Where The Arab Spring Failed

Mona Eltahawy’s lightning bolt of a piece in Foreign Policy entitled “Why Do They Hate Us?” is staggering, heart-rending, depressing, and brutally truthful.  She goes into candid detail on the treatment of women in the Middle East and why the world keeps looking the other direction.

Name me an Arab country, and I’ll recite a litany of abuses fueled by a toxic mix of culture and religion that few seem willing or able to disentangle lest they blaspheme or offend. When more than 90 percent of ever-married women in Egypt — including my mother and all but one of her six sisters — have had their genitals cut in the name of modesty, then surely we must all blaspheme. When Egyptian women are subjected to humiliating “virginity tests” merely for speaking out, it’s no time for silence. When an article in the Egyptian criminal code says that if a woman has been beaten by her husband “with good intentions” no punitive damages can be obtained, then to hell with political correctness. And what, pray tell, are “good intentions”? They are legally deemed to include any beating that is “not severe” or “directed at the face.” What all this means is that when it comes to the status of women in the Middle East, it’s not better than you think. It’s much, much worse. Even after these “revolutions,” all is more or less considered well with the world as long as women are covered up, anchored to the home, denied the simple mobility of getting into their own cars, forced to get permission from men to travel, and unable to marry without a male guardian’s blessing — or divorce either.

Not a single Arab country ranks in the top 100 in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, putting the region as a whole solidly at the planet’s rock bottom. Poor or rich, we all hate our women. Neighbors Saudi Arabia and Yemen, for instance, might be eons apart when it comes to GDP, but only four places separate them on the index, with the kingdom at 131 and Yemen coming in at 135 out of 135 countries. Morocco, often touted for its “progressive” family law (a 2005 report by Western “experts” called it “an example for Muslim countries aiming to integrate into modern society”), ranks 129; according to Morocco’s Ministry of Justice, 41,098 girls under age 18 were married there in 2010.

I don’t throw around “must-read” often, but this article certainly belongs in that category if anything does.  Eltahawy herself was detained by Egyptian police during the revolution there last year, sexually assaulted and her arm and wrist broken.  She takes that experience and others in her life and flays the entire culture of the Middle East bare.  It’s painful to read at times but it needs to be read anyway, if only to realize how far we have to go as a planet.

And these problems are by no means new.  They were there before we arrived with FREEDOM BOMBS and they’re still there now, and yet I can’t help seeing where the conservatives in this country want to go.

191 replies
  1. 1

    Someone has been reading ALEC. I wonder if the Arab countries and the powers that be, have heard of Transvag Wand of Freedom? And that the right wing religious type women haters in the US are doing wonderful things to control the female population with that contraption.

  2. 2
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    So far as I can tell, the “Arab Spring” has been nothing but the elimination of various strongarm dictators, replacing them with completely non-democratic theocracies that have the approval of a certain percentage of the population (I’m betting 27%) but are much worse for the groups that were already disenfranchised and suffering anyhow.

  3. 3
    Karl The Crap Blog Detective says:

    And worst fucking thing – it’s probably not possible to do anything about it.

  4. 4
    Svensker says:

    I don’t know much about those cultures and what they do to their women. I’d love to stop bombing them and fucking with them and then see what their cultures are like. Perhaps if they weren’t in constant “war” with the West, they could loosen up a bit. Look what’s happened to us since the Great and Glorious War on Terrah began.

  5. 5
    Punchy says:

    What does Arab Spring mean?

  6. 6
    samara morgan says:

    You DO NOT UNDERSTAND anything about islamic culture. Are islamic women begging the west to come over and make their countries into war zones to deliver “woman’s rights”?

    FUCKING NO.

    mind your own bidness Big White Christian Bwana.
    Its just international crotch sniffing you retard.
    SCAF broke bones and heads of male protesters too, moron.

  7. 7
    samara morgan says:

    @Punchy: After the Arab Spring, the American Fall.

  8. 8
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease:

    Alas, this seems to be the case.

    Last year, when the Libya situation was coming to a head, I and others here speculated that well, this is all great, but what happens after Qaddafi is gone? Does the coalition that formed to oppose him break up along tribal lines? Do they maintain unity without a common enemy to provide them focus?

    Alas, our fears have been realized. This is all so predictable. Just as in Iraq, you eliminate the strongman, you are just asking for instability that creates even more problems. Well, perhaps not for the parasitical weasels that are western corporations, particularly the oil boys. Just gives them more opportunity to rape and pillage.

  9. 9
    Zandar says:

    @samara morgan:

    Last time I checked, I was neither white, Christian, nor named Bwana.

    But let’s talk about your inability to understand things.

  10. 10
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @samara morgan:

    You continue to be as clueless as Michelle Malkin about the reality of what women face in these situations.

    Dumbass white girl, who knows about horses. Bah.

  11. 11
    samara morgan says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease: more like 80% to 90%.
    egypt is 90% muslim. Iraq is 97% muslim. A-stan is 99% muslim.
    And when muslims are DEMOCRATICALLY EMPOWERED to vote, they vote for more Islam, not less, and NEVER for missionary democracy with freedom of speech and religion.
    In islamic culture there is no separation of church and state, and proselytizing is illegal under shariah.

  12. 12
    El Cid says:

    Those people need to do much better jobs at overthrowing generations-old dictatorships. I withhold my approval.

  13. 13
    4tehlulz says:

    @Zandar: YOU LIE

  14. 14
    Zandar says:

    @samara morgan:

    And I forgot for the briefest sliver of time that you were anything less than a rotten, burnt out husk of an angry troll hell bent on crashing the bus into the mountainous chip on your shoulder.

    Silly me.

  15. 15
    MattF says:

    Hey, good batch of insults here. How about that article by, um, what’s her name?

  16. 16
    THE says:

    @samara morgan:

    Of course we understand it samara.

    Its a superstition.

    Holding back human progress is what superstitions do.

  17. 17
    Paul in KY says:

    @samara morgan: We know that. Are you saying that the majority of muslim women are fine with their status in Arab-Muslim societies?

  18. 18
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @THE:

    She’s every bit as deluded as the Christian fundamentalists she wails about.

    She is a pathetic, petulant little creature.

  19. 19
    kindness says:

    Heard her this morning on NPR while I was driving in. God bless the woman. She has a tough row to hoe. One thing I liked about the NPR piece was that she made a distinction between America’s right wing, which has it’s own misogynist difficulties and the Middle East’s right wing which in Egypt she identified as the Muslim Brotherhood. Just wrap your mind around how our right wing likes being linked at the hip with a group they prefer to call a terrorist organization.

    @Forum Transmitted Disease: non-democratic theocracies…

    Really? The military still runs Egypt. Baharain never fell and is still a theocratic kingdom and neither Tunisia nor Libya are theocracies. Fox News much?

  20. 20
    Gus says:

    At least 27% of the country is jealous of how the Arab world treats its women.

  21. 21
    4tehlulz says:

    OK, whose the bigger scumbag? Wilfred the slave trader or MC the delusional racist?

  22. 22
    Dimmic Rat says:

    Who is suggesting that here?

    BTW The Ring is a stupid movie.

  23. 23
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    @samara morgan: The 27% figure was a joke, which you’d know if you ever read any of the posts here. I’m quite aware that Arab societies are overwhelmingly behind the forging of their own chains.

    Hey, it’s democracy even if I don’t like the results.

    BTW, this isn’t an Islam thing. The two largest Islamic nations in the world, Indonesia and Bangladesh, seem to have no interest in getting on board the evil train.

