Posts Tagged ‘ feminists ’

What Goldsmiths Feminists and LGBTQ+ Society Don’t Get

Many years ago, as a medical student in Lahore, I wrote a  blog challenging non-medical use of circumcision, namely for religious reasons. The blog went viral on campus. One evening, my anxious roommate informed me of an angry discussion going on about my blog in the hostel common room among some 100 Muslim students, and that I must escape.

I didn’t need to be told twice. I’d sensed the hostility long before that. I’d already been receiving threats of bodily harm on Facebook and on the blog’s comment section.

A small protest broke out on campus, and the Muslim students demanded the Dean to expel me from college, or let them ‘handle’ the matter themselves.

I secretly met with the Dean. I lied to her about the blog being mine. There wasn’t much else I could say. I was human, and I didn’t want to be expelled, or worse. Although a Muslim myself, I was ostracized by the Muslim community. I didn’t complain. That was the better of the possible outcomes, and to some extent, I thought I deserved it. My parents certainly did, and oh, there’s an interesting story there too.

Eventually, I discovered that I had options. I thought about it, did my research, and gradually became an atheist. Before coming out of the closet, I brought up the subject of atheism with my mum and dad in the car, on our way to Islamabad. He told me it’s acceptable to be one from the beginning, but one cannot leave Islam. Why, I asked. Because it’s not a joke, he said, and murtids (apostates) are to be put to death.

You might accuse me of exaggerating, but I’m not. This is also the law in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan: Blasphemy and apostasy are punishable by death.

Needless to say, I did not come out of the closet that evening.

Please note that I used the general term ‘Muslim’ here instead of ‘Islamist’, as in my country, these are not well distinguished. No Musalman identifies himself as an ‘Islamist’ – it’s a label we unilaterally slap onto them to separate them from those whom we describe as the good Muslims. But Islamism is a culture existing within the Muslim community. Consider how you would feel if I argued, “Not all Men are Misogynists!”. I’ll use the same language that you use for white men.

I realize that this idea upsets you, but please bear with me.

Muslims exist simultaneously in two different worlds. One is yours, the Western world, in which Muslims are a marginalized group, and often subjected to gross anti-Muslim bigotry.
Muslims2Worlds
The other world is where I live. In the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, where Muslims are the ruling class. Islam is not a counter-cultural phenomenon here. It is the established order. It is the law. It is the man. It is the bane of all the minorities within the Muslim states, and even Muslim communities abroad.

And this is a world you are NOT acquainted with. Islamists have convinced you that all the stories about blasphemers being lynched, and atheists being hacked to death, and Iranian women being stoned to death for adultery, or forced to wear burqas, are “way overblown” and mostly just a way to make Muslims look savage.

While that may be the motive for white Islamophobes, the problem is not a myth. Just as an MRA might argue that all the stories about the high prevalence of rape in the United Kingdom or the United States are “way overblown”.

But I know I’m not overreacting.

Maryam Namazie comes from a world where Muslims aren’t a “minority”, but the privileged class, and her tone is suited to that paradigm.

She embodies the agony of all ex-Muslims, including me, who live in constant fear in Islamic countries.

She embodies the frustration of gay brown people, like me, who Muslims attempt to suppress by quoting scripture and telling religious stories to their children about ‘Qaum-e-Lut’.

She embodies the defeat of feminists, like me, who fight for political reforms to end domestic violence, only to have the bill shot down in the Pakistani parliament because it goes against Quranic injunctions.

Those ISOC boys who interrupted the talk by an ex-Muslim Iranian woman, telling her to shut the fuck up, are a marginalized minority to you, but an oppressor to us.

They say that if we insult Islam and call it out as an archaic, barbaric system, then we’re being Islamophobes. The question is, how can we NOT talk about Islam, when Islam is what gets thrown in our face every time we ask for the freedom to love whom we want, and believe what we want?

