Joking About Burqas is Oppressive

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, thank the FSM that you don’t and skip to the next post.

After Ann Althouse started bitching about Jessica’s posture, Amanda had someone photoshop a burqa onto Jessica. Certain black and Hispanic Americans who think that their skin color allows them to speak for the entire third world then started getting offended.

Brownfemipower first bashed Amanda in a post that can be described with every Orwellian compound – duckspeak, doublethink, blackwhite, and so on. Bitch | Lab then upped the ante and claimed that Amanda was oppressing nonwhite women because the Taliban came to power with the help of the US.

Ignoring the fact that burqas are not veils, BFP proceeded to systematically portray feminism as a form of colonialism, even though modern Western feminism’s views about gender issues in other cultures are taken from each culture’s own feminist movement.

There’s something hypocritical with the way some American radicals try to enamor themselves to non-Americans, but in the process reduce them to pawns in their own internal politics. The forced burqa really is oppressive; feminists have been saying so for many years, only to have their complaints fall on deaf ears up until after 9/11. Any ideology that mandates that people should shut up unless nobody in power will listen is rotten at its core.

The most egregious examples of this practice come from post-colonialism. Instead of working to cause e.g. the Tamils and the Sinhalese to stop murdering each other over historical grudges, certain radical post-colonialists prefer to point fingers at some Western power. Sinhala and Tamil nationalism, Muslim fundamentalism, and Hindu fundamentalism are blameless; white people and only white people are responsible.

It’s no coincidence that Muslim feminists call bullshit on this whole deal. Taslima Nasrin has been bashing the West’s inaction for many years; if she were a white American, the nonwhite nationalists of the blogosphere would no doubt call her a racist. I’ve emailed the Muslim bloggers I know asking for their input; so far only one has replied, Abbas, who said, “People have become so damn sensitive! Please, it’s a joke, for God’s sake” (the rest of the email is in a comment of mine on Majikthise).

It’s only the radicals who have time to pontificate about inconsequential practices or about their right not to be offended. It doesn’t matter if their radicalism is leftist or Muslim or Christian. In each case, they’re clowns when out of power and tyrants when in power. Getting offended at ideologically unapproved jokes makes for great laughs, until the people who get offended start legislating their twisted morality, in which case you get a society as closed as Afghanistan.

38 Responses to Joking About Burqas is Oppressive

  1. belledame222 says:

    Alon. …oh, you know, never mind.

    I have Muslim feminists on my blogroll; i am going to resist the temptation to drag their ass into this for my own sorry ass-purposes (“I’ll see you one Muslim feminist and raise you a one-eyed Afghani orphaned teenager.”_

    I am trying to restrain myself in the light of i think perhaps where you’re coming from on this has to do with your own experiences of American-centric politics when you have a broader perspective in that regard.

    but you know: suggesting that bfp is doing this because she has the LUXURY OF TIME, that this is all INCONSEQUENTIAL…

    and of course the suggestion that see! look! expert has spoken! voila; no real problem; no greater context; -certainly- no reason for these “black and Hispanic Americans” to be -upset- with Amanda or Lindsey or anyone else…

    oh, you know, -so- over the line, Alon. Really, just: no. Really seriously not.

  2. belledame222 says:

    I should say: part of it.

    This is about structural racism in the blogosphere (and elsewhere, obviously), Alon.

    Yeah, there probably is a point to be made wrt Americans appropriating their own selves, even (for fuck’s sake) really quite marginalized in numerous ways already Americans like bfp, yes, but y’see, -that conversation is already going on in a number of WOC sites.-

    Which fucking Lindsey or Amanda or anyone else is not gonna have clue ONE about because -they don’t bother to go there.-

    Until it concerns them directly, somehow; or think it does.

  3. I resent the insinuation that my blog is not a “WOC blog”, belledame. I’m not the only blogger at my place.

  4. Bitch | Lab says:

    Hugo Wrote:

    I resent the insinuation that my blog is not a “WOC blog”, belledame. I’m not the only blogger at my place.

    that is all.

  5. Blackamazon says:

    This isn’t valid intellectualism and you know why. Because not once AT ALL do you adrdess anything specific in the opposing argument. The fact you call BFP Orwellian shows a minimal understanding of both Orwell and historical literary theory. COntinue to hide in teh I’m so studied biullshit you calldiscourse but if you continue to use words out of context without reference your just being an ass.It would NEVER fly in any academic setting as a paper and teh fact you wish to brow beat us with other ” approved” MUslims yet ignoring the multitude of muslims who post is doisengenious and intellectual hatchetry.

    Amanda the fact that one of your bloggers is a WOC doesn’t make it a WOC site AND the fact that the meat of the point that Belle makes which is for the most part You,LIndsay,and the liek continue to not participate,acknowledge or adress WOC bloggers in an intellectually honest way by giving attention and respect to OUR discourse isn’t mitigated by your resentment.

    I resent to high heavens the fact that you ” apologized ” to BFP and the made claims that we’re attacking youre intelligence IN THE SAME POST as a snide remark about people who are objecting not being wise enough to recognize a burka with no one under it on another blog.WHen the problem wasn’t the joke , the imperialism, but the clusterfuck entititled privilege of tossing around cultural items and them infatalizing us.

    PS Alon if you read the THREADS on BFP’s blog she links to many MUSLIM>AFGANI women who have their own commentary about BUrqa and this “joke” in addition to articles and scholars. But somehow your muslim experts are better than hers?

  6. Blackamazon says:

    sorry I said post i menat comment thread

  7. Alon Levy says:

    Because not once AT ALL do you adrdess anything specific in the opposing argument.

    What is there to address? BFP claimed that because one scholar said that even in the 19th century, feminism was used to justify colonialism (in fact, what was used to justify wasn’t even close to feminism – it was a variation on the “they’re raping our women” theme), Amanda’s photo was offensive. Although women’s rights are used as an excuse for bombing countries, it doesn’t change the facts that there is severe misogyny in certain Islamic countries, and that the prude brigade of the United States would like to get there. It’s a lot easier to find pictures of burqas than pictures of handmaid garb, and a lot more people are familiar with the Taliban than with The Handmaid’s Tale.

    I resent to high heavens the fact that you ” apologized ” to BFP and the made claims that we’re attacking youre intelligence IN THE SAME POST as a snide remark about people who are objecting not being wise enough to recognize a burka with no one under it on another blog.

    I’m sure Amanda can defend herself, but I have to note that people did attack her intelligence. The entire “get it” language is arrogant beyond belief; it portrays you not as activists trying to persuade people who disagree with you, but as teachers trying to educate people who are ignorant. This frame works if you represent the intellectual mainstream, like, say, PZ Myers, but not if you represent a view that is at best controversial among scholars.