  24. 24
    Corpsicle says:

    @MattF: Dude, BJ is all about the insults. For some incomprehensible reason trolls are the most valued commenters. Most of the trolls are regulars, and the front pagers love them to death.

  25. 25
    Brachiator says:

    @Svensker:

    I don’t know much about those cultures and what they do to their women. I’d love to stop bombing them and fucking with them and then see what their cultures are like. Perhaps if they weren’t in constant “war” with the West, they could loosen up a bit. Look what’s happened to us since the Great and Glorious War on Terrah began.

    It does not make sense to view this as related to wars, and as reductive as limiting the war on women to what happens in Arab countries. There is a tendency to oppress women everywhere. We are not at war with Pakistan or Saudi Arabia, but women in those countries have few rights and are sometimes horribly abused. This also happens in parts of India. Female genital mutilation happens in countries without regard to war. The first thing the Taliban did in Afghanistan after shaking off the Soviets was to suppress women.

    And how do you explain the increasingly retrograde policies against women coming from Republican dominated states? I don’t recall Arizona or Wisconsin being bombed. Or what of the recent attempts by the Vatican to tell socially involved nuns to STFU?

    Conservatives here have been looking to roll back the clock since the era of FDR. Things may have accelerated since the infamous war on Iraq and Afghanistan, but the impulse was always lurking below the surface. Look at how the passage of healthcare reform has unleashed a reaction by religious zealots.

  26. 26
    Face says:

    I do believe religions do more harm than good.

  27. 27
    samara morgan says:

    @Zandar: i AM burned out on your stupidity.
    muslimah rights are just cover for the west’s crotch sniffing. ME is a progressive muslim. She is going to have to fight the suffrage fight on muslim terms.

  28. 28
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease:

    It’s got more to do with Arab culture, derived from the same sheepherders that gave us Judaism and, as a consequence, Christianity.

  29. 29
    Schlemizel says:

    Wasn’t “Arab Spring” supposed to be about these nations overthrowing brutal dictators and selecting their own path? What if their own path is a theocracy & also happens to abuse women? Its not Arab Spring that failed in this case. The failure is ours for expecting entire societies to suddenly throw off thousands of years of conventions, standards and beliefs to become what we want them to be. Why would we expect that?

    The practices in many of these places is deplorable, obscene even unforgivable given the modern world in which we live but what are we to do about it? Certainly we can stop bombing them, we can withdraw our troops we can stop supporting corrupt dictators but that is not going to change how people in those counties think about women. Its going to take time and its foolish of us to think we can simply wish away, demand or force people to ignore hundreds of generations of history because we are “morally superior”.

  30. 30
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @samara morgan:

    Dearest, we’re not the ones advocating clitorectomies. We’re not the ones intensely interested in labia, as objects to be cut.

  31. 31
    Jado says:

    Hmm. I think we may have gotten this whole “mid-east war” thing backwards. We didn’t invade to impose our culture and values on the middle east countries; we went there for research on how best to subjugate our women.

    I am shocked that we missed it this long…

  32. 32
    Chris says:

    I knew this was going to be Toko-trollbait the second I saw the title. What have you done, Zandar, what have you done? Just kidding, good article, thanks for linking.

  33. 33
    Mark S. says:

    When more than 90 percent of ever-married women in Egypt—including my mother and all but one of her six sisters—have had their genitals cut in the name of modesty,

    Is she talking about female circumcision? Is it that prevalent in Egypt?

    Yikes, I guess it is. My understanding, though, is that it’s more of a cultural thing, not a religious one.

  34. 34

    What can we do?

    Can we tie aid to improved laws & enforcement? Can we try to bring about policy changes that elsewhere in the world have led to increased protection of human rights?

    I worry that “call[ing] out the hate for what it is” doesn’t lead to the results we want. I’d be pleased to be informed that I’m wrong by folks who know more about this.

  35. 35
    satby says:

    I read the article, and it was blistering. No idea what can be done about it until the women there rise up themselves so we can support them.

    And permanently ban the samara troll, she adds nothing and ruins countless threads. And she’s a psycho stalker as well. Get rid of the moran.

  36. 36
    Chris says:

    Shorter Matoko:

    “Fact is, we got two cultures down here: a white culture, and a colored culture. Now, that’s the way it always has been, and that’s the way it always will be.”
    “Well, the rest of America don’t see it that way, Mr. Mayor.”
    “Rest of America don’t mean jack shit! You’re in Mississippi now!”

  37. 37
    rb says:

    You cannot change islamic culture with force of arms

    Who are you ranting at? No one here is claiming that you can.

    Eltahawy was assaulted by Egyptian police, and it’s a damn good thing she’s brave enough to talk about it. People everywhere should read this piece and start waking the fuck up. That you think she should be silent matters not a whit.

  38. 38
    Mino says:

    From the article: “Gender gaps close when countries recognize the economic and social imperatives…”

    I wonder if the Palestinians would rate highest if included in the study. I suspect so. Though grinding poverty and political powerlessness leaves a pretty small gap to exist. Expatriot Palestinians seem pretty Westernized, though that might be a function of greater wealth.

    Don’t see much hope of improvement in petro-countries until the oil runs out.

    Afghanistan is a narco-country. No hope there. Get your daughters over the border.

    At any rate, the women themselves must cause the change. The West has no lever that is trustworthy.

  39. 39
    Shinobi says:

    I shouldn’t have read that article. This kind of treatment of women is the only thing that makes me really want to hurt someone. They can put me in a Hijab when they can pull my AK47 from my cold dead hands.

    I also hate that there doesn’t seem to be anything I can do to help.

  40. 40
    samara morgan says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease: both Indonesia and Bangladesh have majority islamic parties, and neither are Arab states, and thus not part of the Arab Spring.

    I’m sorry, most people here are so incredibly stupid about how muslim women feel about this issue that i missed your subtle levity.

    my one-time co-blogger G Willow Wilson wrote a beautiful essay once for the eteraz blog that described how muslim women feel about western intervention on their behalf.
    the upshot is, they don’t want it and it just makes things worse for them.

  41. 41

    @samara morgan:

    She is going to have to fight the suffrage fight on muslim terms.

    Why?

    What gives Islam special status?

  42. 42
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @samara morgan:

    Yet, here the woman in the article is Egyptian. She’s the one reporting this, not some White bimbo in Colorado.

  43. 43
    samara morgan says:

    @rb: but she wasn’t assaulted because she was A WOMAN. Mona doesn’t much like the MB but the brothers got plenty of broken bones at the same time she did.

  44. 44
    Freddie deBoer says:

    yet I can’t help seeing where the conservatives in this country want to go.

    What does that have to do with reality? That’s precisely the problem: far, far too much convenient elision between what people want and what they are going to achieve.

    Iraq is worse for women now than it was in the era of Saddam. Libya is worse for women now than it was in the era of Qaddafi. Remember that.

  45. 45
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Judas Escargot, Your Postmodern Neighbor:

    What gives Islam special status?

    The same mentality that gives “Bible-Believing Christians” special status amongst the 27%.

    M_C has that mentality, except it’s for Muslims.

  46. 46
    4tehlulz says:

    OH shit. All we need is a E.D. sighting and sucka m_c will combust with joyful rage.

  47. 47
    gene108 says:

    have had their genitals cut in the name of modesty

    I don’t know much about female circumcision, but why is it so much worse than male circumcision?

    Bunches of non-Jewish men, in the West, get their pee-pee’s cut, as well as the Jews, who throw a big party for the occasion.

