Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Anti-Feminist Deception

[TW: Gender-based violence]

Making its rounds in the MRA/woman-hating circuit is this article by Caroline Glick which deigns to expose feminism as a "fraud." I know the MRA crowd has been figuratively jerking off to this partiuclar article, since roughly a third of the articles I regularly receive via my Google Alert for "feminism" would more accurately be categorized as "anti-feminism."

In this article, Glick first begins by mocking a group of "manly looking women" who "would likely all describe themselves as feminists" who appear on youtube taking a political stand in support of Palestine. It is not clear on what other basis Glick determines that these women are feminists, perhaps because they appear "manly" to her, but she then concludes that "if these anti-Israel female protesters are feminists, then feminism is dead." Glick continues by claiming that Secretary of State Clinton has singled out Israel for its poor treatment of women "while keeping nearly mum on the institutionalized, structural oppression of women and girls throughout the Muslim world."

Now, the media declares feminism dead on pretty much an hourly basis and Glick does nothing new here by observing the actions of a few "feminists" and then naively believing that these "feminists" represent the entirety of feminism, a movement which is, apparently, a monolithic thing.

I've addressed that "why are feminists focusing on x, when there are women in the Middle East who have it so much worse" argumentation before as it's one that is steeped in ignorance. While people who level this charge condemn western feminists for supposedly not caring enough about Muslim women, the only women these folks seem to care about are Muslim ones. It's as though if western feminists are devoting 100% of their time and energy toward solving the plight of Muslim women, the whole entire feminist movement Isn't Doing Any Good At All.

Unlike many rightwing ideologues, many feminists approach Middle Eastern politics with nuance, not particularly eager to replace one patriarchal One True God religion and violent male-dominated theocracy in a region with another. And that, I believe, is why rightwing ideologues hate feminism so much. We see through the concern trolling.

Politics, especially politics that serve male dominance, are often games of projection and reversals, whether intended or not. And so it is that we observe Glick's claim that feminism is a leftwing conspiracy to impose "the Left’s social and political agenda against Western societies." (And yes, by mistaking "the Left" for a feminist movement, Glick shows even more ignorance of modern western feminism).

But I digress.

It's funny that Glick would make this accusation about feminism being a tool of a leftwing plot to conquer the world, because don't you often get the feeling that anti-feminists' criticism of the Muslim Treatment of Women inevitably serves the higher purpose of trying to advance the western Right's social, political, corporate, religious, and sexist agenda against Muslim societies?

As a case in point, I offer the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2010, a bill "that would ensure that child marriage is recognized as a human rights violation, and develop comprehensive strategies to prevent such marriages around the world." Child marriage is a problem in the Middle East, including in some Muslim countries.

Only 12 Republicans supported this bill and, therefore, the House of Representatives failed to pass it. Republicans opposed this bill because they thought it was too expensive and, although the language says nothing about abortion, they thought it might still somehow allow girls whose bodies might be torn apart in childbirth to get abortions.

The western Right cares about Muslim women alright. Well, at least they do if western feminists can be demonized or if it's not too expensive to actually do something about the plight of women or if taking action that would help girls doesn't conflict with the right to control a girl's reproduction.

And we're supposed to ally ourselves with these rightwing ideologues?


And, natch, we'll all wait for the rightwing or MRA criticism and Republicanism-is-dead heralding that is sure to be leveled at the Republicans for this failure to properly defend girls and women.


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