I found this powerful letter posted on www.faithfreedom.org and make no apologies for copying it in its entirety. I don't know who Bessy Lions is, but she should be applauded for challenging what has often seemed to me like a conspiracy of silence on the part of western feminists. Having bumped up against cultural relativists myself on more than a few occasions, I felt like cheering when I saw Bessy's letter. She says what I feel, only much better than I could.
Open Letter To Western Feminist Figureheads and Academics
Dear Leading Feminist Spokeswoman,
I am writing to inquire if you know why there has been no discernable reaction by Western feminists and intellectuals to the oppression of women in the Middle East. Do you have any explanation for this mysterious silence?
Why has there never been a candle light vigil, a march in the night, a public statement of dissent and solidarity, a new Association formed, a visit made to Saudi Arabia or Pakistan or Afghanistan or Gaza by a famous Western feminist, no delegation to the UN, no banner waved, no scholarly conference, or ANY OTHER public act of protest by Western feminists and intellectuals to the crushing oppression that hundreds of millions of women endure throughout the Middle East? While you sit in your ivory towers doing research into who does what per cent of the dish-washing, Hundreds Of Millions of women are owned, traded, bought and sold, enclosed and suffocated.
Every woman ini Saudi Arabia and Egypt and millions elsewhere are under the strict authority and guardianship of a male, even a punk kid. Would you tolerate that for yourself, you, who won’t tolerate the word “he” used in public? The word “he” is enough to stir up a blizzard of social analysis, critique, agitation, angst, protest and righteous frenzy by the whole noisy shallow pack of you, but millions of girls getting genital mutilation and still this is not enough to inspire a letter to the editor from a prominent feminist spokeswoman. What kind of people are you? Do you think that a woman with no clit who is forcibly married to her stinky old uncle in the next village can truly discover herself as a sexually liberated being? Do you think she can reach the apex of her unshackled potential and fulfillment as a woman, like her sisters in the West? How would you feel if someone cut off your privates and traded you for a goat to a terrorist who hasn’t had a bath or a shave in fifteen years, and who cuts off your nose and ears when you finally run away? Why, it’s enough to make you douse yourself in gasoline and burn yourself to death. But hey, things happens. These people just have a different belief system. No one can really say what’s right and wrong. It’s all cultural, don’t you see, all cultural. It’s all conditioning; it’s the way they are raised. They are conditioned to douse themselves in gasoline and set themselves on fire. They don’t mind it. In their culture, a face full of acid just doesn’t hurt like it would for you and me. You have to look at it from a different prism. It’s not really evil. Evil is when a white man peeks at a woman’s tits. That’s evil, and we’re going to put a stop to it.
You feminist ladies in the west have ranted incessantly because more males seek technical education, but you have stayed silent as millions of women and girls are not even taught how to spell their name. THAT is not enough to get you off of your ample bums and do something about it. Why is this? Is it because they are not white?
Why have all of you been utterly silent for the last 10 years? Why have you said NOTHING?
Every day there is a new atrocity, a stoning, a gang rape and murder, a killing. And beyond this, everyday life is a suffocating bondage, a narrow, miserable imprisonment, for hundreds of millions of female human beings, the ones YOU are paid and depended on and educated and organized and able and funded and expected to represent and champion. That’s your JOB. It’s why you’re such a BIG SHOT. Well, you’re doing the sh!ts. Frankly, you STINK. You’re mute, dumb, silent, stupid, useless, unperturbed. To you, it’s not even happening. There is something wrong with you people. What kind of person doesn’t care enough about a face full of acid to even mention it in her next TV interview, academic paper, panel discussion, graduation address, book, appearance or opinion piece? Couldn’t you write just one of your op-eds in sympathy for the women of the Middle East? Don’t you even care? You all just carry on as if nothing is happening. This is truly incomprehensible behavior. It is truly amazing! You truly have a sickness. It is time to overcome and start acting.
Sincerely, Bessy Lions
For me it's not about cultural relativism. If a Muslim female is stoned in Canada I will be on that like a dog with a bone. But I decry cultural and economic imperialism when done by our politicians internationally. There is an occasion here and there where I support international actions, such as rainforest preservation and anti-whaling efforts. But generally speaking, international efforts put on by little local groups are useless.
Amnesty International and the UN are working on abuses against women all over the world. And MSF also have indirect impacts. Us westerners can impact through support for world-based groups such as these.
Whoever Bessy Lions is, she is wrong in her attack. I wouldn't be surprised to eventually find out it's a raging anti-feminist male who wrote that, just to troll. Just like that attention seeking male who passed himself off as a hounded female in a blog last year. There is plenty of that going around.
