Leon Trotsky — you know, THE Trotsky — once said disdainfully of writer Dwight Macdonald, who’d had the temerity to actually question him about something-or-other, “everyone has the right to be stupid, but comrade Macdonald abuses the privilege.”
Now, Trotsky was sort of a shit, and probably would have been a worse dictator than Stalin, and Dwight Macdonald was awesome, but I’ve always loved this little put-down, and I’d like to update it for the internet age. So here goes:
Everyone has the right to pontificate about shit they know nothing about on the internet, but our comrades at The Spearhead abuse the privilege.
The latest example: A short piece about the Egyptian protests from Spearhead head cheese W.F. Price. Noting that footage of the protests show a lot of angry men out on the streets, Price opines:
Governments that consistently neglect or antagonize their male populations never last too long.
Yep, no matter what happens anywhere in the world at any time, on The Spearhead it’s always all about the menz. Indeed, not only has the Egyptian government been insufficiently accommodating to men, Price suggests; it’s also started flirting with feminism, having “recently taken the lead in the Arab world in empowering women.” But such a transparent ploy to win over the wimmenz will invariably backfire, he argues (or, rather, asserts), further angering the angry men in the streets:
Female support matters little; women shift allegiance at the drop of a hat, so any government that counts on them to prop them up is making a mistake.
Those fickle, fickle women!
In the comments, someone called Antz took this absurdity a step or two further, asking his fellow Spearheaders to
note the alpha males in battle gear, ready at the drop of a hat to open fire on their freedom loving brothers with machine guns.
Alpha males have always been the wielders of the burning blade of feminist anti-male hatred.
Yes, that’s right. The Egyptian security police have suddenly gone feminist on us.
This isn’t the first time Price has attempted to cast an uprising in the Arab world as a manly reaction to the doings of evil women. He titled a recent piece on the Tunisian uprising “Arrogant Woman Slaps Young Man, Brings Down Her Regime.” The “arrogant woman” in question was a corrupt local official who slapped and thereby humiliated a young Tunisian street vendor named Mohammad Bouazizi; his very public suicide — he lit himself on fire in front of a government building as a form of protest –was what set off the Tunisian uprising. (I have no idea what Price means by referring to “her regime,” as the woman in question was merely a local functionary and the regime in question was of course headed by a man.) Price wrote:
Authoritarian regimes in Muslim-majority states tend to favor women’s empowerment, seeing women as natural allies in keeping fundamentalist Islam at bay and willing participants in corrupt patronage systems. However, favoring women can only go so far, as men need a certain degree of appeasement as well, and it seems that young Tunisian men have had enough of being – quite literally in this case – slapped around.
Never mind that Tunisia’s historic adoption of women’s rights legislation — abolishing polygamy, and, horror of feminist horrors, requiring men to actually get consent from women before marrying them — happened more than half a century ago. Never mind that the repressive Ben Ali government was actually moving backwards on women’s rights. A woman slapped a man, so the uprising was therefore all about the symbolic slapping of men by an evil regime that Price has bizarrely described as a “her.”
Back to Egypt, which is even less of a feminist paradise than Tunisia. Indeed, a 2010 report from the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights concluded that the country was getting worse, not better, when it came to its already dismal record on women’s rights. As thedailynewsegypt.com reports (link is to Google’s cached copy of the story):
The report, which is based on the findings of international human rights organizations, stated that Egypt was ranked 125th out of 134 countries regarding women’s rights, and was ranked 13th among countries in the Middle East/North Africa region. …
The state council’s refusal to appoint female judges in February was considered by the ECWR as a major setback to women’s rights in 2010. … Women still suffer from inequality in the workplace … there’s been a rise in violence against women. … 71.4 percent of violent crimes in 2010 were against women. …
The ECWR also highlighted the increased use of two new alarming police practices against women: the practice of holding women hostage in order to force fugitives to surrender themselves to the police, as well as the sexual violation of women by police officers.
