The spirit of Tahrir

Apr 25th, 2012 4:02 pm | By

Update: April 27: It may be that this is a fake. There are murmurs to that effect but I haven’t found anything authoritative yet. I’ll update if I do.

Be careful before you read this. Don’t be drinking wine or coffee or lemonade while you read. Put down anything fragile. Close the windows. If you’re at work, brace yourself, so that no flurries of obscenity burst out before you can stop them.

Egypt’s Islamist-dominated parliament is considering two new laws

…one that would legalize the marriage of girls starting from the age of 14 and the other that permits a husband to have sex with his dead wife within the six hours following her death.

Don’t look at me. I did warn you.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Nicer, sweeter, less outspoken

Apr 25th, 2012 12:06 pm | By

Anna Quindlen was on Fresh Air yesterday, and she said something I’ve been pondering a good deal lately.

As a little girl, Anna Quindlen wasn’t afraid of a whole lot. She frequently got into trouble and occasionally shot off her mouth. But as she grew older, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer became what she calls a “girl imitation.”

“[I became] nicer, sweeter, less outspoken [and] less combative,” she tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross. “All of the qualities that you need to be a good opinion columnist tend to be qualities that aren’t valued in women. And I think that was a bit of a challenge for me when I became an op-ed columnist [for The New York Times] and has been a challenge for many of us who do that as a living.”

I think this is related to the whole “women in atheism” question…and the misogyny in atheism question, too.

Atheism by its nature is “combative” – at least, active or outspoken or explicit or “movement” atheism is. Movement atheism is naturally combative. This could be a big part of the reason it took the movement so god damn long to realize it was forgetting to invite women to its parties. Women aren’t seen as combative.  All of the qualities that you need to be a good movement atheist tend to be qualities that aren’t valued in women. Implicit stereotypes probably made women as a category seem like the wrong kind of people to invite to the parties because women are too nice and sweet to combat god, not outspoken and combative enough to pick fights with god. That could be why male atheists* think of atheism as a boys’ club and something that women will wreck if they’re allowed into it, because they’ll put up curtains and forbid swearing and try to sign a peace treaty with god.

*Those who do

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



“A selective fear of Islamists”

Apr 24th, 2012 5:58 pm | By

Oh the stupid…It just gets worse.

Samia Errazzouki also hated Eltahawy’s article. And she gave us this gem of wisdom as part of her argument:

Eltahawy  points to “hate” as the source and cause of the injustices committed against Arab women. She scapegoats the rise of the Islamists, but Maya Mikdashi debunked that argument a couple months ago:

“Gender equality and justice should be a focus of progressive politics no matter who is in power. A selective fear of Islamists when it comes to women’s and LGBTQ rights has more to do with Islamophobia than a genuine concern with gender justice. Unfortunately, Islamists do not have an exclusive license to practice patriarchy and gender discrimination/oppression in the region. The secular state has been doing it fairly adequately for the last half a century.”

You have got to be kidding.

Does “the secular state” stone women to death? Does it imprison or stone rape victims while letting their rapists go free and unstoned? Does it force women to wear a bandage over their head and neck on pain of whipping or a heavy fine? Does it arrest them for driving a car? Does it throw acid on girls on their way to school?

Is “the secular state” really on a par with Islamists? Is it really much of a muchness whether you live in Afghanistan or France? Pakistan or Germany? Iran or Canada? Algeria or the US? Somalia or Sweden?

Give me a fucking break.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



So comrades come rally

Apr 24th, 2012 5:34 pm | By

I’m going to look some more at Nahed Eltantawy’s anger at Mona Eltahawy’s article about misogyny in the Middle East, because there’s something really sinister about it.

I refuse to be lumped into this monolithic group of oppressed, abused and hated victims. Arab women’s problems are not the same across the board. Even within one country like Egypt, what I see as a problem, might not be the most pressing issue for the woman next door. So, I refuse to have Eltahawy talk on my behalf as if she is the expert who can accurately identify my plight.

It’s as if she thinks Eltahawy is doing something bad to her…is in fact oppressing her and abusing her and making her a victim. But why? Eltahawy is angry about things that are done to women in Egypt and Saudi Arabia as well as elsewhere in the Middle East. She doesn’t talk on Eltantawy’s behalf; she doesn’t claim to identify her plight; she describes abuses of women’s rights. Why does that make Eltantawy so angry? What does she want instead? Silence on the subject? Why would she want that? Silence on oppression and abuse is easy to have, but what good does it do? Silence on oppression and abuse allow the oppression and abuse to go on happening. We know what that’s like; we see that happening all the time; we see the aftermath; we think it’s terrible, we feel shame and horror, we say it must never happen again.

The people of Sarajevo got plenty of silence on oppression and abuse for a long time. The people of Rwanda got silence and inaction when they could have used something else. The abused imprisoned children and women in Ireland got luxurious, lavish amounts of silence on oppression and abuse for decade after decade, and it wasn’t what they wanted – they wanted noise and attention and an end to the oppression and abuse.

What is this idiotic and callous idea that reporting human rights violations is an insult to the potential victims? Where did this come from? It seems to be a confused version of anti-colonialism, but when the confusion is so deep that it sees Mona Eltahawy as Othering Egyptian women – well things have gone wrong.

Everything, from virginity tests, to sexual deprivation, female genital mutilation, sexual harassment and child marriage, is included in this article to produce a column that will surely be welcomed by many Western feminists and anti-Islamists, who for years have been telling us that Muslim women are weak, oppressed victims of misogyny and rigid Islamic rules that force them to hide behind their veils.

That, when you look at it closely, is a revolting thing to say. We “Western feminists” welcome news of finger-rape, FGM, and child marriage? The hell we do! We don’t welcome it; we pay attention to it. We should pay attention to it. Everyone should. Internationalism is a good thing. Human rights are a good thing. Finger rape and FGM and child marriage are not good things.

We don’t think Muslim women are “weak” any more than we think the Tutsis are weak, Irish women and children are weak, Iranian gays are weak, and so on. If someone has a gun to my head, it makes no difference how strong I am.

We really need to resist this hateful idea that human rights are purely local and that everyone should ignore any abuses that happen beyond their borders. Eltantawy probably didn’t mean to suggest that, but she did. She needs to think harder about the subject.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



You gonna believe Mona Eltahawy or the grand mufti?

Apr 24th, 2012 12:53 pm | By

Nahed Eltantawy responds to Mona Eltahawy’s article on woman-hating in the Middle East. She hates it.

I felt deeply offended and insulted by Mona Eltahawy’s latest article in Foreign Policy, titled Why Do They Hate Us?   I follow Eltahawy’s columns quite regularly and I accept many of her arguments, even if I do not agree with her views on Islam and veiling. But for her to claim that “they” hate Arab women is in my view complete nonsense…Everything, from virginity tests, to sexual deprivation, female genital mutilation, sexual harassment and child marriage, is included in this article to produce a column that will surely be welcomed by many Western feminists and anti-Islamists, who for years have been telling us that Muslim women are weak, oppressed victims of misogyny and rigid Islamic rules that force them to hide behind their veils.

