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iemanja's Journal
iemanja's Journal
April 30, 2013

A guide to being an acceptable feminist on the internet

Condemn sexism and misogyny only in foreign countries, never in the US. The most appropriate targets are in the Global South, particularly where Islam is a dominant religion.

Exception: You can condemn Republican policies and comments. If a Democrat makes the same comments or supports the same policies, you must realize he is your ally and should not be challenged.

Attribute all sexism in the word to religion, especially Islam. Catholicism can also provide an acceptable target. If a man kills a woman without evoking a religious justification that death doesn't really count. If the man killing a woman is Muslim, the death should be blamed on Islam, even if the murderer doesn't site religion as an excuse. The same does not hold true for non-Muslim Westerners, including Catholics. (While this rule may seem a bit contradictory, it's very important not to diverge from these guidelines. )

Don't point out that homicide rates for women are higher in the US than most nations around the world. Those deaths just happen. They have nothing to do with misogyny or abuse of women.

Don't point out that 1 in 3 US women are subject to violence or rape at the hands of their partners. That again is a distraction since it cannot be attributed to the evils of Islam.

Don't talk about rape in the US unless you are pointing to a false charge against an innocent man. It's important that internet men not be reminded how common of a crime rape is in the US. Therefore, understand that if you do talk about rape you are engaging in misandry.

If an interwebs guy sites a three-decade old study by "feminists" claiming women don't really mean no when they say no, don't do anything but agree. Acknowledge you don't really mean no when you say you don't want to have sex because he's your "ally." Plus, you don't really know what you want anyway. You need a strong man to show you that.

Never ever mention the term "rape culture" when talking about the US. Everyone knows the existence of a rape culture has nothing to do with the frequency of rape in a given population, a low level of convictions, or victim shaming. Rape culture is only something that exists in the "Third Word," especially in Muslim countries.

Understand that EEOC laws are not really important. You should not be working in a corporation or public agency anyway. Everyone knows you'll make more money stripping. Tear up that college diploma and use it as a G-String.

Don't support female candidates for public office because that just antagonizes sexists. The way to prevent a sexist backlash is for women not to try to reach positions of political and economic power.

Make clear that the worst form of sexism is that which encourages women to veil or wear modest clothing. It does not matter whether women choose to wear that clothing or not. The important point is that she dress in ways that Americans find acceptable. Acceptability increases as the amount of clothing decreases.

Keep your feminist ideas to three word slogans: Fuck religion; fuck the Pope; fuck the Koran; fuck dictatorship. Anything more than three words is too complicated and therefore cannot be considered real feminism.

Lastly, attack every woman who breaks any of these rules and always side with men who tell those uppity women to shut up. Real feminists know that men really know best what our rights should be.

April 28, 2013

Comic relief for faculty and students

as the semester winds down.

If you enjoy academic humor, it's worth reading through all five pages. My particular favorite is this one:

When a Social Scientist Accidentally Encounters a Poor Person, Not For Research Purposes

April 19, 2013

Tweet from God

April 7, 2013

I don't really agree that women have no voice anywhere

You may not hear that voice, but that doesn't mean they don't exercise it. I know of some women in an area under Sharia law that carve out a space for resistance within that oppressive structure. They take advantage of the fact military police will not search a woman to smuggle guns under their burqas for revolutionary opposition. They work with the men in their families who stay hidden and transfer weapons and munitions to arm an independence movement. That is not to say they have the full range of ability to express their views as women elsewhere, but they are nonetheless politically active, far more so than you or I.

What perplexes me is how anxious you are to privilege the voices of some young European feminists over Muslim women. My core belief is that if you don't respect a people, you are only going to do them harm. Statements like "fuck he Qur'an reveal as much contempt for Muslim women as Muslim men. I really don't see it as much different ideologically from the neoliberal determination to deny political self-determination and instead justify war for the purposes of redeeming the poor benighted Muslim people through so-called democracy. Enter, war in Iraq. Enough looking down our noses at people across the world. Who are we to pass judgment? We are a highly militaristic society with the highest incarceration rate in the world. We are one of a handful of nations that exercise state sanctioned murder through the death penalty, and we have one of the greatest income disparities in the world. I don't believe we are fit to pass judgment on other cultures. It's not for me to determine what is best for women in Tunisia, Kandahar, or Cairo. They have every bit as much of a right to make those determinations as I do, and I refuse to treat them with less respect that I expect myself.

