapt Pascal’s Wager here and cover up. If God wasn’t actually telling women to cover up, you’re just mistaken in thinking you have to wear the hejab, but all you’ve done is wear a scarf when you didn’t have to. However, if the fundies are right but you didn’t wear a hejab, you’re in deep do-do. Also, best not to mock your husband, leave home without permission or give birth to illegitimate children, in light of the two images that follow. Truly fucked up.

  31. Sarah says

    What’s really bullshit is that your response to this and your response to the “Sex work is sex slavery” discussion differed.

    In both cases women’s freedom to choose is under attack because other women doing or wearing the same thing are not free, and because they feel that the social message of their clothes/occupation taints their choice with unalterable misogyny.

    Either….

    …the hijab is a misogynist garment that regardless of “some” “priveleged” women’s experience marks out that women are property of men, and should be opposed because of that and because many people are forced to wear it
    AND
    …the porn is a misogynist act that regardless of “some” “priveleged” women’s experience marks out that women are property of men to ogle, and should be opposed because of that and because many people are forced to be a part of it….

    OR

    They’re both complex things that differ depending on the situation, and when forced should be opposed, but when freely chosen it isn’t any of your business to be controlling the sexuality or dress of other women.

    Make up your fucking mind. Because at the moment you’re standing on one hand against those who blanketly condemn the sex industry with the intention of saving the THOUSANDS of women raped and abused across the world, because you understand that it’s not a black and white issue and that we CAN support those who make a free choice while helping those for whom it is not, and that it is MISOGYNIST to ignore those women’s voices in favour of your blanket “theory” that ERASES them, while simultaneously and hypocritically standing against those who say you shouldn’t blanketly condemn the wearing of veil because your “theory” and “rationalisations” demand that you ignore and silence the voices of real women if they disagree with you, they no longer count, they should not be listened to. (despite the fact that: “it’s not a black and white issue and that we CAN support those who make a free choice while helping those for whom it is not, and that it is MISOGYNIST to ignore those women’s voices in favour of your blanket “theory” that ERASES them”)

    Fucking inconsistent, that’s what it is. Shame. Is it because you know and respect some women who work in the sex industry whereas you are sheltered from Muslim women? Racial privilege thy name is Ophelia.

  32. Sarah says

    “We are in fact not talking about a particular, identifiable, and vulnerable ethnic group; we are talking about a religion, which is not the same thing. Islam aspires to be a universal religion, in fact the universal religion. Trying to make it into an ethnic issue is just a dodge to protect the religion.”

    Bullshit. If a bigot said “them fucking towelheads” tell me you wouldn’t know what group he was referring to…

    Trying to make it only an ethnic and cultural issue with reference to relative-power, privilege and history of oppression, racism and bigotry, can be a dodge that protects religion.

    Try to pretend that it’s NOT about a particular identifiable ethnic or cultural group as well as a religious issue and a humanist issue is lazy fucking hack work, and opens the stage for bigotry and intolerance.

    It’s both a religious and cultural problem. Muslims are a collection of identifiable ethnic and cultural groups who have experienced significant oppression and racism in the West, whose countries still suffer under the after effects of the imperialist racist exploitation of the past and to deny that is to be an ally to bigots and racists. To ignore that campaigns against elements of minority culture risk shading into in-group/out-group bigotry, ignorance and intolerance only helps those for whom that is part of their motivation.
    No matter if you’re denying it because you’re scared of ‘false accusations of racism’ – false accusations shouldn’t force you to lie about whether this impacts on minority populations to ‘protect’ yourself.

    Attacking the burqa involves attacking the practises of a vulnerable minority population in your country. That doesn’t make it impossible to do without being racist, but the fact that you are denying that they are a vulnerable minority population to shield your arguments from being called racist, rather than just pointing out how the arguments themselves are not racist, looks very very bad.

  33. Z says

    @Boomer #22:

    A nun’s veil ( and I am NOT defending Catholics!)and the hijab, though similar in appearance, represent two very different sets of circunmstances for women.