As a person from a Muslim background, I empathize with your need to clamp down on rhetoric that could be used to incite anti-Muslim bigotry. But stop demanding me to put the welfare of my own atheist ex-Muslim community aside, and go out of my way to aid the empowerment of those who enable my oppression.

Give us a chance to fight the ideological demons that are internal to our Islamic world, the same way you’ve fought with your Christian right.

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Stop Degrading Male Feminists. We’re on Your Side.

Here’s what I don’t enjoy…

Being called “pussy-whipped” by men who accuse me of faking my enthusiasm for gender equality as a cheap way of “attracting chicks”; and, at the same time, being shut down by a ‘mansplaining’ charge by women who disagree with me, as if my gender automatically invalidates everything I write on the subject of feminism. I acknowledge that women have better insight on problems affecting women than men do (duh), but that does not invariably each one of them an expert on the feminist theory. It’s like when my conservative grandmother says she “doesn’t need a lecture from a man”, when I challenge her outdated view that women must always know how to cook.

I acknowledge my male privilege, and the fact that I sometimes get more attention for saying essentially the same thing that female writers have been saying for over a decade. But that is not my fault. I didn’t ask for this bias towards me. I’m trying to use my male privilege to undermine male privilege itself, the best I can.

From the conversations I’ve had with certain female feminists, I’ve come out wondering if I should just delete all that I’ve written on my blog as a (gasp!) ‘male’, and simply replace the text with links to articles of Jessica Valenti or other female feminists. Whenever I find myself in a discussion on women’s issues, I should pretend I’m illiterate, whimper and point my paw at the nearest woman, because fuck me if I have an observation to make as an actual writer.

Several days ago, I got into a Twitter-tussle with Eiynah Nicemangoes, the creator of ‘My Chacha is Gay’, whose work I have much respect for. That respect was somewhat lost when a post appeared on her blog “highlighting the asshole brand of feminism”. Basically, the blog rails out against feminists like myself who objected to the Rosetta scientist’s sexist shirt (#shirtgate) in November 2014. How dare these “asshole” feminists see anything wrong with a shirt with pictures of giant-breasted female archetypes plastered over it, that too while he’s practically representing the scientific team that landed the probe on a comet?

On Facebook, I confronted Eiynah. I challenged her blog, stating that the shirt was indeed sexist. Not “stop-the-planet-and-hang-this-scientist” sexist, but sexist nonetheless as it reinforces the idea of women as sexual objects. Frustratingly, her first line of defense was pointing out my manhood. Turns out, I was ‘mansplaining’ to her. Mic drop. How dare I, a man, challenge her views on feminism?

Admittedly, I once took pride in calling myself a “sex-positive” feminist too, as Eiynah does. My views have since evolved, thanks mostly to radical feminist bloggers like Heather McNammara, and a lot of other wonderful people (mostly female feminists) on social media who patiently put up with my ignorance and rudeness. Unlike Eiynah and several other feminists I’ve met since then, they did not use my gender to devalue or disqualify my views on feminism, but carefully considered the quality of my arguments, and the accuracy of what I said.

More recently, I’ve met feminists who’ve vociferously defended niqab, and implicitly, other self-imposed burdens like breast implants and extreme cosmetic treatment; with a basic argument that I, as a man, am not allowed an opinion on what women do or not do with their bodies. Essentially, what it means is I have no right to identify these behaviors as symptoms of the patriarchal culture/

This false sense of superiority, in my opinion, stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of feminism as a battle of the sexes; a Boys vs Girls situation, rather than a larger fight against the patriarchal culture which transverses gender boundaries (so to speak).

Yes, women can have patriarchal mindsets too. Calling yourself a ‘feminist’ while being a woman, does not ipso facto make you right. I can just imagine being in 1917, having a conversation with the group of *women* campaigning against women’s voting rights; and then slighting me for ‘mansplaining’ to them the need for women’s suffrage.

As a gay person, I don’t try to invalidate your speech with a blind “straightsplaining” charge, wherever I disagree with your methods.on fighting homophobia. That word means something; it’s not just there to make me feel superior to a straight opponent, no matter how valid her or his argument may be. Likewise, I expect not to have my participation in the feminist movement to not be devalued simply because of my gender.