Meaning what? We shouldn’t worry about women stoned to death, girls taken out of school and forced into marriage, girls who are held down while their genitals are sliced off, women whipped for not wearing a burqa? We should just say “that’s their culture, it’s none of our business” and go on our way rejoicing? We should be insular and selfish and indifferent?

But for many Arab women (I say many based on the negative reaction Eltahawy’s column has already stirred), this column is offensive and is nothing but a combination of old cultural practices and undemocratic government actions that are described in a way to represent women as the Oriental Other, weak, helpless and submissive, oppressed by Islam and the Muslim male, this ugly, barbaric monster.

Ah yes, naughty Orientalist Mona Eltahawy, representing Arab women as the Other. How does that work, exactly?

…some of the evidence Eltahawy relies on, such as virginity tests, criminal codes, etc are problems of undemocratic governing and have nothing to do with hate of women. These are problems that also impact men. There are numerous accounts of police brutality in Egypt, where men have been beaten, sexually abused or beaten to death. Have we forgotten about Khaled Said, the young Alexandrian, whose brutal death sparked the Jan25 Revolution? Or how about Essam Atta, the young man who was tortured to death in prison? Why do we always have to focus on violence against women?

“Virginity tests” in which cops shove fingers up women have nothing to do with hate of women? Really? As for that final question – words fail me.

I find Eltahawy’s discussion of sexual harassment also problematic. Eltahawy, very candidly and on more than one occasion, has described in detail her ordeal with Egyptian riot police back in November 2011. She explained how she was groped everywhere by a number of police officers while in Cairo. Yet in this Foreign Policy column, she adds a new detail; she informs her audience that she was groped earlier that day by a fellow protester in Tahrir Square! But while Eltahawy details her groping ordeal, she fails to mention the heroic Egyptian women and men who are fighting this epidemic. There is no denial that sexual harassment is a disgusting and sick problem in Egypt that needs to be eradicated. Yet, there’s also no denial that there are gutsy women who are already engaged in a battle against this epidemic.

Boy, that’s a devastating rejoinder. Yes, sexual harassment is a disgusting and sick problem in Egypt, but somehow Mona is naughty for saying so. Why?
Meanwhile, in woman-loving Saudi Arabia, the grand mufti says girls are ready for marriage at age ten. Yes, ten.

A girl is ready to marry at 10 or 12 years of age according to Islam, London-based Al Hayat reported Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Al Sheikh as saying, adding that Islamic law is not repressive to women.
“Those who call for raising the age of marriage to 25 are absolutely mistaken,”Al Sheikh said in a lecture at the faculty of Imam Mohamed bin Saud Islamic University in Riyadh.
He added: “Our mothers and grandmothers got married when they were barely 12. Good upbringing makes a girl ready to perform all marital duties at that age.”

Oh yeah? Can good upbringing make her wide enough to bear children without getting a fistula? No, it can’t, so enormous numbers of women have ruined lives because they leak piss or shit or both and everybody shuns them.

And then there’s the little matter of education, and being able to choose something to do with her life other than or in addition to domestic work. “Good upbringing” may make it possible for her to do all the housework at age ten, but it doesn’t make it desirable.
And then there’s the fact that few ten-year-old girls want to have sex, especially with grown men.
But the grand mufti’s indifference to the well-being and flourishing of girls and women has nothing to do with hatred – oh heavens no. It would be Orientalist to say that.

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How did that get there?!

Apr 24th, 2012 12:09 pm | By

There’s a new group in Tunisia, Equality and Parity, that is protesting the wearing of the niqab.

Equality and Parity promised that they will plan manifestations and sit-ins if women’s rights are violated in Tunisia. The group lobbies against denigrating women’s representation in decision-making – whether it be in the political, social, cultural, or economic sphere. It also promotes the full citizenship of women and total eradication of gender discrimination.

It put together a rather cryptic video that looks like a campaign for the niqab but is apparently intended as a campaign against it. Maybe it just seems cryptic to me because I’m not familiar with Tunisian advertising.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAaRXO_Lo74

 

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Reportedly offended by

Apr 24th, 2012 11:22 am | By

Egypt.

A court in Egypt has upheld the three-month prison sentence given to the leading comic actor, Adel Imam, for insulting Islam in his films and plays.

Is that an accurate translation? Is that really what the charge is? “Insulting” Islam? How do you “insult” an abstraction? In English, at least, you don’t. You don’t “insult” capitalism or advertising or libertarianism or computer programming or socialism. You can only insult people. The word implies reception and reaction, which imply consciousness, and fairly elaborate consciousness at that. You can only insult something with a mind. Insult requires Theory of Mind.

The case brought against Imam by Asran Mansour, a lawyer with ties to Islamist groups, accused the actor of frequently mocking the authorities and politicians in his films and plays, and offending Islam and its symbols.

Imam’s movies regularly top the Egyptian box office and the types of roles he plays have varied enormously across his career.

Mr Mansour was reportedly offended by the film Al-Irhabi (The Terrorist), in which Imam plays a radical Islamist; the play Al-Zaeem (The Leader), a comedy satirising Middle Eastern autocrats; and the film Morgan Ahmed Morgan, which sees a rich businessman stand for parliament.

Egypt must have an incredibly flawed legal system, for such a case to make sense. One, why should the courts care what Mr Mansour was “offended” by; two, actors in movies are not necessarily responsible for the content of the movies anyway. Three, fuck off.

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Poke the hatred in its eye

Apr 23rd, 2012 5:04 pm | By

Mona Eltahawy pulls no punches in her Foreign Policy article on the hatred of women in the Middle East. She’s pissed, man.

I could find you a host of crackpots sounding off on Woman the Insatiable Temptress, but I’m staying mainstream with  Qaradawi, who commands a huge audience on and off the satellite channels. Although he says female genital mutilation (which he calls “circumcision,” a common euphemism that tries to put the practice on a par with male circumcision) is not “obligatory,” you will also find this priceless observation in one of his books: “I personally support this under the current circumstances in the modern world. Anyone who thinks that circumcision is the best way to protect his daughters should do it,” he wrote, adding, “The moderate opinion is in favor of practicing circumcision to reduce temptation.”

Notice that it’s the man who gets to decide; notice that he gets to decide for his daughters; notice that the daughters have no say; notice that this reduction of “temptation” is the elimination of sexual arousal; ponder the apparent lack of need to reduce male “temptation” by a similar form of amputation.

Just as regime-appointed clerics lull the poor across the region with promises of justice — and nubile virgins — in the next world rather than a reckoning with the corruption and nepotism of the dictator in this life, so women are silenced by a deadly combination of men who hate them while also claiming to have God firmly on their side.