    A hijab marks a women as a man’s property. The women who wear them are ultimately destined to be wed and bred and to then lead a life of domestic and sexual duties. the hijab represents total submission to the islamic patriarchy.

    A nun’s veil, otoh, signifies a complete rejection of men. The hijab on a young women means she’s “reserved”, whereas a nun’s veil signals that the women wearing it isn’t available and isn’t interested. It represents a situation wherein its wearer is completely free of men, childbirth, marriage and domestic duties.

    There are no nuns in Islam because Islam considers celibacy to be the ‘enemy’ of Allah.

    Catholic and Orthodox women CAN chose to eschew, men, marriage, sex, childbirth and all the rest of that.

    I think you missed the part where nuns are “married to Christ” or some such nonsense. They are not free of forced patriarchy. The recent rebuke from the Vatican should make that crystal clear. They are still under the purview of men and the patriarchy.

  34. Boomer says

    I think you missed the part where nuns are “married to Christ” or some such nonsense. They are not free of forced patriarchy. The recent rebuke from the Vatican should make that crystal clear. They are still under the purview of men and the patriarchy.

    Exactly, but then I doubt Christ would ever come home at 3 AM, pissed to the gills, demanding a blowjob.

    He’s the safest most innocuous partner a women could ever have because he doesn’t exist!

    You must understand that I was merely making the point that the right to remain single, celibate and childless is the starting point for ALL women’s rights.

    If women are forbidden to opt out of marriage and reproduction, then ultimately they haven’t any rights.

    One other thing for clarification. Those convents belong to the nuns. That property is theirs. They have incomes, spending money and educational opportunities.

    Convents and such DO ultimately belong to the larger Church, but they belong to the nuns until such time as the order dies out, or that the order in question voluntarily cedes those properties back to The Church…at fair market prices.

    No, they’re not free from forced patriarchy, but up until the suffragette movement in the early 20th century, they were probably among the most liberated, autonomous women on the planet.

  35. says

    Sarah…what? What are you talking about? My what “response to the “Sex work is sex slavery” discussion”? I haven’t responded to it. I think you’re confusing me with someone else.

    Given that, you might want to shout a bit less.

  36. Clio says

    It’s all very will for Sarah to say that Muslims have been, and in some cases still are, an oppressed minority. The problem is that, as in many cultures and religions, women are an oppressed group within that oppressed group,and would be oppressed (by definition (see examples above) even where the group as a whole is not oppressed; indeed women’s oppression is worse in Islamist theocracies.
    To take that oppression into account is to somehow make allowances for the actions of the group as a whole, so that those who have the power in that group can continue to oppress those who they deem below them in the same group.
    I am happy to call anyone a bully if that is what their behaviour says of them. The fact that they may also have been bullied does not make my call wrong. Nor does the colour of their skin, nor their religion

  37. says

    That was about # 36. About # 37 -

    Bullshit. If a bigot said “them fucking towelheads” tell me you wouldn’t know what group he was referring to…

    Of course I would, and I have used exactly that example many times as an epithet that “everyone agrees” is unacceptable (in contrast to sexist epithets, on which, pathetically, “everyone” does not agree). But is “towelheads” ethnic, exactly? It’s more confused than ethnic, it seems to me – it could include Sikhs and Arabs – which makes it just a jumble. I’m really not sure if it’s meant to label Muslims or Arabs, or both.

    Anyway, the fact that there is an epithet “towelheads” doesn’t demonstrate that “Muslim” is an ethnic label.

  38. says

    That’s confused – what I mean is, I wouldn’t necessarily know exactly what group was being named (unless context made it clear), but certainly I would know the intent was to demean some group. I would not say it’s ok to call people “towelheads” provided that’s meant to mean “Muslims.”