  8. Sula Song says:

    After Ann Althouse started bitching [sexist statement, why call what Althouse say “bitching” unless you are attempting to gendercize her] about Jessica’s posture, Amanda had someone photoshop a burqa onto Jessica. Certain black and Hispanic Americans who think that their skin color allows them to speak [are you in their heads? What gives you the power and/or insight to declare what they think? Could it be because you think you are supeior and they are just little old colored folks?] for the entire third world then started getting offended.
    Brownfemipower first bashed Amanda [bashed? Why apply a violent verb for the description of dissent and discourse? Are you impling by your use of language that people of color cannot participate in dialogue without the threat of violence?]in a post that can be described with every Orwellian compound – duckspeak, doublethink, blackwhite, and so on. [Dissmissive, classic case of consdencing verbal abuse in an attempt to silence the dissenter] Bitch | Lab then upped the ante and claimed that Amanda was oppressing nonwhite women because the Taliban came to power with the help of the US.[Did the U.S in fact help the Taliban to come to power or not?
    Ignoring the fact that burqas are not veils, BFP proceeded to systematically portray feminism as a form of colonialism, even though modern Western feminism’s views about gender issues in other cultures are taken from each culture’s own feminist movement.[Try proving that feminism is not in fact a form of colonization instead of dismissing the assertion].
    There’s something hypocritical with the way some American radicals try to enamor themselves to non-Americans, but in the process reduce them to pawns in their own internal politics. [Again you are asserting that you know the motives of the dissenters in the same way that you implied earlier, that you know everything in their minds. Or you a mind reader, or just feel so supeior that you can say what someone’s agenda is.]The forced burqa really is oppressive; feminists have been saying so for many years, only to have their complaints fall on deaf ears up until after 9/11. Any ideology that mandates that people should shut up unless nobody in power will listen is rotten at its core.[Where is such a mandate? Who made this assertion?]
    The most egregious examples of this practice come from post-colonialism. Instead of working to cause e.g. the Tamils and the Sinhalese to stop murdering each other over historical grudges, certain radical post-colonialists prefer to point fingers at some Western power. Sinhala and Tamil nationalism, Muslim fundamentalism, and Hindu fundamentalism are blameless; white people and only white people are responsible.[Where is this claim made? Is this example of anything but an attempt to divert?]
    It’s no coincidence that Muslim feminists call bullshit on this whole deal. Taslima Nasrin has been bashing the West’s inaction for many years; if she were a white American, the nonwhite nationalists of the blogosphere would no doubt call her a racist. I’ve emailed the Muslim bloggers I know asking for their input; so far only one has replied, Abbas, [So one Muslim woman can equal “muslim feminists” but several WOC equals nothing?] who said, “People have become so damn sensitive! Please, it’s a joke, for God’s sake” (the rest of the email is in a comment of mine on Majikthise).
    It’s only the radicals who have time to pontificate about inconsequential practices or about their right not to be offended. [statements declared void once “Only” is used] It doesn’t matter if their radicalism is leftist or Muslim or Christian. [Doesn’t matter to who? Are you the authorial, the divine voice that determines what matters?]In each case, they’re clowns [Why the use of an insult? Cannot you not discuss without insults, or do you lack the intelligence to do so?] when out of power and tyrants when in power.[Well white are in power right now in America, or you declaring they are tyrants, since this is a blanket statement, or are you implying only the people in power in third worlds?] Getting offended at ideologically unapproved jokes makes for great laughs, until the people who get offended start legislating their twisted morality, in which case you get a society as closed as Afghanistan. [Are you legislating right now?]

  9. Elle says:

    Go, Sula S, Go!

  10. Although women’s rights are used as an excuse for bombing countries, it doesn’t change the facts that there is severe misogyny in certain Islamic countries, and that the prude brigade of the United States would like to get there. It’s a lot easier to find pictures of burqas than pictures of handmaid garb, and a lot more people are familiar with the Taliban than with

    Not surprisingly, BfP actually talked about this in her post . She pointed to misogyny in the third world country and misogyny in the US. She simply argued that white women can separate the two and write as if there is misogyny in the third world country that somehow has nothing to do with the misogyny of the US against the third world country.

    As to it was “hard” defense? It would help to remove your head from the pail of gasoline before writing any more on this topic.

  11. Alon Levy says:

    Menis, how is that relevant? Insisting that every post that’s tangentially related to third world misogyny concentrate on bashing the US is almost a textbook definition of intellectual bullying. It’s intellectual bullying when conservatives insist that everyone who writes about Iraq start by saying that Saddam is evil and violent, it’s intellectual bullying when radical feminists insist that everyone who says something about rape start by saying that it’s a horrible thing that exists too much, and it’s intellectual bullying when ethnic nationalists insist that everyone who as much as brings up the Taliban start by saying that the US played a role in putting the Taliban in power.

    And are you really claiming that Amanda should’ve used Gileadian imagery instead?

  12. Alon Levy says:

    By the way, Sula, I promise I’m going to reply, just not now. Yours is a long comment that takes some thought to respond to, and as much as I’d like to discuss this, I need to be up in just under 7 hours if I don’t want to flunk my Lie Groups class. If everything goes as planned, I’ll have a response up and running in 24 hours.

  13. Oh, Alon….get real for once in your life.

    First off, the main problem that those “certain Black and Hispanic Americans” (what, afraid to call Brownfempower and Blackamazon and Bitch|Lab out on their own on the merits, so you reduce their arguments to “certain Americans”??) had with the Jessica Valenti-in-burqa pic wasn’t that it was merely offensive to Muslim women who do happen to wear it as a symbol of their religious faith; it was that it simply, within the context of the brutal wars of aggression by certain Western forces (read, the United States, British, and Israeli governments) on Arab people (a significant majority of those happening to be Muslim), mocked their ultimate suffering, essentially reducing them to objects of parody and mocking for privileged Western feminists. (Well..that, and the fact that women of color have grown really, really tired of having their legitimate claims of injustice either glossed over or exploited for private gain by White liberals (and conservatives, too) pretending to be their “liberators”.)

    Yes, forcing women to wear burqas against their stated will is oppressive indeed….so is forcing women to wear corsets or bikinis, or uncomfortable clothing, or forcing women to undergo breast implants against their will. But there is a major difference between opposing repressive governments (Muslim, Christian, Wiccan, secular, or otherwise) who use the power of the state to impose their fundamentalist beliefs on others who don’t share their worldview under punishment of death or torture, and merely waxing women who simply want to wear their hijabs as a symbol of their faith.

