Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Further Reading For the National Holidays

My first anti-canada-day post was focused on the problems we live with at home, and that's just the tip of the iceberg, as far as human rights abuses go. "Free trade" is killing the world and our proud, wealthy country is soaked in blood because of it.

The link below is to the text of a speech called "Come September" by Arundhati Roy. I strongly recommend reading it, and thinking about what nationalism has gotten us, what nations do for us, and what it means to be the blindly entitled children of "Western" countries that claim a moral high ground and a better way of life. Roy focuses on the United States (and September 11th), but Canada, Britain and the rest of Europe are not inncoent bystanders in the globalization revolution. We exploit and abuse the developing world and we reap the rewards of economic imperialism right along with the US. This is the face of Canadian arrogance (disguised as patriotism & as citizenship) as much as it is the face of US aggression.

A quote: "Nationalism was the cause of most of the genocide of the twentieth century. Flags are colored bits of cloth that governments use first to shrink-wrap people's brains and then as ceremonial shrouds to bury the dead."


Alienation said...
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Alienation said...

"We exploit and abuse the developing world and we reap the rewards of economic imperialism right along with the US."

EXCELLENT POINT! As does France, England, San Fransisco and all the other "liberal" fantasy points.

The use of some people using the "Burka" as an excuse for how liberal WE ARE without considering that MEN own PUBLIC SPACE on every American street is an example of what I believe you are discussing. Regardless of what we wear here, we cannot escape the male gaze, the leering eyes, etc., Are we somehow better because we do not force women to wear full body armor when going outside, when we offer them NO PROTECTION from the harassment, VIOLENCE, and verbal abuse that occurs in OUR OWN country for women violating men's "public space"? It all, IMO comes from the same place. I know some will argue that it isn't (which is fine), because in other countries women wear clothing for "religious reasons", so I will DEFINITELY compare them to Nuns who dress in full body covering to protect themselves from leering males who deem them off limits. Still not similar? lol.

The whole thing with "choosing" to wear a burka in my opinion, is like asking American women if they would walk around topless in a country where breast aren't eroticized. Would we do that, if we had a choice? My point is that "choice" doesn't exist without context.

We're so liberal that I and AJ have been harassed and threatened with violent confrontation for intrusing on MEN'S outdoor space,multiple times a day. Right here, in liberal NYC in liberal America. I'm not comparing the burka to clothes, because the issue is not about fashion choices, IMO... I'm attempting to use an analogy I PERSONALLY know about us NOT knowing how bad we are because we are socialized to view it as normal. The only time we even acknowledge difference is when we are comparing ourselves favorably to others. This is what nationalism teaches.

Ehh maybe i will do a post about this eventually? I'm pretty sure it's not clear what im trying to say lol.

uppitywhore said...

I will read your post, because I think you have a good point. The faourable comparisons describe the ideal experiences of the privileged class. I find the burqa comparisons particularly offensive because I know that the Canadian military is doing nothing for women in Afghanistan, and there are plenty of women in Canada who may as well be living under the Taliban. What disgusting arrogance to blame a war on a piece of cloth and while we ignore the actual human dignities of real, live women (focusing, as usual on their bodies and their ability to look sexy and feminine). The burqa is the LEAST of Afghan women's problems.
"Women in Canada don't have to wear burqas" is favourable only to the men who like looking at women's bodies and the women who are privileged enough to be relatively safe from violence. Poor women, native women, women in jail (who are disprortionately poor and native), old women and disabled women aren't counted in that comparison, because they're not valuable enough to our society to count the violence they experience as a problem for "Canadian women."

uppitywhore said...

Point of interest: it is legal for women to go topless in Ontario (except in places that say "no shirt no shoes no service"). Nobody does, because it would be dangerous and uncomfortable, but it's allowed. Is it allowed in NY?

Alienation said...

""Women in Canada don't have to wear burqas" is favourable only to the men who like looking at women's bodies and the women who are privileged enough to be relatively safe from violence."

PRECISELY! Very well put, sort of the point I was ineffectively driving at. When I was in Cairo where Hijab was a popular (and quite beautiful and elaborate) fashion choice. Sure, we could argue that the women are being oppressed by wearing hijab, but women are also oppressed by wearing things to cover our nipples that are eroticized without our consent, tight skirts, and clothings with zippers we need help with so we are forced to find "fashion" in being codependent (referring to merchandise that zips from the back). Howwww many anthro classes did I sit through wear people wax-poetic about the freedom of American women and ridiculing the chinese for practicing ancient "feet binding" on 'their' women. Flash to our culture in the 21st century where women are causing chronic back pain, feet disformation, etc., because it's "sexy" for a woman to wear heels. Wearing heels IS feet binding! Duh! LOL This isn't to take away from the severity of Muslim women's specific oppression, it is to emphasize the BLATANT hypocrisy in Ethnocentrism and American nationalism.