You’re a trend-chaser, not an LGBT “ally”

All Patricia Arquette said, was that we need gender equality, and that all people – black people, gay people, male people – must help women in their political and social battles, just as feminists have helped theirs.

In other words, intersectionality that runs both ways.

On social media, she’s under attack for “implying” that gay people and racial minorities are no longer struggling, and that women are the last group left in the leper-pit of the underprivileged.

Here’s what you should know. Online, I’ve fought for gay rights, racial minorities’ rights, and religious minorities’ rights’; but almost nothing spurs more controversy than when I proudly declare myself a feminist. And that’s while I still have my male privilege working for me!

Arquette is not the one with an intersectionality problem. YOU are, if you’re a hater. All she’s doing, is asking for her empathy towards other marginalized groups to be reciprocated. She’s not calling for women’s rights activism to take place at the expense of sociopolitical justice for gay and black people.

Let me break down to you, what you probably already know and feel.

Gay is *in*. Waving a rainbow flag in people’s face no longer carries the social or political risks it once did, and it’s officially “cool” to do so. Racism, while also far from over, is still widely recognized as a very real problem.

Sexism, is considered far less of an issue, and declaring oneself a feminist is a sure-fire way of getting trolled. ‘Atheismophobia’ isn’t even a thing yet, despite the fact that many countries still execute people for being atheists, just like they do to gay people.

Now note that I say the following as a man who puts the ‘B’ in the LGBT.

Fuck the trend-chasing liberals. Fuck all of you who conveniently crawl out of your foxholes after the battlefield has sufficiently cooled down; when it’s finally become safe and fashionable to stand by the oppressed. I can manage without your “alliance”, which is nothing but a bloody revolution’s open-bar after-party.

Don’t cherry-pick liberal agendas depending on what fetches you the most Facebook likes and retweets. Stand up for the feminists who get rape threats for airing their honest opinions! Stand up for the atheists who get glared at for being “immoral” and leading “purposeless” lives! Stand up for obese people who get fat-shamed everyday to the point that their personhood itself becomes questionable! Take risks standing up for the marginalized communities that aren’t “in” yet, and whose ardent advocates get mercilessly laughed at for being hypersensitive whiners.

I can name one or two things wrong in this world besides homophobia and racism, and ALL of them deserve your tears and attention.

Western Liberals Hate Persecuted Minorities in Islamic Countries

The title says it all. I’ll elaborate..

Ayaan Hisri Ali was only 5 years old when she had her clitoris snipped off in the name of a certain religion. A self-made woman, she pulls herself out of a trouble existence in Somalia, and blooms as an activist and a writer in America. She became a politician in Holland, and dedicates her life to exposing the misogyny inspired by religion, as well as other human rights violations.

The white feminist brigade now regard her as an Islamophobe. It’s a pity because, really, what has Islam ever done to her to deserve such ‘irrational hate’?

In fact, the greatest Islamophobes known to Western liberals are not just hicks from the bible belt, but the same ex-Muslims, those persecuted dissidents, who sawed off their feet to run to the more enlightened parts of the world; places where Islam would no longer be used against them. All “blasphemers” of the East with bounties on their heads, eventually become “Islamophobes” in the West.

Islamophobia is conceived as a form of racism, which is easily among the daftest ideas anyone has ever come up with. Islam is not a race. It is an idea, or a set of ideas, that has no rights.

Muslims deserve respect as people, as one can never truly deduce from one’s “Muslim” label what he/she believes. Muslims are, like everybody else, an extremely diverse group with a diverse set of beliefs.

Western liberals have already adorned the Holy Pope with a thorny crown, due to Christianity’s propensity to inspire racism, homophobia and misogynism. No liberal’s heart aches for this blatant Christophobia because many years ago, they decided that Christianity is not immune from criticism and must be called out for all the nonsense it inspires.

