Naomi Lakritz writes in the Calgary Herald on how feminists in the West prefer navel-gazing, book-promoting and self-interest to defending women who face extreme oppression, rape and murder in the name of honour’.
Feminists who don’t defend women
All’s been quiet on the sisterhood front. Too quiet, considering how many horrifying stories about women have made the headlines.
There were the alleged honour killings of the three teenaged Shafia girls from Montreal, along with one of their father’s two wives. The father, the mother and the girls’ brother are charged with murder.
Then there was the eight-year-old girl in Phoenix whose Liberian refugee family disowned her after she was raped. They claim she had dishonoured the family.
And there was Saudi beauty pageant winner Aya Ali al-Mulla, who won her crown without anyone ever seeing her face; she was draped from head to foot in Saudi Arabia’s traditional black abaya. Pageant officials pronounced al-Mulla, 18, the Queen of Beautiful Morals. She had to pass rigorous quizzes on her morality, her obedience to her parents, and other such virtues, to win her title.
All of these incidents have as their theme oppression and the quashing of women’s right to autonomy and self-determination, by the males in their milieu. My question is, where are the queens of beautiful morals here in the West?
I checked out the websites of the usual suspects. Naomi Klein is busy tooting her own horn with an announcement that her book, The Shock Doctrine, won the Warwick Prize for Writing! (Exclamation point hers). I did a search for “honour killing” on her site and came up with “Your search yielded no results.”
It’s possible that my good old namesake is unclear on the concept of oppression.
Klein, who is Jewish, is calling for boycotts of Israel in support of the Palestinian cause whose leaders have declared they want to kill Jewish people. Maybe if she supported the Palestinian people via protesting their oppression by their terrorist Hamas leaders, she’d have a worthy cause.
Then I looked at Judy Rebick’s blog. Like Naomi, she’s preoccupied with flogging her own book, Transforming Power. One recent post, dated July 28, was titled: The Toronto Municipal Strike: Who Do We Get Mad At?
I don’t know who to get mad at about the garbage strike in Toronto, Judy. Living in Calgary, it doesn’t cross my mind that much.
But shouldn’t we all be even a teeny bit mad at the way women are being denied their selfhood by the patriarchal environments they live in, be it in Canada, Phoenix or wherever it’s happening?
Judy does have a post from June titled “Take action in solidarity with the indigenous people of Peru.”
What about a little solidarity with four dead women whose car ended up in the Rideau Canal near Kingston? How about a show of solidarity with that beauty queen in Saudi Arabia who’s obviously a brilliant girl because she plans to go to medical school, but who can’t show her face to the world because to do so might dishonour her family and lead to a fatal consequence?
And is there nary a tear to be shed or a word to be spared for that poor child in Phoenix whose family has tossed her aside like so much trash for something that was not her fault?
Meanwhile, on Rose’s Place, which bills itself as a blogsite for Canadian feminists, recent discussions centred around Sonia Sotomayor, Obama’s birth certificate and U.S. health reform, with Toronto Star columnist Antonia Zerbisias complaining about Muslim-bashing regarding the alleged honour killings.
It is not Muslim-bashing to acknowledge that a crime has allegedly happened in a Muslim family.
It is not Sikh-bashing to say that some of the alleged honour killings in Canada in the past few years happened in Sikh families.
Shall we just ignore the United Nations Population Fund’s estimate that 5,000 women a year die in honour killings, to avoid casting aspersions on any culture? Shall we pretend it’s not happening in Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Morocco and Pakistan, to name just a few countries?
There seems to be no problem with denouncing Christian culture for decorating trees at Christmastime, or displaying crosses on Remembrance Day, but when members of another culture engage in actual evildoing, we’re supposed to pretend it all just falls under the rubric of domestic violence. Since domestic violence occurs in all cultures, honour killings can be conveniently lumped into that category and we can keep pretending it’s not particular to certain cultures.
Nobody’s even mentioned the fact that Mohammad Shafia was living in this country with two wives, one of whom died with the girls. Let’s just pass completely over that form of oppression visited on these two women, for fear of offending someone.
As Judy Rebick says in another June blog posting: “The revolution will be tweeted or whatever.” Yeah, Judy. Whatever.
Naomi Lakritz writes for the Calgary Herald.