    Maybe you missed the last memo, Alon, so I will spell it out for you in nice caps: NOT ALL MUSLIMS ARE TERRORISTS; NOT ALL MUSLIMS ARE FUNDAMENTALISTS; AND (be sure that you catch this before you fly off the handle again) NOT ALL WOMEN WHO WEAR HIJAB OR BURQAS ARE OPPRESSED WEAKLINGS ASKING FOR YOUR ASSISTANCE IN GETTING OUT. And…those Muslim governments who are truly quite repressive are no more so than some of the worst Christian or Jewish states have been in their history….do the Crusades and the Middle Ages and the religious wars of the past millenia ring any bells for ‘ya? It’s not a Muslim thing, my man; it’s more of a elite abuse of state power thing.

    This isn’t to say that there isn’t room for satire and deliberately mocking the symbolic power of the burqa as a metaphorical tool used for silencing and covering up women and sexuality; no religious symbol should be above some form of parody or satire in a truly democratic society. (Personally, I found rapper Lil Kim’s defiant portrait of her nude underneath a burqa that was posted on a rap magazine cover to be quite empowering and beautiful; knowing fully well that it really, really pissed off some people who take those symbols seriously.) But, that’s not exactly what Amanda was attempting to do with that Photoshopped portrait, now was it??? There were much better ways for her to express her outrage at the likes of Ann Asshat…errrrr, Althouse getting bent over Jessica’s boobs.

    Me thinks that you also miss the entire background behind the rage of BfP and other WOC feminists, too….but then again, considering all the smack that you threw at Nubian a couple of months ago over her incident about her dark skin color retaning heat longer; maybe you aren’t missing so much, but being deliberately obtuse. So, so sorry that such Black and Brown rabble refuse to submit to your litmus test of what deserves to be at the center of progressive activism…..but maybe we have just the idea that our issues are legitimate and important enough not to be dismissed and tossed to the back of the bus until they submit to their superior “betters”. Sucking up Harlem soul food with Bill Clinton to gain brownie points within the A-list liberal “netroots” (using a President that really wasn’t that “liberal” to begin with in the first place; in implied support of a Presidential candidate (Hillary) who is actually so much worse a candidate (but considering her positions on the Middle East and the war on Muslims…errrrr, Terrorism, she’d be probably perfect for Alon) doesn’t sound to me like anything progressive.

    And……oh, so very nice of you to deem yourself the Be-All and Know-All and impose your own biases of what BfP and Blackamazon and other “nationalists” said….totally contrary to their actual statements, though. For someone who thinks himself as such an anti-imperialist, that sounds mighty….well, imperial for a White male activist to lecture WOC’s on their lack of decorum and White-baiting.

    Oh, and BTW……sorry to destroy your windmills made of straw, Alon, but it simply is not true that anyone of the people you smear ever said that all the problems of the Third World are to be blamed on “White people”. However “years of tribal war and rivalries” may have destroyed their countries (how that leaves out White societies remains unclear (see Northern Irleand, the aformentioned Crusades, the US Civil War), there is still the basic fact that White colonialism has played a major role in exacerbating these rivalries to divide and conquer. Also, you shouldn’t forget that the Taliban was not only aided and abetted by the US as a bulkwark against the former Soviet Union (remember Reagan and his “Afghani ‘freedom fighters'”??; but until 9-11; the official policy of the US was to allow the Taliban full freedom of rule as long as the major oil transmission lines weren’t threatened. (And BTW, even the Majority Leader of the US Senate has stated his explicit belief that there would be no official problem with the Taliban ruling over their country again…so much for all the bombs dropped to “liberate” women there.) Are you sure that you are aiming your fire at the proper people, my man??

    Try actually reading what they actually said, then think a bit before your next response, please. You might come out of it looking a lot less like a domineering elitist racist jerk. Amanda deserves better alies than this.

    Anthony

  14. Menis, how is that relevant?

    It’s relevant because you made an unsupported claim about what BfP said. If you can’t get their argument right, you get called out on it. If you can’t admit you were wrong, you will be assumed unserious.

    Insisting that every post that’s tangentially related to third world misogyny concentrate on bashing the US is almost a textbook definition of intellectual bullying.

    Feel free to get out you textbook and make an argument.

    It’s intellectual bullying when conservatives insist that everyone who writes about Iraq start by saying that Saddam is evil and violent, it’s intellectual bullying when radical feminists insist that everyone who says something about rape start by saying that it’s a horrible thing that exists too much, and it’s intellectual bullying when ethnic nationalists insist that everyone who as much as brings up the Taliban start by saying that the US played a role in putting the Taliban in power.

    When women in Afghanistan are being bombed, when the Prez in that picture had a lot to do with those events coming to furition, when it was a meeting to get bloggers on board with a Hillary campaign given that Hillary is offensive about her pro-war views as any neocon, it is relevant asshat.

    And are you really claiming that Amanda should’ve used Gileadian imagery instead?

    The pail of gasoline Alon. The pail of gasoline. You should join Huffers Anonymous or something and take a break from posing as a serious intellectual for a whilte. As others have said, the way you advance an argument indicates that you don’t even know what an argument *is*.

  15. Alon Levy says:

    NOT ALL MUSLIMS ARE TERRORISTS; NOT ALL MUSLIMS ARE FUNDAMENTALISTS; AND (be sure that you catch this before you fly off the handle again) NOT ALL WOMEN WHO WEAR HIJAB OR BURQAS ARE OPPRESSED WEAKLINGS ASKING FOR YOUR ASSISTANCE IN GETTING OUT.

    Thanks for letting me know. I’ve in fact edited every post I’ve written about the subject here, on UTI, and on 3QD to reflect that new knowledge, so that where before I would always say the US should kill all Muslims, now I’m espousing a more enlightened view. It was quite a busy task, not only editing posts meticulously but also registering under 15 different names to make it look as if right-wing trolls were attacking me for not bashing Muslims. But you made me so ashamed now of having incessantly argued for that benighted stance that I felt compelled to rectify everything.

    When women in Afghanistan are being bombed, when the Prez in that picture had a lot to do with those events coming to furition, when it was a meeting to get bloggers on board with a Hillary campaign given that Hillary is offensive about her pro-war views as any neocon, it is relevant asshat.

    Ah, so it’s really guilt by association. In that case, I’d like you to give me a list of all people you’ve ever met. If any of them has done something bad, everyone who links to you or defends you in any way must be equally guilty.

    You should join Huffers Anonymous or something and take a break from posing as a serious intellectual for a whilte.

    Great argument. I’m convinced now.

  16. Alon Levy says:

    Oh, and Anthony, it’s good to see you’re distinguishing hijabs and burqas. Maybe in three threads you’ll also realize I wasn’t saying a single thing about hijabs, except “Nobody’s saying anything about hijabs.”