  39. says

    Furthermore…

    The bit you (Sarah) quote was from my reply (@ 31) to “Torquil Macneil” (who has also commented here a lot under a different name). I was responding to his comment (@ 29) in particular. He has a history here, and I’m wary of him. I think he words things in a tendentious way; his comment @ 29 fit the pattern. I was correcting what I saw as a tendentious bit of wording. His “we will, nearly always, be talking about a particular, identifiable, and vulnerable ethnic group” is not accurate and it’s a way of loading the dice. Talking about the hijab is not talking about a particular, identifiable, and vulnerable ethnic group; it is at the very least talking about several at once and even then it doesn’t rule out talking also about lily-white people because there really are converts who wear the hijab.

    I realize that the catchall group “Muslims” are subject to bigotry. I’m not denying that. But there are plenty of people who use that fact to shield various practices from criticism, and I refuse to do that. The catchall group “Muslims” is at least half female, and however devout they may be, they didn’t make the rules.

  40. says

    Hm. The site stats show a new spate of hits via the ERV sewer thread. I suppose that means I should be expecting new (or disguised or returning) trolls. Sarah sounds pretty trollish. Coincidence? Hmm.

  41. Sarah says

    Hey, sorry about that, I was thinking of Greta Christina. Disregard my stupid comments about being a hypocrite. Imma copy paste this in case she comes out against the Hijab as a free choice.

    “It’s more confused than ethnic, it seems to me – it could include Sikhs and Arabs – which makes it just a jumble”

    Yes, it’s a confused jumble, like all racism. But it doesn’t mean that they aren’t an identifiable minority, thought of as a racial “other” even if they are not a single homogenous group as the racists would have us believe.

    And women are more identifiable and more vulnerable, so we must be even more careful when attacking their practices that we don’t catch them in the crossfire ostensibly aimed at helping them.

    “I realize that the catchall group “Muslims” are subject to bigotry. I’m not denying that. But there are plenty of people who use that fact to shield various practices from criticism, and I refuse to do that.”

    Yes. And you shouldn’t be expected to allow them to do that. But you shouldn’t defuse that illegitimate argument with the incorrect or disingenuous argument that you are only criticising “Islam” the religion, and therefore don’t have to worry about the impact of your words on the vulnerable minority population who practises Islam, and on those who hate them.

    Nor should you appoint yourself “Lady White Person of the Deciding” and tell Muslim women the “inescapeable meaning” of their practices when your lack of experience of their lives, and inescapeable racial privilege renders your opinion less informed than theirs. Nor should you applaud *men* appointing themselves “Lord White Man of the interpreting Women’s experience of foreign cultures and what it means to *us* the important Westerners”

    It doesn’t make you racist in any way, it’s just a function of your relative racial and cultural privilege and the ensuing arrogance of ignorance that makes you think you have a ‘rational’ view of things you just don’t know about, *in direct opposition to what many Muslim women tell you*.

    And don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that your opinion is wrong – nor that you cannot hold an opinion if any Muslim woman disagrees with it – as there are Muslim women who agree with you after all – what I’m saying is that if you’re going to oppose something you have to do it rationally and fully and that means acknowledging that for many women is is a choice, and it is a symbol of something other than what you and others like you see it as, even if you don’t think it should be.

    If you think it’s bad and symbolises bad things you have to deal with those for whom it is good and symbolises good things, just as if you think it’s good and symbolises good things you have to deal with those for whom it is bad and symbolises bad things.

    Re: “Torquil Macneil” – I did not know this and will not intrude on your conversation any further.

    “Hm. The site stats show a new spate of hits via the ERV sewer thread. I suppose that means I should be expecting new (or disguised or returning) trolls. Sarah sounds pretty trollish. Coincidence? Hmm.”

    Seriously? You must get trolled hard all the time if they’ve made you that paranoid.

    Yes, I read ERV periodically. No I do not care about the ERV/Pharyngula fight. And no, I don’t think I came from ERV yesterday.

  42. says

    Oh that’s quite all right. Think nothing of it. Be as rude as you like and then when you realize you were confusing me with someone else just give a perfunctory “sorry about that” and resume lecturing, albeit in a slightly less shouty manner.

    Absolutely; I have such good reason to trust your judgment that I will study your every word in order to calibrate my understanding of what “Muslim women” say.

    Of course I get trolled hard all the time. I would have thought you would know that, being omniscient and all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>