Susan Muaddi Darraj, “It’s Not an Oxymoron: The Search for an Arab Feminism” (via wretchedoftheearth)
This is a really great quote that sums up white feminism and non white feminism, especially with regards to Islam. Movements have to always be checking themselves and self assessing how they are portraying other people to make sure this doesn’t happen. Whereas feminism (historically, a very white movement) may be on the ball for white women’s liberation, it’s not always the case for non white women. This quote illustrates that. Mainstream feminism is undeniably euro and americo centric. Feminism still trusts and buys into mainstream media and corporations and hasn’t really embraced black feminism, something that started because of a lack of voice for non white women and out of this ‘saviour complex’.
On a surface level, it’s partly because of this modern-day scenario of the war drum, the Islamophobia in the media and the negative portrayal (that may not fully amount to Islamophobia) in every aspect of life. Even in television, non white women are often seen as either oppressed by their culture, oversexed or as badmothers. This has been widely explored by everyone from bell hooks to Nina Simone. There has only been two non-white Disney characters, both of which got saved by men. Aladdin was subject to a highly stereotypical portrayal of Arab culture. These are just two examples. I can give you many more. We cannot pretend that feminism is a vanguard of the revolution and uses alternative media sources or reads alternative books in the same way that movements like anarchism does. Some parts may, but not all of them. Feminism is not immune to the anti Islam drum. Or immune to the orientalisation of Women of Colour e.g. I doubt many mainstream feminist movements would understand the Indian Pink Chudee campaign that emerged a few years ago because of how highly cultural it was in its nature.
From a more historical level, this portrayal of women has always been seen as oppressed. Of not only Arab women, but non white women as a whole. Historically, women and children have always been the handmaidens of colonialism. Even today, if you look at the recent protests in Chicago, Amnesty International put up posters congratulating NATO on their excellent work on the rights of women and children, and to keep this good work up. We know that NATO doesn’t enforce rights of women and the examples of this are numerous eg refusing to make rape a crime in marriage etc. Women’s rights when it comes to NATO have very much been on the backburner. This where the notion of ‘save’ comes in. Women are seen as weak and they are made weak by culture and religion in the eyes of many feminists. Therefore it is religion and culture that must be minimised (but therefore strips them of identity) because it can only be a negative force. It’s not like religion was a role in stopping apartheid, organising people in the civil rights movement or a source of comfort and revolution during the ‘Arab Spring’ or every other Ashura in Iran. It’s just negative and women are vulnerable and must be saved. It is a cultural background that screams ‘saviour’. This is sometimes called a white saviour complex or what is sometimes called ‘the white man’s burden’, but in this case, it’s the women. If historically, women have been handmaidens to support colonialism, this will have manifested in every aspect of society and trickle down into every movement. If colonialism is enforced today but with wars and not occupations of countries, it still continues, therefore it demonises Islam as ‘the other’ and hypes up anti-women cases and issues. Thus, women must be saved from her “repressive” religion and the evidence of this are in things like the media, books that capitalise on women’s suffering (e.g. Jean Sassoon that ultimately orientalises the Muslim or Arab woman) and much more. This is plain racism and the white saviour complex in full swing.
This has recently happened in France, where they banned the burqa. This was because it was detrimental to the rights of women because Islam apparently ‘forced’ them to wear this burqa. Feminism and the West, as a whole, can’t seem to understand that if a woman has a right to show her body, by default, she has a right to not show her body. Another point they don’t seem to understand is that covering up can be empowering in the same way dressing down can be empowering. They cannot see this. The talk of ‘lifting the veil’ in any form, implies that a choice to follow a religion is repressive in its nature. Religions in different societies are seen in different ways and from different perspectives. This is what feminism doesn’t seem to understand sometimes.
Because of these different perspectives, Arab feminism is misunderstood hugely. Misunderstood is an understatement; for me, from my perspective, it is that feminism does not want to understand Arab feminism. Rarely have I seen any feminists bring up the topics mentioned when it comes to non-white women abroad, and at home. Race can sometimes be very much a stigma when discussing women’s rights.
The issues with feminism when discussing issues such as race and religions like Islam shows how blind feminism can be. This is why Black feminism, Arab feminism, Indian feminism etc continue to be built, sustained and supported; because of the white power structure that infects nearly every political movement. Womanism acknowledged the role of men in the fight for equal rights for women and that religion is not always the enemy. We have to decolonise our politics and rethink how we approach these issues, because ultimately every movement we have will be effected by colonialism; either classical or neo.