  17. Dakota says:

    VERY INTERESTING POST!🙂

  18. […] 4 – https://abstractnonsense.wordpress.com/2006/10/08/joking-about-burqas-is-oppressive/ Posted by kledon Filed in Sociology, Philosophy, Psychology, Fallacies […]

  19. Responding mostly to this:

    [From Alon]
    Thanks for letting me know. I’ve in fact edited every post I’ve written about the subject here, on UTI, and on 3QD to reflect that new knowledge, so that where before I would always say the US should kill all Muslims, now I’m espousing a more enlightened view. It was quite a busy task, not only editing posts meticulously but also registering under 15 different names to make it look as if right-wing trolls were attacking me for not bashing Muslims. But you made me so ashamed now of having incessantly argued for that benighted stance that I felt compelled to rectify everything [/Alon]

    Gee, Alon..no need to go to that extreme; it was just that considering all the “nonwhite nationalists who don’t get the ‘Islamofascist’ threat to women’s collective freedoms” smack that you’ve been throwing at your critics, it was kinda difficult to tell the difference. Thanks for the correction.

    BTW…if you can find anything in my post about you calling for Muslims to be killed (well, other than the implication that our present government should do whatever is neccessary to “liberate” women from their “oppressive” governments…which these days also include such liberation tactics as mass bombings, cluster bombs, and napalm), then please email me the appropriate passages so that I can apologize profusely for my errors. (Of course, since I said no such thing, never mind.)

    As for my distinguishing between burqas and hijab: nice of you to miss the point. I did say that the burqa was indeed a symbol of women’s oppression….when it was imposed on women against their will. I would say the exact same thing about the hijab…if it was forced on women against their free will. But….the fact remains that there may still be some Muslim women who actually choose to wear hijab (and, heaven forbid, even the occasional burqa) out of true faith for their religious belief. however repressive it may seem to an outsider. (It’s kinda like the woman who chooses to consume or make pornography or perform in sex work, in violation of all radical feminist principles.) I may not like it, and neither do you, but until that actual woman states clearly that she wants out (of either porn or burqa), I don’t think that it is our business to lecture her on how “oppressed” she really is. The issue should not be with her style of dress; but with the government’s misuse of their power to impose their beliefs in oppressive ways….and in that score, those “Muslim” governments have nothing on their Christian and Western brothers in power when it comes to that.

    Other than that; since you chose to simply ignore the other main points in my response; I’ll simply move on…except for this:

    [Alon’s response to Menis]
    Menis, how is that relevant? Insisting that every post that’s tangentially related to third world misogyny concentrate on bashing the US is almost a textbook definition of intellectual bullying. It’s intellectual bullying when conservatives insist that everyone who writes about Iraq start by saying that Saddam is evil and violent, it’s intellectual bullying when radical feminists insist that everyone who says something about rape start by saying that it’s a horrible thing that exists too much, and it’s intellectual bullying when ethnic nationalists insist that everyone who as much as brings up the Taliban start by saying that the US played a role in putting the Taliban in power.
    [/Alon]

    Intellectual bullying, you say?? I’m no fan of radical feminism and definitely no conservative….but I’d say that you don’t have to be a shill for Saddam to oppose the Iraq War (and remember that the US backed and armed Saddam during his worst savagery…that is not “intellectual bullying” but stated FACT); you don’t have to be a radical feminist of the MacKinnon ilk to say that rape is not too good a deal (or do you believe that those who think that rape is not that bad aren’t intellectual bullies?? Some feminist you are!!); and you don’t have to be an “ethnic nationalist” to see the truth about the US backing the Taliban.

    On the other hand, Alon, dismissing your critics with liberal offerings of the race card (“ethnic nationalists”; Black and Brown people who “think they speak for the entire Third World”…as if only pseudoradical White men are the only ones qualified for that) makes you sound like much worse than the “intellectual bully” that you accuse Brownfemipower and the rest of being.

    With that, I yield the floor.

    Anthony

  20. Alon Levy says:

    Gee, Alon..no need to go to that extreme; it was just that considering all the “nonwhite nationalists who don’t get the ‘Islamofascist’ threat to women’s collective freedoms” smack that you’ve been throwing at your critics, it was kinda difficult to tell the difference. Thanks for the correction.

    I can play that game too… show me where I said you didn’t get the Islamist threat to women. If just saying “The forced burqa really is oppressive” is enough, then your telling me that not all Muslims are terrorists is equivalent to saying I think all Muslims ought to be exterminated.

    and you don’t have to be an “ethnic nationalist” to see the truth about the US backing the Taliban.

    You certainly don’t. However, I contend that you do need to be an ethnic nationalist to complain about burqa jokes. There’s a mountain of difference between saying that the US created Al-Qaida (it didn’t exactly back the Taliban, but it’s close) and saying that as a result, every white American who photoshops a burqa as the symbol of the ultimate in misogyny is a racist or imperialist apologist.

    Reiterating that the US backed Saddam and Bin Laden suggests that you’re not talking to me, or even to the gallery (which is practically nonexistent on a blog this size), but to a neoconservative bogeyman, who thinks the US can do no wrong, and who supports bombing Muslim countries liberally. I mean, I don’t expect everyone who occasionally comes here to know that I’ve gotten some heat for writing several times about how modern Islamism is basically the result of European racism, but this thread alone contains more than enough clues that I’m not that bogeyman.

    Now, Sula… don’t say I don’t keep promises.

    are you in their heads? What gives you the power and/or insight to declare what they think? Could it be because you think you are supeior and they are just little old colored folks?

    No, I’m not in their heads. You’re right, I misspoke. Instead of “they think…” I should’ve said “either they think that, or they’re lying.” It’s possible, though highly unlikely, that BFP doesn’t believe what she says, but instead writes Colbert-style satire.

    Try proving that feminism is not in fact a form of colonization instead of dismissing the assertion

    I’m going to be brief here because I want to write a full post about it later, but here are a few pieces of evidence:
    – In the West, feminism generally doesn’t correlate with imperialism. NOW’s foreign policy stance isn’t up to Chomsky’s standards, but it’s not up to Rumsfeld’s, either.
    – Further, colonization tends to come in waves that are quite independent of women’s rights. For example, the American invasions and coups in the Cold War era were at their strongest in the 50s and 60s, then became a bit weaker in the 70s, and then accelerated again in the 80s. If feminism had been a form of colonization, you’d instead see a massive increase in imperialism between 1963 and about 1975, and then a decrease in the mid-80s, following the backlash against second wave feminism.
    – Colonialism rarely contributes to feminism. Britain abolished the practice of widow burning in India, but it didn’t hurry to establish suffrage or anything of that sort. Similarly, American-supported regimes are only less misogynist than their anti-American counterparts in areas where the only alternative to pro-Americanism is fundamentalism, such as Iran.

    Where is such a mandate? Who made this assertion?