  48. 48
    rb says:

    @Brachiator: It does not make sense to view this as related to wars, and as reductive as limiting the war on women to what happens in Arab countries… And how do you explain the increasingly retrograde policies against women coming from Republican dominated states? I don’t recall Arizona or Wisconsin being bombed. Or what of the recent attempts by the Vatican to tell socially involved nuns to STFU?

    Agree to a point, but the culture war is a war (as is the war on women that you reference). That we treated it as a joke when Pat Buchanan declared it doesn’t negate the fact.

    The only debate here is whether our domestic enemies are our taliban, or merely want to be. The article under discussion adds some needed clarity and perspective vis-a-vis the situation in the States, but we’d be foolish to believe we’re not headed in the same direction without serious intervention on the part of the sane.

  49. 49
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @4tehlulz:

    If only that scene in Scanners would happen to M_C in real life.

    If wishes were horses…

  50. 50
    Chris says:

    @reflectionephemeral:

    Well, not much. Theoretically you could put up South Africa style sanctions and say you won’t do business with countries that treat their women a certain way, but even that’s not likely to effect much change, and it’ll never go beyond the theoretical stage anyway, considering that Saudi Arabia, the worst offender in the region, is attached at the hip with us.

    Like Mino said – “At any rate, the women themselves must cause the change. The West has no lever that is trustworthy.”

  51. 51
    Culture of Truth says:

    The Arab Spring wasn’t a 12 episode tv series with an inevitable happy ending. It was the very beginning of a social movement which will likely last for many many years, and hopefully will include expansion of indivudal rights in many areas.

    Did these changes happen in the West overnight? No.

  52. 52
    Face says:

    muslimah rights are just cover for the west’s crotch sniffing

    Looks like someone is trying to set the record for using “crotch sniffing” the most times on one thread.

    WE GET IT. TRY A NEW PHRASE.

  53. 53
    samara morgan says:

    @Freddie deBoer: Iran is worse for women too, you slow-witted twerp. Know why?
    because the West has tried to impose western culture on the ME for centuries. And it is IMPOSSIBLE and just makes things WORSE for women and minorities.

    Mona got her arm broken because the US propped Mubarak for 30 years, not because she was a woman.

    The practices in many of these places is deplorable, obscene even unforgivable given the modern world in which we live but what are we to do about it? Certainly we can stop bombing them, we can withdraw our troops we can stop supporting corrupt dictators but that is not going to change how people in those counties think about women. Its going to take time and its foolish of us to think we can simply wish away, demand or force people to ignore hundreds of generations of history because we are “morally superior”

    .

    what he said.

  54. 54
    Zandar says:

    @Freddie deBoer:

    Iraq is worse for women now than it was in the era of Saddam. Libya is worse for women now than it was in the era of Qaddafi. Remember that.

    It’s like what we’re doing isn’t helping.

  55. 55
    Splitting Image says:

    Personally, I think most of the reluctance to criticize Islam comes from a “physician, heal thyself” mentality, not from a reluctance to offend or blaspheme. A good chunk of the Arab male population are douchebags. That’s been obvious for a long time.

    The problem is that most people know so little about Islam or Middle Eastern culture in general that they are in no position to talk about how many of the Middle East’s problems are related to Islam and how many are just douchebags being douchebags, and using religion as a handy excuse to get away with it.

    My family is Catholic, so everyone who is still in the church knows exactly how a Muslim family will react if someone asks why they don’t just leave their church and denounce their leaders. More to the point, the reluctance to criticize church leaders for fear of offending is far more pronounced in North America with respect to the Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention than the Muslim Brotherhood. The “Religious Right” have carefully cultivated this reluctance and Muslims are largely an accidental beneficiary of it.

  56. 56
    Jesse says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease: This. I don’t understand why people ever thought that these developments were anything but political, not (really) cultural. Imagine some German bloggers back in the American Revolutionary War era all abuzz over the latest middle finger being given to the British Empire: “This is great! Those Americans will throw off their British shackles and start lurvin’ them some Continental European somethin’ nasty! They’ll give up their ruthless Adam Smith-style capitalism that those British strongarm kings just rammed down their throats against their will, just you wait! And they’ll stop being so damn prudish about sex, too.”

  57. 57
    rb says:

    @samara morgan: but she wasn’t assaulted because she was A WOMAN.

    Hmm, seems she feels that she was sexually assaulted because she was a woman. If no men with her were penetrated, I’ll go ahead and take her word for it, mmkay?

    But just so I’m clear, and even giving you a (relatively) benign example: is it your thesis that bans on women driving are not per se about suppression of women? Because I have to say that seems incredibly obtuse.

  58. 58
    PeakVT says:

    It’s a heartfelt article but it doesn’t really illuminate much for me. Is the extreme misogyny a feature of non-Arabic or non-Middle-eastern Islamic countries, too? What about non-Islamic Arab sub-cultures (assorted types of Christians, mostly, but other relgions as well)? And if it’s worse in the Islam Arab world, then why?

  59. 59
    samara morgan says:

    @Chris: yup. the KSA’s constitution IS the Quran.
    Protest that, sanction that. Instant $10 gallon gasoline.
    I resent how people, even good people like Zandar and Emily Hauser fall for the hype.

    Like Mino said – “At any rate, the women themselves must cause the change. The West has no lever that is trustworthy.”

    the west has no lever that will WORK.
    you cannot change peoples religion by force or oppression. that just empowers the fundamentalists.

  60. 60

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    I agree (and have asked more than a few Christians much the same question to their face). Most religious arguments seem predicated on some presumed ‘special status’ of the religion.

    w.r.t. m_c, I’m just applying inputs, to see what response I get. Consider it an exercise in system identification.

    Though I do find it puzzling how someone who seems to believe Islam leads to Utopian, hermetically sealed societies would choose to live in CO.

  61. 61
    samara morgan says:

    @PeakVT: misogyny is a feature of homo sapiens sapiens.
    its been with us since the EEA (environment of evolutionary adaptation).

  62. 62
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @rb:

    Because I have to say that seems incredibly obtuse.

    M_C is the fucking crown princess of obtuse.

  63. 63
    rb says:

    @gene108: A reasonable if simplistic way to think of it is that the clitor|s is biologically analogous to the entire pen|s. Think about that when you contemplate the severing and cutting.

  64. 64
    Culture of Truth says:

    so we have a troll who will bash neocon doctrine no matter we say! How peculiar.

  65. 65
    samara morgan says:

    @Judas Escargot, Your Postmodern Neighbor:

    Utopian, hermetically sealed societies would choose to live in CO.

    i don’t believe that. al-Islam is a process.
    I believe in evo theory of culture, evolutionary theory of games, and Science and History.

  66. 66
    Tone In DC says:

    Zandar, great post.

    Having said that, for the sake of all that is good in this sorry world…

    SCROLL PAST.

  67. 67

    @samara morgan:

    you cannot change peoples religion by force or oppression

    Your Prophet might have had a slightly different opinion on this.

  68. 68
    daveNYC says:

    @gene108: Not that male circumcision is a good ting, but he female variant is designed to remove all the ‘happy’ bits. It’s a control mechanism designed to remove the ability to enjoy sex. And that’s not even getting into all the ways that female junk is messier than male junk so that all the slicing and dicing can have horrible long term health issues.
    And fuck M_C for the Oreo comment. That shit is way over the line. I know I’d stab someone in the face if they said I wasn’t a real Jew.

  69. 69
    Mino says:

    Does Western female emancipation owe itself to piggybacking on Enlightenment? Or did Greek influence (via Rome) on early Christianity make the thought of female equality possible in the first place? Or am I totally off base in my premise?