How American liberals and secularists deal with Christianity, is how Pakistani liberals and secularists deal with Islam; with eye-rolls, impatience, skepticism. The mention of the word leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of many a non-Muslim here, as they recall the injustices they’ve suffered in its name.

Every effort by activists against minority abuses in Tunisia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran – any Islamic country – is effectively thwarted by quoting scripture. In Pakistan national assembly, a Domestic Violence Bill was shelved because it contradicted Islamic values, earlier in 2012. The bill was sent into a coma as women activists screamed for justice outside the Parliament.

Do you have any idea what it feels like, to live in a country where Islam is a constant bane for women’s freedom and equality…..and then listen to Western liberals being apologists for the ideology that’s used to rubbish all our struggles for minority rights, women rights and even social justice in general?

To come home defeated from a protest, as a mullah-ridden parliament shoots down another bill for social equality in Islam’s name….and then hear some white feminist say dumb shit like, “Islam is not the problem! Patriarchy is!”

Yes, but what of the systems, the ideologies that are reinforcing and inspiring this patriarchy? Patriarchy is not some mystical dark energy that oozes out from soil, it is a social setup maintained and upheld by certain engines. Old, organized religion is, beyond a reasonable doubt, one of those engines.

As for the Muslims, it is incorrect to stereotype them all as oppressed. But it should be noted that a large number of them have been stripped of some basic rights, including the freedom of belief and self-expression.

Most Muslims do not feel oppressed, because they never use this right anyway. What they believe and express is already in line with what the Islamic societies demand. It is the non-Muslims, the ex-Muslims, the secularists, dissidents, who feel the true sting of not having this right. And when they complain, they have their voices drowned out…every…single…fucking…time, by the Muslim majority dismissing the notion of any unusual oppression in their society.

Western Liberals, as a courtesy to the Muslim minorities in their countries, have fallen in bed with an ideology that is the complete antithesis of their own secular ideas and liberal agenda.

You don’t have to be a “Mussie-hater” to be critical of the Islamic ideology and its effects on our world. No more than you have to hate smokers to acknowledge the risks of cigarettes to our health.

Another Blog Post About Bras and Boobs

Feminists, anti-feminists and plain horny people who stumbled upon this piece by accident (no images for you, shoo!), welcome back!

I came across yet another article on bra-burning today, written by a Facebook friend of mine. If you don’t have time to read the entire article about how bras are an invention of a patriarchal society, allow me to summarize it.

One garment to rule them all
One garment to find them
One garment to bring them all
And in Darkness, bind them!

While that captures the essence of the diatribe, I would like to respond a little more specifically to the points raised by the author.

The principal concern is that bras are meant to sexualize a non-sexual body part. This includes training-bras. You can tell that the author’s a male by his obliviousness of what boundless (yes, I use that word most deliberately) joy is to go out jogging with the breasts flying all over the place. In this case, at least, bras have more to do with aerodynamics and comfort than male-domination.  In case you’re asking, I’m a guy too but I have man boobs, so I’m at least partially qualified to make this assessment (not that you needed to know that).

If breasts are a non-sexual body part, then I don’t see why a bra-burning feminist should consider a person ogling at a woman’s breasts
as “sexual” harassment. Perhaps the next time a person says “Excuse me, miss?”, he could knock on the knockers instead of tapping on the shoulder, or any other non-sexual body-part. If the goal is to ‘unsexualize’ the female breasts, then why continue to treat them as sexual objects yourselves?

The author – no, wait. I think the term ‘random-guy-with-access-to-the-keyboard’ is more appropriate. The guy spices up his argument with the claim that bras can cause breast cancer. As a doctor, I’ve never heard of this (probably because sexist men control medical science). I couldn’t find any credible study on this on the internet either. I’m guessing this is no more of a hazard than a tight neck-tie is for males, as it causes throat problems, cardiovascular issues and deaths due to entanglement in moving machine parts.

