Bleat bleat

This is an irritating piece of crap.

By Allah, we’re an arrogant lot. By “we”, I mean modern western feminists, a group among which I am generally proud to be included. Except when we’re full of ourselves. Western feminism is not the only ideology exquisitely sensible of gender injustice.

It’s not clear what that is supposed to mean – feminism is universalist, not ‘Western,’ and there are of course feminists all over the globe. But if Geraldine Brooks means that feminism itself is not the only (or best) way of talking and thinking about and demanding gender justice – well I just have no idea what she means, because talk of gender justice is feminism, and vice versa, so what other ‘ideology’ would there be?

Nor are western feminists the only ones willing or able to speak up about it. Muslim women have been doing this themselves for decades, loudly and often effectively.

That’s interesting, but ‘western feminists’ don’t claim to be the only ones willing or able to speak up about it, and we’re thrilled when non-‘Western’ (which here apparently means Muslim, which is a tad simplistic) women speak up. (And when they do speak up – they’re doing a feminist thing. That’s the ‘ideology’ that’s in play. There’s no point in looking around for a different one, because that’s the only one there is.)

In Iran, on the other hand, a young generation of Koranically-literate Islamic revolutionary women sparked a national conversation on personal status issues, using Islamic jurisprudence rather than legislative measures. By educating women in the use of Islamically sanctioned pre-nuptial agreements, for example, an Iranian woman can secure for herself the right to divorce in set circumstances, to continue study or work after marriage and to establish her share of property if the marriage is dissolved.

Oh wow – so if she uses an Islamic pre-nup she can get some very limited rights, and as for just being entitled to such rights and more simply because she’s an adult human – well that’s just some pesky Western ideology, so she doesn’t need it – according to Geraldine Brooks, who is all right Jack.

What I am recommending is a little humility. Western feminists with a genuine desire to raise the status of oppressed women in Afghanistan or elsewhere should call their nearest mosque and make an appointment to talk to the sisterhood there…[I]n the majority of mosques they will learn of efforts long afoot to reclaim the positive messages about women’s rights in the Koran, messages obscured for too long by patriarchy and oppressive social customs. It is those efforts that we western feminists should support if we care about the women, and not the sweet sound of our own politically correct bleatings.

Our own politically correct bleatings – politically correct where, exactly? In many circles what Brooks says is far more politically correct than what universalist feminists say, so bleatings yourself, comrade.

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