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Jul 16 2012

Acid in the face

Be sure you don’t miss Taslima’s post on acid attacks on women – unless you can’t stand it: warning: it is horrific; the pictures are horrific.

It’s terrible to look at the pictures and realize people must know this is what acid does, and that’s why they do it.

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  1. 1
    callistacat

    I saw a news item on this somewhere recently on the web. In the comments a man said he was horrified by this, and one male commenter called him a “white knighter” and another one said “you’re just saying that to get laid.” Like opposing acid being thrown in a woman’s face is just being a sappy, sentimentalist.

  2. 2
    Kausik Datta

    Growing up in India, I am familiar with this horrific means of violence (almost always towards women); in fact, it appears to be a favorite means of extracting revenge (for whatever reason) in the subcontinent. Hydrochloric (‘muriatic’) acid is easily available in stores as a cleaning agent for bathroom floors and kitchen sinks, etc. It didn’t take long for some virulent psychopath to figure out how to weaponize it, in order to wreak havoc and destroy lives. Our daily newspapers would carry these bone-chilling stories every so often.

    I could never (and still cannot) imagine the level of searing hatred and raw, ugly violence that could prompt someone to perpetrate such a dastardly act – and cowardly, no doubt – upon another human being.

    Sigh.

  3. 3
    Ophelia Benson

    No I can’t either. It’s so hellish.

    People. Be better.

  4. 4
    Nathair

    Growing up in India, I am familiar with this horrific means of violence (almost always towards women)

    I find the Cambodian practice especially horrifying, more ultimately misogynistic, women throwing acid in the faces of women to end male infidelity.

  5. 5
    Michael Dempsey

    Even the most hideous Nazi deeds don’t surpass this level of evil.

    Despite so many years of powerful and, one would think, profoundly affecting efforts to move humanity away from such behavior once and for all…it persists. Defiantly. And from vast numbers of people who appear to be absolutely unreachable by any conceivable appeal to change their ways and the insane beliefs that motivate them.

    Can it be, then, that the very concept of “the human race” is and will remain an out-and-out failure?

    Images like this, and the likelihood that there will be so many more of them in the future, make this seem more and more a likely possibility.

  6. 6
    Nathair

    Even the most hideous Nazi deeds don’t surpass this level of evil.

    If only that were true.

  7. 7
    Daniel Schealler

    I had a really hard time reading Taslima’s article.

    Words fail me.

  8. 8
    mythbri

    One of the hard things about reading Taslima’s article is the comments from men who think that using the general, non-specific term “men” to describe the usual perpetrators of this crime is worse than the crime itself.

  9. 9
    Ysanne

    Even the most hideous Nazi deeds don’t surpass this level of evil.

    5 — my Jewish grandpa’s twin sisters would disagree.

  10. 10
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    I saw. I saw some of the comments. I’m not sure how we can be the same species and be so different, where I’m right now struggling not to cry at the memory of those photos, and then I read some of the comments. How can you hold any ideas in your head other than horror and empathy? Fucking how?

  11. 11
    mythbri

    I did some research and found a group that assists victims of acid attacks. I made a donation, and below is the link if you’d also like to make one. There are more pictures there, just to warn you.

    http://www.acidviolence.org/index.php

  12. 12
    Nathair

    One of the hard things about reading Taslima’s article is the comments from men who think that using the general, non-specific term “men” to describe the usual perpetrators of this crime is worse than the crime itself.

    And then the response “Sure, not all men are guilty. Only 99% of men are guilty.” And round and round we go.

    Taslima often words things in a manner which invites exactly this type of response; “Our men throw acid in our faces, destroy our lives but we never stop loving men”. The sentence seems intentionally, painstakingly constructed around the equivocal use of “men” and the creation of a gender-war binary. Us v Them, those evil bastards. Of course that’s going to get a rise out of some people. What’s more, I don’t know that they are entirely wrong. The situation is bad enough, why go out of your way to pour gasoline on the fire and alienate your allies? It’s not like this topic needs punching up.