    Nobody says it explicitly, of course. It’s similar to characterizations of conservatism as anti-science: religious conservatives never claim to hate science – they just hate it in practice. In similar vein, the subtext of BFP and B | L’s posts was that since imperialism sometimes pretends to be feminist, real feminists shouldn’t make burqa jokes. Now, Rumsfeld would have probably never discovered the misogyny of the Taliban on his own, so it’s likely the rhetoric was simply a result of feminist pressure. In August 2001, feminist groups couldn’t get anyone to care that the Taliban was oppressing women; in October, people were willing to listen for obvious reasons. Saying it’s somehow bad for feminists to make light of that oppression without mouthing proper post-colonial platitudes is exactly saying that activists should shut up whenever people are willing to listen.

    Given that most radicals seem to have a visceral if unconscious hatred of political effectiveness, I can’t say I’m surprised (but then again, this hatred could simply be a byproduct of something else).

    Doesn’t matter to who? Are you the authorial, the divine voice that determines what matters?

    Well, it doesn’t matter, period. Just like it makes sense to say “fundamentalists hate science; it doesn’t matter if they’re Muslim or Christian,” so does it make sense to similarly generalize about radicals.

    Well white are in power right now in America, or you declaring they are tyrants, since this is a blanket statement, or are you implying only the people in power in third worlds?

    Did you gloss over the word “radical”?

  21. gordo says:

    Alon–

    First of all, let me state up front that Saddam is a very bad man.

    I have to say that this whole controversy caught me off-guard, but in retrospect I can see why some people got their panties in a twist. Er, I can see why some people got their backs up.

    First, there’s the context. That photo was taken at the infamous blogger’s powwow which was attended exclusively by whites. As I understand it, only one non-white person was even invited. And then there was Jane Hamsher’s incredibly insensitive responses to the whole dust-up, which both surprised and disappointed me.

    Then, there was the use of a photo. A photo is worth 1,000 words, which makes it a very blunt instrument. If you’re going to use photoshop, you’re going to have to be a bit unfair sometimes, and you’re going to offend people. I can remember being taken to task for sticking Lou Dobbs’ face on the body of an American Nazi demonstrator. But as you point out, it can be tough to create an image that gets your point across in a way that will be understood by everyone.

    I think that when you throw all of these factors together, you get the kind of overreach that we’ve seen from Amanda’s critics. I mean, are we really debating whether or not Amanda has made herself into a tool of imperialism because of a photoshop? Was Katha Pollitt an unwitting racist for all of those years that she tried to raise consciousness about the Taliban’s oppression of women?

    Of course, when you point out the absurdity of some of the comments I’ve seen here, it just makes people more defensive. How am I supposed to take someone seriously when they tell Amanda, “just because your site features a woman of color, doesn’t make it a woman of color site!”? How can I do anything but laugh when someone accuses you of wanting to kill all Muslims? I can remember a thread in which someone took you to task precisely because you argued against killing Muslims.

    What’s really sad about all of this is that people have been spending a lot of energy attacking one another over that burqa picture, when we could have all been fighting the common enemy: Ann Althouse.

  22. Alon Levy says:

    As I understand it, only one non-white person was even invited.

    Actually, that’s debatable. Jill said Daou told her he’d invited 4-5 different nonwhite bloggers, none of which could come. I remember reading somewhere a post by one of the people who sided with Liza that if the FDL side had immediately explained that Daou had invited “3 bloggers of color” instead of cranked up the flamethrower, that shitstorm would never have happened.

    I can remember being taken to task for sticking Lou Dobbs’ face on the body of an American Nazi demonstrator.

    I remember that too, but it was one or two commenters, as opposed to multiple bloggers screaming for your head and accusing you of deliberately not understanding. But obviously, the bloggers who’d get pissed off from your making a Nazi comparison about Lou Dobbs don’t generally read you, whereas virtually everyone both on the liberal and radical blogospheres knows Pandagon.

  23. Alon:”Oh, and Anthony, it’s good to see you’re distinguishing hijabs and burqas. Maybe in three threads you’ll also realize I wasn’t saying a single thing about hijabs, except “Nobody’s saying anything about hijabs.”

    You know, if you’re going to make an arse of yourself, you might want to at least make sure you’re not being an ignorant arse Alon. Since you didn’t bother to educate yourself on this issue, let me school you for a second.

    Burqahs are a part of hijab. “Hijab” is not a piece of clothing. Burqahs are just as much hijab as scarfs, veils, gloves, socks, and all the other clothing commonly worn by Arab and Muslim women.

    At least people like BrownFemiPower and Bitch|Lab take the time to understand what they are talking about before they write which, in the eyes of THIS Arab woman, makes them far more qualified to speak on this issue than you have shown yourself to be. No one except the other under-educated folks like you are defending this nonsense but I am glad that you folks have each other. Even idiots need friends, I suppose.

  24. Alon Levy says:

    Thanks for explaining, Bint, but out of curiosity, if I’d said something similar to you, would you accept it or start ranting about how I’m lecturing you?

    That said, burqas are not “just as much hijab.” The one area of the world where women wear them in is the one area where not wearing them is likely to get you killed. Again, nobody’s said anything about veiling, even Saudi-style, which is still functional in certain cases.

    As for “you folks have each other,” the tonnage of projection you need to engage in to say something like that can crush an elephant. I don’t retreat into so-called safe spaces where everyone who disagrees with me is deleted. “We folks” are virtually everyone, except your little nationalist clique.

  25. KH says:

    … BFP proceeded to systematically portray feminism as a form of colonialism, even though modern Western feminism’s views about gender issues in other cultures are taken from each culture’s own feminist movement.

    Western feminism’s views on other cultures aren’t one thing, & in no case does it take them passively or unmediated from any autochthonous source. The best-informed, most engaged Western feminists, e.g., those working in sophisticated international NGOs, obviously communicate with native informants, & influence can go both ways. But however exquisitely informed they are by local feminist collaborators, Western feminists remain Western ideologues, & their motivating feminist commitments, engagement with multiculturalism, etc, – their wills – remain their own.

    Western feminists’ influence – through NGOs, the UN system, their power over their own countries’ foreign policies – on governance in the non-Western world has on balance been good, although not uniformly so. (How I evaluate any specific Western feminist’s views on another culture reflects my attitude toward conflicts within feminism & between it & other emancipatory movements. Afghanistan remade in Catharine MacKinnon’s image wouldn’t entirely satisfy Janet Halley, or me.) But it would be wrong to imagine they passively take their views from the locals, or don’t exercise & seek to exercise, real power, including the coercive state power, in other countries, under conditions of inequality.

    But this really isn’t the point, is it? Most popular & blogospheric feminism is as removed from that world of international feminist high politics as from the 14th century. Many US feminists are relatively ill-informed, of average intelligence, & only faintly interested in the rest of the world. Only in narcissistic fantasy are they all inherently free of the nationalism, racism, parochial class interest, anti-Semitism, that affect others. If they aspire to speak for universal truth & justice, they have a responsibility to face up to the kind of self-regarding counterfeit universalism to which the post-Enlightenment West has always been susceptible, & which right now thoroughly corrupts US politics & culture.

