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Dec 22 2013

Dog’s elevenses

Laurie Penny amended her article slightly in response to the comments she got on Twitter.

Her second paragraph as she first wrote it:

The recent blanket coverage of the “gender segregation on campus” story was a textbook case. This month Student Rights, a pressure group not run by students, released a report vastly exaggerating a suggestion by Universities UK that male and female students might be asked to sit separately in some lectures led by Islamic guest speakers. The tabloids went bananas. Extremists were taking over the academy.

The amended version:

The recent blanket coverage of the “gender segregation on campus” story was a textbook case. This month Student Rights, a pressure group not run by students, released a report vastly exaggerating a suggestion by Universities UK that male and female students might be asked to sit separately in some lectures led by Islamic guest speakers. Many Asian women’s groups and individual Muslim feminists joined the subsequent protests, sometimes taking personal risks to do so. Unfortunately, rightwing commentators and tabloids seized upon the issue to imply that Islamic extremists are taking over the British academy.

That’s really not much of an improvement. As @CEMB_forum just pointed out on Twitter, it paints the “Asian women’s groups and individual Muslim feminists” as useful idiots, which is all the more galling since it still relies on grossly mistaken factual claims. To repeat: the Student Rights report on gender segregation was released last May, not this month, and the protest had nothing to do with Student Rights. Dog’s breakfast, dog’s dinner, dog’s midnight snack.

Also, Maryam for example did not “join” the protest, she fucking organized it. Also…Penny just can’t figure out the right way to label people. “Asian” is useless; there are non-Asians involved (who yet are not “white,” to use Penny’s catch-all word). “Muslim” is worse than useless because there are ex-Muslims and non-Muslims from Muslim-majority areas involved. Penny is too much in a hurry to label and docket everyone to take the time to grasp the fact that the protest was internationalist in nature. It wasn’t “white” and it wasn’t “black” either; it wasn’t “Asian” nor was it “European” (to use an equally meaningless label). It wasn’t “Muslim” nor was it atheist. It was based in solidarity, not in warring identities.

There’s an editorial note at the end:

This article was amended to draw attention to the fact that many Muslim and Asian women were involved in the “gender segregation” protests

Sigh. Point missed again.

12 comments

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  1. 1
    Al Dente

    Penny and Gopal are apparently too busy to do a minimum amount of research to discover how the demonstration was organized, who organized it, and who didn’t organize it. Not impressed with either of them.

  2. 2
    Ophelia Benson

    Someone on Twitter said

    She based ‘a great deal of it on the Gopal piece’.

    Which looks like a direct quote. I suspected as much, but didn’t know for sure.

  3. 3
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    She will not acknowledge the ‘ex’ part of ex-Muslims. That’s extremely salient. Very important. It’s quite wrong–ethically wrong–to erase it. I tried to pick up on that with her where you left off, O, but so far no response. I don’t think any of us will get one.

  4. 4
    Ophelia Benson

    Oh good grief – confirmed. She said that.

    https://twitter.com/pennyred/status/414842391657332736

  5. 5
    Ophelia Benson

    I saw that, Josh. No I think you’re right. She’ll amend only so far and not an inch farther.

  6. 6
    rosiebell

    Quoting a very good comment under the Dog’s Midnight Snack:-

    “Really Laurie, what a silly article.
    The little correction-addition you were forced to make rather screws it all, doesn’t it?
    If the segregation row was so totally exaggerated and just a right wing patriarchal plot from the beginning, then why did these Muslim women join the protests? And why on earth should it be at “personal risk to themselves” since by your own account the issue was a non-issue, of no interest to anyone but Islamophobes wishing to big it up?

    Ah well, as you say, you cannot speak for Muslim women (though for some reason you think you speak for all white women or something), so prersumably these silly Muslim women ridiculously taking risks are precisely the Muslim women you really really don’t speak for….

    Well, I knew that already.”

    It really annoys me if she had done her actual job – you know, checking facts and so on – she wouldn’t have made this mess. It’s not too much to ask someone to read a dozen items on the internet instead of one. It was also in the mainstream news. And relying on Gopal – mistress of tortured prose.

  7. 7
    Ophelia Benson

    That might be part of why. The tortured prose probably made it seem to be saying more than it was, and saying it in a more profound and thoughtful way. That’s usually the point of that particular kind of tortured prose.

  8. 8
    Shatterface

    Gopal has been urging Penny to ignore the ‘white European feminists’ on Twitter. Hasn’t she noticed Penny is white European?

    They’re both contemptable fuckwits

  9. 9
    Silverwhistle

    She is an embarrassment to political journalism. She’s ruined The New Statesman for me.

  10. 10
    Ophelia Benson

    Ugh. Gopal’s tweets are disgusting. One sneer at “liberals” after another. Apparently she doesn’t approve of human rights – I can’t see what else her sneers are supposed to imply.

  11. 11
    Ophelia Benson

    And Penny still hasn’t acknowledged the factual mistake – the glaring mistake – about when the Students Rights report was published.

  12. 12
    sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d

    It’s interesting that both Gopal and Penny defend themselves on twitter, not in The Guardian, where their pieces were published.

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