The Ultimate Weapon

Here’s what she was almost martyred for.

Before You Decide Feminism is Dead . . .

. . . listen to Isabel Allende.  Listen to her even if you don’t share her politics, or would disagree with her solutions, because she is right about so much beyond our relatively safe and special world. Oh, and because she’s funny.

Palin Envy, a freudian diagnosis for our cojones-challenged GOP establishment?

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I’m interested in the gratuitous disparagement of men whose looks and personal style fail to track the masculine stereotype,” Ann Althouse (above) took Rush Limbaugh to task this morning over his sissy-laced rant about Wikileaker Julian Assange: “I like Rush Limbaugh and have defended him many times, in front of people who tend to hate you if you say anything good about him, so I think my opinion on the subject has special weight … And let me invite Rush to … diavlog with me about the so-called chickification problems that plague our world today.” Video here.

“Loved this that you told the Big Guy,” we wrote in the comments of Althouse’s incandescent, must-experience video-post “Here I am listening — for the first time — to Rush Limbaugh talking about me“:

“To say men are like women when they’re being cowardly and weak. I don’t like it … Also, some chickification is a good thing. Women have a lot to offer. Think about it.”

Exactly. As we wrote a few months back about the so-called feminization of our culture:

It isn’t “feminization” at all, but, rather, postmodern, identity-politics “feminism” — one of a cascade of unfortunate byproducts of the Gramscian march through the institutions — that has given us an increasingly impotent chattering class of credulous Chris Matthewses of both sexes.

Twittering this morning about the latest effluence from that impotent chattering class — MSNBC’s “house conservative” Joe Scarborough’s Journolist/Cabalist temper tantrum about Sarah Palin’s “anti-intellectual”‘ and “dopey dream” of being president, and how come nobody’s paying attention to me!? (h/t Dan Riehl) — we stumbled upon this seductive metaphor from Lisa B:

Now we have a new psychological disorder in addition to Palin Derangement Syndrome. Palin Envy is rampant! Paging Dr. Sigmund Freud! 🙂

As we said in response:

Your Freudian “PALIN ENVY” is brilliant, by the way, given the cojones-challenged state of our GOP establishment. 🙂

Crossposted at sisuRiehl World View and Liberty Pundits.

Saudi womanhood behind the wheel at last!

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By Sissy Willis of sisu

According to Wikipedia, “Women are forbidden to drive in Saudi Arabia per a 1990 fatwā (religious ruling).” So what’s a Sharia-compliant gal to do when she wants to run down to the mall to pick up a few things but there’s no male relative to chauffeur her?  Share the joy of the monarchy’s “First  Woman Driver (Sharia Approved).” It may not be quite up to speed with Female Formula One, but in its way “Saudi Arabia’s Sharia-Approved Car for Women!” refuels the venerable woman-driver joke with a fresh burst of energy. Enjoy the ride!

Crossposted at sisu, Riehl World View and Liberty Pundits.

Girls Rule, But the Cost is Cruel.

The figure of the teenage girl unleashes the most creative and destructive forces at work in the world today, writes Doug Saunders of the Globe and Mail:

What you see in the streets and workshops and houses of the fast-growing parts of the world are young women, generally under 21, working hard. What you see aboard the trains and minivan-buses and horse-carts of the world are teenage girls, moving to the city.

As in Europe in the 19th century, young women often make up the largest group of people leaving villages for the city, sent to work alone, often in domestic service or garment piecework, and save their families. Half the world’s urban population is under 25, and considerably more than half of these are young women, because the men so often stay behind.

The girls tend to have more job opportunities in the informal, hustle-based economies of modern cities; they also tend to be treated far, far worse than anyone else, abused sexually, mutilated, impregnated, forced into prostitution, married to strangers. They are both the main agents of change and its predominant victim.

The opportunity and the danger tend to amplify each other. Fear of such fates, and other mythic images of debased innocence stoked by the terrifying shock of sudden change, leads the fathers and brothers of newly urbanized daughters into the hysterical comfort of extreme religious and political beliefs.  The cruel ascetic offshoots of Islam in much of the Arab world, the violent political perversions of Hinduism in India and the waves of fundamentalist Christianity across the Southern Hemisphere, are in large part responses to, or manipulations of, anxieties over the idealized images of one’s daughter.

In fact, you could say that the most potent forces in the world right now – both the most promising opportunities for improvement and the most menacing and destabilizing movements and ideologies – are all centred around the mythic figure of the teenage girl.

