Sunday, January 18, 2004

When feminism is a racist crock

This Op Ed would be unexceptional, were it a piece by a Miranda Devine or Janet Albrechtsen type shock-jock. That instead it is written by a purportedly liberal feminist and academic is breath-taking – and further evidence of just how far feminism has retreated in the last two decades into being a empty shibboleth of moral and economic superiority for the white, middle-classes (and above) of the West.

Karen Green’s killer line:

But I have also become clearer on why I disagree with my sister, and why I believe that Islam, as it is now practised, is not compatible with feminism.

You don’t say? A social movement, whose only net affect on Australian society since the early 80s has been the addition of dangerous and tasteless projectiles into the polity – from shoulder pads to 4WDing the kids to school – declares a 1300 year old, major world religion to be “incompatible” with it. Well, if it isn’t the old fatwa! Watcha gonna do, rich white feminist? If killing the offending infidels is not quite (yet, anyway) your style, I’ve got a good suggestion here. Green writes:

Women who operate freely in society, conversing with men on a daily basis, are, in the end, forced to form a just assessment of their desirability.

Hey, I’d never thought of it that way – and I bet many other men and women hadn’t, either. Just to bring we slow-coaches up to speed with the Feminist Project (as well as to effectively ostracize Muslim women all the more), why don’t we all get made to wear “Looks Scorecard” mini-sandwich boards on our persons, compulsory at all times while out in public? After all, some of us (and I’m sure I’m a major offender here) are still trangressing feminism’s efforts to this day, by walking around in public wholly oblivious to our “desirability”, much less having made and filed away a permanent, legally-binding and final “just assessment” of it.

Update 20 January 2004

My ever-delicate comments box is being recalcitrant this morning, so I’m posting this on the page instead.

Gentlemen (in the comments box), please! The intent of my post was not a general mud-sling against feminism (nor, still less, a plenary defence of Islam). Hence, to clarify a couple of things:

Feminism has been an “ism” without a clear charter since the early 80s. After the outrageous anomalies (such as lower pay for doing the same job) were corrected, feminism might be presumed to have continued with its left-wing progressivist project, such as by fighting increasing (during the 90s and now) income inequality, and therefore absolute poverty, for growing numbers of women at the bottom. However, as everyone now knows, it didn’t. Personally, I mostly blame the broader boomer (M+F) 1980s sell-out for feminism’s abject de-politicisation.

There are plenty of things across the globe that passionate feminists could and should be fighting for. Women in Saudi Arabia being unable to drive cars, for instance.

In other words, never mind the headscarf debate (especially when to prove the superiority of Western feminism, as Karen Green tries to, ludicrous arguments must be mounted). There are enough simple, searing inequalities out there, demanding action right now. Apart from campaigning for formal legal equality for women in Saudi Arabia, Australian feminists also have a worthy issue on their door-step: the outrageously low pay awarded to their servants (sorry, *sisters*) in the child-care industry.

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