Exactly. The religion makes it all ok, because after all, it’s religion – don’t look at me, it’s God who made the rules.

What hope can there be for women in the new Egyptian parliament, dominated as it is by men stuck in the seventh century? A quarter of those parliamentary seats are now held by Salafis, who believe that mimicking the original ways of the Prophet Mohammed is an appropriate prescription for modern life. Last fall, when fielding female candidates, Egypt’s Salafi Nour Party ran a flower in place of each woman’s face. Women are not to be seen or heard — even their voices are a temptation — so there they are in the Egyptian parliament, covered from head to toe in black and never uttering a word.

That I didn’t know. It’s…pathetic.

SO WHAT IS TO BE DONE?

First we stop pretending. Call out the hate for what it is. Resist cultural relativism and know that even in countries undergoing revolutions and uprisings, women will remain the cheapest bargaining chips. You — the outside world — will be told that it’s our “culture” and “religion” to do X, Y, or Z to women. Understand that whoever deemed it as such was never a woman. The Arab uprisings may have been sparked by an Arab man — Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire in desperation — but they will be finished by Arab women.

We are more than our headscarves and our hymens. Listen to those of us fighting. Amplify the voices of the region and poke the hatred in its eye. There was a time when being an Islamist was the most vulnerable political position in Egypt and Tunisia. Understand that now it very well might be Woman. As it always has been.

 

 

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What you need to know

Apr 23rd, 2012 4:29 pm | By

A reader sent me a link to this Dear Daughter letter.

Dear daughter -

You should know that you are hated.

It’s true; she needs to know that.

There is nothing worse than being a girl. I’m not saying this as a former girl- I quite liked being a girl. I’m saying this from the POV of the entire rest of the world. There was a lovely feminist TED talk – A Call To Men – where a man discussed his conversation with a twelve year old boy, and the boy said he would rather die than be called a girl. And the man thought, Good Lord, how do these boys view girls, if being compared to them is the worst thing in the world?  

I watched that talk – it’s very good – and actually what the boy said is that it would destroy him to be called a girl. That’s even worse, in a way. It’s not at all surprising though. I already know that’s what boys and men think, unless they’re consciously feminist. I see and hear it all the time. I have a corrupt taste for shows on the Discover channel about people doing backbreaking dangerous work in the worst possible conditions, like fishing the Bering Sea while huge waves crash over the deck every few minutes, so I see lots of “You do that like a girrrrrl” followed by loud jeering laughter. But then I heard the same thing when I was a laborer for the parks department. It’s familiar. All-male workplaces are awash in contempt for women.

Intelligent design? Don’t make me laugh.

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Delusions of choice

Apr 23rd, 2012 12:05 pm | By

And now I’ll spell out exactly why I think the Collective Response is so wrong and bad.

The hijab is a statement of female subordination, and it’s also a statement of loyalty or obedience to a ferociously misogynist and coercive religion. Some people are “offended” to be told that. It doesn’t follow that it’s not true.

Women who wear the hijab without being forced are making a mistake, just as nuns are making a mistake in being nuns. Both sets of women are endorsing a religion that systematically and explicitly bars them from leadership positions in the religion and declares them subordinate and inferior overall. That’s a mistake. It’s not “racist” to say that.

The Collective Response claims that wearing the hijab is a matter of choice.

What we do find deeply problematic, however, is the questioning of women’s choice to wear the niqab and the presumption that this decision is rooted in a “false consciousness.”

To us, it is deeply troubling to be patronized by a person who insists the hijab is never a choice made of free will.

Note that in the first mention they say “niqab” – which takes their wrongness to a whole new level. They said in a comment that this was a slip of the tongue (some slip!) but they decided to leave it “in hopes of sparking a multilayered discussion that engages understandings of the hijab as well as the niqab.” This just underlines their fundamental frivolity and callousness. Yes let’s also spark a multilayered discussion that engages understandings of stoning to death and girls married off at age 9 and girls’ genitalia carved up like a roasted duck and girls and women murdered for saying No. Let’s treat it all as a “site” for “multilayered discussion” of “intersectionality” and perhaps another publication in The Journal of Pious Horseshit. Yes let’s have a fun detached multilayered chat about women wearing cloth bags over their heads with only a tiny slit in front of the eyes.

Moving on…They find it problematic that Wilde-Blavatsky questions women’s “choice” to wear the niqab and the hijab. Really? It’s clear from their use of jargon that they consider themselves highly sophisticated, but what is sophisticated about taking the notion of choice and free will as transparent and unproblematic? What do they think they mean? How would it be possible to make a free choice to wear the hijab? Free how, free in what sense? Free of influence of any kind?

The idea is ridiculous. We don’t do anything social that way. We certainly don’t wear clothes free of influence – our “choices” are shaped by what’s available and by what’s “normal” – no matter what choices we make, they’re shaped by constraints of that kind. If we “choose” to wear a leopard-pattern loincloth, that choice is shaped by various influences just as a choice to wear jeans and a sweatshirt is – and just as a choice to wear the hijab is.

And the hijab is what it is and not something else. It’s not a baseball cap or a scrunchie. It’s not secular. It has the meaning it has, and there is no “choice” that women can make that alters that fact. It’s a religious garment, with an extensive history of coercion and even violence – a lot of violence – that can’t be erased just by calling it a choice. Imagine a Jew in Amsterdam or Paris in 1946 making a “choice” to wear a yellow star. No “choice” could have erased the meaning of the yellow star. No “choice” can erase the meaning of the hijab now.

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A note was left

Apr 23rd, 2012 11:13 am | By

To expand on one part of the Adele Wilde-Blavatsky and the Collective Response issue…

Wilde-Blavatsky said at the beginning of her article

Last month, an American-born Iraqi woman, Shaima Alawadi, was viciously murdered in the United States. According to reports, her daughter stated that a racist note was left outside the family home before the attack. Alawadi’s death came shortly after another allegedly racially-motivated murder, that of African-American man Trayvon Martin.

The Collective Response treated that account of the murder of Alawi as true. But is it? I wanted to explore that question yesterday but I didn’t have time, and overnight BenSix provided a helpful link in a comment.

The story sounded wrong to me from the outset – if it were a racist attack, why would it single out one particular woman inside a house? That’s not how racist attacks usually go – unless the one particular person is an activist or organizer or the like. Racist attacks on random people to “send a message” target people on the street or everyone in a house that is torched or fire-bombed. Going into a house to kill one person sounds like a very odd kind of racist attack.

And it turns out there are reasons to think that’s not what it was.

But records obtained by NBCSanDiego revealed that Alawadi was having problems with her husband and daughter. Investigators said Alawadi was planning to divorce her husband and move to Texas.

The warrants also show that the victim’s daughter Fatima was  upset about the family’s plan to have her marry one of her cousins. Police found a text message on the teenage daughter’s cell phone, at the time she was being  interviewed by detectives. The text read: “The detective will find  out. Tell him ‘[can't] talk’.”