These girls gain power by escaping early marriage and motherhood to become economic engines of their families’ survival.  They are far more likely than their rural counterparts to get an education — and women’s education is a powerful driver of poverty reduction and economic growth.  But they arouse anxieties about their safety and their families’ honor; they are both preyed on by strangers and punished by jealous fathers and brothers.

Girls are the pivot on which the world turns.

Published in: on September 18, 2010 at 3:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

TIME magazine ends debate on the war in Afghanistan?

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Leaving Afghanistan: “Zohal Sagar lost her father and two brothers in the war. Her mother hopes they can leave Afghanistan and find a new life in Canada,” TIME captions this bitterweet image of one of the innocent victims of war. But it gets oh so much worse. Their cover image will haunt you forever unless you’re a moral relativist like Editor Peter Stengel, who makes a fine point of assuring us he isn’t taking sides (see below).

By Sissy Willis of sisu

We do not run this story or show this image either in support of the U.S. war effort or in opposition to it,” protests TIME Managing Editor Peter Stengel, sending the moral relativist’s “secret signal” even as he has decided to go ahead and publish what’s got to be the best argument ever — the image itself — for staying the course in Afghanistan:

Our cover image this week is powerful, shocking and disturbing. It is a portrait of Aisha, a shy 18-year-old Afghan woman who was sentenced by a Taliban commander to have her nose and ears cut off for fleeing her abusive in-laws. Aisha posed for the picture and says she wants the world to see the effect a Taliban resurgence would have on the women of Afghanistan, many of whom have flourished in the past few years. Her picture is accompanied by a powerful story by our own Aryn Baker on how Afghan women have embraced the freedoms that have come from the defeat of the Taliban — and how they fear a Taliban revival.

Asked for comment on the plight of women in Afghanistan — presumably not yet having seen TIME’s cover portrait of Aisha — former National Organization for Women President Ellie Smeal had this to say, according to a Washington Times report:

The future of Afghan women “has just dropped out of all public discourse. What happens with females over and over again is we’re forgotten.”

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Caption from our June 2 post “An increasingly impotent chattering class of credulous Chris Matthewses“: “Palin isn’t a feminist — not in the slightest,” huffs card-carrying postmodern feminist Jessica Valenti of the blog Feministing, stumbling inadvertently onto the truth that will soon send her and her sob sisters tumbling into the dustbin of history: “What she calls ‘the emerging conservative feminist identity’ isn’t a structural analysis of patriarchal norms. It’s an empty rallying call to women who are disdainful of or apathetic to women’s rights.”

Try telling that to Sarah Palin and her Army of Mama Grizzlies, Ms. Smeal. Woman as victim? That’s SO yesterday. “She’s playing the “woman card,” notes Tuck. Yet more proof if needed that postmodern feminists are on the wrong side of history.

Our friend Peter Ingemi of Da Tech Guy’s Blog has action steps:

That TIME magazine cover … should be put up every time the debate on the war takes place.

Note. Despite its bad press under the recent ramming down the nation’s throat of ObamaCare, the best medicine in the world is still being practiced in the land of the free and the home of the brave, as TIME Managing Editor Stengel acknowledges, in spite of himself:

To learn more about Aisha, and how an NGO is helping her get reconstructive surgery in the United States, go to Women for Afghan Women.

Update: This just in on Twitter as we were about to publish, from twitterfriend Paul Levitt:

A friend spent several months in Afghanistan last year teaching traditional songs to women and kids … Told me of people crying at being able to sing again — the Taliban killed anyone who sang, played music.

It isn’t just for the women. It’s for our very humanity that we must win the war in Afghanistan.

Update II: Trending on Memeorandum.

Crossposted at sisu, Riehl World View and Liberty Pundits.

Are we suffering from a surfeit of unsexy overexposure?

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By Sissy Willis of sisu

‘Does wearing sexy lingerie under the burka subvert the burka?” asks Amba in the comments to our previous post, crossposted at Cloven Not Crested, “Exposed: What really goes on beneath the burka“:

Is it actually sexier that way — is the ad pro-burka?? Are we suffering from a surfeit of unsexy overexposure, compared to, say, the Japanese who could go wild at the sight of the back of a fully kimono’ed geisha’s neck? Does the ad thus imply that concealment by the burka actually empowers a woman’s sexuality? Should we take up wearing burkas over our bikinis? What kind of dhimmitude is that? Of a piece, I would say, with the sinister Western attraction to Islam because it is so filled with moral fervor, purity, and conviction.