  70. 70
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Mark S.:

    My understanding, though, is that it’s more of a cultural thing, not a religious one.

    IIRC, it’s a practice that anthropologists can date back to Ancient Egypt — it basically piggybacked onto North African and Middle Eastern Islam, but Asian countries like Pakistan or Malaysia don’t practice it because it was never part of the local culture.

    @gene108:

    I don’t know much about female circumcision, but why is it so much worse than male circumcision?

    If male circumcision was the equivalent of female “circumcision” as it’s practiced in places like Egypt, it would mean that the boy had the head of his penis cut off and the remaining organ sewn to his leg. Still think it’s no big deal?

    They have apparently had some luck in some countries convincing people to make FGM more like male circumcision by having a doctor do a small nick on the clitoris, but they haven’t had much luck in places like Egypt where the most extreme forms are often practiced.

  71. 71
    samara morgan says:

    @rb: i SAID broken bones. banns on women driving are most extreme in KSA.
    so protest the KSA, dude.

    @Zandar: ok, i apolo. for calling you an oreo. you aren’t.
    i lost my temper.
    I’m just so sick of seeing good people manipulated by this issue.
    1. Mona is a muslimah bombthrower. On woman’s rights she isn’t helping if she is trying to involve western sympathies. like you point out, that always ends up making things worse.
    2. There is NOTHING the west can do about it, muslim women have to create their own suffrage movement. this is actually happening in that bastion of repression Saudi Arabia.

  72. 72
    SatanicPanic says:

    @samara morgan:

    why do french muslim women keep trying to exert their desire to cover then?

    So they don’t get in trouble at home with their husbands and families?

  73. 73
    samara morgan says:

    @Mino: i think…..it also piggy backed on science.
    the invention of birth control is what has truly freed women.

    and if the west would just quit the moral authority crusader nonsense and the war on Islam, birth control would spread osmotically through islamic culture and free the women without a single shot being fired.

  74. 74
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @samara morgan:

    If I were Zandar, the only apology I’d entertain from you, you foul little git, is a Captain Needa apology.

  75. 75
    samara morgan says:

    @SatanicPanic: no.

  76. 76
    Mnemosyne says:

    Can I please be freed from moderation for using the correct terms for human genitals? Kthxbai.

  77. 77
    rb says:

    @PeakVT: I think the point is that extreme misogyny is like extreme anything – the ‘anything’ is always present, but its extreme version is part and parcel of fundamentalism. So that which empowers the fundamentalist will increase the prevalence and power of extreme misogyny. In most if not all cases, this includes military (and many other kinds of) meddling from without.

  78. 78
    rb says:

    @SatanicPanic: Possibly, true enough. Doesn’t make me support the ban, but it’s a reasonable point.

  79. 79
    samara morgan says:

    @daveNYC: you are as ignorant about the types of female circumcision as you are about everything else.
    you are describing pharoic circumcision.
    and the practice is originally sub-saharan tribal, not islamic.

  80. 80
    SatanicPanic says:

    @samara morgan: Well, that settles it then. People participating in their own oppression are not oppressed.

  81. 81
    samara morgan says:

    @Judas Escargot, Your Postmodern Neighbor: the Generous Quran, surah Al-Baqara»“Let there be no compulsion in religion.”

  82. 82
    rb says:

    @samara morgan: i SAID broken bones.

    But the author didn’t. Sorry, you don’t get to pick and choose which aspects of her assault she gets to talk about. Isn’t your whole schtick about paternalism? I mean Jeebus, heal thyself.

  83. 83
    samara morgan says:

    @SatanicPanic: no, they are oppressed– but YOU cannot do anything about it because invading, occupying, and otherwise meddling (like anti-hijab laws) just makes things worse for muslimahs.
    take your scenario.
    now french muslimahs have to choose between religion and state. the hijab law made things worse for them. do they choose a beating or a fine?

  84. 84
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @rb:

    Obtuse, thy name is M_C.

    She’s also osmium dense as well.

  85. 85
    samara morgan says:

    @rb: sophist. are you trying to say the brothers didn’t get beaten too?
    Egypt is a good example of the US failed policy of Searching for Ataturk.
    In theory, 30 years of Mubarak should have resulted in a kemalist occidentalist style democracy like Turkey wound up with.
    In practice it just built up incredible fundamentalist pressure.

  86. 86
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @rb:

    Obtuse, thy name is M_C.

    She’s also osmium dense as well.

  87. 87
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @rb:

    Obtuse, thy name is M_C.

    She’s also osmium dense as well.

  88. 88
    samara morgan says:

    and Zandar, the Arab Spring hasn’t failed.
    you are quite simply, wrong.
    the new ME is going to made of islamic democracies where people have self representation.

    @rb: sophist. are you trying to say the brothers didn’t get beaten too?
    Egypt is a good example of the US failed policy of Searching for Ataturk.
    In theory, 30 years of Mubarak should have resulted in a kemalist occidentalist style democracy like Turkey wound up with.
    In practice it just built up incredible fundamentalist pressure.

  89. 89
    SatanicPanic says:

    @samara morgan: That is exactly what I am saying- Muslim women some oppose the ban because it makes trouble for them in their home life, not because they really want to be wearing Hijabs. I don’t support the ban because I think it’s based on xenophobia and racism, not because I think there is some need to respect people’s nasty religions. France has as much of a right to determine what kind of society they want to have as any other country.

  90. 90
    samara morgan says:

    @rb: sophist. are you trying to say the brothers didn’t get beaten too?
    Egypt is a good example of the US failed policy of Searching for Ataturk.
    In theory, 30 years of Mubarak should have resulted in a kemal1st occ1dental1st style democracy like Turkey wound up with.
    In practice it just built up incredible fundamentalist pressure.

  91. 91
    THE says:

    @samara morgan:

    hijab law made things worse for them. do they choose a beating or a fine?

    You are wrong samara. French law is very strict about any male who compels a woman to wear a burka. Jail not a fine.

  92. 92

    @samara morgan:

    “Let there be no compulsion in religion.”

    You may wish to remind your Taliban friends of this little detail.

  93. 93
    samara morgan says:

    @Zandar: was the Arab spring about woman’s rights?
    no, it was about self-representation.
    muslimahs need to self-represent.
    the west needs to GTFO and quit meddling.

  94. 94
    samara morgan says:

    @THE: lol. even in Moral Authority America the law cannot prevent men from beating their wives.

    @Judas Escargot, Your Postmodern Neighbor: where have the Taliban forced religion?
    The Taliban just want america and NATO to GTFO of A-stan and quit trying to force secular democracy on islamic cultures.

  95. 95
    RP says:

    @samara morgan: Does meddling include commenting on and discussing Islamic society? What if some country legalizes slavery? Are we supposed to just sit back and say “we cannot pass judgment on another culture”?

  96. 96
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @samara morgan:

    I thought it was about human rights. About self determination for all people.

    Or are women not people? Enlighten me here, please.

    You fucking deserve to be some asshole’s chattel.

  97. 97
    rb says:

    @samara morgan: are you trying to say the brothers didn’t get beaten too?

    I’m trying to say they didn’t get raped too.

    What is wrong with you? Your case against intervention stands up without wading hip deep into rape denial. The assault and oppression of women – specifically – is a big problem in the countries the author is talking about.

    This in no way denies the fact that men are victimized too.

    But the oppression of women is a problem unto itself, with familiar pathology and natural history.

    You seem to feel that pointing this out is itself an invocation of the white/’western’ hero/rescuer fallacy, but it is not. It is simple realism. A proper understanding of the scope and power of misogyny is necessary so that FEWER fallacious wars get started.