    If BFP actually categorically thinks egalitarian & feminist values intrinsically are colonialism, I’m sure she’s wrong. But I didn’t read her to say that. In any case, a serious criticism remains, & it isn’t that Western feminism is the precipitate of all evil, or always & everywhere innately a form of racism or colonialism, a wrongful exercise of power over someone. Rather, it’s that individual feminists aren’t free from common flaws – the historical record is quite clear about this, your assurances notwithstanding – & when it exercises power, as it assuredly does, it should be honest about them. Many Western feminists, including the ones to whose views you point, know this, but acrid categorical assertions innocence suggest it still bears repeating.

  26. Alon Levy says:

    If BFP actually categorically thinks egalitarian & feminist values intrinsically are colonialism, I’m sure she’s wrong.

    I don’t think she said so outright, but she quoted people as a way of implying that Western feminism is a form of colonialism, and attacked people who had a consistent anti-war record. In fact, earlier this year, Amanda published an article by Mandos that addresses that very issue of how to engage in international feminism without being coopted by warmongers. It takes a seriously delusional person to think that Amanda and Lindsay really support wars of aggression; attacking them for that makes as much sense as attacking Atrios for not wanting the Democrats to win elections.

    Rather, it’s that individual feminists aren’t free from common flaws – the historical record is quite clear about this, your assurances notwithstanding – & when it exercises power, as it assuredly does, it should be honest about them.

    I’m well aware of that fact. I don’t want to quote what I said on Reclusive Leftist a few months ago (“95% of people who attack Islam’s misogyny don’t care for women’s rights except as a stick to bash Islam with”), because it was in obscure enough a place that I’d need to be insane to expect people to know about it. But I never talked about individual feminists, except the two who were attacked; my claim is that feminism as a social movement doesn’t serve nationalist interests.

  27. KH says:

    Your claim is true only in the uninteresting sense that Western feminism doesn’t entirely, intrinsically, & intentionality serve colonialist & nationalist interest. The traits of individual feminists are reflected in those of feminism as a movement. Western feminists’ attitudes toward nationalism & colonialism aren’t separable from their feminism, like a taste for desert landscapes; they can conflict with, condition, corrupt their feminist commitments. Purposeful warmongering isn’t the only or main way Western feminism can legitimize national & colonial domination. Like other people, Western feminists can have implicit biases that co-ordinate their feminism with nationalist & colonialist interests. Feminist concerns can draw even anti-national feminists into complicity with nationalist & colonialist projects.

  28. suzie says:

    i can’t believe i’ve been missing out on this hilarious thread. alon i think your original post was whack and hyperbolic. you made some points but couched in some ridiculing tone….but i’ve enjoyed this thoroughly.

  29. Alon Levy says:

    Feminist concerns can draw even anti-national feminists into complicity with nationalist & colonialist projects.

    Can you give an example of this happening?

    alon i think your original post was whack and hyperbolic. you made some points but couched in some ridiculing tone….but i’ve enjoyed this thoroughly.

    It’s hard to be hyperbolic on this… Bitch | Lab did in fact come on record once saying that asking her questions was a form of enslavement.

  30. KH says:

    Nations are a fact, & even radical cosmopolitans – which most Western feminists & feminisms aren’t – are constrained to live in the world. As it happens, they usually have other commitments, some of them feminist ones, & aren’t always equally hostile or indifferent to all parties in all national & colonial conflicts. Cases differ & they balance interests like everyone else. Sometimes they hold their noses & support nationalist & colonialist projects for their own reasons, including feminist ones. When their anti-national & feminist interests diverge, they may resign themselves to ‘white men saving brown women from brown men’ (Gayatri Spivak’s phrase). In this they’re like liberal hawks in the Iraq war, who would have preferred their own to Bush’s war, but rested on the hope that his would also serve their interests. So they served his. It may be painful, & it’s sometimes the rational, even courageous, choice, but collective action among parties with different interests inherently makes for complicity. It’s striking that, at this historical moment, such a thing should seen unobvious.

    Even before the rise of modern feminism, nationalist & colonialist enterprises were legitimized by reference to the status of women. People who don’t care about women’s oppression don’t cynically offer feminist reasons for national & colonial aggression just to gain the support of other people who don’t care about women’s oppression. One reason they do it is to get the legitimizing support of people who do care, including feminists (incl. avant la letter), & they’re often not wasting their breath.

    You can be forgiven for not knowing the literature (by which I don’t mean online chatter) of postcolonial feminism & post-feminism. Whatever else might be said about it, it does systematically refer to the rich history of divergence between feminist & anti-colonial/anti-national movements. It’s largely built on the divergence. Off the top of my head, the Mexican War, British imperialism in South Asia (& liberal imperialism generally), the Spanish-American War, etc., etc. Bartolomé de Las Casas has interesting words somewhere about Spanish indignation – much of it justified & no doubt heartfelt – at gender relations in the Americas.

    But back to post-9/11. Many feminists were persuaded to support the Afghanistan & Iraq wars for feminist reasons. (I say nothing about the merits of either war.) This is very recent history & well known, if not to you. Some feminists, who also are nationalists, decided for some combination of feminist & national reasons, but your question concerns only anti-national feminists. Some feminists explicitly disavowed nationalist or colonialist motives in the movement to war, & they can’t all have been entirely lacking in sincerity & self-knowledge. I believe that feminists were less likely to support either war than non-feminists, but were more likely than they would have been but for their feminist concerns – than if Andrea Dworkin had sat in Mullah Omar’s chair, or Saddam’s. Feminism legitimized their choice. Important institutions of the feminist movement were involved, & sometimes came into conflict with Afghan feminists & anti-war groups, as in the case of the Feminist Majority Foundation. Even among feminists whose feminism wasn’t mixed with nationalist & colonialist interests, feminism produced support for those interests. The resulting dispute is based on real facts & real conflicts of interest, not some hyperbole-proof delusion.

    The question is fair enough, but at some point – as when you know enough to speak so sweepingly as you do here – skepticism can look extravagant, highly ideological, even if not quite enslaving.

  31. Alon Levy says:

    Many feminists were persuaded to support the Afghanistan & Iraq wars for feminist reasons. (I say nothing about the merits of either war.)

    That’s true for Afghanistan, which feminists had been begging the West to do something about for years before 9/11. But it doesn’t make feminism colonialist; in particular, the original assertion that feminism is a form of colonialism doesn’t follow from that at all. On the contrary, the fact that feminists tried popularizing the Taliban’s misogyny before the Taliban became the enemy is evidence that it isn’t. This is where my allusion to “people should shut up unless nobody in power will listen” comes in: it was right for feminists to talk about the Taliban’s not letting women read in 1998 when they faced an uphill battle, and it was right for them to talk about it in late 2001, when people would’ve listened if they’d said Bin Laden kidnaps American children and drinks their blood.