It pisses me off whenever feminists start suggesting that people can be “taught” what they should or shouldn’t be sexually attracted to. This polemic flies awfully close to the gay conversion hypothesis, which I have a personal disgust for due to my bisexual orientation.

Listen, folks, if you could actually teach a person what to be sexually attracted to, gays would not exist! I cannot imagine anyone in our exquisitely homophobic societies teaching young boys to be attracted to abs, muscular pecs or facial hair. Yet it happens! It is obvious that when it comes to sexual preferences, nature trumps nurture. It is extremely unlikely that men’s affection for women’s breasts is something that has developed artificially.

While it’s not possible to absolutely rule out environmental influences and the epigenetic triggers, a woman likes what she likes, and a man likes what he likes. Stop trying to make people feel bad about liking the color orange when the socially acceptable choice is blue, especially when this preference deals no real psychosocial harm, and only perceived damage.

“Stay Calm And Watch Porn”

In 2009, a group of researchers at the University of Montreal decided to figure out the effects of pornography on an adult male. They designed a case-control study which required:

a) A study group: men who watch porn
b) A control group: men who do not watch porn

They had to abandon the study because they were unable to find any men who could be placed in the control group.

Turns out, all guys watch porn. Including you, the one reading this article. Even if you’re a woman, I can still make a very safe bet that you watch it.

Yes, dear reader. I know the foul images you’ve seen on screen, and even filthier fantasies you generate in the depths of your mind – too politically explosive or socially unacceptable to be shared publicly. How do I know that? Because there’s an excellent chance that you’re a normal human who is not sexually repressed.

As a sex-positive feminist, a doctor, and a psychology enthusiast, I’m ashamed to admit that I do not shit a brick about pornography. My jaw does not drop to the floor at the mention of the word ‘sex’, and my eyebrows do not disappear into my hairline when somebody confesses to me that he or she enjoys porn.

I’ve touched upon this subject several times before, but I believe this needs to be discussed in greater detail. Every generation comes up with its own ludicrous hypothesis about how evil porn is. They used to say that porn causes brain damage. Turns out, there’s no conclusive evidence that it causes more brain damage than, say, eating chocolate or imbibing too many caffeine-based drinks.

Then somebody floated the idea that watching porn causes human trafficking and abuse of minors. That is true for the underground porn industry, in which case the culprit is the government that fails to legalize and regulate the industry. The legit porn industry rarely causes such problems. In California, for instance, they cannot even produce a porn film without the performers using a condom, let alone getting away using underaged girls.

Then they went ahead and claimed that porn helps normalize rape and misogyny. Those radical feminists who view porn defenders as rape apologists (which says “all men are rape-apologists” in the light to the fact I stated in the beginning), need to shake themselves out of their dogmatic position and start considering the facts. Turns out, internet porn actually prevents rape and objectification of women by providing people a healthy outlet for the sexual energy building up inside them.

The last part, in particular, is something the moral police at Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) should be made aware of. PTA is currently fighting a (losing) battle against internet porn. I’ve heard from a reliable source that they’re also trying to ban nitrogen in the atmosphere. Only, the latter seems more doable. Regardless, they’ve embarked on a holy quest to block up to 50 million porn sites, a move that requires the creation of an internet Great Wall.

Which brings to my eyes the tears of laughter and of sorrow, both at the same time. It seems that our proud country has run out of real issues to deal with – you know, the little things like poverty, hunger, illiteracy, abuse of women, oppression of minorities – all of them have been solved. Now we can sink back calmly in our seats and throw away money on sanctimonious bullshit like this.

Porn, nudity and “vulgarity” are not the problem. Pornstar Brianna Banks is not the one training suicide bombers in Waziristan. The nudists are not the ones preventing kids from getting vaccinated against polio. The uprising in Balochistan is not the result of the grand total of six dance parties that take place in this country annually. Bipasha’s boobs are not the cause of rising oil prices, no more than the exodus of Pakistani Hindus is being driven by the sight of Veena’s ass on television.

So get your priorities straight!