Free Amina!

The place to go for information on Amina, the Tunisian activist who dared to say that her body was her own, is Maryam Namazie’s blog. She has a fantastic roundup of the European protests. I’m also happy to see that secular humanists are finding common cause with women’s rights: The IEHU has also issued a statement of support.

(Note: all the links above include bare breasts and strong language, and worse, women standing up for themselves. Might not find favor with your corporate masters if you browse them at work.)

I am wondering how all the people recently sneering at atheists as islamophobes are going to cope with all these godless ex-Muslims coming out against Islamic justice.


  1. says

    Well, the “Atheists are Islamophobes” types are already voicing concern about some protesters who burned a Salafist flag. Said that it looked too much “like a Klan rally”. Erm, sorry, guys, but when the KKK burn crosses, they are definitely NOT attacking Christianity! False analogy, here.

    Not to mention that Salafists don’t speak for all Muslims, anyway — not even for those Muslims who support some kind of political interpretation of Islam.

  2. robro says

    Though the situation with Amina is definitely not funny, I chuckled at IEHU’s irreverent “Topless Jihad.” Jihad’s that ridicule the ridiculous are just what we need.

    If the sneerers are correct, wouldn’t Islamophobia be OK? Islam is the religion, not the people. Hate the religion, not the religious.

    In a tragically ironic expression of the objectification of women, I note that mainstream media while showing much of female breasts carefully blur nipples…so breasts are OK, but not nipples. Because…? Where exactly do they draw the line? Would it be OK to show a male nipple photoshopped over the female nipple rather than just a blur?

    Fittingly, this happens to be 1984 Day or Orwell Day, celebrating the grim account of the ability of the powerful to manipulate the ignorant to oppress them

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


    What really bothers them is that it looks too much like Texas v Johnson.

    I love how we look back and reimagine activism that we have as a society, post-facto, decided created needed and desirable change.

    The Suffragists are often called the Suffragettes and portrayed as daintily, respectfully seeking rights in the same way as the dainty Marian, Madame Librarian of the Music Man. She politely and respectfully argued that some women have, indeed, become quite educated and are even the equals of some men, thank you very much, so would you please explain why those of us who are truly exceptional can’t do thinky things like, f’rinstance, vote? Therefore Susan B Anthony wasn’t a complete curmudgeon who walked around pissed off at men with less than a 10th her intellectual worth dismissing *her* as beneath *them*.

    You think that SNCC never burned Confederate flags? Really? Stokeley Carmichael – just a bright college student trying to make the world a better place, hoping we can all sing Kumbaya? Yeah, Carmichael & Sheriff Bull Connor sitting down together and drinking tea & singing spirituals is exactly what Carmichael was thinking about doing. That’s the end for which he was reaching.

    It’s so bizarre to me how we equate justice with civility.

    It’s been a long time since I’ve been won over to the idea that the substance of an idea or argument is more important than tone. It’s also been a long time since I became appreciative of the positive impact of some negative wording (specifically, 1995 and the moment I read that a bill had been defeated after the first out queer in the Oregon legislature couldn’t stop it because she was a “radical leftist lesbian” so her opinion didn’t count… until a protest I helped organized went to the capital and chanted to the sponsor of the bill, Kevin Mannix, “2, 4, 6, 8 it’s alright to inseminate. 1, 3, 5, 7, fuck you and your bill, Kevin.”).

    But I’ve spent a long time on the fence about how insults are used here. I wouldn’t condemn it. It has value. My way isn’t the only way. I have no data on which tactics work best in which situations and ‘fuck you and your bill, Kevin’ certainly seemed to make people think that the lady lawyer in a business suit may not have actually been the radical leftist lesbian once they got a peek at the Lesbian Avengers, which boosted her credibility and allowed her to convince others to kill the bill. Yet I feel pretty badly about things like EllenBeth. FFS, I’ve just spent a number of hours I should be working on finals on trying to walk Steve Landsburg through the source of his errors and others’ reactions on his rape hypothetical.

    Heck, I even use the captial F to mean “Freud” where others use it to mean “fuck” both because I wanted to find a way to vent spleen without being overly rude and, also, because there’s something deeply satisfying about telling the offended that F can stand for things other than fuck, and that whatever meaning they attached to the letter F came from them and not from me…which is classic Freud. [He turns out to have a use after all.]

    But it’s cases like this that make me want to throw out all notions of civility whatsoever. It makes me wonder if we really wouldn’t be more effective at creating a better world, sooner, if we had more people rudely demanding change as a percentage of all persons demanding change. The Gail Shibley story makes it clear you need the polite, reach-across-the-aisle types, too. I’m not saying it has no value. But do we disproportionately value it as a strategy?

    I’m starting to think that valuing the long term benefits to society might mean being more callous than I have been to the short term impacts to society. I sympathize deeply when people are hurt and it’s not easy for me to turn that down (or off). But with my kids, I love them and sometimes I make them cry by insisting that they brush their teeth. I do it anyway. I don’t try to make a human connection with them and set a good example so that maybe, someday, they’ll brush their teeth.

    I’ve always been against treating basic human rights as debatable in order to “see the point of view” of, and make a connection to, someone who advocates seeing other people as less than fully human. But I’ve been pro-patience with those are influenced by those despicable advocates. They have an image of the good agent for change. I hope that by matching that image, I can be more effective in my interactions with them as I advocate for change.

    But I’m matching an image that doesn’t conform to reality. I’m forced to wonder whether, despite my strong empathic reasons for approaching conversations the way I do, if perhaps some part of choosing my approach isn’t narcissism: I want to be liked at the end of a difficult conversation.