  98. 98
    THE says:

    @samara morgan:

    Moral Authority America the law cannot prevent men from beating their wives

    Crime cannot be “prevented”. But in many countries, beating your wife is a crime and you can go to jail for it.

  99. 99
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @samara morgan: No one on this thread is advocating meddling. That does not mean that we need to approve of what is happening. It just means that we may recognize that no action on our part will have a beneficial effect.

  100. 100
    samara morgan says:

    @RP: the current blowup on muslimah rights in the ME is meant to distract from the republican war on women, that liberals are capitalizing on very effectively.
    its meant to inflame americans against Islam as a distraction.

    Look, a squirrel!

    some people on this thread get it. muslimahs have to create their own woman’s suffrage movement WITHIN Islam.
    because there is nothing people like you and Zandar can do about it.

  101. 101
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Yeah, but she reads things in that no one ever intended to fit it into the meme that she’s been barking about here for years.

  102. 102
    samara morgan says:

    @THE: So? their country, their laws.
    not you bidness because you are powerless to help.
    wanna help women?
    create NGOs that distribute free birth control.
    try getting that fundage through the teabagger congress.
    we have have to fight furiously for american women to have access to free birth control in THIS COUNTRY.

  103. 103
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @samara morgan:

    their country, their laws.

    In 1940’s Germany, it was perfectly legal, under Reich law, to deport Jews to death camps in the General Government.

    Their country, their laws.

  104. 104
    RP says:

    @samara morgan: utter nonsense.

  105. 105
    THE says:

    @samara morgan:

    not you bidness because you are powerless to help.

    I don’t give a flying fuck what they do samara.
    Why should I?

    But I don’t have to approve of it either.
    I am permitted to shake my head disapprovingly, am I not?

  106. 106
    rb says:

    @samara morgan: create NGOs that distribute free birth control.

    Um, this is certainly “meddling.” I agree that it should be done (and is being done), but let’s be clear here. This is every bit as much an intervention as rolling in with tanks and guns.

  107. 107
    gregor says:

    She is right, but the Gender Gap Report that she sites is bogus.

    There is no way that you can calculate a score for such a thing as Gender Gap correct to 4 decimal places which is credible.

  108. 108
    4tehlulz says:

    Why are you idiots arguing with someone who though that wilfred was Jewish?

    That’s Cleverbot-level stupid right there.

  109. 109
    samara morgan says:

    @rb: the oppression of women in islamic culture is not our problem. its theirs. Mona seems to advocating for western intervention.
    i disagree.
    that just makes things worse.

    again, look for an uptick in evuul Islam stories in the run up to the election.
    Look, a squirrel!
    Zandar took the bait, hook, line and sinker.

  110. 110
    samara morgan says:

    @4tehlulz: why wouldn’t i think that? i have only ever seen jewish people write G-d for God.
    i have never seen him write arabic.

  111. 111
    gene108 says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    It just means that we may recognize that no action on our part will have a beneficial effect.

    WHAT? Converting the all to Christianity won’t help? (/end snark)

    I disagree that there’s nothing we can do. At some level a certain degree of pressure needs to be maintained. The bulk of the heavy lifting will be done locally, but like South Africa and Apartheid, there can be a role for the international community to play.

    On the flip side, the West needs to realize not all women’s liberation movements need to focus on skimpy clothes and sex, i.e. you can have professional women working, getting educations and have equal partnerships with men, without introducing bikinis and mini-skirts and dating into a culture.

  112. 112
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @4tehlulz:

    Mainly because I like pwning her ass repeatedly.

    She’s too fucking obtuse to understand she’s been pwned, of course.

  113. 113
    kindness says:

    Samara why have you made this thread completely about you?

    Don’t you have an actual life of your own? If you don’t, go get one. Let the thread breathe without you yammering on every other post.

  114. 114
    rb says:

    @samara morgan: Mona seems to advocating for western intervention.

    Incorrect. She argues for the end of rape denial (you could take a note here), and moral solidarity with women who are fighting to overturn the culture of rape and oppression within their own nations.

    Reading. It is and remains fundamental.

  115. 115
    Mino says:

    @gene108: That is a good point you make in the last paragraph. Rejecting Western culture is not the same thing as rejecting liberation/legal equality.

  116. 116
    rb says:

    @gene108: I disagree that there’s nothing we can do. At some level a certain degree of pressure needs to be maintained. The bulk of the heavy lifting will be done locally, but like South Africa and Apartheid, there can be a role for the international community to play.

    Whether this analogy holds up I couldn’t say, but you make the very important point that the idea of intervening or not is a false dichotomy. I think it’s kind of funny that those most vociferously arguing we shouldn’t go to war over this (and I happen to agree) because ‘intervention always bad’ are also advocating NGOs parachuting in with free birth control, like that’s just benign and non-threatening. The dissonance, it hurts the earholes.

  117. 117
    Catsy says:

    @samara morgan:

    You DO NOT UNDERSTAND anything about islamic culture. Are islamic women begging the west to come over and make their countries into war zones to deliver “woman’s rights”?
    __
    FUCKING NO.

    In case you’re wondering, this is the point where cultural relativism can take a flying fuck off the deep end.

    It does not surprise me that women in the ME might defend their de facto slavemasters. Many of them have probably never known a life in which they had a real choice about their future or the right not to be beaten, controlled, and treated like property.

    Just because it’s their cultural norm doesn’t make it right. One doesn’t have to be a neocon or in favor of American military imperialism to recognize that.

    Your romanticized, fantasy version of Islam has about as much to do with the typical plight of women in the Middle East as a Renfaire has to do with the Middle Ages.

  118. 118
    Terry says:

    @rb: Among other things, it can cause sex to be unpleasant for life.

  119. 119
    Zandar says:

    Oh, *now* I remember why I shouldn’t post things about the Middle East around here.

  120. 120
    El Cid says:

    By the way, as the above posted article demonstrates, you really can listen to (at least a variety of) “native” women from the nation-states in question, rather than a variety of interpreters from elsewhere.

    One good regular and easily comprehended source are the podcast interviews from KPFA’s Voices of the Middle East and North Africa.

    It’s a great program which usually consists of in-depth discussion — no commercial interruptions, no nitwit ‘panel’ of ‘balanced’ experts interrogating — of a particular theme or situation with one or maybe two people at a time, from scholars to journalists to activists, most of whom are not just from but actually still in the countries in question.

    (And yes, the subjects discussed include the arts.)

    However, it’s only a weekly broadcast / podcast, and there are an enormous number of subjects and areas to be covered, so not every topic has been addressed a dozen times.

  121. 121
    rb says:

    @Terry: Sorry? I think maybe that’s a response to someone else (if it’s about genital mutilation, I would certainly assume so. If it’s about living in Arizona, good joke and I’ll defer to your experience.)

  122. 122
    El Cid says:

    @Catsy:

    It does not surprise me that women in the ME might defend their de facto slavemasters.

    Whoa, whoa, whooooaaa!

    There’s a difference between asserting that some particular imagined ‘intervention’ may improve the lives of the intended beneficiaries — women residing within a particular nation-state — and those lives actually being improved.

    There are tons of people around the world, women included, who make rational, non-slavemaster-favoring-based arguments about the likely harm to them and their interests of some particular action or rhetoric.

    There’s a difference between being able to want something to happen somewhere and that actually managing to happen.

  123. 123
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Zandar:

    Doh!

  124. 124
    sugar daddy says:

    You are all cowards. At least Samara recognizes that and George Bush tried to change the reality.