"What disgusting arrogance to blame a war on a piece of cloth and while we ignore the actual human dignities of real, live women (focusing, as usual on their bodies and their ability to look sexy and feminine)."

Exactly! And using white american women's lib to justify a war where more women are bound to be killed than men. Also, it's safe to say, black women are not offered protection because we are not "feminine" and worthy of it. Your value as a woman offers you protection in patriarchy, it's sort of a bargaining chip, and that value is negotiated with "beauty" AKA white female supremacy. Because of the "sexual nature" of black female bodies, we are demonized when we wear less or equal clothes that white women normally do. Since our sexual exploitation is our fault because our bodies are inherently sexual...We need to cover up more so as not to offend. When I was in Egypt, women who didn't cover their arms and legs were considered fair game for aggressive street harassment. There didn't seem to much of a difference between Cairo and the 'hoods of Brooklyn.

I brought up choice because a few morons over in the comments section of racialicious said the women had a "choice" to wear full body coverings.

Actually it IS legal for women to walk around topless any place where men do. We do have that "choice", should women be blamed for not utilizing it when the consequences are severe? We overestimate this word "choice" like woah.

uppitywhore said...

You're right, some choice. Going topless would be like wearing a bullseye, not just for assault from men, but from other women who have been trained to see non-conforming women as competiton.
A lot of women do choose to wear head, face or full body coverings. In Palestine, many women wear white niqab as a political statement against the oppression and violence they're subjected to by the Israeli army, not because they're oppressed by Palestinian men (though many of them are likely also oppressed by men). But if people in the west focus on the clothes, and the inane comparison to our own complex and contextual ways of hiding our bodies, without realizing the the women under the cloths do think and feel, then we miss the point that land occupation, rape, bombings and a continuous cycle of violence are probably a lot more important to these women than whether they can show their faces, and that they can't show their faces because they are not safe. That's what makes the burqa such a frustrating discussion. We are trained to just look at the surface, the burqa, and forget that there is already a woman in there. She doesn't appear and start to think when someone invades her country and tears it off of her (and women's lib in the west was not won by foreign invasion either). She's already there, and aware of the violence in her home and streets, against her country, against her children... if that continues, can we really expect a thank-you for giving her a wardrobe update?
Should she prefer to wear our liberal western clothes that she will end up making in a sweatshop once our globalization mission is complete? Will she be allowed to put her burqa back on once the military pulls out and leaves her with no protection against sexual assault?
So much of what we do and how think think about the world is just absurd and silly.

Alienation said...

There's always the conversation that we shouldn't protect women from different cultures out of competition, because caring might mean they get a share of our crumbs. For example, the need to incorporate a wider array of women in American women's lib, and into the beauty hierarchy does NOT mean ethnic diversity and was never intended to. It was to make more white women who didn't fit the narrow definition of beauty have access to white female privilege. It was never about having Black, Asian, and Latina women be considered as ideal as white women, and therefore as valuable in patriarchy. Non conforming women (whether they look outside of the normal rigid definition ethnically, or their opinions or style of dress) have ALWAYS been a source of competition.

The same (mainly privileged, middle class and white) feminists who oppose Burqa will quickly become reallll threatened by the idea that a middle eastern woman (especially if she is dark) is cast as a love interest in a popular hollywood film opposite a desired white male actor. Why support a film that is in direct opposition to your innate superiority as a white woman?

Burqa issues amongst Americans has never been about liberation for muslim women, but about showing what "other women go through" and feeling better about white superiority, and it's source of the worlds most desired and powerful female privilege: white femininity.

There's also the issue that "liberals", who are supposed to be the most concerned (LOL) are tripping over themselves to not be racist against muslim men, and have therefore negotiated these men as having a contract of ownership over muslim women to escape any real discussion. I feel this way I guess because this is what black women go through, as you're fully aware. So are they also saying "it's their culture to oppress their muslim women. Do these types even want to know about Sharia Law or Burqa?

Are the same liberals that view black women as naturally "strong" and deserving of rough lives and rape because the men in their ethnicities agree for their own benefit going to say that Muslim women are somehow "naturally equipped" to handle Burqa's to support their unrelated belief that Israel is evil?

Many "liberal" I've come in contact with over the years have never really been concerned about justice, as much as appearance. Or at least, that's what I've noticed. If they've "othered" black women in general and resigned us to deserving of worse treatment and exploitation, not needing the same safety against rape, harassment, violent crime and exploitation that white women don't deserve. I'm sort of scared to hear what they think about the women underneath the burqa, that is, if they are even willing to discuss it. :-/

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