Records also show a possible suspect was near the house on  the day of the crime. A neighbor gave police a description of a possible suspect  spotted running from the crime scene.

The suspect is described as a “darker skinned boy in his late  teens or early 20s … with a skinny build, carrying a donut shaped cardboard  box.” He was seen at 10:30 a.m., about 45 minutes before Alawadi’s daughter called 911.

Records reveal that on Nov. 3 last year, Fatima and  21-year-old Rawnaq Yacub were contacted by police for possibly having sex in a parked car. Officers contacted Alawadii, who went to the incident location.  Alwadi was driving her daughter away from the area when Fatima said “I love you  mom,” then jumped out of the car while it was moving at 35 mph.

Fatima was transported to the hospital with multiple  injuries, including a possible broken arm, according to police. The 17-year-old  told paramedics and hospital staff that she was being forced to marry her cousin and did not want to do so, which is why she jumped out of the car. Fatima  refused to talk to police at the hospital, according to the documents.

Since the March 21 incident, police have asked a judge for  permission to search the car of Alawadi’s husband, Kassim Alhimidi.

So, possibly nothing like the Trayvon Martin case at all. Possibly not in any sense a racist attack.

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You know what you can do with your collective response

Apr 22nd, 2012 5:04 pm | By

Maryam points out, in agreement with Adele Wilde-Blavatsky, that the hoodie and the hijab are not the same. Wilde-Blavatsky published an article arguing that on the website The Feminist Wire on April 13.

What I take issue with here is the equating of the hoodie and the hijab as sources of ethnic identity and pride. The hijab, which is discriminatory and rooted in men’s desire to control women’s appearance and sexuality, is not a choice for the majority of women who wear it. The hoodie, on the other hand, is a choice for everyone who wears it. The history and origin of these two items of clothing and what they represent could not be more different; like comparing the crippling footbindings of Chinese women with a `Made in China’ Nike trainer.

This is not neo-colonialism either. Muslim feminists have spoken out against the burqa and hijab, and even supported the French ban in schools. Fadela Amara explained her support for France’s ban:

The veil is the visible symbol of the subjugation of women, and therefore has no place in the mixed, secular spaces of France’s public school system.

When some feminists began defending the headscarf on the grounds of “tradition”, Amara vehemently disagreed:

They define liberty and equality according to what  colour your skin is. They won’t denounce forced marriages or female genital mutilation, because, they  say, it’s tradition. It’s nothing more than neocolonialism. It’s not tradition, it’s archaic. French feminists are totally contradictory. When Algerian women fought against wearing the headscarf in Algeria, French feminists supported them. But when it’s some young girl in a French suburb school, they don’t.

Shock-horror – she actually said the hijab is rooted in men’s desire to control women’s appearance and sexuality. She actually quoted Fadela Amara saying it is the visible symbol of the subjugation of women. This must not be! So a group of women signed a Collective Response (uh oh – the very name makes me turn pale with nausea) to explain how terribly wrong it is to say that the hijab is a symbol of the subjugation of women. It’s badly-written, and jargony, and stupid, and wrong.

An article recently published on The Feminist Wire’s website and circulated via its facebook page has prompted this note. In her article, “To Be Anti-Racist Is To Be Feminist: The Hoodie and the Hijab Are Not Equals,” Adele Wilde-Blavatsky attempts to address the important question of what it means to be an anti-racist feminist in the 21st century. Her article, however, serves to assert white feminist privilege and power by producing a reductive understanding of racial and gendered violence and by denying Muslim women their agency.

In her article, Wilde-Blavatsky takes “issue with … the equating of the hoodie and the hijab as sources of ethnic identity.” Oblivious to the important cross-racial and cross-ethnic connections and solidarities made in light of the tragic murders of Trayvon Martin and Shaima Alawadi, the author contends that the hoodie and the hijab cannot be compared because “the history and origin of these two items of clothing and what they represent could not be more different.” For her, Trayvon Martin’s hoodie signifies a history of racism, whereas Shaima Alawadi’s hijab signifies only male domination and female oppression. Revealing her own biases, Wilde-Blavatsky writes, “The hijab, which is discriminatory and rooted in men’s desire to control women’s appearance and sexuality, is not a choice for the majority of women who wear it. The hoodie, on the other hand, is a choice for everyone who wears it” (emphasis in original).

And that’s all they say about that. They don’t say why  Wilde-Blavatsky is wrong to say that the hoodie signifies a history of racism while the hijab signifies male domination and female oppression. It would have been helpful if they had said why, because frankly I have no idea why they think that. How would the hijab not be such a signifier when women get whipped, beaten, fined, imprisoned, and sometimes killed for failing or refusing to wear it? Does anybody anywhere get whipped or killed for refusing to wear a hoodie? Does The Man force anyone to wear a hoodie?

And then what’s the crap about the important cross-racial and cross-ethnic connections and solidarities made in light of the tragic murders of Trayvon Martin and Shaima Alawadi? What is it that Wilde-Blavatsky is “oblivious” to? What does it have to do with her point? She’s certainly not arguing that women should be murdered for wearing a hijab, so what is it that she’s oblivious to? People can agree across racial and ethnic differences that no one should be killed for wearing the wrong kind of headgear, and Wilde-Blavatsky wrote nothing to interfere with that view. That claim looks to me like a meaningless piety rather than an argument.

To us, it is deeply troubling to be patronized by a person who insists the hijab is never a choice made of free will. But what is even more saddening is that such opinions are being propagated on a feminist site with a commitment to highlighting the consequences of the “ill-fated pursuit of wars abroad and the abandonment of a vision of social justice at home.” The consequences of such wars have included the demonization, incarceration, and oppression of Muslim men, women, and children at home and abroad.

Non sequitur follows non sequitur. It’s not patronizing to point out that the hijab is not always “a choice made of free will” – and W-B in fact didn’t say it’s never a free choice, so they’re being simply dishonest in saying she “insists the hijab is never a choice made of free will.”

As feminists deeply committed to challenging racism and Islamophobia and how it differentially impacts black and Muslim (and black Muslim) communities, we wish to open up a dialogue about how to build solidarities across complex histories of subjugation and survival. This space is precisely what is shut down in this article. In writing this letter, we emphasize that our concern is not solely with Adele Wilde-Blavatsky’s article but with the broader systemic issues revealed in the publication of a work that prevents us from challenging hierarchies of privilege and building solidarity.

Bullying nonsense. Nothing was “shut down” in the article; nothing prevents them from “challenging hierarchies of privilege and building solidarity.”

Maryam offers a much better statement.

We extend our full solidarity to Adele Wilde-Blavatsky for such a clear and rare analysis from feminists in Europe and North America, in which women’s resistance to the Muslim Right -including by resisting all forms of fundamentalist veiling – is made visible and honoured, rather than sacrificed on the altar of anti racism and anti imperialism’.