    But what if I could be liked less while everyone around me loved each other more? I think that would be worth it. If that entails symbolically destroying symbols, then some flags are going to get burnt.

    I’m going to have to think about this after finals.

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

    In a tragically ironic expression of the objectification of women, I note that mainstream media while showing much of female breasts carefully blur nipples…so breasts are OK, but not nipples. Because…?

    Oh, you want to know what the media are thinking by granting all of the, um, titillation while rejecting all of the nipple?

    Because nipples feed babies. Can’t bring the children into this. The breasts are hotsexyfun for adults, so go show them, but once you connect the hotsexyfun to kids, we run dangerously close to promoting BadThoughts. Wouldn’t wanna do that. Therefore, breasts are nipples are to be in no way associated.

    Besides, don’t you know these aren’t even body parts that functionally attach to a single person! Nipples are for madonnas; breasts are for the whores. How do you know that that’s a nipple under that pixelation, hmm??? Have you been unnaturally connecting motherhood to sex????

  5. beetle says

    Is anyone else having difficulty reaching Maryams blog? I can’t get to it from here, any other Freethoughtblog, or her website.

  6. robro says

    Crip — Well, yes, I know it’s basically something like that. Nipples also change over time due to temperature, etc., indicating that the precious Holy Virgin Mother is just another animal, after all. And we can’t have that, can we.

    Of course, it’s a culturally determined peculiarity. For example, the German newspaper Der Spiegel seems to have no problem with showing nipples at least in the context of the Anima protests. And, oh yeah everybody, that link is not NSFW because, you know, the boss or a coworker might see you looking at a picture of a woman without anything covering her upper torso while being kicked by some old codger in Paris…and evil may engulf the world.

  7. says

    @ CripDyke:

    Good point with the reimagination of Suffragettes and Civil Rights activists in retrospect! Those who rocked the boat
    were not met with smiles at the time, for sure.

    I was wondering about the parallel with American flag-burning controversies too. But how anyone with even a passing knowledge of history would associate that with the KKK? Weird. Or maybe they are lumping all kinds “protesters burning something” together, as if this was the same as burning a book, and not thinking it through. Wouldn’t surprise me. :-\

  8. Rob Grigjanis says

    I am wondering how all the people recently sneering at atheists as islamophobes are going to cope with all these godless ex-Muslims coming out against Islamic justice.

    Greenwald was taking aim at Harris, not atheists. Harris is a bigot who certainly doesn’t speak for this atheist. I don’t know what else to call someone who writes

    We should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim, and we should be honest about it.

    Has he said anything about profiling ‘Aryans’?

  9. Gregory Greenwood says

    It is great to see such support for women’s rights being expressed by atheist organisations, but I suppose it is only a matter of time before someone turns up on this thread to trot out the usual complaints that “yeah but she exposed her breasts over public media! That was totally uncalled for! Won’t someone think of the children!11!!Eleventy!”

    Because a little voluntary nudity to convey a political message is of course far more offensive than the systemic oppression of women by means of the denail of their bodily autonomy and essential personhood, dontcha know…

    *Head desk*

  10. says

    Nah, Gregory, probably not. You see, this happened in Tunisia. A faraway land full of brown-skinned barbarians where misogyny’s chief enforcer is the brown barbarians’ foreign religion. Since condemning the misogyny of brown foreigners does not call into question the moral and intellectual superiority of American or European atheists, it’s completely non-controversial for Amina to bare her breasts in protest against Islamic, foreign misogyny. It’s those men over there who are responsible for the oppression she’s resisting, therefore they have no beef with her.

    Bitchez gettin’ all uppity in the “Western” “developed” world, on the other hand–well, that makes it seem like they might be complicit in the ongoing misogyny here, and that doesn’t fit in with their self-image as Brave Enlightened Heroes for Secularism. And it threatens their already somewhat-eroded male privilege! So you won’t see Amina getting the same sort of pushback from the skeptical/atheist community’s band of sexist douchebags as one of us would if we tried a similar stunt. Like, I doubt any of them would think to apply the same argument they tried to apply to Rebecca Watson vis-a-vis her sexy Bordello party, or her sexy posing for a fundraising calendar, which is that by choosing to engage in some fun, sexy, consensual exhibitionism she has therefore abandoned the right to complain about unwanted sexual attention.

  11. says

    o you won’t see Amina getting the same sort of pushback from the skeptical/atheist community’s band of sexist douchebags as one of us would if we tried a similar stunt.

    what you will see sooner or later however is those Western feminists who showed solidarity with Amina being punished as supposed “hypocrites” for it; same as what happened with the calendar in support of Aliaa Magda Elmahdy

  12. NitricAcid says

    Robro: I’d be very surprised if Der Spiegel had a problem showing breasts, considering that the German equivalent of TV Guide usually had a pair of them on the cover (at least, back when I lived in Germany, around 2000). As you say, a cultural thing.

  13. Gregory Greenwood says

    SallyStrange @ 15;

    I had not heard about accusations of hupocrisy regarding the support of Aliaa Magda Elmahdy. Do tell?

    My google-foo is too weak to find it, but I remember a thread from a few months ago about the calander in which accusations were levelled that the calander essentially operated as ‘functional pornography’ and played into the toxic sexual objectification of women in Western media, even though the express purpose of the protest was to declare that women’s bodies did not belong to anyone but the women in question.

    As I remember it, the discussion became somewhat heated, and even whet so far that assertions were made that any form of public nudity, undertaken for whatever reason, was fundamentally incompatible with feminism – that there was no such thing as feminist nudity, and that the producers of the calander where at best playing into the hands of Western social tropes of sexual exploitation, and at worst were hypocrits.