Longform Links – 2008-05-07 – Muslim Women, Feminism, Myanmar (Burma)

Antidrown – “Ohh Myyy Godd!”

When dealing with issues of women in Muslim countries, even the compassion that comes from some women in the US sometimes takes the form of “Oh my god!” I know, stoning is a savage idea and it’s appalling. But when you say “Oh My God!” to make yourself feel better, it shows. It makes you seem not genuine, because it has that little bit of satisfaction that comes with disassociating yourself from such an appalling act. After all, it’s not the human society who is committing this act, it’s “them,” it’s those countries. When you think about domestic violence in these countries:”Oh My God!” It doesn’t make you think about prevalence of domestic violence in the US. It doesn’t make you say, “yes, we have the same problem, what can we do together to fix this?” Because you think there is something inherent about “them” that makes them more suitable for domestic violence,”the women must be sheepish and submissive, their religion makes it ok, their men are savages” but you sound so concerned: “Oh my god, those poor women, it’s so preposterous!” as if it doesn’t happen in your homes.

Womanist Musings – East vs. West Feminist Divide

When we look in askance at the practice of polygamy we must remember the FLDS compounds. When we question the Burqa, we must remember its binary opposite uniform, the sexualized female western body. Both are limiting and seek to construct women as other. Patriarchy is reinforced each and every time feminism refuses to see commonality. Note that by commonality, I am not suggesting the construction of a monolithic woman, rather I am suggesting that the female body is globally devalued, stigmatized, and raped. The aforementioned are international crimes against women. How these crimes are negotiated maybe subject to cultural relativities, however their acknowledgment as gender specific assaults must be reified. We cannot cloak Middle Eastern women, in a symbolic burka of victimization without acknowledging our own victimization by western men. The label that we seek to give others, is that which we already own.

Washington Post – Update: Spelling Champ’s Victory

A District spelling bee champ, [Ashley White] had been featured in a documentary, “Spellbound,” about the 1999 Scripps National Spelling Bee. In the movie, the ambitious middle-schooler with a photographic memory had dreams of being an obstetrician.

But, as the Post story recounted, White fell far and hard by the time the movie was released, in 2002. At age 18, she became a mother. And after bouncing among temporary homes, she landed in a homeless shelter.

Despite the hardships, the young woman’s dreams were unsquelched. Determined to get a college education, she was helped through Howard University by Washington Post readers, who offered her jobs, furniture and mentoring and contributed thousands of dollars to her education.

To make ends meet, she worked part-time jobs, including as a clerk in a clothing store, as a substitute teacher at her daughter’s child-care center and as administrative assistant at a real estate firm.

For the past two years, she has worked part time at Florence Crittenton Services of Greater Washington, a nonprofit group that works with teens and teen parents in the District and Montgomery County. As she recounts on her Web site, http://www.ashleytwhite.org, she plans to work there full time for about a year while she applies to graduate school for a master’s degree in social work.

Her daughter, Dashayla, 4, will enter kindergarten in the fall.

NY Times – As Magnitude of Myanmar Loss Grows, Aid Arrives

The death toll from a powerful cyclone that struck Myanmar three days ago rose to 22,500 Tuesday, with more than 40,000 people still missing, the government said, and foreign governments and aid organizations began mobilizing for a major relief operation.


The United States, which has led a drive for economic sanctions against Myanmar’s repressive regime, said it would also provide aid, but only if an American disaster team was invited into the country.

“We’re prepared to move U.S. Navy assets to help find those who have lost their lives, to help find the missing, to help stabilize the situation,” President George W. Bush said Tuesday in the Oval Office. Bush was signing legislation awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to Aung San Suu Kyi, the democracy advocate who has long been under house arrest in Myanmar.

The policy was presented by the first lady, Laura Bush, , along with a lecture to the junta about human rights and disaster relief.

“This is a cheap shot,” said Aung Nain Oo, a Burmese political analyst who is based in Thailand. “The people are dying. This is no time for a political message to be aired. This is a time for relief. No one is asking for anything like this except the United States.”