A mystery of misogyny. (Flip Side).A feminist can take some dim comfort from the fact that the Taliban's egregious misogyny misogyny /mi·sog·y·ny/ (mi-soj´i-ne) hatred of women.
Hatred of women.
mi·sog is finally considered newsworthy. It certainly wasn't high on Washington's agenda in May, for example, when President Bush congratulated the ruling Taliban for banning opium production and handed them a check for $43 million--never mind that their regime accords women a status somewhat below that of livestock.
In the weeks after September 11, however, you could find escaped Afghan women on Oprah and longtime anti-Taliban activist Mavis Leno Mavis Nicholson Leno is the wife of talk show host Jay Leno.
A leading feminist in California, as well as the United States and internationally, she keeps a low profile in comparison to her husband, choosing instead to work behind the scenes of the non profit, doing the cable talk shows. CNN CNN
or Cable News Network
Subsidiary company of Turner Broadcasting Systems. It was created by Ted Turner in 1980 to present 24-hour live news broadcasts, using satellites to transmit reports from news bureaus around the world. has shown the documentary Beneath the Veil, and even Bush has seen fit to mention the Taliban's hostility to women--although their hospitality to Osama bin Laden Osama bin Laden: see bin Laden, Osama. is still seen as the far greater crime. Women's rights The effort to secure equal rights for women and to remove gender discrimination from laws, institutions, and behavioral patterns.
The women's rights movement began in the nineteenth century with the demand by some women reformers for the right to vote, known as suffrage, and may play no part in U.S. foreign policy, but we should perhaps be grateful that they have at least been important enough to deploy in the media mobilization for war.
On the analytical front, though, the neglect of Taliban misogyny--and beyond that, Islamic fundamentalist misogyny in general--remains almost total. If the extreme segregation and oppression of women does not stem from the Koran, as non-fundamentalist Muslims insist, if it is, in fact, something new, then why should it have emerged when it did, toward the end of the twentieth century? Liberal and leftwing commentators have done a thorough job of explaining why the fundamentalists hate America, but no one has bothered to figure out why they hate women.
And "hate" is the operative verb here. Fundamentalists may claim that the sequestration sequestration
In law, a writ authorizing a law-enforcement official to take into custody the property of a defendant in order to enforce a judgment or to preserve the property until a judgment is rendered. and covering of women serves to "protect" the weaker, more rape-prone sex. But the protection argument hardly applies to the fundamentalist groups in Pakistan and Kashmir that specialize in throwing acid in the faces of unveiled women. There's a difference between "protection" and a protection racket protection racket n → chantaje m
protection racket n → racket m
protection racket protect n → .
The mystery of fundamentalist misogyny deepens when you consider that the anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist Third World movements of forty or fifty years ago were, for the most part, at least officially committed to women's rights. Women participated in Mao's Long March; they fought in the Algerian revolution and in the guerrilla armies of Mozambique, Angola, and El Salvador El Salvador (ĕl sälväthōr`), officially Republic of El Salvador, republic (2005 est. pop. 6,705,000), 8,260 sq mi (21,393 sq km), Central America. . The ideologies of these movements were inclusive of women and open, theoretically anyway, to the idea of equality. Osama bin Laden is, of course, hardly a suitable heir to the Third World liberation movements of the mid-twentieth century, but he does purport to speak for the downtrodden down·trod·den
oppressed and lacking the will to resist
Adj. 1. and against Western capitalism and militarism Militarism
See also Soldiering.
leader of the Seven against Thebes. [Gk. Myth.: Iliad]
killed many enemies; led many troops to victory. [Ger. Lit. Nibelungenlied] . Except that his movement has nothing to offer the most downtrodden sex but the veil and a life lived largely indoors.
