Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sally Armstrong Vs. Pro-Misogynist Apologetics

You could say it was ironic.
It happened at the end of International Women's Week, in an auditorium filled with about 200 women at the University of Victoria, at the close of an address by journalist and women's-rights activist Sally Armstrong, author of Veiled Threat: The Hidden Power of the Women of Afghanistan.
Armstrong had just finished speak­ing on the subject of "blameless women and girls who continue to pay the price of the opportunism of angry men" when four men, as if on cue, one after the other, confronted Armstrong with precisely the apologetics she had just finished addressing. It was as if the forum organizers had planned some crafty exercise in guerrilla theatre.
But the men were not actors, and they proceeded to raise all the depressingly familiar and objectively pro-misogynist complaints: Canada is occupying Afghanistan as an imperialist power; women like Armstrong "romanticize" Afghan suffering; conditions for women are worse now than under the Taliban; and Canadian women should stick to matters that directly affect them.
That kind of thing.
Outside the auditorium, Armstrong's detractors persisted in their hectoring, hovering around her and handing out leaflets for an "anti-war" demonstration. Armstrong was clearly shaken. "I haven't had this experience to this degree before," she told me. "I'm appalled that young people could say things like that."
But before the leafleteers made their presence known, Armstrong had already anticipated their complaints. "They say, 'You have no business writing about our women. You're not part of our culture; you're not part of our religion.' There's a taboo about talking about it," Armstrong said. "People play it like a cultural trump card to silence women like me."
It won't work with Armstrong. And a good thing, too (that's what my Chronicles column is on about today.) It won't work with Maryam Namazie, either. And it certainly won't work with Sima Samar.
Samar's role in the ongoing struggle for the emancipation of Afghan women is featured prominently in Armstrong's book, Veiled Threat. Samar left RAWA ages ago, for all the right reasons. RAWA has sadly degenerated back into gibberish of its Maoist roots, which explains its weird appeal to the North American pseudo-left, as Noy Thrupkaew points out here:
“RAWA reflects a familiar yet glorified self-image: the fiery words, the clenched fists and protest signs, the type of guerilla feminism that seems unflinchingly brave.” It's all very glamorous, but as Jennifer Jackman of the Feminist Majority astutely observes, it's the last thing the women of Afghanistan need: "This is a place where giving a girl a book and a pencil is revolutionary."
Revolutionists of the useful sort can be found here. And you'll find some useful contributions you can make to the cause of peace in Afghanistan here. If you want to actually do something specifically helpful on behalf of the women of Afghanistan, this is a tremendous idea.
If you prefer being uselessly self-righteous, by all means join the reactionaries at their rallies this weekend, brought to you by the same Sharia-law advocates who were bothering Armstrong in Victoria.
If you think walking with placards really does any good, then at least keep an eye out for these people. Whatever might be said about them, they haven't forgotten what it means to be on the left.


Blogger Blazing Cat Fur said...

Terry stop making sense already .. sheesh.

2:03 PM  
Blogger Ndude said...

I agree with blazing cat. Next thing you'll be posting that we're in a housing bubble, or the Canadian Reform Alliance Party (C.R.A.P.) A.K.A. The conservative party of Canada is really not sincere with their new environmentalist platform... Wait is it time for medication or dinner?

4:24 PM  
Blogger Blazing Cat Fur said...

Ndude I think the Harper gov't is as sincere as any government can be about the environment.
Housing Bubble? This market is not fuelled by speculators to the extent the last boom/bust cycle was - relatively strong safeguards were put in place to guard against that and they have proven quite successful. Interest rates are unlikely to rise to any significant degree in either the short or long term as inflation is not the issue it was last bust. Looks like the US will ride out the turmoil caused by high risk lenders. Assuming oil stays in the $60.00 per barrel range the loonie will remain strong - making us a nice target for foreign investors.

6:08 PM  
Blogger Incognito said...

How annoyingly typical of that Middle-Eastern male mentality. Stick a Burqa on their women and keep 'em pregnant.

I say stick a Burqa on them and see how they like living and breathing in a tent.

7:13 PM  
Blogger Transmontanus said...

Incogger: "How annoyingly typical of that Middle-Eastern male mentality." Actually not one of them was recognizeably Middle Eastern. But with this I concur: "I say stick a Burqa on them and see how they like living and breathing in a tent."

8:34 PM  
Blogger Ian King said...

Coincidentally, I went down the same path for my 24 hours column this week, focussing on the movement's leaders' support for some rather nasty anti-democrats. "Uselessly self-righteous" is one good description for the peace movement, though I ended up going with (objectively?) pro-fascist myself.

This slag doesn't apply to everyone who shows up at a peace march, but people tempted to join those rallies should know whose goals they're supporting. Sucks that it's come to this, but there's no one to blame but the movement itself.

12:35 AM  
Blogger Transmontanus said...

Good for you, Ian. That was a great column. I'll link to it tomorrow when I make some more mischief on this subject. You're quite right that our shared contempt for the Stoppists should not "apply to everyone who shows up at a peace march." But they are grownups, and one can only hope their curiosity about these subjects will eventually bring them to an array of reading material a bit wider than Stopwar leaflets. Your column will help.

1:05 AM  
Blogger Ndude said...

Maybe real estate is reasonable/sustainable where you come from, but on the Wet Coast it's a sport and costs 75-80% of your income. Weekend lineups to pick up a few assignments on condos to be built in a year or two etc. Can you hear the hissing sound?

Great work. The readers in a hurry and youth who tune into 24 just to see what "Lindsay and Britney" are up and whose "sense of history" is based on the latest sound byte, will hopefully, eventually get the message: Stop War and other PC "progressives" are in bed with fascism.

10:47 AM  
Blogger Ndude said...

B Cat:
Almost forgot I think the Harper government is sincere about only one thing: power,how to get it and how to hold onto it. Hence their new "green" platform.

1:02 PM  
Blogger Incognito said...

My mistake Terry. I automatically assumed, and I should know better!

So I will expand that to include males, in general, save for the progressive, enlightened male, of which I'm sure you are one.

7:29 PM  

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