Posts Tagged ‘ women ’

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 It’s like when my conservative grandmother says she “doesn’t need a lecture from a man”, when I challenge her outdated view that women must always know how to cook.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.

This Blog Post is Against Our Culture (and is sponsored by Jews)

The demonic child of Mr. Nail and Madame Chalkboard is a term used repeatedly in Pakistan to justify any kind of censorship and moral policing, however ludicrous.

The term, “against our culture” is a curious little brain-bugger. What precisely is “our” culture, and who among us has the privilege to define it? Is it at all possible that your culture may be different from mine, and that it’s unfair to use your government as a platform to promote one kind of culture as opposed to the others?

I’ve frequently been mocked as “excessively Westernized”, which is now a badge I wear with some pride. It’s not that I believe the Western cultures are without their faults, but I do concede that they’re better.

Pakistanis, and I fear this is true for most third world countries, are unable to differentiate between foreign cultures and socially-advanced cultures. The Western nations are often scowled at for their acceptance of gay rights, gender equality and many other concepts that we find outlandish. And an attempt to import these concepts into countries like Pakistan, generates an abundance of angry, full-caps tweets from around the world, hash-tagged with ‘racism’.

The thing is that there’s nothing “Western” about these ideas. These nations share a horrific history of  treating gay people as inglorious HIV-dispensers, and women as decorative commodities. These nations have suffered through a plague of socially-acceptable slut-shaming (not that the disease has been entirely eradicated yet). Traditional America has been a nightmare for transgender people, so has old Europe.

What I’m saying is that what the culture of today’s Pakistan is not too dissimilar to the culture of America in the 70’s. The difference is that they evolved past the hate, the exclusionism, racism, and while they still need to evolve much further, they deserve credit for what they’ve achieved.

Meanwhile, we haven’t evolved enough. Watching the bikini-wearing, gay-accepting, alcohol-chugging and even marijuana-smoking culture of the West is, for Pakistanis, like gazing into a crystal ball at our social future 30, 50 or 100 years from now on. That is, if we survive long enough to allow the transition, and not start devolving into a complete mullah state.

Most of what we see is not a foreign culture, but a ‘developed’ culture.

..which is a message for the people of the West too. I am hopelessly in love with Pakistan’s famous truck art; the Islamic architecture; Pakistani heritage sites; our musical tablas and sitars; countless colorful, wondrous things about various kinds of lifestyles that people live in Pakistan. Just as I admire mardi gras parades, American folk music, hamburgers, European films…

But never, for a minute, tolerate injustice, homophobia, or gender inequality in the name of multiculturalism. You too must be able to draw the distinction between a foreign culture and an outdated culture. Resist the shariah court, or any other kind of religious court that delivers verdicts based on archaic laws that are an insult to human dignity.

On Nude Protests: Open Letter to MuslimahPride and Friends

Dear Muslimahs,

You deny that you’re oppressed. That may very well be true, but consider the following:

In the early 1900’s, an organization known as the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage (NAOW) was operating unflaggingly to prevent women, such as your yourselves, from being able to vote. Interestingly, this anti-suffrage movement was being spearheaded by prominent women like Mrs. Arthur Dodge and Mrs. Crannell. These women too did not believe that they were being oppressed by being denied their voting rights.

Femen, or feminists in general, are not opposed to your right to wear hijab, or cover yourself up however you please. We do have concerns about this kind of self-imposed clothing restrictions that men don’t have to put up with, but forcing you not to wear such clothing would defeat the purpose of feminism. Your right to wear these garments has never been in question.

But know this..

Pardah (conservative clothing) is never really your ‘choice’ unless you have the right to refuse pardah also. Claiming that it is your choice is like standing outside a closed mall saying that you “choose” not to shop there. What other option do you have?

If a community where relieving yourself of pardah would be perceived as a green signal for harassment, or even get you in trouble with the law, you are not choosing pardah. You are submitting to it. The only question here is, are you submitting willingly or unwillingly?

Please repudiate the notion that the Western idea of gender equality is different from yours; that is is acceptable for Western women to be able to wear what they wish, but you’d rather not have that freedom because you’re Muslims. Besides, the movement is not just about you. It is about countless women out there who are forced to follow Islamic values against their will.

There’s a growing paranoia among the Muslim world that the Western feminists are marching in to rip the hijabs off your heads. That is not how this is going to be. Nobody is promoting nudity! That is simply an art of protest that screams: “My body, my choice”.

Lastly, you may be concerned about FEMEN’s alleged disrespect towards your religion. You need to understand that your religion is consistently used for moral dictatorship and causing tremendous suffering to the cultural and religious minorities in Islamic countries. It is impossible to condemn what happened to women like Aliaa Elmahdy and Amina Tyler, without addressing the ideology that inspires such problems again and again.

I acknowledge that Islam is not a monolithic faith, and that your interpretation of it may not be the same as that of the Islamists who threatened to stone Tyler to death for her nude protest. But you’re missing the point FEMEN is trying to make with provocative statements like “Fuck your morals”; it is that we should not have to debate over the interpretations of religion to reach a conclusion that enforcing our values on others is just plain unacceptable.

We, as civilized and tolerant human beings, should be able to decide upon that using our conscience alone, regardless of what your religion has to say about it.

To each, her own. And yes, this freedom is for you too.

United We Stand

Coexist

Woman in Black meme

Hypocritical BabeNote: Not trying to make a general statement about hijabi or niqabi women being self-righteous. Just satirizing a common attitude observed here in Pakistan.