Of those commentators who do bother with the subject, most explain the misogyny as part of the fundamentalists' wholesale rejection of "modernity" or "the West." Hollywood culture is filled with images of strong or at least sexually assertive women, hence--the reasoning goes--the Islamic fundamentalist impulse is to respond by reducing women to chattel chattel (chăt`əl), in law, any property other than a freehold estate in land (see tenure). A chattel is treated as personal property rather than real property regardless of whether it is movable or immovable (see property). . The only trouble with this explanation is that the fundamentalists have been otherwise notably selective in their rejection of the "modern." The nineteen terrorists of September 11 studied aviation and communicated with each other by e-mail. Osama bin Laden and the Taliban favor Stingers and automatic weapons over scimitars. If you're going to accept Western technology, why throw out something else that has contributed to Western economic success--the participation of women in public life?
Perhaps--to venture a speculation--the answer lies in the ways that globalization globalization
Process by which the experience of everyday life, marked by the diffusion of commodities and ideas, is becoming standardized around the world. Factors that have contributed to globalization include increasingly sophisticated communications and transportation has posed a particular threat to men. Western industry has displaced traditional crafts--female as well as male--and large-scale, multinational-controlled agriculture has downgraded the independent farmer to the status of hired hand. From West Africa to Southeast Asia, these trends have resulted in massive male displacement and, frequently, unemployment. At the same time, globalization has offered new opportunities for Third World women--in export-oriented manufacturing, where women are favored for their presumed "nimble fingers," and, more recently, as migrant domestics working in wealthy countries.
These are not, of course, opportunities for brilliant careers, but for extremely low-paid work under frequently abusive conditions. Still, the demand for female labor on the "global assembly line" and in the homes of the affluent has been enough to generate a kind of global gender revolution. While males have lost their traditional status as farmers and breadwinners, women have been entering the market economy and gaining the marginal independence conferred even by a paltry wage.
Add to the economic dislocations engendered by globalization the onslaught of Western cultural imagery, and you have the makings of what sociologist Arlie Hochschild has called a "global masculinity crisis." The man who can no longer make a living, who has to depend on his wife's earnings, can watch Hollywood sexpots on pirated videos and begin to think the world has been turned upside down. This is Stiffed--Susan Faludi's 1999 book on the decline of traditional manhood in America--gone global.
Or maybe the global assembly line has played only a minor role in generating Islamic fundamentalist misogyny. After all, the Taliban's home country, Afghanistan, has not been a popular site for multinational manufacturing plants. There, we might look for an explanation involving the exigencies--and mythologies--of war. Afghans have fought each other and the Soviets for much of the last twenty years TWENTY YEARS. The lapse of twenty years raises a presumption of certain facts, and after such a time, the party against whom the presumption has been raised, will be required to prove a negative to establish his rights.
2. , and, as Klaus Theweleit wrote in his brilliant 1989 book, Male Fantasies, long-term warriors have a tendency to see women as a corrupting and debilitating de·bil·i·tat·ing
Causing a loss of strength or energy.
Weakening, or reducing the strength of.
Mentioned in: Stress Reduction force. Hence, perhaps, the all-male madrassas in Pakistan Islamic seminaries teach mostly Islamic subjects leading to graduation as a cleric (called maulvi, maulana or mulla in Pakistan.This article provides a brief introduction to these institutions (also called madrassas and madaris , where boys as young as six are trained for jihad, far from the potentially softening influence of mothers and sisters. Or recall terrorist Mohamed Atta's specification, in his will, that no woman handle his corpse or approach his grave.
Then again, it could be a mistake to take Islamic fundamentalism out of the context of other fundamentalisms--Christian and Orthodox Jewish. All three aspire to restore women to the status they occupied--or are believed to have occupied--in certain ancient nomadic See nomadic computing. Middle Eastern tribes.
Religious fundamentalism in general has been explained as a backlash against the modern, capitalist world, and fundamentalism everywhere is no friend to the female sex. To comprehend the full nature of the threats we face since September 11, we need to figure out why. Assuming women matter, that is.
Barbara Ehrenreich is a columnist for The Progressive and the author of "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America" (Metropolitan Books, 2001).