But that’s not the only thing that Price has gotten very, very wrong: As many observers far more knowledgeable than Price have pointed out — including, amazingly, one commenter on The Spearhead — the footage of male-dominated protests we see on TV is in many ways wildly misleading: Egyptian women have been involved in the current protests in unprecedented numbers.
As Jenna Krajeski noted on Slate’s XXFactor blog,
An unprecedented number of Egyptian women participated in Tuesday’s anti-government protests. Ghada Shahbandar, an activist with the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, estimated the crowd downtown to be 20 percent female. Other estimates were as high as 50 percent. In past protests, the female presence would rarely rise to 10 percent. Protests have a reputation for being dangerous for Egyptian women, whose common struggle as objects of sexual harassment is exacerbated in the congested, male-dominated crowd.
Max Strasser, a former associate editor at Al-Masry Al-Youm English Edition in Cairo, explains the dynamic:
It is no secret that Egypt is a conservative country when it comes to gender relations. Men and women generally, though not exclusively, adhere to traditional gender roles where women stay at home. As a result, many public spaces are heavily male dominated. Moreover, sexual harassment is frustratingly common … Big crowds, like soccer rallies, are usually the least hospitable for women.
Since this uprising began, the typical gender dynamic in Egypt’s public space seems to have been thrown out with the regime. Some have said that as many as half of the protesters are women. Moreover, as I have watched Al Jazeera it seems clear that women of all walks of life, from young girls in jeans to older women wearing niqab, are taking part. All are chanting, pumping their fists and, at times, battling with the riot police.
As feminist human rights activist Nawal El Saadawi told Democracy Now!, “women and girls are beside boys in the streets.”
Do I have any idea what’s next in Egypt? Of course not. The crowds I’ve seen in the news coverage on CNN and elsewhere have been mostly men, and a lot of these men are fundamentalist fanatics. But I think the presence of women alongside the men in the protests is heartening, and gives us some reason for optimism.
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>Why is the focus to attack women? So for one the people saying they aren't there are wrong, secondly, it really is neither here nor there. Middle Eastern culture can def be implicated, and gender cultural norms like those aren't unique to the Middle East. These guys criticizing women in this way are just trolling.
>I don't think people are criticizing women, they're criticizing the portrayal of a phenomenon as more significant than it really is, which is just propaganda narrative. It's a disservice to the men (and the women) who are fighting so hard for their freedom. I don't think they'd like what's really happening distorted by outsiders.
>re: triplanetary. All kinds of power structures are propped up all the time by foreign powers. I don't agree with all of them, but in many cases the local despot is the best choice for regional stability. That's the way these countries tend to work. Now I'm not gonna say Egypt or Tunisia will devolve into fundamentalism, but it's a bit premature to say that these places will become enlightened liberal tea sipping democracies. Democracy in Gaza led to…drumroll…Hamas. You, I, and everyone here has every reason help make sure the upcoming regime is aligned with US interests. Assuming that it will become a great PC wunderland is liberal tunnel vision.
>My, that's a lot of words you're putting in my mouth. I never said Egypt is likely to transform into some liberal wonderland or an "enlightened liberal tea sipping democracy." What I said was that their government is theirs to create, in whatever image they see fit.Democracy in Gaza did indeed lead to Hamas. So? Democracy in America led to George Bush, which turned out rather badly for large swaths of the world. Morally, there's no distinction whatsoever between American adventurism in the Middle East and the actions of any given terrorist. The fact that our terrorism is conducted by an expensive-ass military doesn't change the fact that innocent people are dying.