The economy is fucked. But it has always been fucked, that’s the point.
Our friends in Quebec get this.
They’ve been out on the streets every week for 9 months, firstly demanding free education, and now, it seems, everything.
The Quebec state passed a law banning public assembly - they know when they are threatened - and since then, each week, thousands have gone on to the streets to break that law and thousands have been arrested. This party is to raise money to help those people in Quebec who get that they’ve been tricked and are being arrested by the State for getting it.
The rioters in England last August also seemed to get this. Choosing not to wait for some distant, imaginary rewards gained through shit jobs, they instead took what they wanted. This seems sensible to us. What other options are on offer?
The crowning achievement of British capitalism just now seems to be putting London under military occupation for some running races in the East End. We are asked to work more for less money. And the promised land of British capitalism seems to be ‘a little bit less shit than now, a long time in the future’.
Fuck that future.
If that future is linked to the work of this society and to doing the work of this economy which, we have noticed, has a tendency not to work for most people then good, lets have no future. Thousands of pensioners a year were freezing to death in this great country because they were too poor to heat their homes long before the crisis.
No return to the good old days. Working forever, for nothing, in debt, doing something you hate, just doesn’t appeal that much.
These observations are not new, just remembered and growing.
Our tendency is for Full Communism. But for now expect resistance (and parties…)
THIS IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING
July 14th was a day that the English Defence League claimed would be a huge national demonstration against the ‘Islamification of Britain’. The EDL are a far right wing organisation who spout hate against all types of people, but they especially hate Muslims, Arabs and immigrants. The location they picked for their big rally was Bristol, a medium size port city in the south-west of England. I was there to counter protest the EDL, along with many others. This was their big rally demo and they brought just 300 people, a huge contrast to the thousands they were known to mobilise from all over the country. Antifascists were estimated to be around one thousand at the most conservative estimate. Policing cost around half a million pounds for that day, with many police being drafted in from places like Wales. The heddlu (meaning ‘police’ in Welsh) writing on their uniforms made it obvious. (This was paid for by the same council that cut the £20,000 fund for the St Pauls carnival.)
I got on a free bus from Cardiff to Bristol. It took us around 45 mins to get to Bristol, stopping on the way in Newport to pick up fellow anti fascist supporters.
We were dropped on a road named Saint Augustine in the centre of the city. Socialist Worker Party, trade union types and UAF went for a rally. They were kettled and from what I heard, spent a lot of the day kettled.
The group of people I was with were not kettled throughout the day. Like us, many other groups were wandering the streets of Bristol. This is what I did for around four hours. The town centre was on lockdown. Locals told us the police began making barriers to cut off streets since the night before. It was impossible to get anywhere. Unless you were the EDL, and then the police protected you. Most of my day and many others were spent not getting kettled and seeing what was what. People tweeted the day with the hashtag #stoptheedl to inform other protesters as to where was cut off, where/who was kettled, where the EDL were etc. While waiting on Grove Bridge, one stray EDL member was arrested for calling a policeman a ‘paki’.
At one point, antifascists were on the side of the cliff and the EDL were below. This was at around quarter to three. The EDL proceeded to hurl sticks, bottles and stones at antifascists. We were not to retaliate. We were told to move back, and despite officers below, they did not stop the EDL throwing missiles at us. A few people were injured; one looked quite seriously injured but had no access to a medic on site. The police directed her to the nearest hospital 2 miles away. The antifascists were told to step back, but not allowed to retaliate. Many EDL had their faces covered; but many antifa had their face coverings ripped from their face throughout the day. Many anti-fascists and anti-EDL demonstrators wear face coverings because of a police section called the Forward Intelligent Team. They are at demonstrations and are otherwise known as FIT, and come to film activists in order to gain intelligence. As the ‘Queen’s subjects’ they do not have to ask permission. EDL also did a few Nazi salutes, yet we saw none arrested for this act. Some EDL weren’t going home via the coaches and instead came to where we were and started hassling anti fascists with racial slurs, threats of violence, throwing stones and bottles. People were asked to step back so the EDL members could have free reign of the area and to verbally abuse people, and they tried to start fights.