  13. 13
    mythbri

    @Nathair

    If you (general, non-specific “you”) don’t throw acid in women’s faces, then it doesn’t apply to you. My reading of Taslima’s article didn’t imply to me that she thought that all men were to blame for this.

    English is not Taslima’s first language, and her intended audience may not specifically be North American/Western people. What might seem like odd phrasing to me might have different meaning for different people. And even if it did not, Taslima speaks about women who cannot/were punished for speaking for themselves, in regions in which that is not tolerated. This isn’t academic or abstract for her.

    The situation is bad. I assume that you saw the pictures. Don’t minimize it by looking for offense where none may exist.

  14. 14
    Rabidtreeweasel and her Badger of Honor

    The comment sections floor me “our men,” not “your men” or “all men.”I It is clear what she means. Obviously she doesn’t mean all men, since clearly all men don’t do this.

    And those blaming the mothers either don’t understand or are willfully ignorant of the role institutionalized misogyny plays in raising children of either gender.

  15. 15
    Daniel Schealler

    @Nathair #12

    I didn’t get that sense at all from Taslima’s wording.

    For my money, Taslima’s wording evoked the sense of betrayal – these women were betrayed by the very men who will erect a culture that claims that the responsibility of a man is to protect women.

    It struck me as a criticism of the hypocrisy inherent in such systems, where men in such cultures will thrust out their chests about how women are to be protected and revered, but then other men who extol that exact same set of cultural ‘values’ will turn around and do something like throw acid in the faces of those very women.

  16. 16
    Nathair

    The situation is bad. I assume that you saw the pictures. Don’t minimize it by looking for offense where none may exist.

    There is nothing of minimizing the horrific violence nor looking for offense here. This is not “But what about circumcision?!” This is a plea to not talk about genders when we should be talking about cultures and individuals. If nothing else, to do so invites these digressions.

    The comment sections floor me “our men,” not “your men” or “all men.”I It is clear what she means.

    It’s not. The problem is not with the two words “our men”. In saying “our men throw acid in our faces” she is clearly invoking female solidarity, each burned woman’s face is as our own. I understand this and, although it does tend to have the effect of also lumping all men together, I appreciate the point she is making and would agree that any offense over this almost incidental slight was foolish. I would, that is, if she didn’t then immediately double down on the sweeping generalization with the bizarre “but we never stop loving men”. What does that mean? Women still love the men who attack and disfigure them with acid? No, obviously not. It means that women in general still love men in general despite the fact that some men are vicious animals. This is the bizarre comment that is raising some eyebrows.

    English is not Taslima’s first language, and her intended audience may not specifically be North American/Western people. What might seem like odd phrasing to me might have different meaning for different people.

    Taslima’s use of English as superior to ninety percent of the stuff I read on the ‘net. She is clear, direct, and really loves speaking in sweeping absolutes. Remember “The sex industry = Slavery”? This is the return of that same problem.

  17. 17
    Kausik Datta

    Nathair:

    This is a plea to not talk about genders when we should be talking about cultures and individuals.

    Let me ask you one simple question: do you have experience with Indian culture or generally the culture of that subcontinent? If no, please STFU. If yes, then you’d know how gender, specifically the male gender, is intricately associated with the extremely patriarchal mindset that inform the ‘culture’ of that part of the world.

    … if she didn’t then immediately double down on the sweeping generalization with the bizarre “but we never stop loving men”. What does that mean? Women still love the men who attack and disfigure them with acid? No, obviously not.

    Right there, I’m afraid, you betray your ignorance about the realities of the lives of women in the subcontinent. Here is a case in point.

    Let me reiterate mythbri‘s just and timely plea: The situation is bad… Don’t minimize it by looking for offense where none may exist.

  18. 18
    Kausik Datta

    In the meantime, if you are appalled by the violence in Taslima’s post, please do something about it. At least, do sign this petition – for this girl, a victim of acid attack because she protested against sexual harassment (a.k.a. the coy euphemism of ‘eve teasing’ in India) by the perpetrators. The justice and penal system in India has obviously failed her, because her attackers are roaming free.

