A duty to raise a new generation of bigots

Simply revolting.

The Roman Catholic church has written to every state-funded Catholic secondary school in England and Wales asking them to encourage pupils to sign a petition against gay marriage…The Catholic Education Service, which acts for Catholic bishops in England and Wales, contacted 385 secondary schools to highlight a letter read in parish churches last month, in which two archbishops told worshippers that Catholics have a “duty to do all we can to ensure that the true meaning of marriage is not lost for future generations”.

The CES also asked schools to draw pupils’ attention to the petition being organised by the Coalition for Marriage, a Christian campaign which has attracted more than 466,000 signatures to date. [Read more...]

Just what the schools need

The Washington Post is slobbering all over an evangelist called Joel Osteen. He’s visiting Washington and thrilling the fans, we’re told.

Well, maybe, but I am told he is also visiting a public elementary school today. Why?

As my informant put it:

Fewer than 20% of these students read at grade level.  Fewer than 13% are grade level in science.  Just 16% are doing grade-level maths.  And the best the school and local government can do is bring in a megapastor who espouses prosperity gospel and anti-evolutionism to read to these poorly-taught students. [Read more...]

They should follow it without any argument

It’s a small (comparatively) sect in India that insists on mutilating girls’ genitalia.

The Bohra brand of Islam is followed by 1.2 million people worldwide and is a sect of Shia Islam that originated in Yemen.

While the sect bars other Muslims from its mosques, it sees itself as more liberal, treating men and women equally in matters of education and marriage.

But in matters of slicing off major chunks of the genitals with a razor blade, not so much. [Read more...]

Failure to comprehend

I don’t understand.

Eleven years ago, Farida Bano was circumcised had her genitals mutilated by an aunt on a bunk bed in her family home at the end of her 10th birthday party.

The mutilation occurred not in Africa, where the practice is most prevalent, but in India where a small Muslim sub-sect known as the Dawoodi Bohra continues to believe that the removal of the clitoris is the will of God.

I don’t understand, because if they think God wants the clitoris removed, how do they explain God’s putting it there in the first place?

The spirit of Tahrir

Update: April 27: It may be that this is a fake. There are murmurs to that effect but I haven’t found anything authoritative yet. I’ll update if I do.

Be careful before you read this. Don’t be drinking wine or coffee or lemonade while you read. Put down anything fragile. Close the windows. If you’re at work, brace yourself, so that no flurries of obscenity burst out before you can stop them.

Egypt’s Islamist-dominated parliament is considering two new laws

…one that would legalize the marriage of girls starting from the age of 14 and the other that permits a husband to have sex with his dead wife within the six hours following her death.

Don’t look at me. I did warn you.

Nicer, sweeter, less outspoken

Anna Quindlen was on Fresh Air yesterday, and she said something I’ve been pondering a good deal lately.

As a little girl, Anna Quindlen wasn’t afraid of a whole lot. She frequently got into trouble and occasionally shot off her mouth. But as she grew older, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer became what she calls a “girl imitation.”

“[I became] nicer, sweeter, less outspoken [and] less combative,” she tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross. “All of the qualities that you need to be a good opinion columnist tend to be qualities that aren’t valued in women. And I think that was a bit of a challenge for me when I became an op-ed columnist [for The New York Times] and has been a challenge for many of us who do that as a living.”

I think this is related to the whole “women in atheism” question…and the misogyny in atheism question, too.

Atheism by its nature is “combative” – at least, active or outspoken or explicit or “movement” atheism is. Movement atheism is naturally combative. This could be a big part of the reason it took the movement so god damn long to realize it was forgetting to invite women to its parties. Women aren’t seen as combative.  All of the qualities that you need to be a good movement atheist tend to be qualities that aren’t valued in women. Implicit stereotypes probably made women as a category seem like the wrong kind of people to invite to the parties because women are too nice and sweet to combat god, not outspoken and combative enough to pick fights with god. That could be why male atheists* think of atheism as a boys’ club and something that women will wreck if they’re allowed into it, because they’ll put up curtains and forbid swearing and try to sign a peace treaty with god.

*Those who do

“A selective fear of Islamists”

Oh the stupid…It just gets worse.

Samia Errazzouki also hated Eltahawy’s article. And she gave us this gem of wisdom as part of her argument:

Eltahawy  points to “hate” as the source and cause of the injustices committed against Arab women. She scapegoats the rise of the Islamists, but Maya Mikdashi debunked that argument a couple months ago:

“Gender equality and justice should be a focus of progressive politics no matter who is in power. A selective fear of Islamists when it comes to women’s and LGBTQ rights has more to do with Islamophobia than a genuine concern with gender justice. Unfortunately, Islamists do not have an exclusive license to practice patriarchy and gender discrimination/oppression in the region. The secular state has been doing it fairly adequately for the last half a century.”

You have got to be kidding.

Does “the secular state” stone women to death? Does it imprison or stone rape victims while letting their rapists go free and unstoned? Does it force women to wear a bandage over their head and neck on pain of whipping or a heavy fine? Does it arrest them for driving a car? Does it throw acid on girls on their way to school?

Is “the secular state” really on a par with Islamists? Is it really much of a muchness whether you live in Afghanistan or France? Pakistan or Germany? Iran or Canada? Algeria or the US? Somalia or Sweden?

Give me a fucking break.

So comrades come rally

I’m going to look some more at Nahed Eltantawy’s anger at Mona Eltahawy’s article about misogyny in the Middle East, because there’s something really sinister about it.