The “sinister” — left in Latin —Western attraction to Islam appears alive and well, exclusively on the left side of the aisle, where a fellow feeling for a dictatorship of relativism keeps the romance alive. But the Liaison Dangereuse lingerie ad’s “message” is in the eye of the beholder. Over here on the right side of the aisle, discreetly armed with our bikini beneath our street clothes, we look to the Tea Partiers for “moral fervor, purity and conviction,” and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, unveiled, is giving us the “commonsense porn” — Glenn Beck’s words — that floats our boat. Following the distaff glories of yesterday’s primaries, we’re looking for some hot and heavy conservative commonsense porn now through November from the ladies that lunch.

Crossposted at sisu, Riehl World View and Liberty Pundits.

Exposed: What really goes on beneath the burka

Liaisons

By Sissy Willis of sisu

“Now THIS is how you hit back at the oppression of women in the Muslim world,” twittered Newsbusters blogger Lachlan Markay this afternoon, linking a brilliantly provocative Liaison Dangereuse lingerie ad that turns Salome’s Dance of the Seven Veils on its head and puts Victoria’s Secret to shame. Set against the smoky, sultry strains of a ney — the flute of classical Arabic music — and tambourine, the camera’s eye caresses a smoky, sulty woman getting ready to go out on the town. Depending upon your perspective, you’ll either love or hate the surprise ending.

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Crossposted at sisu, Riehl World View and Liberty Pundits.

A Forgotten Classic of Feminist Psychoanalysis

Sounds horrible, doesn’t it?  Like the worst of both worlds — academic, jargon-ridden, hatchet-wieldingly ideological?  But no, in this rare case it’s the best of both worlds: humane, expansive, magical.  I’m not sure if it’s possible to change human nature, but Dorothy Dinnerstein thought that if anything could, it would be the new fatherhood.

I found these quotes I’d copied out in some old notebook/ commonplace books.

And this mysterious body, this body whose transience we try so vainly to feel as a fact, is loved with a special reverence for continuing, miraculously, to live, and hated with a special loathing for promising, incredibly, to die.

*     *     *

The sinking sense of falling — loss of maternal support — is the permanent archetype of catastrophe.

*      *      *

[T]he sexual realm . . . is a wildlife preserve in the civilized world, a refuge within which inarticulate, undomesticated private creative initiative is protected from extinction.

They’re from Dinnerstein’s  The Mermaid and the Minotaur, which relates to the Jimmy Buffett lyric, “Some people claim/ that there’s a woman to blame . . .” From Amazon reviews:

I read this book twenty years ago when I was in college. I found (and still find) Dinnerstein’s feminist argument for shared parenting to be one of those books that has the potential to change lives. . . . The kernel of her argument is that so long as we all are raised (exclusively or predominantly) by our mothers or by female caregivers, children will grow up with a deep-seated resentment of the feminine (since no parent can perfectly anticipate a child’s needs, and all children, in growing up, will be conditioned by our infantile rage at our parent’s imperfections). . . . At the age of twenty, I was persuaded by Dinnerstein to be (when I did have kids) an active and equal participant in the raising of my children, from changing diapers to feeding and everything else. I was so convinced of the importance of her analysis, and of its potential to change lives, that I have, in the past few decades, bought and given away as gifts eighty-eight copies to male and female friends. (I figured that if I just told people what a great book it was, few would follow up, but that if I actually bought it and thrust it into their hands, they might be moved to actually read it.) I’m not sure how many of these were actually read by the recipients. But I can report that out of 88 copies given away, eight people came to me afterward and said something to the effect of, “This book changed my life.”

*      *      *
Dinnerstein also relates the fear of death to how women rule the infant’s world and men the adult’s world. Seem unrelated? Phrase “womb to tomb” captures it best perhaps.

*       *       *

it is not “just another” “feminist ” title. Indeed quite a few feminists have objected mightily to it over the years. The big problem, though, it that it has been roundly ignored over the years!

I agree.  Although it is quite Romantic, the book made enormous sense to me when I read it around age 30, especially in explaining the cruel control of women in so many traditional cultures.  Its influence still lingers.

“The Selective Destruction of Baby Girls”

Horrifying and heartbreaking:

“[W]e heard a moan of pain from the bedroom next door…The cries from the inner room grew louder—and abruptly stopped. There was a low sob, and then a man’s gruff voice said accusingly: ‘Useless thing!’

“Suddenly, I thought I heard a slight movement in the slops pail behind me,” Miss Xinran remembers. “To my absolute horror, I saw a tiny foot poking out of the pail. The midwife must have dropped that tiny baby alive into the slops pail! I nearly threw myself at it, but the two policemen [who had accompanied me] held my shoulders in a firm grip. ‘Don’t move, you can’t save it, it’s too late.’