  19. 19
    mythbri

    @Nathair

    It is not at all an exaggeration that the usual perpetrators of these crimes are men. I certainly don’t believe that men somehow have a genetic or evolutionary drive to throw acid into people’s faces. That’s like saying that women are inherently pre-disposed to have acid thrown on them. It’s not a problem of men qua men – it’s a problem of general men in general cultures. But seeing how widespread the crime can be, from Ethiopia to the U.K., it’s not hard to see that the things that those cultures have in common (being primarily male-dominated) contribute to the cause. Why can’t you read it as such?

    And as Kausik Datta said, the idea of women loving the very persons who heap abuse on them is sadly not uncommon, and is also a problem of general cultures.

  20. 20
    Ophelia Benson

    Signed.

  21. 21
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Shorter Nathair: What about teh menz?!

  22. 22
    Josh Slocum

    Whadda you know, Daisy? You’re vile. Also pink-brained.

  23. 23
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    I’m sorry, Josh. I’ll go kick off my shoes, get pregnant, and make sammiches now.

  24. 24
    Nathair

    Let me ask you one simple question: do you have experience with Indian culture or generally the culture of that subcontinent? If no, please STFU.

    Actually, what I have experience with is the importance of the language we use in working for social justice, the choice of divisive rather than inclusive language matters. That remains the case regardless of the topic under discussion.

    Let me reiterate mythbri‘s just and timely plea: The situation is bad… Don’t minimize it by looking for offense where none may exist.

    The situation is horrifying and I said so. At the same time the sloppy language that Taslima used in discussing the situation lead a number of posters there to leap into gender-war mode and that is also a problem. Yes, it’s a lesser problem but it’s also a problem that is within our grasp. I’m sorry, but the last time I heard someone suggest that only the very worst, most terrifying wrongs were worth discussing and that we with our petty lesser concerns should STFU it began “Dear Muslima…”

    Using inclusive language doesn’t ever cost us anything. It doesn’t abandon the acid disfigured women around the world, it doesn’t minimize their plight, all it does is prevents this discussion and the alienation of allies. We can do both.

    Shorter Nathair: What about teh menz?!

    That is not it at all. Try instead:What about the importance of language?! That importance has long been recognized in feminism. To just abandon or deny that importance in the name of, what? Is there anything gained by the use of such equivocal, potentially divisive language here? Anything at all? No, and that’s the point.

  25. 25
    mythbri

    @Nathair

    I’m sorry but I’m just not seeing it in that way. Women do stay with and claim to love their abusers – it’s awful, they shouldn’t have to live like that, but it’s true. That is what I think Taslima was referring to. I don’t think she was talking about “political lesbianism” or “gender separatism”. I think she is acknowledging that by and large, the majority of the victims are women, and the majority of the perpetrators are male – and that this is a symptom of living in a rigidly patriarchal society.

    Understand that many of these crimes have taken place in countries where individual freedom is not respected – particularly the individual freedom of women and children. A lot of the equality-progress that we take for granted in the West has not yet happened in these areas. There is a shit-ton of foundation work to be done there before talking about word usage in this context becomes a not-so-advanced gender equality concept. I’m not trying to pass judgment on the capability of these cultures to understand – I’m just pointing out that this is a long process.

    As far as what can be gained by such language – you’ll have to ask Taslima, as it was her word choice. But she’s speaking for women that are regarded as not only un-equal, but sub-human. If this shocks the culture into realizing the humanity of half their population, I will take it.

  26. 26
    Daniel Schealler

    @Nathair

    Sloppiness is a crime?

    Well, you’re being rhetorically sloppy. Very rhetorically sloppy.

    The terrorism of women through torture and disfigurement dwarfs any concerns – valid or invalid – that you may have about precise wording.