Word got out that the EDL would be leaving via Portwell Place to get back to the train station from their rally at College Green. Many masked and non masked antifacists were on Portwell Place. The road was blocked by anti fascists who dragged out large business/restaurant bins and set them on fire, before then throwing them towards the police line that was protecting the EDL from the crowd. Bottles were thrown, some full, some empty. People were ready to block that road. Pavement slabs were also thrown. Police got very aggressive and began to physically push people back. This was on a roundabout in an area named Redcliffe and near a cathedral. The police were riot police with large batons. They had dogs and were on horses. We were gradually pushed down the road, but obviously not going fast enough. We ran around the corner to Victoria Street, I think it was called. This is where it got more violent. Not from our group, but the police. I remember seeing Alsatians in the crowd, many Alsatians. Those were the police dogs, so it looked like police dogs were set on the crowd. There is video evidence of this on Youtube, evidence of dogs being let of leashes by polie and going into the crowd.
I know of at least one person who was hit so hard on the head by cops they needed stitches. Wanting to clear the street to accomodate the EDL, the dogs and the horses were again set on us. Some took street furniture and dragged it to form a mini blockade from cops and their animals.People split onto a left side street, some back down the street to catch up with the EDL and some ran straight down Victoria Street.
As I was one of the last few to leave Portwell Place, I was on the tail end of being chased. I began to become one of the last as I saw a cop push over a woman with his baton and I stopped to help the woman get up and ask how she was. I lowered my face covering so it looked like a scarf around my neck when I helped the woman get up, who was very upset. I waited with her for a friend to catch up with her to make sure she was OK. We tried to get the number of the policeman who pushed her over but he then hid it and smirked. Other cops looked over and sniggered. She left.
I walked off to find friends when one of the cops who sniggered when we tried to record his badge number (which should be on show at all times, according to law, and makes it easier to report incidents like this) stopped me and accused me of having my face covered. I had lowered it and told him it was a scarf. He then held my arm and removed it over my head and told me he was going to arrest me. Other police officers looked on, one dismayed. He then took both arms and walked me over to the van. A legal observer came up behind me and told him he couldn’t arrest me, I didn’t have my face covered, and quickly took down his police number. The observer then gave me a bust card, the cop tried to stop him doing so and blocked him, but I managed to get it out of his hand. Knowing he’d been seen, I assumed, he let me go, but if he saw me again he’d ‘get me’.
And then that was the end of my day. I met with friends and on our way, a legal observer took down what we had seen on tape. The media had a huge presence there. So did plainclothes policeman in the crowd. Around 12 people were arrested, I read two for covering their face, one for a racially aggravated assault, and another one for throwing a stone. A member of the public who didn’t want to give evidence reported to police he saw him, but had no evidence that the young man threw the rock. Sounds like a cop to me. Some were held at Trinity Police Station in Easton and a noise demo followed in solidarity . I went home at around ten and scuffles broke out between anti fascists and the EDL throughout the night.
First I want to apologise for not replying to this sooner. I’ve finished my exams recently and haven’t really been online a lot.
I haven’t heard of anything, but unless it was well publicised I wouldn’t. I’m not in touch with anyone who may be involved or even know someone who may know someone who is involved. I really am the wrong person to ask in all of this. I’m not even UK based where there’s a large Haitian diaspora where things like this could possibly happen, and certainly not in the small city I live in.
It is most definitely a huge travesty and very disgusting, too. I wish you all of the best over your summer doing something like that. If you want help on where to start, maybe here are a few points; get in touch with a wider Haitian community on a number of levels e.g. directly on the ground diaspora maybe where you live, get in touch with academics, writers, musicians (who can publicise, retweet, lend support etc) and even on the internet. I’m sure many People of Colour you may ask or hear about it would come out or give solidarity. Even non-POCs, too. There may already be protests that have happened in cities across the world where there’s a large Haitian or anti-imperialist population. There are lots of ‘Hands off Africa!’ events in the UK that teach about neocolonialism and imperialism that’s happening today in Africa; if they are happening here, they must be happening there, too; so that’s a good place to tap for support. Maybe another place would also be anti capitalists; the best thing for these mines is undeniably to have the land reunited with the original owners before Duvalier (I think that was the president who took the land, but don’t quote me because I am not so hot on history). Anti-capitalist will sympathise with this blatant sign of capitalism, and by default, socialists, anarchists, communists. You can get support from eco supporters too because Haiti doesn’t have any laws on mining so they are not legally obliged (the companies who will take over the mines) to use eco friendly mining equipment and dispose of mine waste safely, therefore it’s not ecologically friendly e.g. look at places like South Wales were mining waste has killed people and destroyed local wildlife. Because Haiti has no laws on mining, this means that miners are not protected when it comes to health, pay, the right to a trade union, a weekend, regular hours, not being forced to work overtime etc and are thus vulnerable to exploitation. This way you can get trade unions and human rights people to support. I honestly believe the issue is (and they are rare) so clear cut between right and wrong that you would have little issue with starting a protest group. Especially seeing as you live in NYC, where it’s huge! :) It’s just a case of drumming up support.