To view the veil as entirely oppressive is ignorant and ethnocentric. It's meaning is far more complex. It is decidedly contested, but not nearly as one dimensional as many here imagine. There is a body of academic literature on the subject: http://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=muslim+veil&btnG=&as_sdt=1%2C24&as_sdtp=

I also happen to know women in my state of Minnesota who choose to veil. There are also native white Minnesotans who convert to Islam and veil. While I confess to feeling a bit perplexed when I see them, I recognize it is their choice. Certainly many women do not veil by choice, but some do. Muslims for me are not a foreign and strange other. I have Muslim friends and work with many others. I have met Muslim women artists from Egypt, art historians from Iran, dancers and scholars from Indonesia, as well as many Muslim men-- Arab, African, and Persian--who are filmmakers, artists, and scholars. I'm successful in working with them because I don't share the kind of prejudice toward their religion and ethnicity that is so common in the West, as some have specifically told me. As a result, I see this issue quite differently from many here.

April 6, 2013

At your request

That you think, or propose as an abstract idea, that someone someone "chooses" to practice a religion and that justifies being smeared based on a very limited of understanding of that religion is, in my view, unacceptable. There is not one understanding of Islam or one implementation of the Koran. That you imagine it is all the same is unfortunate. I realize that most of us in the US learn very little about the Muslim world. But to fail to understand the limits of ones own education in this particularly area and broadly condemn a huge swath of the population is truly unfortunate.

The Islamphobia in many posts in this thread is a manifestations of cultural imperialism, of a deeply imbued aspect of American national mythology that imagines ourselves superior to the rest of the world. All countries have nation myths. That is key to national identity. The American national myth centers on believing ourselves to be the best nation in the world, "a free country," and imagining that much of the rest of the world lives under oppression.

That cultural imperialism has been imbued in us to legitimize military, political, and economic imperialism. My point about the wars was mean to highlight that we as Americans are not as superior as you seem to believe. As you are aware, in regard to the the Muslim world, that has included bloody wars killing hundreds of thousands of people. Now are we as individual Americans responsible for those interventions? I consider this question a tangent from the central issue, but since you insist, I will answer. Yes, in a way we are all responsible. We all pay a sizable portion of our tax bill to fund those wars. I think it unlikely you did not vote for any of the governments that executed them, unless you have never voted. George Bush began the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but Bill Clinton regularly bombed Iraq, entered Somalia, and did a host of other things in the Middle East. Jimmy Carter began arming the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan, and Barack Obama has continued war in Afghanistan and kept Guantanamo Bay open. Governments from the 1950s through 1979 backed the oppressive Shah of Iran, who was put in place via an American coup that replaced a Democratic leader. But under the Shah woman dressed in Western garb that people here find acceptable. If they dressed otherwise or dared to veil, they were beaten by state police. Since WWII, the US has propped up dictatorships throughout the world, including in Muslim countries like Indonesia, where the US funded genocide (under LBJ). Administrations since WWII have funded Israel and its occupation of Palestine. In terms of foreign policy, there has been little if any difference between Republican and Democratic governments, so all of us have voted for people who carried out that military and political imperialism. We have all benefited from the oil gained through those interventions that met US economic and geopolitical interests.

My point, however, is not to levy blame but to encourage reflection on cultural stereotypes and recognize that the simple statement of attributing a set of beliefs to all Muslims reveals you have little understanding of the religion or Muslim people. Passing judgment on the rest of the world serves no one. It only contributes to being the ugly American who thinks itself superior, a myth that serves to justify interventions abroad. I'm not saying that you and others deliberately seek to justify that action. You do not. You do, however, display cultural manifestations of that imperialism. That cultural imperialism was not borne of its own. It has been taught to us in order to justify US action abroad.

