Tag: sexism

October 21, 2008 / / culture

by Guest Contributor Ethar El-Katatney, originally published at Muslimah Media Watch.

They’re popping up everywhere in harmless-looking packaging: shame cartoons.

A quick search online will turn up a multitude of articles, op-eds and full-on rants appealing to women’s sense of shame (One particularly delightful article was titled “I appeal to your sense of shame my Muslim sister.”)

And then we have cartoons.

The first kind are pretty straightforward: they want you to get veiled. But rather than engage you in discussions about interpretation of hadith or Qur’an, they try and shame you into wearing it.

As expected, most come across as being judgmental, preachy and rude. And ones that focus so much on women’s dress kind of miss out on an important point: what you put on your head is not necessarily more important than what goes on inside it.

The “hijabi shame cartoons” start from the fairly innocent “the veil is an obligation just like prayer” written next to a woman covering her hair and praying, to the more extreme: I’ve actually seen one of a woman wearing niqab (face veil) which shows her eyes standing in front of a fire (!) because according to that author, showing your eyes is haram (divinely forbidden).

Let’s take a cartoon that’s ‘in the middle’:

First off, it assumes that there is only one correct interpretation of hijab (veil),* and that those who wear it ‘improperly’ (let alone not wear it at all) are in the wrong, wrong, wrong.

Second, it equates dress with behavior, which in some ways is even worse than stereotypes of veiled women (oppressed, asexual, powerless, helpless, low IQ etc). Hijab is seen as the be-all and end-all. I’m a proud hijabi myself, but that doesn’t mean I was automatically transformed into a perfect Muslim the moment I wore it. Just because a woman wears a veil doesn’t meant that she doesn’t struggle with temptations just like any other person, or that she’s better than an unveiled girl.

(I particularly like the touch of designing the cartoon so the face of the veiled woman is ‘glowing’ because she’s so ‘good’).

The second type of shame cartoons are a hundred times worse. Because not only are they trying to shame women into dressing (and acting) in a certain way, but they’re trying to make them think that if they don’t veil and dress ‘properly’ they’re at fault if they get sexually harassed. Read the Post Shame on You: Shame Cartoons

September 3, 2008 / / dating

by Latoya Peterson

One of the many issues I have with feminism is how my racial identification is treated as a problem, separate from the “real issues” that feminism seeks to deal with – despite the fact that the world perceives me as a “black woman” rather than a “woman.” (The “white” that goes before “woman” is silent.) My race is supposed to go unmentioned and unnoticed – until, there is some kind of “black culture” thing to tsk-tsk and blame on the inherent sexism in the black community.

So, it was with great trepidation that I clicked on a header post from Feministing. Titled “Dating Advice from Assholes: ‘Stop Treating Women Well,‘” Ann summarizes a Washington Post article about yet another crappy book about how to catch a man.

Titled “The Re-Education of the Female” (charming, right?) some bama basically regurgitates the same bullshit being spouted at women since time eternal – cook, clean, fuck, and STFU. The cover lets me know that my initial eye-roll was the right reaction.

Boooo!

Now, Ann’s post was cool, and I was about to click off to some other part of the internet, but for some reason, I decided to read the comments.

The first ten or so were cool, expressing general disgust at the ignorant sentiments. And then, we get to this one:

I echo the sentiments already expressed. I am disgusted by this.

I am also disheartened by the fact that this filth is targeted at black women. I have a feeling that black women generally (but not all, of course) would be more susceptible to these ideas. There seems to be an a fairly strong sentiment among many black women that they need to stand by “their” men, as though they are disgracing themselves and their heritage by dating outside of their race. I have several times seen reference to the shrinking number of black men due to incarceration and consequently a shrinking dating pool, the implication always seeming to be that women have little choice but to date in this pool. Furthermore, there is the specter of single motherhood looming over black women. I fear that the expectation that black women date black men and the fear of scarcity of good black men will cause the women who identify with these issues the most to buy into these horrid ideas for fear of ending up alone otherwise.

*sigh*

Paging the white savior – the Negro women need your guidance!

Read the Post Feminism, Race, and Sexist Dating Guides

August 27, 2008 / / feminism

by Special Correspondent Nadra Kareem

Should white feminists be taken to task if they don’t defend Michelle Obama from the misogynistic attacks sure to continue coming her way as the presidential campaign unfolds? Not necessarily, say Corinne Douglas and Jacquelyn Gray, who wrote an editorial called the “Cost of Silence” at the Root.com.

In the article, Douglas and Gray argue that black women remained silent when Hillary Clinton suffered a litany of misogynistic attacks. Therefore, white women can’t be held accountable if they refuse to defend Michelle Obama from the evils of sexism. Douglas and Gray write:

“The misogynistic savaging of Hillary Clinton was one of the most inexcusable elements of the primary campaign, and the silence from black women in the face of those attacks, because they supported Obama, was, at least, a tactical mistake. It is entirely unacceptable to go along with unfair attacks against women simply because you disagree with the particular woman under attack.”

Read the Post White Feminists and Michelle Obama

July 10, 2008 / / Uncategorized
May 25, 2008 / / Uncategorized

by Latoya Peterson

A while back, I wrote about how catcalling affects women, specifically saying:

When a man feels like he has the “right” to force me to stop and speak to him, it is a whole other game entirely.