    I don’t concede that Taslima has been sloppy in the way you describe. I disagree with your interpretation (see above). But even if I did agree with you, I’d still think it was a distracting quibble and that your focusing on that in this context is insensitive to the subject matter and just plain weird.

    I know that you’ve said that the situation is horrifying. I believe that you’re sincere in this. But that doesn’t matter to me as much as the fact that you seem to be committed to focusing attention on a couple of (allegedly) misplaced words rather than discuss the greater problem. To my reading, this diminishes the importance of the actual torture and disfigurement, regardless of whether you intended it that way or not.

  27. 27
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Right, “divisiveness.” Because it’s not like oppressed people ever get gaslit into shutting up about injustices because they’re being “divisive” of a social justice movement…

  28. 28
    Nathair

    I’m sorry but I’m just not seeing it in that way. Women do stay with and claim to love their abusers – it’s awful, they shouldn’t have to live like that, but it’s true. That is what I think Taslima was referring to.

    If that were true, that sentence would be “Our men throw acid in our faces, destroy our lives but sometimes we still don’t stop loving them.” Following which, if that were actually the point of the post, Taslima would presumably mention that even one of the women portrayed continued to love her attacker, but she didn’t. (Probably because none of them did.) What’s more, she ended the piece with an expansion on the theme in which she repeats exactly the same universal woman “we” and “our” and the same maybe universal, certainly equivocal, “men”.

    We are more abused, harassed, exploited, kidnapped, raped, trafficked, murdered by our lovers, husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins, friends, or men we know well than by strangers. Whatever happens to us, we never stop loving men.

    Once again she repeats her actual point, that many women are horribly mistreated, abused and exploited by various men but despite this women, in general, keep loving men, in general. She repeats this as if it were amazing, as if men were just ticking time bombs of lethal misogyny and women just never learn. If that is not her message then it behooves her to be more careful with her words. If that is her message, well, that’s a whole ‘nother can of worms.

    Obviously if you are “just not seeing it in that way” then you aren’t reacting as if you did. That is exactly the point of not using such sweeping, absolute language.

    ——————————————

    Sloppiness is a crime?

    Of course not. That is not something I said. I said it is a problem.

    The terrorism of women through torture and disfigurement dwarfs any concerns – valid or invalid – that you may have about precise wording.

    Of course it does. I said exactly that.

    But that doesn’t matter to me as much as the fact that you seem to be committed to focusing attention on a couple of (allegedly) misplaced words rather than discuss the greater problem.

    Actually, I did not bring this subject up. Commenters on Taslima’s site did. Then a commenter here brought up that. And that is exactly my point. This discussion was derailed, to the extent that it has been, by her use of equivocal, divisive, inflammatory rhetoric and I said as much. Once. In one single, short comment. Since then I have been “focusing on” responding to the people specifically addressing comments to me, like you.

    ——————————————

    Right, “divisiveness.” Because it’s not like oppressed people ever get gaslit into shutting up about injustices because they’re being “divisive” of a social justice movement…

    That’s right, “divisiveness”. That it has been used as a weapon elsewhere does not mean it can never again be real issue. And, if you read what I actually said, I never even hinted that Taslima should shut up about anything. I said she should choose her words more carefully so as not to derail the discussion and alienate her allies. “Shut up” and “be more clear” are not the same thing.

  29. 29
    Bjarni

    I would have commented over at Taslima’s post, but I couldn’t get through it all.

    I’d say I had an average to tough ‘stomach’ for images and re-creations of violence, but looking at that and reading the stories was a bit much for me.

    Knowing about this from reading ‘dry’ reports listing attacks is one thing, and I was already aware of the practice. Damn it’s hard to be confronted with though, and it just makes me ashamed to share a gender with the monsters people who’d do this. I call them people only in the loosest sense, because I think it’s the ideas, attitudes and ‘culture’ that inspires them that are the monsters here, and it’s those ideas we have to fight, right?

    Maybe I’m being too generous or whatever, would like to hear others opinions (I don’t get to discuss any of this much in RL, which is why I read blogs to hear and form opinions).