    Iraq is something completely different. NOW supported Clinton’s bombing in 1998, if I’m not mistaken. But by and large feminists didn’t support the 2003 invasion, and the rhetoric for the invasion was never given a feminist spin. The justifications for Iraq revolved first around WMD, and then around human rights. But nobody important talked about women’s rights in Iraq; that would have been mad, considering that Saddam’s record on gender was relatively good, and that Chalabi was too close to Iran to be even as feminist as Saddam. The main humanitarian argument for the Iraq war was “He gassed his own people,” not, “He’s throwing women out of school so that they can’t read.”

    I believe that feminists were less likely to support either war than non-feminists, but were more likely than they would have been but for their feminist concerns – than if Andrea Dworkin had sat in Mullah Omar’s chair, or Saddam’s.

    Well, there’s a fairly straightforward way of checking that, namely comparing feminists to generalist liberals. As far as I can tell, a minority of feminists supported the Iraq invasion, as did a minority of liberals. Thomas Friedman’s arguments resonated with some people, who glossed over the fact that an invasion of Iraq would cause massive civilian casualties.

  32. KH says:

    Wikipedia tells me ‘colonialism’ 2ndarily refers to ‘a set of beliefs used to legitimize or promote’ colonialism, the practice. The question is whether feminist beliefs are ever used to legitimize or promote colonial domination, or serve nationalist interests. (‘Used to’ complicates.)

    Your #30 is about anti-national feminists – the limiting case, which I took to be most difficult for the argument. By definition, their reasons for supporting (some kind of) intervention into Afghan gender relations differed from the national reasons that later led to war, so it’s not perplexing that they supported intervention before the national reasons arose. (Although in the movement as a whole – which includes people not free of national feeling –, support for doing some thing existed before 9/11, there was much less energy around the subject. The post-9/11 increment wasn’t a sudden access of feminist spirit.) Even in this limiting case – which may only account for a minority of feminists – anti-national feminists had felt reasons to support colonial war.* The fact that, by supposition, their own motives were national doesn’t get you the conclusion you seek.

    An action (the Afghan war) may have more than one consequence (women’s emancipation, national subjugation). An anti-colonialist feminist, judging national subjugation to be bad & women’s emancipation good, may on balance support war. A nationalist (in or out of the White House), whose evaluation of women’s emancipation & national subjugation may be the reverse of the feminist’s, also supports it. He maybe starts it. They choose the same war, but diametrically. Properties name objects; the war is colonialism. The anti-colonialist feminist lacks colonialist intentions and intentionally supports colonialism. You say that makes her anti-colonialist, I don’t. Whatever you call it, her feminist beliefs lead her to support (legitimize or promote) the war. She’s accountable for it. Whether she was right or wrong to prefer women’s rights over national rights in this case, it’s a universal problem, esp. but not only in collective action. (See Chris Kutz, Complicity, 2K.) Our differences here may not be just verbal; the real, looming question is how political & moral accountability is distributed, & we may be trying to disagree about that.

    You’re right to worry about pressure on speech rights, but it doesn’t call rights into question to say that not all true speech is good, or to criticize a perlocutionary act. It’s a self-subverting claim. Even textbook defenses of speech rights rely on consequentialist arguments, & without accepting restriction of true speech that has bad consequences, on reflection most people accept that it can be reasonable to criticize it. Context does matter. Introductory ethics books & daily life offer examples of harmful true speech. Speakers who pursue a practical project, like feminism, are rationally concerned with effects as well as truth, no less so if it’s good cause. If I seek to stop bad acts, it’s generally good to call them by their rightful names. Beyond the intrinsic pleasure of denunciation, the truth is a value, & you have to recognize evil before you can stop them. But a lynch mob at the point of deciding a victim’s fate isn’t propitious for publicly denouncing his bad acts, or anything that would further rouse its ill will. This is also a matter of practical reason if your purpose is to stop bad acts & not just to criticize on particular one, the victim’s.

    But can the subaltern never be spoken of? Is she forever immune from criticism? Some people, groups, states affect to be, imagine they are, or are under chronic threat, & their desire to suppress invidious statements, true or false, about them gets old fast. I get the concern, & can only offer bromides, but don’t pretend there’s no issue. The harm of some harmful true speech lies in its partiality, & is remediable by … more true speech, by speaker or critic. True statements can mislead (think: advertising), as by encouraging false inferences. They can be embedded in a medium of lies like an insect in amber. The war propaganda of aggressive regimes often contains true statements & real images. During the Soviet Afghan war, the Red Army, or righteous Soviet feminists, could truthfully criticize (already well known) mujahideen misogyny, but truth-value isn’t the only property of speech acts, & isn’t a defense against some criticisms of their other properties.

    I mostly grant your point about Iraq. Feminist concerns obviously were much, much less salient there. There was nontrivial propaganda about rape rooms (the term itself is an artifact of the war; see representative quotes at http://www.slate.com/id/2100014/), & other less striking cases of Ba’athist gender. Modern war propaganda always is conscious of women’s attitudes. In 2002-03 there was extensive reporting about the gender gap in support for war, & its advocates took care to offer, if not feminist reasons, at least women’s reasons for it. More diffusely, the spurious association between Saddam & Islamism fostered by war propaganda, & general lumpen-orientalist ideas about creepy Muslim gender relations, leave a general stink in the room, & can create apparent feminist-inflected reasons to disdain those people. The adverse trend of gender post-2003 is an irony of the war, not evidence for your claim. But none of this specifically addresses the claim about the limiting case of anti-national feminists, & I’d just as well not have mentioned it.

    I understand the statistical problems of causal inference in a situation like this, at least faintly. Assuming the representative feminist = the representative non-feminist generalist liberal + feminism, & assuming away aggregation problems, I suspect matching with non-feminist generalist liberals would show a feminist effect. The variation within feminism is part of the issue. The ‘If my grandmother had wheels, she’d be a wagon’ aspect remains.

    * I take it we’re putting aside the distinction between colonialism, serving nationalist interests, supporting war, warmongering, etc. Also whether Afghanistan actually is a colonial war, a just war, a good war.

  33. Laila says:

    I have been lurking in this argument with interest. I agree with quite a few of your points, Alon, though you made them a bit hyperbolically. I especially love (and by “love” I mean “enjoy laughing at”) the arguments from identity–“only POC can decide what’s racist or not!” (which, as a WOC I find insulting and just plain WEIRD, because “POC” are not an entity at all)–because we’re ONLINE and who knows who’s a POC or not?

    KH–your argument seems to be that if your ideology can be co-opted into colonialist ends, that makes it (or you) colonialist, or at least partially guilty of colonialism.