* Marieme Helie Lucas, sociologist, Algeria, founder and former international coordinator of the international solidarity network Women Living Under Muslim Laws ( wluml), coordinator Secularism Is A Women’s Issue

* Fatou Sow, Researcher, Senegal, international coordinator, Women Living Under Muslim Laws

* Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson, One Law for All and Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran, Iran/UK

* Karima Bennoune, Professor of Law, Rutgers University, U S A

* Khawar Mumtaz, Shirkat Gah, Pakistan

 

 

 

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It’s always priorities, isn’t it

Apr 22nd, 2012 4:01 pm | By

Ah the Catholic church in Ireland - always shameless, always brazen, always ignoring the harm it does to other people while demanding infinite respect for itself. This time it has its mitres in a knot because a broadcaster said it had fucked things up in Ireland. Yes, and?

The Communications Office of the Irish bishops has demanded a full apology and retraction from radio presenter Ray D’Arcy after he told listeners “the Catholic Church, in many ways, has fucked up this country”…

Catholic communications chief Martin Long has demanded that the station and presenter retract the “insulting” and “offensive” comment on air tomorrow.

Oh has he. Has he really. The Irish bishops who concealed child rape and transferred rapist priests instead of reporting them to the police, thus enabling them to go on raping. The Irish bishops at the head of an organization that for generations imprisoned women in laundries to do slave labor for decades – an organization that made those women raise their children for three years and then hand them over to the “mother superior” and sign an oath “never to attempt to see, interfere with or make any claim to the said child at any future time.” The Irish bishops at the head of an organization that imprisoned the children of parents with no money for the sake of the cash the state paid them; an organization that starved the children and tortured them emotionally and physically. Those Irish bishops.

How fucking dare they.

H/t Robin.

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No life for girls

Apr 22nd, 2012 11:35 am | By

Bangladesh has one of the highest rates of child (read: girl) marriage in the world; 20% are married off before the age of 15.

This of course means they get pregnant young, and give birth young. This means they get fistulas. This ruins their lives. There are tens of thousands in that situation, as there are in Africa. (In Sudan for instance. In Niger and Kenya. In Nigeria.)

There are people who campaign against child marriage in Bangladesh.

“I do this work because I wanted to put a smile back on the face of the parents,” says Oli Ahmed. He grins as he says it.

Oli is a campaigner who goes around the slum where he lives in Dhaka standing up to his elders and telling them why they shouldn’t marry off their daughters so young.

He’s the same age as Poppy, just 12.

He’s 12!! 12. You’re a good human being, Oli.

“I used to know a girl who was like an older sister to me, but she was forced to get married and never came back.”

It made him very angry and sad…Oli approached Plan International which was already working in his slum in Dhaka.

He told them he wanted to set up a group led by children to try and stop the practice. He goes door to door with a group of friends persuading, scolding and hectoring parents.

One NGO worker says that since they started work, the number of child marriages in that area has dropped by as much as 50%.

“I feel very good that a girl’s life has been saved because of the work that I’ve done,” says Oli.

Now all we need is tens of thousands of 12-year-olds like Oli.

 

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Bruce on Day Four

Apr 22nd, 2012 10:57 am | By

A guest post by Bruce Everett

Day Four – Sunday: Last day of the convention proper…

I have to confess, owing to considerations arising out of personal matters not mine to recount, coupled with a genuine need for more sleep, I missed the first three speakers of Sunday’s presentations: Eugenie Scott, Tanya Smith and Annie Laurie Gaylor.

I can’t comment on the merits of their respective showings; however I’m noticeably left with a black hole in the overall convention experience. Missing out on the presentations of three women in a row, in a convention touted to demonstrate the increasing alignment of feminism and atheism, is quite a gap.

I’m wondering, other concerns permitting, whether priority categories of speakers (in this case, women) could be scheduled so as not to be clumped together, to avoid risking their being missed by misfortune, or by convenience to those who’d miss them deliberately (sniffy misogynists?)

I suspect there may be an ongoing debate about these kinds of things amongst organisers, perhaps worthy of being opened up to the broader public. I’ll be looking forward to the release of the DVD of the convention, in any case.

***

When I finally got settled in, it was time for Sam Harris to make his appearance…

Harris was going to give a talk on ‘the illusion of free will’, but apparently for reasons out of his control, it was predetermined that he’d give a talk on the topic of death.

This was the kind of Sam Harris I’d wanted to see. Warren at Embiggen Books would tell me the following afternoon that of all the prominent atheist authors, he thought Harris was the one who put out the most novel content. Harris certainly didn’t disappoint in this respect on Sunday.

There’s been a lot of talk of extracting, or reverse engineering from religion, elements that still contribute to some degree of human utility, but to adapt them without the harm, or the annoying frilly bits. Alain de Botton has made this the theme of his most recent project, and Dennett has been talking about it ever since Breaking The Spell.

(You’d think Alain de Botton had invented the idea just recently, owing to his style of self-promotion).

I have to confess, that reason-exalting gospel music, showcased by Dennett in the past, doesn’t do it for me – it seems far too white-middle-class (especially when white dudes dance awkwardly to it). Further, the idea of bird-watching as a scientific experience available to the masses, while not useless, is hardly an aesthetic salve for the world-weary and the over-worked. I find Alain de Botton’s idea of constructing temples to atheism frivolous, pointless, pretentious, and utterly repulsive (much like his middle-class, School of Life, self-help cult – yuck!)

Harris, for his part delved into a materialistic, neuroscientific perspective on dealing with death – our predictions, projections and anticipations about the future are just thoughts, and our memories of the departed and the past, similarly, are just thoughts. A great deal of our suffering is, Harris argued, brought about by dwelling on such thoughts – the departed, impending doom, anxieties over future needs not being met – over and over.

The crowd was instructed through a session of meditation, informed again by a neuroscientific outlook. It was joked at the end that we’d been duped, and that the audience were now all converts to Buddhism. While deliberately not tipping a hat to solipsism, Harris explained our conscious sense experience as like a dream constrained by external reality – i.e. don’t expect to be able to fly if you jump off a building.

During the questions and answers, it was explained that the consolations offered by this kind of approach weren’t a justification for apathy about suffering in the world, and that some Buddhist sects, disturbingly, had gone down precisely this road. The consolations of meditation were for respite, when our thoughts tortured us without any payoff (i.e. excessive, unproductive worrying).

Ray Kurtzweil copped it in the neck for utopian visions of uploaded consciousness, as did a specimen of transhumanist twee during the Q&A, about the sum of everyone’s memories of loved ones giving a kind of networked immortality. Call me biased, but I’m giving Harris bonus points for this.

The presentation was delivered in good humour, with compassion, and in a crisp, lucid manner. It was to my mind possibly the best talk of the convention. It was, I think, as Warren would later echo, the most novel discussion.