    You all got nothing, while Barry sells the tools for breaking bones to these fascists.

  125. 125
    El Cid says:

    @Zandar: Why, because people in some blog comments section say angry things? Who cares? Why would that sway you one way or another? Who gives a damn if people type angry comments of one type or another (obviously within whatever general guidelines you have) into the mostly anonymous comments section?

  126. 126
    samara morgan says:

    @rb: oh pardon…you are correct…..it was ZANDAR that said that.

    She goes into candid detail on the treatment of women in the Middle East and why the world keeps looking the other direction.

  127. 127
    samara morgan says:

    @rb: the one thing “we” can do is free birth control.
    but we can’t even do that in this country.
    ;)

  128. 128
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @samara morgan:

    The stupid. It burns.

    What if “free birth control” distribution is a violation of their sacred (literally) laws?

    You just don’t get it, do you?

  129. 129
    Zandar says:

    But I’m not calling for Western intervention. If anything, as many people have pointed out, THERE’S NOT A FUCKING THING I CAN DO ABOUT IT.

  130. 130
    samara morgan says:

    @gene108: look…..there is ONE THING we could do.
    Donate to NGO’s that give out free birth control.
    imagine how the mutaween and the basij would react to that.
    tie foreign aid to birth control education.
    haha, the teabaggers will fight that tooth and nail.
    stfu about eevul Islam, it just empowers the fundies.

    and last of all, don’t fall for Look, a squirrel! like Zandar did.
    The Arab Spring hasn’t failed women …..yet.
    this is the beginning.

  131. 131
    samara morgan says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: thats how you fight the fundies.
    give women control over their reproductive rights.

  132. 132
    Svensker says:

    @Brachiator:

    General rise of fascism helped along greatly by the War on Terrah. Doesn’t explain everything, but it’s part of it.

  133. 133
    Chris says:

    @El Cid:

    There are tons of people around the world, women included, who make rational, non-slavemaster-favoring-based arguments about the likely harm to them and their interests of some particular action or rhetoric.

    Well, for what it’s worth, the only person on my Facebook mini-feed (which is full of people who follow politics and IR and read Foreign Policy) who’s seen fit to repost Mona’s article so far is Muslim, Lebanese and living in Lebanon. It wasn’t to disagree with it either. Anecdotes are not representative, there’s at least one that doesn’t seem to mind that people are taking notice of the godawful way women are treated.

    (Incidentally, I’ve also noticed that even among strongly conservative groups – whether Christian Americans or Middle Eastern Muslims – there’s usually some sort of dissent from the women against the established standard, even if it doesn’t go as far as asking for the right to an abortion, or whatever. Again it’s anecdotal, but not surprising).

  134. 134
    samara morgan says:

    @Zandar:

    THERE’S NOT A FUCKING THING I CAN DO ABOUT IT.

    except emote about how awful it is.
    stick your moral authority where the sun don’t shine and tend your own fucking garden , Candide.
    we can’t even get free birth control in this country, let alone someone else’s.

  135. 135
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @samara morgan:

    So, intervention in their ideal Islamic society by introducing free birth control is not as bad as armed military intervention.

    We can sneak it in and they won’t even notice!

    “Michael, Senators don’t order people killed!”

    “Now who’s being naive, Kay?”

  136. 136
    rb says:

    @El Cid: There are tons of people around the world, women included, who make rational, non-slavemaster-favoring-based arguments about the likely harm to them and their interests of some particular action or rhetoric.

    Agree, especially factoring in that the intervention will be dictated by a foreign country’s election cycle and attention-deficit, couch-potato voters.

    That said, when you’re brought up from birth to think your place is as a supplicant, it’s difficult to assert otherwise. People living under systems of domination have understandable difficulty keeping their moral perspective outside those systems. I don’t think all of the wailing and grief at Kim Jong Il’s death was calculated. Hell, look at American Catholics, many surely as mindfucked as anyone this side of the iron curtain.

    In my opinion, one may consider how much that may be a factor for the women (and men) the author is discussing without necessarily resorting to paternalistic generalities.

  137. 137
    THE says:

    @samara morgan:

    imagine how the mutaween and the basij would react to that.

    But Iran has a fertility rate close to European levels. 1.77 Children per female.

  138. 138
    Zandar says:

    @samara morgan:

    No. Through with you. You’re done.

  139. 139
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    @THE:

    I think that’s a consequence of Iran being Shiite, and consequently having a totally different magisterium and polity than Sunni Arab countries. The scholars/clergy/etc who make up the Shiite establishment in Iran sometimes come up with…interesting (i.e. somewhat liberal) views (and feel free to correct me, I’m no professional scholar).

  140. 140
    Mino says:

    @rb: Hell, look at American Catholics, many surely as mindfucked as anyone this side of the iron curtain.

    Normally, I would never comment on a person’s appearance as being indicative of anything, but FSM, just look at the Nosferatu they have for a Pope. It just screams at you. And every piece of news reinforces the twist.

  141. 141
    tjmn says:

    I believe anytime there is religion in government, people will be oppressed and/or die. The seperation of church and state must continue here in the US. Who gets oppressed? Women, minorites and free spirits. We better make damn sure the US does not become a theocracy.

    I didn’t learn about other religions by studying other religions. I learned about the effects of religions on innocents by studying history in college. It’s all about power–who gets to keep it. Religion is but a tool for keeping power.

    I also believe in my freedom of religion. Everyone has a right to believe in whatever. (and I mean whatever.) I just don’t want someone else’s beliefs shoved down my throat.

    We are goddamn lucky to have the Bill of Rights.

    My apologies in advance for any typos. Blearry eyes due to allergies.

  142. 142
    Corner Stone says:

    Why do I feel like I’m a pretty pony that just got walked around the exercise yard in circles for an hour?

  143. 143
    THE says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay:

    It’s more complex than that even. The demography of the MENA region has been shifting dramatically in recent decades.

  144. 144
    Corner Stone says:

    @Mino: “The Devil Wears Prada” ?

  145. 145
    Mino says:

    @Corner Stone: What, you expect a linear discussion from Juicers?

  146. 146
    rb says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay: Interesting. But Iran is also not a majority Arab nation. I would assume the ways culture cuts against or reinforces the variation in Islam at the national level must be incredibly complex. And all of this ignores wealth, one of the stronger predictors of birth rate, as well.

    The US is not a theocracy, but certainly some states trend that way more than others. Among those with a more overtly Christian bent in practice: to what degree can the differences between Mississippi, say, and Oklahoma be ascribed specifically to variations in flavors of Christianity practiced there? I imagine it would be hard to say.

  147. 147
    gene108 says:

    @rb:

    I think, at some level, democracy should help. It should, in theory, give a political outlet for women to organize and demand changes.

    In a democracy, if you are not systematically marginalized, you should be able to exert some pressure, if your group makes up 50% of the population.

    You can’t change things in autocratic governments, unless the autocrat decides to make changes.

    So if Egypt and other ME countries move and maintain democratic practices, it should be possible for women to make gains and demand changes.

    If things start getting overtly stacked against women, other nations should be able to exert some sort of pressure. In reality, rules that restrict women are defacto segregation against 50% of the populace and similar action to what was done with South Africa could also be done.

  148. 148
    RP says:

    @Corner Stone: because you’re a textbook narcissist?

  149. 149
    rb says:

    @Corner Stone: Heh, and has his own fragrance, too.

  150. 150
  151. 151
    Chris says:

    @gene108:

    I agree, but beyond that, I just think it’s not possible for it to work without democracy. Unless the change is made by a government that people see as representing themselves, it’ll just end up backfiring because people won’t accept it.