In Canada, 9/10 women who die violently do so at the hand of their significant other, and 1/10 have been raped. The judicial epithet "crime of passion" still lessens male sentencing in legal cases to drivels of a couple of years. Western feminists have plenty to do act upon right here at home. It would also be pretty hypocritical of us to try and fix male on female violence in other countries when we haven't achieved it here at home.
Edit: That website you took this from quotes Marx alongside Hitler, that is some strange shit. To compare an intellectual who has murdered no one to a mass murderer. Now I'm twice suspicious about that site...
Canada has just passed a No Veil law for it's citizenship process. Ontario passed a No Veil law in it's driving license tests. Quebec passed No Veil laws in some educational contexts. France passed a public No Veil law.
I support such laws which help Muslim women step out of the shadow by law and allow them to lead normal lives. These women which will benefit from anti-Sharia positions in our own western countries will lead the way for their fellow Muslims, whether they remain Muslim, or they become atheists or Christians or other.
The Feminist fight extends beyond religious barriers.
My home used to be strictly First Nations peoples and Caucasians. In recent years, there has been an influx of families from middle-eastern countries. So I'm sure through time, if these families stick to Islam, we'll eventually have local happenings that we can fight for.
In the meantime, in Canada, women of First Nations groups are suffering at much greater rates than white women, due to nationalistic and religious efforts by the Canadian government to squash Native culture during the 20th century, creating psychological injuries that permeate their culture today.
We have much work to do locally.
Skimming across several articles across that website... I conclude it's simply a sad joke and not worthy of reading and even less of consideration. That Ali pseudonym who runs the site is simply a hateful racist, a little worse than that fellow Pat Condell. Going on about how great and peaceful "Jesus" is, sheesh. From my readings there, I conclude the website is a front for Israeli and Christian propaganda.
You know, TNT666, you really depress me.
This is what I do when people refer to readings from a site that's new to me... I spend a few hours investigating it. So you're telling me you see nothing suspicious about that entire site? You don't see the racism that permeates through so many of its articles? It reads like a straight up hate site. I'm sure you have better critical reading skills than that Sandy.
I was a student of Elizabeth Warnock Fernea, an Arabic-speaking American pioneer feminist in Middle Eastern Studies. She certainly never fit the ugly picture painted by Ms. Lions. I cannot agree that women's empowerment has been neglected by Middle Eastern Studies scholars, female and male. I don't think the foaming-at-the-mouth hostility of this open letter will cause anyone to do any self-reflection, either. It seems to me just a lot of vague allegations and insults.
P.s. I had a look at that Web site, too and I think TNT666 is correct: it is a run-of-the-mill hate site spewing bile at Muslims and people of color.
I think Bessy Lions might just be a trolling man, too. What feminist or woman tosses off a reference to the size of the rear ends of the people she is attempting to argue with? I smell a rat, a not very bright one.
Have I entered the Twilight Zone? Are we looking at the same site? When did criticism of religion become hate speech? Is it because the articles criticises Islam that you view it as hate speech? In that case, critics of Christianity - or any other belief system - are also "spewing bile".
I can't believe I'm reading this shit on an atheist forum.
Mary my friend, I'm not having a go at you. You could well be correct about the website, but what "Bessie Lions" has to say is largely the truth. If you don't believe it, Next vacation, have a stint in Iran, or somewhere nearby. Practice your Western customs, and you won't get out alive. If you're still having doubts, check this out, especially the paragraph dealing with women. Seems they can't even tell the truth.http://www.iran-bulletin.org/political_islam/punishmnt.html
The point of the letter is not what's going on in Iran per se... nobody's arguing that. The point of the letter was to bitch at Western Feminists, we don't think it's a real letter, like so much hate spewed on the internet, just another troll.
LOL A candle light vigil?? Do the oppressed women of the middle East REALLY want our empty gestures and "lip service"??? I, personally, can do NOTHING to help oppressed womnen in the Middle East.
Visit Saudi Arabia or Pakistan.....are you SERIOUS???? I would never survive. I'm too "opinionated" for America!
Western women rose up against their oppressors and Middle Eastern women will have to do the same. Keep in mind a large number of those women BELIEVE they are inferior, as their religion tells them. Fundamentalist Christian women also reject any hard earned rights Wetern Feminists may have won "for them". Not eveyone WANTS to be saved.
SO unless ol' Bessy Lions wants to start a war with Saudi Arabia....maybe she should face reality and be a bit less "horrified" at the lack of action from Western Feminists. If she has a plan maybe she should stop whining and get leading.