The rest of the world need not be like us to be respected. In fact, in terms of their actions abroad, they are far less complicit that the US. So rather than pointing fingers at those in other countries and condemning huge swaths of the world's population, learn something about those peoples. Rather than relying on cultural stereotypes, we must interrogate them: think about where they come from and what purpose they serve. Then we can think about what we as individuals can to to affect the issues we care most about.


As an aside, to imagine all Muslims are homophobic is simply wrong. I live in Minneapolis, the city with the largest Somali population in the US. I canvassed those voters, who came out to vote down a proposed constitutional amendment making same sex marriage illegal. You can go to the MN Secretary of State's website and look at votes on that amendment by precinct, and you will see solid Democratic votes in Somali neighborhoods, including on that measure. Why? I think it may be because they have developed a loyalty toward the Democratic party and we asked them to vote no on the issue. The world is not as one dimensional as many think.

April 4, 2013

"We're your allies"

How many times have we heard that Democratic men are our allies by virtue of voting D? Someone asked me what issues they disagree with me on. My response below points to my pet peeve about the assumption that I should credit someone with being an ally just because he posts on this site. Firstly, I don't know how they vote, but even if he votes for Democrats, a vote is only the start. There are core issues I care about that they do not.

EEOC laws are one. Few in the Richards threads seem to think EEOC laws are legitimate. Labor attorneys have argued that she was illegally fired
(http://www.rmlawyers.com/blog/2013/03/sendgrids-unlawful-and-retaliatory-termination-of-adria-richards.shtml), but dozens here seem to think she deserved what was coming to her and aren't at all concerned with rape and death threats against her.

Some obviously don't see wage inequality as an issue. I've seen someone here argue that it's unfair that white men are the only demographic who earn less than their parents and that women are unfairly compensated in the workforce.

Rape and domestic violence doesn't concern them. Several men have told me women in this country don't face real sexism. The fact that we are killed at rates higher than in much of the world and that 1 in 3 women are raped or abused by their partners incur concern from very few. In fact, I've seen responses arguing that expressing frustration over such conditions is itself misandry. In fact, I would submit that there are men here who see feminism itself as misandry, at least feminism that challenges them in any way. Then there is the complete absence of concern about human trafficking and slavery and their relationship to pornography and prostitution. Those are women who are kept in bondage, raped, and killed. No one is going to say they think rape or slavery is okay; they just can't be bothered to care. Moreover, they strike out against those who discuss the topic as misandrists, as this very thread does. The idea that the take away from an epidemic of violence against women is to worry about men's feelings because of something someone might have once said is willfully hostile and dismissive of rape survivors. A few here even go so far as to be deliberately cruel to survivors. That is a characteristic that defies all comprehension. Yes, I could provide many examples but I won't do so because that makes people very, very angry.

Truthfully, on issues of rape, violence, and interpersonal relations, I see no correlation between political affiliation and views on women. There are no studies showing that Republicans are more likely to rape, beat, or kill their partners. There is a correlation on abortion rights, but other than that I can't think of an issue where party affiliation matters. Perhaps you'll be able to point some out to me.

People have lots of reasons for how they vote. Women's issues rate very low for most men. Most are Democrats for other reasons, which is entirely their prerogative. I, however, resent being told I'm supposed to see them as allies when they oppose everything that matters to me-- equal work for equal pay, gun control, greater attention to issues of rape and violence against women. If they can't support laws providing for a workplace free of discrimination, laws passed under Republican congresses and administrations, how are they my allies? If it's campaign season and I'm knocking on doors, I'm thrilled they are voting for a Democrat. Of course in my city you have to walk a long way to find a Republican, but still I'm thrilled they aren't one of those few. Other than that, I have nothing in common with the most vocal anti-feminists on this site. Prior to the Adria Richards threads I would have said they are a small minority. I expect they still are a minority, but not as small as I hoped. It's clear to me these individuals---which, by the way, include some women--don't share my core commitment to human equality. Without that, there can be no common ground. I'm happy about that D vote, but they aren't my peers, friends, or allies.

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