Opinion * FAQ * Write for The Iranian
* Editorial policy

Hint of fear
Comparing the Taliban to feminism is really imaginative

By Amir
August 13, 2001
The Iranian

I should thank Moji Agha for turning me on to Shokooh Mirzadegi's article; I had completely missed it; thank you.

I think comparing the Taliban to feminism is really imaginative. But be that as it may, comparing lecture-hall propagation of political correctness and middle-class ethics, no matter how distasteful it may be at times, to state-organized and armed Islamic oppression, is over reaching for a forced argument to serve your purposes. The primary factor that makes this comparison unfitting is the question of power and force.

But first, let me point out that there is really nothing substantial that you criticize in her essay. Instead, you simply play with the lenses and focus in and out of some generic understanding of what feminism is in your head. The terminology you introduce, "Feminist Sisterhood," gives away at least some hint of fear of some hood or other, which may or may not be a reality, but is at any rate not derived from her essay.

In effect you try and polarize your introduced Islamism with some conjured up feminism and miss the opportunity to at least engage the text you are criticizing directly. You manage, even, to import words into her essay, where the words you could use in your arguments do not exist: nowhere in her essay did I find her relating to those who agree with her as "sister"; this is purely your conjuring in order to be able to bring up "brother" and create a dichotomy. It is unjust to repeat the cycle of abuse that you yourself allude to, in your psychological rhetoric.

Throughout your essay, you argue relentlessly against some structure in your head, for which may in fact have some referent in real life, most notably one of your own empirical experiences, while completely ignoring the very fact that you yourself -- as you set out to do in your introductory paragraph -- have intended your writing to be a response to an article by Ms. Mirsadegi and not a general rant against your version of feminism as you have perhaps encountered it.

Perhaps some clues within your own article might show us a way of understanding what you mean when you induce the image of "a typical human being", which itself cannot be anything other than -- yes, an ideal. Meanwhile the point of your criticism is directed to others' ideological rhetoric. What is a typical human being?

Let me remind you that it is you who introduces the X and the Y before talking about your genitals. No such mention is to be found in the article you are commenting on. About the X and Y and the F (X) and the never-ending quest for Pi, let me just say this: gender and sexuality studies have branched from the mathematical and biological sciences a number of years ago, and these out-moded models of what makes a man and what makes a woman make up the very bases of what some cultural critiques, among them gender and feminist ones, criticize today.

Along that vein, let me say that I strongly disagree with your dangerous biological reductionism and assertion that even if a man wills to be kind and more just and equal towards the female population -- what you refer to as "feminism", and in another place "imposed serenity" --, in the evolutionary scheme of things this is a futile exercise.

Despite all this, I share some of your skepticism. The ending, ism, has proved very easily to corrupt all that starts with the aim of inclusion into yet another version of "Us" vs. "Them". I also agree with you (if I understood you correctly,) that the victims of patriarchal chauvinism are not only women, but also very boys who propagate it.

However, it is the harshness of judgments and the weight of enforced sentences that provide the real horrific images that we see in many women, minority, underprivileged and diaspora writings. And these enforced sentences are usually most severe and capable of doing most damage there, where there is a real force behind them.

In the case of fascistic governments such as the Taliban and others with whom we are very familiar, it is their force, their ability to exert pressure and exercise violence and get away with it that completely makes them incomparable with any ideology -- no matter how absurd -- that doesn't enjoy power and means of violence.

Keeping that in mind, I find your response much more violent not only because you resort to corruption of the text you criticize, but also show your force through other modes of signification, such as using the capitalized words for assertion and vehemence, as in a screaming match.

PS: I think in your article the correct derogatory term you refer to is "khaar kos-deh" not "khaar kosseh", but by all means, use whatever form you wish.

Comment for The Iranian letters section
Comment for the writer Amir

By Amir

Making light of pain
Being vicious beyond good and evil
By Amir


Reduced to genitals
Feminism's root problem
By Moji Agha

Feminism va doshmanaane khodiash!
Feminism and its enemies within
By Shokooh Mirzadegi

Features archive

* Recent

* Cover stories

* Feature writers

* Arts & literature

* All sections

Flower delivery in Iran
Copyright © All Rights Reserved. Legal Terms for more information contact:
Web design by BTC Consultants
Internet server Global Publishing Group