I refuse to be lumped into this monolithic group of oppressed, abused and hated victims. Arab women’s problems are not the same across the board. Even within one country like Egypt, what I see as a problem, might not be the most pressing issue for the woman next door. So, I refuse to have Eltahawy talk on my behalf as if she is the expert who can accurately identify my plight.

It’s as if she thinks Eltahawy is doing something bad to her…is in fact oppressing her and abusing her and making her a victim. But why? Eltahawy is angry about things that are done to women in Egypt and Saudi Arabia as well as elsewhere in the Middle East. She doesn’t talk on Eltantawy’s behalf; she doesn’t claim to identify her plight; she describes abuses of women’s rights. Why does that make Eltantawy so angry? What does she want instead? Silence on the subject? Why would she want that? Silence on oppression and abuse is easy to have, but what good does it do? Silence on oppression and abuse allow the oppression and abuse to go on happening. We know what that’s like; we see that happening all the time; we see the aftermath; we think it’s terrible, we feel shame and horror, we say it must never happen again.

The people of Sarajevo got plenty of silence on oppression and abuse for a long time. The people of Rwanda got silence and inaction when they could have used something else. The abused imprisoned children and women in Ireland got luxurious, lavish amounts of silence on oppression and abuse for decade after decade, and it wasn’t what they wanted – they wanted noise and attention and an end to the oppression and abuse.

What is this idiotic and callous idea that reporting human rights violations is an insult to the potential victims? Where did this come from? It seems to be a confused version of anti-colonialism, but when the confusion is so deep that it sees Mona Eltahawy as Othering Egyptian women – well things have gone wrong.

Everything, from virginity tests, to sexual deprivation, female genital mutilation, sexual harassment and child marriage, is included in this article to produce a column that will surely be welcomed by many Western feminists and anti-Islamists, who for years have been telling us that Muslim women are weak, oppressed victims of misogyny and rigid Islamic rules that force them to hide behind their veils.

That, when you look at it closely, is a revolting thing to say. We “Western feminists” welcome news of finger-rape, FGM, and child marriage? The hell we do! We don’t welcome it; we pay attention to it. We should pay attention to it. Everyone should. Internationalism is a good thing. Human rights are a good thing. Finger rape and FGM and child marriage are not good things.

We don’t think Muslim women are “weak” any more than we think the Tutsis are weak, Irish women and children are weak, Iranian gays are weak, and so on. If someone has a gun to my head, it makes no difference how strong I am.

We really need to resist this hateful idea that human rights are purely local and that everyone should ignore any abuses that happen beyond their borders. Eltantawy probably didn’t mean to suggest that, but she did. She needs to think harder about the subject.

You gonna believe Mona Eltahawy or the grand mufti?

Nahed Eltantawy responds to Mona Eltahawy’s article on woman-hating in the Middle East. She hates it.

I felt deeply offended and insulted by Mona Eltahawy’s latest article in Foreign Policy, titled Why Do They Hate Us?   I follow Eltahawy’s columns quite regularly and I accept many of her arguments, even if I do not agree with her views on Islam and veiling. But for her to claim that “they” hate Arab women is in my view complete nonsense…Everything, from virginity tests, to sexual deprivation, female genital mutilation, sexual harassment and child marriage, is included in this article to produce a column that will surely be welcomed by many Western feminists and anti-Islamists, who for years have been telling us that Muslim women are weak, oppressed victims of misogyny and rigid Islamic rules that force them to hide behind their veils.

Meaning what? We shouldn’t worry about women stoned to death, girls taken out of school and forced into marriage, girls who are held down while their genitals are sliced off, women whipped for not wearing a burqa? We should just say “that’s their culture, it’s none of our business” and go on our way rejoicing? We should be insular and selfish and indifferent?

But for many Arab women (I say many based on the negative reaction Eltahawy’s column has already stirred), this column is offensive and is nothing but a combination of old cultural practices and undemocratic government actions that are described in a way to represent women as the Oriental Other, weak, helpless and submissive, oppressed by Islam and the Muslim male, this ugly, barbaric monster.

Ah yes, naughty Orientalist Mona Eltahawy, representing Arab women as the Other. How does that work, exactly?

…some of the evidence Eltahawy relies on, such as virginity tests, criminal codes, etc are problems of undemocratic governing and have nothing to do with hate of women. These are problems that also impact men. There are numerous accounts of police brutality in Egypt, where men have been beaten, sexually abused or beaten to death. Have we forgotten about Khaled Said, the young Alexandrian, whose brutal death sparked the Jan25 Revolution? Or how about Essam Atta, the young man who was tortured to death in prison? Why do we always have to focus on violence against women?

“Virginity tests” in which cops shove fingers up women have nothing to do with hate of women? Really? As for that final question – words fail me.

I find Eltahawy’s discussion of sexual harassment also problematic. Eltahawy, very candidly and on more than one occasion, has described in detail her ordeal with Egyptian riot police back in November 2011. She explained how she was groped everywhere by a number of police officers while in Cairo. Yet in this Foreign Policy column, she adds a new detail; she informs her audience that she was groped earlier that day by a fellow protester in Tahrir Square! But while Eltahawy details her groping ordeal, she fails to mention the heroic Egyptian women and men who are fighting this epidemic. There is no denial that sexual harassment is a disgusting and sick problem in Egypt that needs to be eradicated. Yet, there’s also no denial that there are gutsy women who are already engaged in a battle against this epidemic.