    The whole “enlightened dictatorship imposing enlightened rules and propped up by enlightened foreigners” shtick didn’t work out for the Shah in Iran, or the PDPA in Afghanistan, and it won’t work in the Arab world either.

  152. 152
    samara morgan says:

    @Zandar: awww..does that mean a time out or a full on banning?

  153. 153
    samara morgan says:

    @Chris:

    The whole “enlightened dictatorship imposing enlightened rules and propped up by enlightened foreigners” shtick didn’t work out for the Shah in Iran, or the PDPA in Afghanistan, and it won’t work in the Arab world either.

    Searching for Ataturk didn’t even work in Turkey.
    Since the military junta lost power Erdogan and the AKP have been trying to vote shariah back into the turkish constitution every two years.

  154. 154
    rb says:

    @gene108: Right, I agree in principle. It’s just that entropy dictates that there are 1000 ways to screw it up for every 1 effective strategy. And there is a classic chicken / egg dilemma. For a people without a smidgen of power, can external pressure do anything at all? Is it possible that under certain circumstances an external nudge is absolutely necessary? Or is a domestic movement with some legitimate momentum necessary before external pressure can do anything but backfire? I tend toward the latter interpretation, but I woudn’t pretend there’s a simple answer (or one universally applicable).

  155. 155
    Mino says:

    @Chris: Kemalism has lasted quite a long time, however.

  156. 156
    Corner Stone says:

    @RP: In what respect, Charlie?
    Let’s talk about me some more.

  157. 157
    Brachiator says:

    @rb:

    I don’t think all of the wailing and grief at Kim Jong Il’s death was calculated.

    There were reports, disputed by the authorities, that North Korea sent people to camps whoe were insufficiently sad over the death of their leader. And international organizations estimate that the North Korean regime holds approximately 200,000 political prisoners.

    It is not being born in an oppressive regime that keeps people down, it is the active authoritarian suppression of human rights that keeps people down.

    @Svensker:

    General rise of fascism helped along greatly by the War on Terrah. Doesn’t explain everything, but it’s part of it.

    Still, the point is that many of the most horrible suppressions of women’s rights preceded the War on Terrah. You also appear to be ignoring the wars and conflicts that seek to impose religious fundamentalism (not all of this arises from Muslim nations).

    And among the sickest, most file expressions of the disdain for women made politically expedient, are stories like this:

    The 18-year-old woman, prosecutors say, was gang-raped by three young men, who tried to cover up their crime by strangling her with a cord, wrapping her naked body in a blanket and dumping her at an abandoned construction site — where they set her on fire.
    __
    Amazingly, Oksana Makar survived.
    __
    But her quest for justice seemed doomed after the police released two of the three suspects whose parents had political connections in the provincial Ukrainian region.
    __
    Her case galvanized Ukrainians fed up with the official corruption that allows people with money and connections to avoid punishment, whether for violating traffic laws or more serious crimes. The protection also extends to their children, known here as “mazhory,” roughly translated as rich brats.

  158. 158
    Chris says:

    @Mino:

    Not without a lot of controversy and pushback. But it also helps that it’s a homegrown movement, rather than something imposed by foreigners.

  159. 159
    mainmati says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease: Actually, not true. Neither Tunisia, Libya or Egypt are non-democratic theocracies. It is true that the leading political parties in Tunisia and Egypt are Islamist but, in the case of Tunisia, they are operating in a democratic framework. In Egypt, the military is in charge of the acting Presidency. The parliament is not trying, at least yet, to impose theocracy and, in any event, is not likely to do so. The Imams in Shi’a Islam have a much more explicit political role than do their counterparts in Sunni majority countries. This is not to say that you wouldn’t ever see the imposition of Shari’ah Law in Egypt or elsewhere but it is pretty unlikely as it would lead to tremendous popular resistance, especially since Shari’ah Law is really impractical for running a modern state. Remember, theocracy is a form of government; it is not the same as religious law. Also too, Libya is not a theocracy; it is just an unstable collection of tribes right now.

  160. 160
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @samara morgan: You don’t read what other people write, do you? You just scan for words and phrases and then fill in the rest from your own psycho-drama.

  161. 161
    samara morgan says:

    @rb: no it isn’t…..false equivalence.
    unless you are talking about the holocaust of fetuses and embryos like a conservatard, there is no death and destruction like invasion and occupation.
    certainly, the fundies would see it as meddling, even as an attack. you might see KSA outlawing the import of birth control pills like they outlaw bibles.
    but muslim women could then decide for themselves. like the muslimahs currently protesting against anti-driving laws. it would make the islamic governments look stupid and backwards.

    its a good strat. you just don’t like it because i proposed it.
    its subtle and subversive, and gets away from trying to impose western cultural mores on islamic cultures because they are “superior” in the treatment of women.
    because that is a nonstarter.
    the end result will be the mullahs and the imams taking rush limbaughs side.
    ;)

  162. 162
    mainmati says:

    @samara morgan: Not “back into the Constitution”; it never was in the Constitution and it was never the ruling body of law under the Ottoman Empire either.

  163. 163
    samara morgan says:

    @Mino: yup, 90 years.
    but in a way, it empowered the fundamentalists.
    And it lasted for 90 years because of Ataturk….and there was only one Ataturk.
    The secularists are losing ground every year.
    But even Turkey has had enough of Israel at this point, and post-Mubarak Egypt is basically a powder keg on Israel.

  164. 164
    tjmn says:

    @samara morgan:

    You know, dear, name-calling is not nice. Do you wonder why whenever you post something the thread reminds me of bullying? Exhibit A– and I quote “oreo,” unquote.

  165. 165
    samara morgan says:

    @mainmati: pre-Ataturk, shariah was the rule of law.
    Do you deny that?

  166. 166
    samara morgan says:

    @tjmn: i lost my temper. Zandar is not an oreo…but he is look a squirrel stupid! on this.
    oh, like people don’t call me names, lol.

  167. 167
    rb says:

    @Brachiator: There were reports, disputed by the authorities, that North Korea sent people to camps whoe were insufficiently sad over the death of their leader.

    I do not doubt it.


    It is not being born in an oppressive regime that keeps people down, it is the active authoritarian suppression of human rights that keeps people down.

    These do not seem separable to me, because the people themselves can (must?) be made tools of their own oppression, and will remain so even after the authoritarian superstructure has begun to crack and collapse.

    With N Korea I suppose it is plausible that govt control is SO extreme that true believers are unnecessary: there are no willing citizen collaborators, that every act of citizen ratting out citizen is fear based rather than sincere.

    But I tend to think that in most cases, brainwashing and enlistment of the people as fanatical followers of the cause and enemies of the foe (real or imagined) is critical to the maintenance of authoritarian power. Think STASI, etc.

  168. 168
    samara morgan says:

    @mainmati: currently article 2 the egyptian constitution.

    Article 2 reads as follows: Islam is the Religion of the State, Arabic is its official language, and the principal source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence (Sharia).

    this is not democracy.

    Iraq has shariah in its constitution, and Big Bully America couldn’t do a damned thing about it.

  169. 169
    samara morgan says:

    @mainmati: and tunisia, libya, and egypt all have shariah in their constitutions.
    so does Iraq.
    So does Pakistan.
    so technically they are all theocracies.
    ;)

  170. 170
    rb says:

    @samara morgan: its a good strat. you just don’t like it because i proposed it.

    LOL. You have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. You are in my professional wheelhouse on this one. Get over yourself. But thanks for the laugh.

    its subtle and subversive

    It is the latter, but it is in no way the former. If there is one thing the fight over birth control is NOT, that thing is “subtle.”

