Hint of fear
Comparing the Taliban to feminism is really imaginative
August 13, 2001
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.