“‘But that’s…murder…and you’re the police!’ The little foot was still now. The policemen held on to me for a few more minutes. ‘Doing a baby girl is not a big thing around here,’ [an] older woman said comfortingly. ‘That’s a living child,’ I said in a shaking voice, pointing at the slops pail. ‘It’s not a child,’ she corrected me. ‘It’s a girl baby, and we can’t keep it. Around these parts, you can’t get by without a son. Girl babies don’t count.’” […]

While such outright female infanticide is particularly pitiful and shocking, it is prenatal sex determination and sex-selective abortion that has been the real driver of the disappearance of girls:

Until the 1980s people in poor countries could do little about this preference [for sons]:  before birth, nature took its course. But in that decade, ultrasound scanning and other methods of detecting the sex of a child before birth began to make their appearance. These technologies changed everything. Doctors in India started advertising ultrasound scans with the slogan “Pay 5,000 rupees ($110) today and save 50,000 rupees tomorrow” (the saving was on the cost of a daughter’s dowry). Parents who wanted a son, but balked at killing baby daughters, chose abortion in their millions.

The use of sex-selective abortion was banned in India in 1994 and in China in 1995. It is illegal in most countries (though Sweden legalised the practice in 2009). But since it is almost impossible to prove that an abortion has been carried out for reasons of sex selection, the practice remains widespread. An ultrasound scan costs about $12, which is within the scope of many—perhaps most—Chinese and Indian families. In one hospital in Punjab, in northern India, the only girls born after a round of ultrasound scans had been mistakenly identified as boys, or else had a male twin.

It’s not the poor and uneducated who are doing this:

[S]exual disparities tend to rise with income and education […] The discrepancy [is] far lower in poorer households. […] modernisation and rising incomes make it easier and more desirable to select the sex of your children. And on top of that smaller families combine with greater wealth to reinforce the imperative to produce a son.

In what might be called a sinister demonstration of the invisible hand, millions of people acting in what they think is their self-interest are not promoting but degrading the common good.  (It makes you realize that Adam Smith wrote at a time when far higher levels of natural constraint on the expression of self-interest were taken for granted.)

[O]nly one region [of China], Tibet, has a sex ratio within the bounds of nature [103 to 106 male births for every 100 females]. Fourteen provinces—mostly in the east and south—have sex ratios at birth of 120 and above, and three have unprecedented levels of more than 130. […]

[W]ithin ten years, China faces the prospect of having the equivalent of the whole young male population of America, or almost twice that of Europe’s three largest countries, with little prospect of marriage, untethered to a home of their own and without the stake in society that marriage and children provide. […]

Parts of India have sex ratios as skewed as anything in its northern neighbour. Other East Asian countries—South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan—have peculiarly high numbers of male births. So, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, have former communist countries in the Caucasus and the western Balkans. Even subsets of America’s population are following suit, though not the population as a whole. […]

Throughout human history, young men have been responsible for the vast preponderance of crime and violence—especially single men in countries where status and social acceptance depend on being married and having children, as it does in China and India. A rising population of frustrated single men spells trouble. […]

The crime rate has almost doubled in China during the past 20 years of rising sex ratios […] In India, too, there is a correlation between provincial crime rates and sex ratios. […]

If you think women in these societies are valued more highly and treated better because they’re rare, think again:

[In China,] stories abound [..] of bride abduction, the trafficking of women, rape and prostitution. [… A]ccording to the World Health Organisation, female suicide rates in China are among the highest in the world (as are South Korea’s). Suicide is the commonest form of death among Chinese rural women aged 15-34; young mothers kill themselves by drinking agricultural fertilisers, which are easy to come by. The journalist Xinran Xue thinks they cannot live with the knowledge that they have aborted or killed their baby daughters.

A long-term consequence of the scarcity of women is the loss of freedom:

In “Bare Branches” [the Chinese term for bachelors], Valerie Hudson and Andrea den Boer gave warning that the social problems of biased sex ratios would lead to more authoritarian policing. Governments, they say, “must decrease the threat to society posed by these young men. Increased authoritarianism in an effort to crack down on crime, gangs, smuggling and so forth can be one result.”

And yet, the Economist story ends on a hopeful note.  South Korea, partly through a deliberate campaign to enhance the value and desirability of girls, and “thanks in part to societal changes that saw more young women working and thus able to support aging parents,” has sharply reversed the trend and returned its sex ratio to much nearer normal.  India and China may be ready to follow suit.

Meanwhile, I have to restrain myself not to indiscriminately hate China for its reckless destruction of two of my favorite things:  tigers and girls.