>Actually the really sickening thing about all the consternation over Hamas' victory in Palestine is that the basic idea the concern-trolling pundits are expressing is that people only deserve democracy if they're going to vote a certain way. Sort of defeats the purpose of democracy.But oh dear, the people of Palestine voted for a violent, religious conservative government. We Americans would never do something like that! ^_^
>Normally, I'd not get involved in a political thread here. But I must say that pretending that Hamas and George Bush Junior are morally equivalent is rather disgusting.Yes, Hamas are more honest than Georgie was. Score one for them. But they are also 2000 times more brutal and , as a "progressive" would say, "regressive".As for the middle east in general I've done tons of reading over the past 3 years on peak oil, critiques of the theory, and etc. I know how much oil is produced, where it is produced, how it is produced, and I can say this: any regime in the middle east which interferes with the flow of oil (since we haven't been smart enough to work hard at getting off this drug)will be destroyed as it not only threatens the US economy and even our peoples ability to feed themselves, but it would also throw pretty much the entire rest of the world into turmoil and risk World War 3.Thus, unfortunately it's necessary to have someone guarantee the flow of oil over there, no matter how it has to be done. Right now, it's the US's job.I hope a nice democratic peaceful non-fundamentalist government takes over in Iran, raises the price of oil a bit, and puts its people first. I'd support that. But if an islamic regime comes to power and interferes with the oil, I'm all for using our aircraft carriers as much as is needed. We'd have nothing to lose at that point anyway.We do live in interesting times.
>ACK! I meant Egypt. I was thinking of the Shah as the last time something like this happened, and my thoughts became stuck.
>Bush's wars (which Obama is perpetuating; I'm not letting him off the hook) have killed far more civilians than Hamas has. And America does it for political expediency and corporate profiteering. Is greed really a better reason than religion to kill a bunch of people?
>Well, as a MRA who grew up in Egypt and Has lived there let me tell you you DO NOT KNOW SHIT about what is going on.If you think Egypt or the middle east in general is 'patriarchal' then you do not know what you are talking about. For ex/ The word Harem in the west is thought to mean one man with multiple wives but it actually doesn't. It is derived from Haram which means forbidden. If a woman says Haram to a man in Egypt, like most women who do so when a man comes to the door to say fix something when her husband isn't home, he will look down and be embarassed and follow what ever orders she give. Is that really patriarchy? It is one of many aspects of Islam and Haram dates back to many much earlier cultures where no one except children and the husband were allowed to enter a residence. In most of these cultures the boys were kicked out once they became a man and joined the male space. The male space existed to follow the wishes of the female space or Haram. Just goes to show how even patrilineal patriarchies are largely run by the matriarchal elements.One thing that really blew my mind after 9/11 is how women went from almost never veiling to doing so in mass. I don't know how many women told me they did so as a political symbol of protest. The women would tell me how they don't hate Americans or American men or our government but just our president and how they controlled the middle east which I always thought funny cause the women over there are the primary beneficiaries of USAID. Many in the west think women have no rights in Egypt but if you walk around the streets of cairo you will see girls going to school and homeless boys begging on the street. You will see women going to work and college while men dick ditches for more plumbing and washing cars. There are many factors driving this rebellion that came together in a perfect storm of sorts and one is women. Women, just like in the west, are the primary supporters of religion. Go to any church on a wens night and count the women and men. In egypt men may be more religious than in the west but that is due to culture, government and status. Men of high status or alphas will build mosque after mosque to show their piety and the women love it. Then the government has issued the state religion to be Islam so unless you're a coptic christian you are shit out of luck job and relationship wise if you don't adhere to Islam. Some of the factors really are how men are being left out while women are propped up through US imperialism and AID. Who do you think allows Mubarek to have all those nice tanks and guns? Who do you think pays for it? America that is who. Then there are all the economic factors like how the Euro destabalized the Egyptian pound. Then there is Americas role in the middle east and how that has driven radicalized Islam. But women are playing a large role there. They are the driving force behind the brotherhood. The men join the brotherhood because they have no other options and one little clue that Egypt is feminist is that they even have a Council on women. They also had a womens lib in the 1920s.