***

After a morning break, with nasty coffee and nice vegetarian-friendly biscuits, the crowd was treated to the premiere of Emma McKenna and Craig Foster’s short film, Parrot. (Dear SBS, please do screen it on SOS!)

Parrot told the story of two young Australian lads, both closeted atheists, raised in a Catholic family with an overbearing, dogmatically religious mother, and an enabling, feckless Dad. Tragedy strikes, and while the young protagonist of the film has to deal with the strife in his own way, his mother turns ever more to her faith, harbouring similar expectations for her family.

While Australia is generally an easy place for the godless to be out about who they are, such that it’s most often not mentioned, there are niches where religious dogmatism still gets an upper hand, causing problems for the godless (and those of the ‘wrong religion’). Traditional, conservative, church-going families are such a niche, and it’s still worth paying attention to what life is like in these environments, even here in safe, supposedly secular, Australia.

At its core, Parrot is still a little didactic, and if you’re watching out for it, mildly contrived. However, in the subsequent discussion between directors Foster and McKenna, and MC Lawrence Leung, it was revealed this was a much bigger problem in earlier copies of the draft, subsequent efforts preventing the protagonist from merely being a ‘voice-box’. Perhaps, if this concern had underpinned the project from the beginning, the final product would be perfect. Still, as is, it’s quite considerably better than the alt.atheism lecture dressed-up as dialogue that calls itself The Ledge (an atheistic high-concept film, not saved even by its considerably talented cast).

***

Jason Ball…

What can I say? The young man is impressive. He’s all over the place (in a good way): guest editing The Rationalist, making media appearances for the Atheist Foundation of Australia and whoever else, and doing a good job of all of it. It seems anywhere you look these days in Australian free-thought, there’s Jason Ball, doing his thing. It’s quite heartening.

The young Mr Ball recounted to the audience just how he came to atheism, secularism and free-thought, from the background of a moderately religious family (football was explicitly allowed to come before church, which seems to be a norm amongst Australian Christians). An exchange trip to theUS saw Jason as the only person in his class who believed in evolution, and from then on the young man was changed…

(There are more details to it than that, obviously; like many of the talks, it’s worth your watching the DVD when it comes out).

There are other young secular Australians amongst Mr Ball’s cohort, and I wonder if their interest in the movement comes from a similar background, and if it wouldn’t be worth considering head-hunting young individuals with similar goals, but with possibly complementary perspectives (working class, Aboriginal Australian, and so on…) Also, I’m told that Leigh, one of the young committee members behind the scenes, is similarly impressive, so perhaps we could see a little more of her take on things as well.

***

…and then there was PZ Myers. He’s published the speech he gave at the GAC, Sacking the City of God, over here, if you’re so inclined.

Maybe it was my mood at the time, or maybe it’s these anti-depressants I’ve been taking lately, but PZ’s hyperbole didn’t reach me the way it used to. Sure, I agree with a number, if not all of the substantive points raised in the talk to various degrees (the anthropology of religion and morals, truth, autonomy and community), and I’m not about to misconstrue the intent of the talk, or tone troll PZ for Not Helping(tm). But…

… PZ just didn’t rock me.

Maybe if Eugenie Scott had given a lecture on why we need to be ultra-deferential-to-religion in order to combat creationism, and I’d seen it, and I had frustration pent-up from it, then maybe PZ’s talk would have been an outlet. Perhaps if there’d been a comedic warm-up act, maybe if it was PZ headlining the first night rather than Jim Jeffries, I’d have seen things differently.

Maybe it’s because PZ followed the awesome Jason Ball. Maybe I just needed lunch.

Or maybe, in as far as I agreed with PZ, I found the substance of his talk uncontroversial and obvious, while in as far as it pushed the envelope, I found it unconvincing and difficult to take seriously – atheists are a hunting pack! Yes, well, maybe someone in the audience needed a bloviated confidence booster, but, whatever issues we do have (and we have plenty), we’re hardly under siege here inAustralia.

I’m not entirely sure I wasn’t witnessing projected nerd-affirmation in drag as secular activism. And I’m not entirely sure PZ appreciates the irony in his recent overuse of the word ‘wanker’, either.

Again, being so rhetorical, interpreting the content is subject to mood, so don’t take my word for it. No doubt footage will become available at some point for you to make up your own mind. Maybe I’ll even change mine.

(It wasn’t my intention at the outset of this post to suggest that on the night, PZ Myers was a bloviating wanker, but here we are at the end of the process, and… oh well.)

***

Lunch was served, eventually, being the same meal as the day before (I loved the vegetarian wraps – so this is good), although this time, there was a different accompaniment; visitors of another flavour than the last.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5z2avI516pk]

Islamic protest outside the 2012 GAC (1:24)

Okay, maybe I should take back that comment about PZ’s talk being bloviated; these guys (ALL OF THEM GUYS) really know how to billow hot air into empty rhetoric. I love how blue-shirted beard at 13 seconds seemed rather agitated with the hand waving, but I hope he wasn’t telling the other fellow (‘use your brains!’) not to give them the satisfaction, or anything like that. Kudos to Mr ‘use your brains’.

Now… as for the claim that Hitchens is burning in hellfire, it’s like the famous Josh Thomas quote from Good News Week; it’s like we’re being told that Hitchens, dead, is being punched in the aura by hippies. It’s hardly menacing, and makes more of a joke of the people claiming it, rather than impugning anyone else, dead or alive.

But the threats of hellfire against Ayaan Hirsi Ali are more menacing – you don’t experience hellfire in life, so there’s an implicit threat of death. Oddly enough, this didn’t seem to be taken particularly seriously by the Victorian police, who have a reputation for cracking down on protests (when they inconvenience rich people, at least).

I asked a couple of people, rhetorically, why there were no Muslim women protesting alongside the men, before heading back inside. It would turn out later, that ‘where are the women?’ would be chanted back at the Islamic protest, by a much larger group of atheists. I’d like to think this was my idea, but that’d be stretching credulity more than just a little – I’m just satisfied it happened.

…and then there was The Kiss.

                       

Gregory Storer and Michael Barnett share a kiss – (used with permission)

They brought Allah, anger and hate, and we brought love. I think it’s obvious which won out on the day.

I’ve been told a few things about the exchanges surrounding the protest that I can’t verify, things which would be interesting to know if true. I’m told, for example, that a few Muslim men holding placards intentionally posed with members of the atheist choir, as a statement of peaceful, mutual, if hyperbolic disagreement. I’m also told that one atheist fellow shouted words to the effect of ‘go home’, before being turned upon by other (sarcasm wielding) atheists.

I’m not entirely sure this situation didn’t have the capacity to blow up into something nastier though – the implicit threats against Ayaan Hirsi Ali hint at as much. I’ve been to quite a few union rallies over the years, so it’s not the yelling that gets at me. It’s just in my experience such violent rhetoric is either abstained from, or results in controversy and sackings. Call me provincial if you will, but I think it’s something to keep an eye on, even if such concerns aren’t fashionable in edgy, radicalMelbourne.