    Literally everyone recognizes that control over reproductive freedom is key. This is why the authorities battle so strongly to keep it / get it back.

  171. 171
    John Cole says:

    Samara Morgan is now banned for racist insults.

  172. 172
    Chris says:

    @John Cole:

    THANK YOU!

  173. 173
    tjmn says:

    Test to see if I’m not banned. Used the not nice word in quotes to see if she would tone it down.

  174. 174
    tjmn says:

    Thank you for not banning me.

  175. 175
    Amir Khalid says:

    I hesitate to wade in, knowing all too well how m_c will welcome me to this thread.

    Mona Eltahawy paints an accurate and damning picture of a woman’s lot in the Arab world. But what has the Arab spring been about? Not about women and their place in Arab/Muslim society, as such. It’s been about misrule and political oppression by the man at the top. The remedies sought are changing him for some more democratic form of rule. So I’m not sure you should say that the Arab Spring “failed” to improve the lot of Arab women.

    There’s a mindset among many fundie Islamists (not just Arab ones, mind you): The Prophet lived in the 7th century. He is the best example of a Muslim, and every Muslim should live the way as he did. Therefore Muslims, even today, should live as if they were in the 7th century. And that includes the tribal culture, misogyny and all, of the 7th century Arab world — while disregarding that Islamic tradition holds the Prophet was a progressive on women’s rights (among other things) by the standard of his day.

    Mona Eltahawy is only pointing out the obvious when she says that the Arab Spring will have failed as a political revolution without radical change in Arab society itself. The tribe will meet a new boss, same as the old boss. Recapturing the Golden Age of Islam, when Muslims had the most advanced society in the Middle East and Europe, will remain a pipe dream because its social, cultural, and intellectual progressiveness, renounced toward its end, is still renounced. This is what must change, in everything about the Arab world; but such change can of course only come from within.

    And to m_c: Sayang, telling well-meaning non-Muslims and non-Arabs to quit the crotch-sniffing and butt out of Muslim countries’ bidness is just about the least constructive thing you could say. While direct action from outside can’t fix what’s wrong with Arab societies, trying to understand how they work and what’s going on in them is never wrong. In fact it’s useful and necessary, if the West is ever to understand what it can do to help them be more like the 21st century.

  176. 176
    Svensker says:

    @Brachiator:

    You also appear to be ignoring the wars and conflicts that seek to impose religious fundamentalism (not all of this arises from Muslim nations).

    No, I’m not. I’m just pointing out the our wars in the Middle East have helped fundamentalists both there and at home. And if you look at the history of the US/Israeli meddling in the Middle East, we/they have done our best to get rid of secular leaders, going back to Nasser.

    I’m not blaming US meddling for all wrongs, but we haven’t helped. By pointing that out I’m not ignoring all other causes. Just sayin.

  177. 177
    Amir Khalid says:

    @John Cole:
    (Sigh.) I know she’s been taunting you and taunting you to do it, and that she richly deserves it. But still, dang it.

  178. 178
    Catsy says:

    @El Cid:

    There’s a difference between asserting that some particular imagined ‘intervention’ may improve the lives of the intended beneficiaries—women residing within a particular nation-state—and those lives actually being improved.

    I never made any such assertion.

    I simply pointed out that just because human rights abuses are a such cultural norm that even the victims might defend the status quo neither makes that status quo right nor obligates us to respect those human rights abuses as a mere difference of culture.

    @rb:

    That said, when you’re brought up from birth to think your place is as a supplicant, it’s difficult to assert otherwise. People living under systems of domination have understandable difficulty keeping their moral perspective outside those systems.

    Thank you. Exactly my point.

  179. 179
    Paul in KY says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay: Iran is probably a more educated country, overall, than Egypt or KSA.

  180. 180
    Paul in KY says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay: Iran is probably a more educated country, overall, than Egypt or KSA.

  181. 181
    Paul in KY says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay: Iran is probably a more educated country, overall, than Egypt or KSA.

  182. 182
    Paul in KY says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay: Iran is probably a more educated country, overall, than Egypt or KSA.

  183. 183
    Chris says:

    @Svensker:

    I’m just pointing out the our wars in the Middle East have helped fundamentalists both there and at home. And if you look at the history of the US/Israeli meddling in the Middle East, we/they have done our best to get rid of secular leaders, going back to Nasser.

    I’m not blaming US meddling for all wrongs, but we haven’t helped. By pointing that out I’m not ignoring all other causes. Just sayin.

    Yep. Forget Afghanistan – our policy in the Arab world for most of the Cold War was to support backward, reactionary fundamentalists centered around Saudi Arabia, against the more progressive Arab Nationalist leaders centered around Nasser. (The Yemeni civil war was largely a proxy war between Riyadh and Cairo, or in other words, between Washington and Moscow).

  184. 184
    gene108 says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    I think the bigger issue, if we are to look into the Arab Spring’s changes for women, is that are there any men jumping aboard the feminist bandwagon?

    Any sort of big social change requires a buy in from other groups, in this case the other group is men.

    The Civil Rights movement in the U.S. had its share of white supporters, for example.

  185. 185
    Paul in KY says:

    Sorry bout multiple post. please delete bottom 3.

  186. 186
    dj spellchecka says:

    npr

    Mona Eltahawy talked with Morning Edition’s Steve Inskeep about her essay, and she addressed the question at the center of her piece. He asked her plainly why she thinks Muslim religious conservatives obsess over women in this way.

    Eltahawy said women are “vectors” of culture and religion.

    “Our wombs are the future,” Mona Eltahawy said. “And if you don’t control the future by controlling women’s bodies, you’ve lost control generally.”

    ———-

    our fundamentalists would agree with their fundamentalists about that

  187. 187
    Amir Khalid says:

    @gene108:
    Quite right about change requiring that men buy into the need for it. I think that more than a groundswell in the male populace, as welcome as that would be, it has to be men in the right places — ranking princes in the House of Saud, politicians, eminent religious scholars and Sharia jurists — because those are the guys who have the most say in these very top-down societies. And there, of course, lies the difficulty: because these guys are the Establishment, they will be the ones least motivated to change things.

  188. 188
    Tone In DC says:

    @John Cole:

    AMEN.

  189. 189
    Baron Jrod of Keeblershire says:

    @John Cole: There is a God, and his name is COLE.

  190. 190
    Paula says:

    One of the prime loci of culture and authenticity are the bodies of women.

    State politics and revolutionary politics as practiced — while not inherently misogynist — often don’t take into account the experience of those underrepresented/out of power, which women are, historically speaking.

    So you get a lot of policy from fundamentalists controlling women (as one of the roots of culture and therefore the root of any putative state/revolution) that isn’t actually in the best interest of women.

    Amir Khalid is right in saying that there is nothing new in Eltahawy’s article. The true freedom will come when it is provided for all. The practice of calling for freedom from oppression while keeping segments of your population bound historically collapses under contradiction.

    But, I agree with m_c on one thing: we should tend to our own fucking garden.

    The latest trend in attacking women’s rights via policy here in the U.S. is but an episode in a long story of state actors and civil society still Not Getting what feminism is about. If the United States fully understood what it meant to support women, we would not be getting into pointless wars with incoherent plans about nation building. Imperialism is de facto anti-woman. If we were better able to produce a feminist state at home, our state’s possible responses to the plight of women abroad would be less problematic.

  191. 191
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Paula: Tending to our own garden != ignoring things that happen elsewhere.

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