>Now I think welmer has gone a little far to say this is all about women. There are so many factors that I don't have time to go into them all but some are immigration from sudan and ghana and how it means lower class men lose out jobs, along with women, and there is also some racist problems there. The simple fact about Egypt is that they have women in the mens sphere while the men have not gained from it but women have. If you walk into almost any office over there, especially ones subsisting one USAID, you will find female workers. My mom, a feminist who worked with USAID, has shown me how to get aid they have to show certain numbers of women get it too. So for ex/ If you walk into the library of alexandria you will see almost every book and computer stamped with a USAID sticker and you will see more women than men. The men see women getting ahead with the hands of US imperialism and they see their roles eroding and they find a answer with radical islam. I always thought it was weird how the women were the ones pushing the social customs while the men simply went along. Whether devotion or other customs men simply went along. Two exs/ would be how most of the guys were muslim in name only and wanted westernism while the women didn't because they thought western women were slutty. On that message when I was living there as a teen I would walk out my house and every day I would see the same poor woman holding a baby that looked dead. She was a beggar and had cheated on her husband and been divorced after creating a child with another man. The men would take pity and give her some money while the women would chastise her. I remember giving her some money one day only to have three women yank it out of her hand and scold me. The Egyptian women know they have power at home and they fear losing it if they become too western and take over the male sphere. They also fear men becoming wise to their power and influence and rejecting them or becoming too westernized and rejecting them. The only difference I saw in Egypt v. The south is that when the wife chases her husband out in the street yelling about how he isn't a good enough christian or muslim that in the south the guy sleeps on the sofa and in Egypt he claps his hands once and say I divorce and then threatens to do it again and then sleeps in his own bed. The Sharia laws regarding child custody is the only real power egyptian men have. This is why they want more Islamic Sharia law to prevent the erosion of their rights and one thing that blew my mind is how women really just drool over patriarchal men. Whether it was the average Egyptian girl I dated or the western women who went to school over there. Women don't like feminized men and why women would do such a thing to their sons blows my mind but it just creates a nation of nice guy whiners that all the other women despise. Get your facts straigt manboobz. Oh and another reason the women are supporting such a thing is because Egypt has a huge population of working women who are over 30 and still living with their parents worry about never being able to marry because the men are too poor. But yeah, ok, surely there isn't feminism there. there is just a huge number of Egyptian women who call themselves feminist and have all sorts of womens groups and orgs and go on crusades against sexual harassment and have a history of feminism going back more than 90 years. Fucking feminst idiots.
>Actually, avpd0nmmng, Iran's Green Movement was composed of both secular and Muslim activists. Mir Hossein Mousavi may call himself a moderate but he's also one of the architects of the Islamic Republic. And the elections in Iraq and Afghanistan aren't really applicable. Those elections were held after the coalition invaded, removed the previous governments and informed everyone they were now going to have a democracy. They didn't occur due to popular demand. So the situation in Egypt (and Tunisia, for that matter) are very different.As for Chuck, I'm not going to waste my time with someone who freely admits to being a bigot.
>Well, as a MRA who grew up in Egypt and Has lived there let me tell you you DO NOT KNOW SHIT about what is going on.If you think Egypt or the middle east in general is 'patriarchal' then you do not know what you are talking about.There comes a certain point of ridiculousness beyond which "yeah well I lived in x country" just doesn't cut it.I'll grant that I've never lived in Egypt. But I've also never lived in Japan but I feel fairly certain that they don't have giant, city-destroying robots there. If someone tells me they do, I'm not going to defer to them just because they've lived in Japan and I haven't.Your claim that Egyptian society isn't patriarchal is basically on the same level of plausibility as giant robots. It's not like Egypt is unique in this sense. America is patriarchal, too, along with pretty much every country in the world.
>Troll King. That was a really deep disturbing post you wrote about how you grew up and how it has traumatized you. It’s a shame you had to witness such human brutality. Have you ever tried seeking mental help?