    I don’t accept that.

    Also, I doubt you could name one prominent self-identified feminist who supported the war in Afghanistan for feminist reasons. There are some feminist and non-feminist liberals who supported the war in Afghanistan because they truly believed it was necessary. There were also some antifeminist conservative woman who argued for the war on feminist reasons, mostly as a way of accusing real feminists of being hypocrites. But I don’t know of any feminists who supported the war for feminist reasons.

  34. Alon Levy says:

    I think Irshad Manji ended up supporting American-led wars for a variety of humanitarian reasons, but she’s not a particularly mainstream figure, and most Muslim liberals seem to run away from her. But you’re right – I haven’t seen any feminist organization support racist restrictions on immigrants’ rights or wars of aggression on feminist grounds.

    The point about “liberals who supported the war in Afghanistan because they truly believed it was necessary” is crucial. If I think invading Afghanistan was good as a method of rooting out Al-Qaida, it doesn’t mean feminism is colonialist. If a feminist opposes prostitution on the grounds that it’s icky (and I’d wager there are many simply because legalizing prostitution is a fairly fringe liberal issue), it doesn’t mean feminism is anti-prostitution.

  35. […] But back to the here and now….things quickly degenerated into a nasty Pier 6 brawl (wrasslin’ term) when some of Amanda’s defenders in the liberal (and feminist) blogosphere started biting back that the complaints of the WOCs were being “selfish” and amounted to “black nationalism” in their attempts to shame White feminists into submission to “racist tactics”. Two particularly acidic responses came from Lindsey at Majikthisse and a young man named Alon Levy, who even went as far as to break out the old “Islamofascist” card in saying that critics of Amanda were simply soft on the innate evil of Islam amongst women, if not active agents of “Islamofascism”.  There was even a nice rant posted to Alas, a Blog by a “Greenconscionse” which attempted to recruit people into the War on Muslims using radfem rhetoric (an excerpt follows): We should do more than criticize, we should support this war, expand it into Iran and Saudi Arabia, blow up the patriarchy everywhere possible. Support the immigration of women to the US from any Moslem country without husbands or fathers, forbid the oppression of women by Muslims in this country. Call it slavery and act against it wherever we can. The boys shouted us down in 1972 and they will do it again except for the decent men – shout back. Better yet turn your back on them and reach out to your sisters in Afghanistan and if it ever gets safer to your sisters in Iraq. […]

  36. >”only POC can decide what’s racist or not!” (which, as a WOC I find insulting and just plain WEIRD, because “POC” are not an entity at all)

    Thank you. I came onto this subject on the Majikthise thread, basically feeling that this was a case of people searching for something at which to take offense, and I was exasperated at the pettiness of it, and the baleful attempt to control the humorist’s every last utterance. I ended up being talked in by a very intelligent and reasonable woman there, who, though she never did agree with me that it was an overreaction, consistently lived by her principles and never was disrespectful, so she showed very well that there was at least one reasonable person on the other side of the argument.

    I suppose (and Laila, I think you’re alluding to this, if I read you correctly) that one of the problems is that the people in any group that take offense to a joke (and my own group has this happen too) must always make themselves out to be The Face of that whole group. You think you’re Jewish/Muslim/a Person of Color? Sorry, buddy, out of the way: _I_ speak for our group. If you go along with the joke, then you’re an Uncle Tom/Self-hating Jew/etc., etc., etc. But why aren’t the people who feel the joke is fine considered just as much a representative of the group? And in the end, must WOC or POC or any other ethnicity or religion be considered as one homogenous unit? CAN any ethnic or religious group be considered that way? People are diverse, and our opinions aren’t to be dictated to us by a committee based on our race or religion. That seems far more bigoted a concept than this joke was.

    Another issue was that it was odd to have white women arguing for the right of African-American women to be offended by a joke that was about Muslim women’s oppression (or perpetrating Muslim women’s oppression, depending upon your point of view in the argument). The other side argued that to disallow this argument was ad hominem; but my rejoinder (and others’, I don’t know who said it first) was that ad hominem is a fallacy when it’s a personal attack that diverts attention from the argument; this argument, however, is entirely based upon the races and religions of the debaters. I haven’t seen this refuted yet.

    Finally, there is the fact that people do take offense at _so many things_. Do you like NWA? Prince? Led Zeppelin? Bing. Bing. Bing. People have protested vehemently against all three, because of the N word, sex, and the picture of the Hindenburg going down in flames, being insensitive to the Zeppelin family and Hindenburg survivors. Richard Pryor? The Onion? In fact, can you name a comedian or satirist, besides Bill Cosby (but oops, there again, there are women who find him insufferably misogynist), who hasn’t offended people of one group or another? I’ll wait. I feel it’s plain: if we jump every time someone’s offended, we soon won’t have any humour or satire at all. On the other hand, I don’t want someone just stepping on people. For me, the line is drawn at “not funny.” If it is funny, I say step back and let them satirize or joke. But I do think that there is a constant push and pull between respect and comedy, they do seem mutually antagonistic very often, and I don’t know how to resolve that, because they’re each an absolute good.

    The lady who I felt acquitted herself so well at Majikthise said, “who decides who’s ‘milking it?'” This brought up a further good point: this is always a subjective feeling. “I’m offended.” “Well I’m not.” Who is right? Can anyone be right? Can we legislate this, and lay out rules that will ensure respectful comedy and satire, yet effective comedy and satire? I don’t think so. I think that comedy and satire brook no rules, nor should they. They are always negotiated by individuals, in specific situations, for which hard and fast rules cannot be laid down in advance, and those individuals are negotiating a political game. You cannot regulate a tone of voice. Also, satire, by its very nature, usually seeks to offend one faction, though it often appeals to another. In this case, I think it’s clear that Pandagon sought to satirize a train of thought that was ripe for it. Was it insensitive? At the start of the argument, I really felt that the Afghani community as a whole needed to decide that, but of course, thinking it over with what Laila just said, is this not making the Afghanis out to be one homogenous unit, with only one voice? (Though boy, will I be embarrassed if Laila comes in and says, “Um–you misunderstood me, dude…wasn’t talking about anything like that…”)

    The final lesson from this experience, and another like it regarding humour someone found sexist, is that if sex, religion or race are mentioned or implied in humour, people can become annoyed; but if you tell the people who are annoyed that they’re overreacting, they become simply FURIOUS. Why is that?

  37. >If I think invading Afghanistan was good as a method of rooting out Al-Qaida, it doesn’t mean feminism is colonialist.

    On Afghanistan, this sums it up well, though I don’t identify myself as a feminist (personist, maybe). Amanda as lackey for the jackbooted imperialist will simply never be an idea I can buy. Nor does the Afghan War seem to me to be anything but a response to 9/11. Self-defense is not imperialism.

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