  30. 30
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Thank you for your concern, Nathair. Henceforth I will give it precisely the attention it deserves.

  31. 31
    Philip

    To paraphrase Corylus, your treatment of people who disagree with you is fucking disgraceful.

    *Waits 5 mins for VICTIM sneering to die down*

    I made an honest apology for what I did wrong, I made a mistake, I admitted it, it was due to ignorance on my part for not knowing what a killfile is.

    This is what i get:

    Markita Lynda—damn climate change! says:
    July 19, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    You mean Philip didn’t understand that killfile is a blog reading tool? And obviously didn’t notice that it has a “show comment” option for me to read his drivel if they really want to? It just saves me having to scroll down over the maunderings of commenters who have demonstrated that they are not worth reading because they are dishonest and wilfully misinterpreting and hostile.

    Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

    Fucking hell, are you a 13 year old gamer? I post an honest apology and all I get is the OMFG YOU NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOB! equivalent of a put down! :D

    Willfully misinterpreting and hostile?

    Act1, Scene 1
    Enter Pot stage left

    Pot: Forsooth Kettle, verily do I name thee black!

    Will you PLEASE look at yourselves before even daring to accuse people like me of willful misinterpretation and hostility!

    What the hell do you think you have been doing with Corylus when she turned up?

    I turn up, I question why this situation has gotten so out of hand – yes the situation and I was referring to people, not just women, when I made the accusation that the reaction was hysterical.

    But – what I have said above is not going to help is it? I felt it needed to be said cos, well, everyone suffers from SIWOTI from time to time, I’m no exception.

    So why did I comment here in the first place?

    Dr Hall made a challenge to something she deems worthy of addressing, she felt it so important she wore a T Shirt expressing the opinion contrary to that of the FtB/Skepchick community.

    I fully admit it was provocative, it was purely intentional.

    Surly Amy was offended and hurt by these remarks and now, after adding more to the original story, we know she was driven to tears over it and other things.

    What happened afterwards was even more ridiculous – the Harassment Swat Team moves in and exacerbates the situation and Amy does have my sympathy for that as I’m sure it was highly embarrassing to say the least.

    Two things I do not agree with here – other people’s outrage over this and the reasons for the over the top reaction by the Harassment Swat team.

    I said it is just a T-Shirt and I meant just that. Dr Hall was standing up for herself – she is obviously an assertive, strong minded woman who wants to be independent from the FtB/Skepchick viewpoint on the furor over harassment.

    Well so what? Are you FtB/Skepchicks really that easy to be provoked? Seems so.

    THAT is what point I was making – it has bugger all to do with sexism – it is the reaction to a T-Shirt NOT that I think Amy is pathetic and weak because she is female.

    The other thing is – I think this very much stems from Elevatorgate and the year long argument that has been raging over the Internet. I think it has got completely out of hand. To the point where now you have the Harassment SWAT and Surveillance Team making people’s lives a misery – that is also the hysteria I was referring to.

    It has nothing to do with sexism, that is not why I am saying these things. Sexism is something that I find abhorrent to the core, the mistreatment of women in society is abundant, it is disgraceful and it stops women from being equal. Women are objectified, sexualised and marginalised even now in the 21st century. The day I support it is going to be a dark day.

    My whole point is – the situation that has arisen from the sexism debate had got out of hand, it is getting hysterical – Thunderf00t and Pz are at verbal war at the moment, I understand when I say the names Richard Dawkins and Paula Kirby that a fair few of you bristle with annoyance, Dr Hall is busy wearing provocative T-Shirts pissing you all off.

    Its not getting us anywhere.

  32. 32
    Philip

    Oops

    Please delete my last comment from this thread, my apologies for posting that here

  1. 33
    Acid » Butterflies and Wheels

    […] Taslima’s extraordinary (horrific) post last summer about acid attacks? I did a little alert post about it at the time. (A post to alert, not a post that was particularly alert.) Taslima’s post has […]

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