***

Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins gave a wonderful tribute to Christopher Hitchens; Krauss sharing personal anecdotes, and Dawkins referring to his interview with Hitchens in last year’s Christmas edition of New Statesman (which I had with me at all times during my stay in Melbourne, incidentally). This was accompanied by a montage of Hitchens at his most razor-sharp.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iR0GyYaeI-k

Tribute to Christopher Hitchens (11:09)

It has to be said, that hearing Dawkins emulating the manner of speech of Hitchens, was like listening to pan pipes attempting to imitate a tuba; all dry air and reedy, without the necessary, rich baritone. It’s not the worst thing to be accused of falling short of though, the bar being set so high.

This is the part where I suspect people in the audience most wish he were still around, occasional tears being shed; something that must have grated on a number of envious, less prominent, less respected authors around RadiCool Melbourne.

(This is the part where I’ll also point out that wherever I went in Melbourne, they only had Johnny Walker Red.)

The tribute segued into the Three Horsemen Panel, with Ayaan Hirsi Ali. After the huge applause had subsided, the proceedings were held in an informal manner, which Dawkins told us they’d play by ear, and see how it went.

Cooperation and secularism seemed to be the de facto theme of this Global Atheist Convention. I thought it might have just been me, owing to my attending secularist fringe events where cooperation in secular campaigning was discussed, but I’ve seen other people make much the same observations, here and there.

Cooperation, discussed by the panel, touched on a few interesting observations; Dennett raised Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s call for people to help secular Muslims, stating his own experience that while secular Muslims were not wary of atheists, they could be wary of being found by fundamentalist Muslims to have associated with atheists, which was risky.

I suspect that this may be more of an issue in the antipode than down-under, although it doesn’t seem to be hurting George Galloway’s prospects much – why deal with moderate, secular Muslims when you can treat the fundamentalists as a voting bloc, right? Well, it works for some people.

I digress.

Contrary to a lot of public opinion, ‘new atheists’ aren’t opposed to cooperation, which makes any such line of questioning just a bit more trivial. Distinctions then, if sensible ones are to be made, as well as subsequent discussion, should be based on something like the conditions under which such cooperation would best occur, not on the prospect of cooperation itself. Unless of course you’re one of those parties benefiting from public confusion on the matter, in which case you’d want to present your political opposition as uncooperative, while being uncooperative yourself.

The Q&A session was pretty entertaining; one poor chap asking Richard Dawkins why a brain hadn’t evolved to the size of the entire universe. Ahem. Dawkins answered by pointing out the somewhat finite size of the birth canal.

While there are probably better, more technical objections to the query, it was a funny retort, and a nice light-hearted note on which to end the GAC proper. Although, having booked for a fringe event the following night, featuring PZ Myers, Chris Stedman and Leslie Cannold, on that very vexed of topics, cooperation still weighed on my mind.

I’ll write more on the topic in the next installation; Night of the Wankers (or Way kin whiff Strine)

~ Bruce

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Strictness and violence

Apr 21st, 2012 3:11 pm | By

Maryam points out this helpful item: a speech last summer by Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi, religious advisor to Ahmadinejad, explaining that human rights have no place in Islam. Oh. Well thank you; that’s what critics keep saying, and it’s helpful to have the corroboration.

Mesbah-Yazdi, the theoretician of violence, gave a new speech at the end of Ramadan (end of August) in which he criticized the opinion of those people who claim Islam is based on generosity and respect for  Human Rights.

Yes exactly! I’m always criticizing the opinion of those people too. I keep asking them to name just one place where that works out in practice – just one country where the government is “Islamic” in some sense and generosity and respect for human rights are running the show. Just one.

In this speech he said: “Democracy, Human Rights and the rights  of citizenship have no place in Islam.” He continued that there is no room for freedom of speech and thought in Islam, and that Islam is based  on strictness and violence. Muslims and those who convert to the religion of Islam must only adhere to the opinions of the leader of the  Islamic Republic, according to Mesbah. He continued: “Until a person has  converted to Islam, he is free — but democracy and Human Rights have no  meaning within Islam. Everything must be under the surveillance of the  government, even the way people dress. And if some people say otherwise,  they don’t know Islam.”

Tariq Ramadan please note.

“There is no room for freedom of speech and thought in Islam, and that Islam is based  on strictness and violence.” That really sums it up admirably. Two words do the job. That’s exactly what I fear and loathe about Islam-in-power: strictness and violence. That’s a horrible way to live; absolutely horrible. It’s very helpful of Mesbah-Yazdi to make it so clear for us. It’s not as if people can accuse him of Islamophobia! And they can’t pretend it’s Western racism, either.

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The only category

Apr 21st, 2012 2:20 pm | By

This little spat between the Inquisition and the slightly disobedient (but not disobedient enough) nuns reminds me of something that we generally don’t focus on sharply enough. It’s certainly obvious, yet it kind of fades into the background of the taken-for-granted.

The something is:

Women are the only category of people who can’t ever be Catholic clergy no matter what they do or don’t do. The only one. Atheists can change their minds. Buddhists can convert. Convicted felons can repent. Gay men can be closeted.

But women, and women only, are barred, completely and finally; barred as such, barred from birth, barred because of what they are. Trying to unbar them is an excommunicable crime, while raping children is not. Raping children in the performance of priestly duties is not an excommunicable crime – but ordinating ordaining a woman as a priest is.

It’s very interesting, if you think about it. There are no Chinese or Brazilian disciples of Jesus, but that doesn’t make Chinese or Brazilian men ineligible for the priesthood. Yet the explanation for the ineligibility of women is that there were no female disciples. That’s a transparently feeble reason.

No; it’s just that the church and its all-male staff share the age-old bigotry about women and they’re authoritarian and vicious enough to refuse to abandon it. They think women aren’t good enough to be priests. They think women are too dirty, and stupid, and sluttish, and weak to be priests. They don’t want women stinking up their club house. And because religion is Special, they get to act on their bigotry.

 

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The Vatican rebukes Radical Feminist nuns

Apr 21st, 2012 10:53 am | By

Ah the dear US Conference of Catholic bishops – how it does love itself a chance to tell people to obey it. The same of course goes for the dear Inquisition, now thoughtfully renamed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which was Ratzinger’s part of the organization until he got the top job. The Inquisition has issued a new Obey Us, which the UCCB has kindly shared. It begins with – well, with Obey Us, of course.