Complicating matters are the risks faced by women in our society. One in six women will become the victim of a sexual assault. Most people (men and women) do not recognize what is defined as sexual assault. According to Byron Hurt’s documentary Beyond Beats and Rhymes reveals more statistics: Black women are 35% more likely to be assaulted than white women. Only 7% of black women report being assaulted.

I have been sexually assaulted. The majority of my female friends have as well, running the gamut from being groped and restrained to molest to being raped at 13 years of age.

What men think is a game has completely different stakes for women.

Essential Presence writes about the terrible aftermath to some of these situations. In a post entitled “Why Bother With Calling me a Bitch When You Can Just Shoot Me?” she notes:

There was a time when if you rebuffed a stranger’s advances, if you didn’t give him your phone number he would just call you a bitch and tell you that you aren’t shit. And as his friends laughed at his witty response they would all walk or drive off.

Now, young Black women have to choose between some bug-a-boo calling their cell phone or risk getting shot. Read the Post When Catcalling Isn’t Just an Annoyance

by Guest Contributor M.Dot

It’s challenging to criticize hip hop publicly.

My rationale is that Hip Hop gets hammered by the popular media, so why should I contribute further to it?

When given more thought, I see this as a poor reason to avoid criticizing anything. As an athlete I know criticism is feedback and nothing is improved without feedback. Professor evaluations are feedback. Customer service evaluations are feedback. Feedback is in many ways the oil that greases the improvement machine.

However, my reluctance to criticize may also be related to the tendency within the African American community to avoid airing our dirty laundry. On balance, I also know that dysfunction
flourishes when concealed out of sight.

As a teenager and full-fledged hip hop head, I never listened to Miles because I learned that he beat Cicley Tyson and was unapologetic about it after reading Pearl Cleage’s “Mad at Miles.” I bumped Coltrane, Roach and Blakey, but no Miles. One day, a few years ago, a film Professor and jazz lover who I respected, asked me how could I avoid Miles and listen to so much hip hop?

It was then that I began to see that I would have some reconciling to do regarding gender and hip hop. Read the Post Hip Hop & Patriarchy: My Struggle with Mobb Deep

March 18, 2008 / / Uncategorized

by Racialicious special correspondent Fatemeh Fakhraie, originally published at Muslimah Media Watch

On Saturday and Sunday, CNN ran a program called On Deadly Ground: The Women of Iraq. Hosted by Arwa Damon, the program briefly profiled several women who live in Iraq; at the beginning, she promises, “You will meet the women of Iraq.”

The program opens on a street somewhere in Baghdad: unpaved, muddy, with trash lying in heaps on the street. Damon’s voiceover introduces us to a young woman who squats in a decrepit building with her children because she has divorced her husband—she won’t live with her family because they will make her return her children to her ex-husband. When speaking about her living conditions, Damon’s tone is that of incredulousness and even disgust: “They’re squatting in an old building,” she says in an attempt to elicit a sympathetic response from the viewer. “What you see her [the young woman] going through…this is normal.” She wants us to realize how badly this woman (whose name is not shared) has it, and the fact that she is not the only one: “They [displaced families] are tragically becoming more and more the norm.”

Damon tells us that “Iraq is a country of contrasts” and makes this the official theme of the program. She contrasts the divorcee living in poverty with Iraq’s remaining elites who can afford to play at private pools. She contrasts these same elites with women who cannot afford to feed their children and thus live two lives: one life with husbands and children, a second life as a prostitute to earn the money that feeds their families. Women without agency to a woman with an agency: Yanar Mohammed, the founder of the Organization for Women’s Freedom in Iraq. Then, Samar, a 25-year-old woman on death row because she is accused of being an accomplice to murders committed by her fiancé. Another contrast, between a young woman who will either be put to death or spend her life in prison, and 14-year-old Wurud, who chats on the internet and whose father is a high-profile Iraqi official. A girl who believes in Iraq’s government vs. the wife of an insurgent who is against the government. Then Dr. Eaman, who disassociates herself from her only son to keep him safe from the insurgents that threaten her own life, but treats Iraqi children. And, finally, Nahla: she still has her child, but she no longer has her husband, who was killed in an attack.

The program does not focus on the overall condition of Iraqi women as the title might imply. This was a missed opportunity: the security of and increased violence against Iraqi women has made headlines, with male gynecologists in Iraq being targeted and increased attacks on women who attend school or don’t wear headscarves.

Instead of focusing on all Iraqi women, the program zeroes in on these women and their particular difficulties. It is the common tragedies of these specific women’s lives that Damon makes into a second theme. All of these women live with fear of raids or bombs, and all of their stories feature tragic events. Even the “positive” stories like Wurud’s or Mohammed’s, stories about women making or wholeheartedly believing in change, are tinged with bitterness and despair. When Damon asks Wurud if she is ever afraid, she brushes this off with teenage bravado: “I am never afraid.” The viewer understands this as boasting: we still feel sorry for her life that is interrupted by bomb blasts and the fact that her beloved father is a target. Even Mohammed and Dr. Eaman, both women who work for positive change, leave behind their sons. Mohammed tells us that she continues to return to Iraq because, “all the people that I love have been crushed.” Read the Post CNN’s Special on Women in Iraq: Painting Iraqi Women With the Victim Brush

March 14, 2008 / / Uncategorized