Shut up because Taliban

What is the point of saying things like “What is faced by women and men under Islamicist [sic] is far greater than the discomfort of some inappropriate sexist remark” or “Dear Muslima”?

What can possibly be the point of it other than to tell local feminists to shut up because things are much worse farther away?

That’s why so many people went ballistic over “Dear Muslima” in the first place. That’s where the Deep Rifts started – with that one bullying comment, which may have been written by Cornwell herself.

Cornwell is aware of that. She is aware of the deep rifts. I know this because she wrote to me on the subject via Facebook direct messaging to say so in 2012. She told me she was horribly worried and upset about it.

So why the hell would she do the same thing all over again in 2013?

I guess because she hates feminism that much.

This might not matter all that much, if it weren’t for the fact that she’s one of the bosses of “the movement.” She was a “Head” and so went to “Heads” meetings. She’s on boards. Other bosses listen to her. They think she speaks for Science so they listen solemnly. She tells them how poisonous feminism is.


  1. Decker says

    I think women in Muslim countries have it worse than western women.

    That said, why must we cease to criticize and combat western misogyny just because things are worse for women in Muslim countries?

    It’s a bit like saying the police shouldn’t bother investigating armed robberies because murders are sometimes committed, and murder is worse.

    there’s no law against having TWO priorities at the same time.

  2. screechymonkey says

    I’ve always thought it was particularly strange for secular “leaders” to invoke this “smaller problems are unworthy of attention” argument, because pretty much all the issues that secular and skeptic groups deal with aren’t usually the most critical of issues.

    Can we honestly say that the biggest problem in the U.S. educational system is the teaching of creationism (or failure to teach evolution)? Or that school prayer or “under God” in the Pledge or manger scenes at City Hall or any of these other church-state issues are more important than… I dunno, unemployment and global warming?

    Actually, if I’m not mistaken, Dawkins has expressed some ambivalence about some of the church-state issues. But that’s just it: ambivalence, not overt hostility.

  3. says

    Why does Dawkins criticize religion in the UK when religions do far worse other places?

    ie., why are Dawkins and others so intellectually inconsistent?

  4. says

    It makes sense, I think, to work on smaller problems close to home because, being close to the problems, you actually may be able to do something about them. Which is not to say we should ignore problems that are farther away, even if they seem impossible to deal with at a distance – nor do I see any evidence that Ophelia or the other Freethough Bloggers do ignore far away problems. Quite the contrary!

    All this is just a longwinded way of saying no, I have no idea what the point is. Maybe I am not good at listening. That must be it.

    Would you believe that I actually brush my teeth every evening, even though there are people in the world who can never afford to go to the dentist and have a mouth full of rotting teeth! That’s how totally selfish I am. I should be ashamed of myself. (Perhaps I am, but not because of this …)

  5. Robert Smythson says

    She knows there is a problem with inappropriate and sexist remarks, but doesn’t want to deal with it. I really don’t understand why. People like her, Dawkins et al. are why I don’t identify myself to people as an atheist. I don’t want to be associated with any “community” that they epitomise. Bonus awkward for summing up her remarks allegedly on “who speaks for feminism” with a quote by Great Historical Thinking Man Robert Ingersoll.

    Trivially irritating: how often “science” and “scientific thinking” is used as an umbrella for all rational thought.

  6. qwints says

    It’s pretty clear you’re right – the intent is obviously to imply that working to address one experience of misogyny in some way detracts from addressing another and thus people talking about the ‘less important’ form of misogyny have to cease doing so.

    The most charitable interpretation is that speeches like this are the equivalent of people giving speeches condemning “what about the men reactions.” Of course, that would only be a valid analogy If white straight cis feminists derailed every conversation about the experiences of women marginalized on other axes of oppression by always changing the subject to the experiences of more privileged women.

  7. Pliny the in Between says

    I’ve never gotten this one either – it’s like saying that because some people have cancer, we shouldn’t splint a fractured radius.

  8. dukeofomnium says

    #10 – or that your migraine can’t hurt because some people have brain tumors.

  9. lochaber says

    Didn’t most people learn this in grade school? Because the other kid threw five spitballs doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for just throwing three.

  10. iknklast says

    I think it’s just to avoid doing anything different. Someone who’s comfortable doesn’t want other people threatening that comfort to challenge the status quo. I posted this comment on another post, but I’ll summarize it here: when I was depressed and people were pointing out that other people had it worse, it was just a sit down and shut up, just go along, and no one has to go to the work of dealing with anything. The other people who were “worse” off than I was were being pointed to other people “worse” off than they were. No one had to do anything if there was someone worse off (and there always is….)

  11. Bjarte Foshaug says

    Could somebody take Marwa Berro‘s guest post about using (Ex) Muslim women as “a tool to be used to bolster anti-feminism” and put it on a T-shirt or something? Not only is it disrespectful of Western women to tell them that “We could be treating you a lot worse, so STFU and be grateful that we’re ‘only’ objectifying and harassing you”, but it’s f**king disrespectful of (Ex) Muslim women to exploit their situation to argue that we should be more rather than less accepting of misogyny and sexism.

  12. deepak shetty says

    People should just shut up about the taliban and Islamists – In my country a good number of female fetus’,babies and children are killed before they are of the age that they can be oppressed by folks like the taliban

  13. says

    Yeah, the not so subtle threats of “look how horrible your life could be”.

    Also: talking about sexual harassment in the west is unjustly hogging the mike because we need to taaaaalk about the worse plight of other women but spending a lot of time talking about why people should stop talking about this is totally necessary.
    I have the vague feeling that we would talk way less about these things if people had just shut up themsleves instead of yelling it at us 24/7

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