The context in which the current doctrinal Assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the United States of America is best situated is articulated by Pope John Paul II in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Vita consecrata of 1996. Commenting on the genius of the charism of religious life in the Church, Pope John Paul says: “In founders and foundresses we see a constant and lively sense of the Church, which they manifest by their full participation in all aspects of the Church’s life, and in their ready obedience to the Bishops and especially to the Roman Pontiff. Against this background of love towards Holy Church ‘the pillar and bulwark of truth’ (1 Tim 3:15), we readily understand…the full ecclesial communion which the Saints, founders and foundresses, have shared in diverse and often difficult times and circumstances. They are examples which consecrated persons need constantly to recall if they are to resist the particularly strong centrifugal and disruptive forces at work today. A distinctive aspect of ecclesial communion is allegiance of mind and heart to the Magisterium of the Bishops, an allegiance which must be lived honestly and clearly testified to before the People of God by all consecrated persons, especially those involved in theological research, teaching, publishing, catechesis and the use of the means of social communication. Because consecrated persons have a special place in the Church, their attitude in this regard is of immense importance for the whole People of God” (n. 46).

Obey Us. Obey. Obey obey obey obey. Do what we tell you. Obey. Submit. Obey obey obey. Ready obedience to the Bishops and especially to the Roman Pontiff. Resist the particularly strong centrifugal and disruptive forces at work today. Allegiance of mind and heart to the Magisterium of the Bishops. Their attitude in this regard. Obey obey obey obey.

But the women in the Leadership Conference of Women Religious haven’t been doing it. They haven’t been obeying enough.

For instance they sent letters to the Inquisition saying they disagreed with things.

The Cardinal spoke of this issue in reference to letters the CDF received from “Leadership Teams” of various Congregations, among them LCWR Officers, protesting the Holy See’s actions regarding the question of women’s ordination and of a correct pastoral approach to ministry to homosexual persons, e.g. letters about New Ways Ministry’s conferences. The terms of the letters suggest that these sisters collectively take a position not in agreement with the Church’s teaching on human sexuality. It is a serious matter when these Leadership Teams are not providing effective leadership and example to their communities, but place themselves outside the Church’s teaching.

Right; because that’s not obeying. They’re supposed to obey.

And not only that, but – they are (brace yourselves) Radical Feminists!!1! 

Radical Feminism. The Cardinal noted a prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith in some of the programs and presentations sponsored by the LCWR, including theological interpretations that risk distorting faith in Jesus and his loving Father who sent his Son for the salvation of the world. Moreover, some commentaries on “patriarchy” distort the way in which Jesus has structured sacramental life in the Church; others even undermine the revealed doctrines of the Holy Trinity, the divinity of Christ, and the inspiration of Sacred Scripture.

I take it the Inquisition is trying to get a mention on Manboobz.

They got a US bishop to look into it, and what the bishop found is a pervasive failure to obey.

On June 25, 2010, Bishop Blair presented further documentation on the content of the LCWR’s Mentoring Leadership Manual and also on the organizations associated with the LCWR, namely Network and The Resource Center for Religious Institutes. The documentation reveals that, while there has been a great deal of work on the part of LCWR promoting issues of social justice in harmony with the Church’s social doctrine, it is silent on the right to life from conception to natural death, a question that is part of the lively public debate about abortion and euthanasia in the United States. Further, issues of crucial importance to the life of Church and society, such as the Church’s Biblical view of family life and human sexuality, are not part of the LCWR agenda in a way that promotes Church teaching. Moreover, occasional public statements by the LCWR that disagree with or challenge positions taken by the Bishops, who are the Church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals, are not compatible with its purpose.

They’re also not compatible with the fact that the bishops are men while the people in the LCWR are women (that’s what the W stands for), so obviously the latter don’t get to disobey the former. Any fule kno that.

 

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Stand with Sergey

Apr 21st, 2012 10:22 am | By

A guy in Russia was arrested for saying gay people should have rights.

Sergey Kondrashov was jailed in St. Petersburg, Russia for defying a new draconian “homosexual propaganda” law. His crime? Holding up a sign saying a close family friend, who happens to be lesbian, deserves the same rights as he and his wife. Stand with Sergey – and other Russians who are refusing to be silenced, and challenging the spread of this backwards law nationwide.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tm9S03BzENM

There’s a petition you can sign. Only 30 thousand to go and they’ll have 100 thousand.

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Bullying is healthy

Apr 20th, 2012 4:59 pm | By

So people are trying to combat the bullying of LGBQ teenagers in school, and religious conservative lunatics are trying to combat the efforts to combat the bullying. Yes that’s right. Grown-ups in grown-up organizations full of grown-ups are trying to prevent people from stopping bullying in schools.

Last  year, many conservative political organizations, including Focus on the Family,  the Family Research Council, the American Family Association, Liberty Counsel  and Concerned Women for America vocally opposed attempts by school districts  and public officials to combat bullying based on actual or perceived sexual  orientation and gender identity—categories typically considered along with  other attributes such as race, sex, age, disability and national origin.  Moreover, these groups smeared and demonized advocacy groups that collaborate  with teachers and administrators in developing best practices to combat bullying,  warning that anti-bullying groups would encourage everything from  “homosexualizing” youth to anti-Christian persecution to pedophilia.

Religious Right organizations demanded that schools and localities adopt policies that  would effectively leave LGBT and LGBT-perceived students unprotected and tie  the hands of schools that try to deal with the problem.

Liberty  Counsel Director of Cultural Affairs Matt Barber said there is “no evidence” that  LGBT people face either discrimination or violence, and Robert Newman of the  California Christian Coalition said that  bullying is “part of the maturational process,” adding, “I hardly think that  bullying is a real issue in schools.” Fox News host Steve Doocy even hosted a  segment called “Bullying: Crisis or Panic?” in which he asked if  bullying is an “exaggerated epidemic.”

WallBuilders  president and Republican operative David Barton falsely claimed that “the  leading pediatric association in America” opposed anti-bullying policies that  cover sexual orientation. Barton argued, “If  you’ll just let this develop naturally, they’ll end up being heterosexual  unless you force them to be homosexual…. If you let it run its course it’s  gonna turn out normal and natural, unless you guys intervene and make the  unnatural stuff natural.”

As it  turned out, the group Barton cited was a tiny, fringe anti-gay organization.  The country’s actual leading pediatric group, the American Academy of  Pediatricians, contacted Barton’s  group and requested a retraction, which Barton promptly refused.

These are adults. These are adults dismissing or making light of bullying in schools. These are adults trying to stop other adults preventing bullying. These are adults who want to keep bullying in schools.

One guy even came right out and said so, without even the thinnest veil of disguise.

When  whitewashing doesn’t work, some anti-gay activists just try to condone  bullying. That’s what Rich Swier of Tea Party Nation attempted to do in a column sent  out to members nationwide, dubbing the bullying of LGBT youth a “sham” and  adding that if it does take place, it is “healthy” since homosexuality, like  drug abuse, “cannot be condoned” and must be stopped:

This is not bullying. It is peer pressure and is healthy. There are many bad behaviors such as smoking, under age drinking [sic] and drug abuse that are behaviors that cannot be condoned. Homosexuality falls  into this category. Homosexuality is simply bad behavior that youth see as such and rightly pressure their peers to stop it.

#compassionisattheheartofeverygreatreligion

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

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