I wish you all the best of luck, and I hope info can be of some use to you. Please keep me informed :)
My favourite Wes Anderson film is Darjeeling Tea Limited! I really like the Royal Tenanbaums, too.
Hi anonymous. Yes.
The front page of the Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom wrote that the social conditions that caused the riots in London last year have become exacerbated and will probably lead to another set of riots.
I would like to take to take this opportunity to thank the Guardian for their guts to come forward to state the blindingly obvious.
The claim comes from a study conducted by London School of Economics that showed that issues like cutting the funding of the Metropolitan Police would make London even more vulnerable and prone to riot. Another factor the report discussed was that the social and economic conditions surrounding the riots (unemployment, poverty etc) have become aggravated as the recession digs its heels even deeper into the dirt.
Last summer when the riots happened (none of which were in my city), I sat back and watched these riots bloom on television. And then I saw the righteous indignation of those who criticised those for rioting. The judgements that were passed were solely reactionary within their nature.
No riot is without cause. Martin Luther King Junior said that riots are a language for the unheard. What I don’t understand is that the UK, US and allied forces go into Iraq and kill six hundred thousand people, and nobody says anything. Babylon burns and is brutalised to such a state that there are historical sites that can never be repaired while the barbarity of occupation leads to embarassing leaks like Wikileaks’ ‘Collateral Murder’ video. And how many more war crimes have to happen before we raise our voices to the same volume? Not a word was uttered by these grand masses of people who are so quick to criticise the younger generation. What’s the bigger problem here, riots or the illegal invasion and subesquent illegal occupation of an entire country? How about Afghanistan? Or Libya? Syria? The UK selling arms to countries that use them on their own people? Yet a few cities burn for a few days and I don’t remember any public reaction so negative to such an event in all of my lifetime; and none that saw some public feeling demanding those on welfare have it cut if they took part in the riots.
But when a government, or a military, or allied forces do it, it’s a safety precaution and a pre-emptive strikes on terrorists. When the people use the same force that is exercised on them each day through lack of access to education, a higher rate of incarceration, etc, the same force that is carried out on them daily by the police forces that exist, that it is unacceptable? If your language is violence the only way your victim will reply will be in violence. To act surprised is The forces at work that invaded Iraq are the same forces that cut your benefits, force you to work longer hours for less pay, and those that don’t represent you. Let’s not forget the young man Mark Duggan who was shot by the Metropolitan Police, the very same death that triggered these riots. By the very same police force that shot Jean-Paul de Menezes, beat Babar Ahmed to such a pulp that a report commented that it was “tantamount to torture”, killed Ian Tomlinson, took 18 years to bring Stephen Lawrence’s killers to justice…How many more people have to die and suffer before we realise the true reality of the police nature of the United Kingdom state and that social conditions engineered to breed crime will results in widespread anger and violence as voices turn to bricks?
Well done, Guardian, for stating the obvious when no other newspaper had the guts to do so as the Broken Britain has apparently been fixed during the Jubilympics. London is in lockdown this summer. Poor parts of the city already suffering from mass gentrification will be on lockdown as the Olympics take place. 13,500 troops will be deployed to London during the summer (more than are currently in Afghanistan). This, along with 1000 armed US diplomats, an estimated 500 FBI agents, 55 dog teams and more police being called in to help patrol London leads to conclusions that there may be anywhere froma 25,000 to a 50,000 strong security force. This will be happening in areas who may already well see any police presence as a form of occupation, given the reputation of the Metropolitan Police force. This is certain to be seen as a provocative act. The government can fund a 50,000 strong security force to protect and police an over budget Olympics, yet four million children in the UK live below the poverty line.
When Brixton happened they said it was not political and that it was mindless wanton violence. This is the same rhetoric used today, yet now we know that the Brixton Riots were inherently political in their nature. This, too, will repeat, as we realise the riots of last summer were also inherently political and realise that the sentiment that built these riots haven’t gone. The sentiment is not dormant, it is growing.