Haven’t we heard this before?

Garance Franke-Ruta has a piece at TAPPED refuting Christina Hoff-Summers’ claim that American feminists, like, totally ignore women in Islamic countries.

Oh, I so love this claim. Just Google “Mavis Leno” or “Ms. Foundation” and “Afghanistan,” hm? Both were working for Afghan women years and years before any of the wingnuts discovered the value of using Afghan women to shame American feminists by pretending they had discovered Afghan women first.

Can I just say? I remember reading about the Ms. Foundation’s work in Afghanistan against the Taliban when I was in law school, over 10 years ago. And having an argument with my Pakistani-born co-worker about whether the Taliban was a cultural expression that should be protected from outside scrutiny in 1998 (he eventually came around, given that his mother had been an M.D. trained in London who would have been able to practice in Lahore had the family not fled a coup, but who wouldn’t have been allowed to work under the Taliban (and her patients would have died since male physicians were prohibited from touching unrelated women)).

Hey, here’s a thought, conservatives: start worrying about violence against women in your own backyard before you start trying to catch feminists out on issues they’re way ahead of you on.


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14 Responses to Haven’t we heard this before?

  1. They failed miserably at fiscal restraint, public safety and a strong defense, so now they want to tell *us* how to run feminism?

  2. johanna says:

    Um, yeah, while Christina Hoff Sommers was busy inventing the war on boys, or whatever her deal was around 2003, I was at a hearing on Capitol Hill where the future of military presence in Afghanistan with a bunch of other feminist interns wearing a sticker that said, “Afghanistan: Where’s the Marshall Plan?” (since signs aren’t allowed)

    I don’t mean to berate my elders, but c’mon Christina, I was a freaking 20 year old intern and I knew this stuff. GET WITH IT.

  3. L says:

    THANK YOU ZUZU!

    I was just getting my panties in a bunch trying to prove EXACTLY this point. And you made it happen. Wonderful.

  4. While I don’t wish to defend conservative what-about-ery, I do think that there is a legitimate point to be made regarding biases in Western feminism.

    A lot of “mainstream” feminist organisations campaign primarily on issues that affect straight white middle-class non-disabled citizens of [insert name of wealthy Western country here]. We don’t here nearly as many mentions of women in Afghanistan in the mainstream Western media as we do of, say abortion rights in Western countries.

    So yes, by all means call conservatives on their hypocrisy. But it’s a bit hard to see American feminists as champions of women in Afghanistan. Because what most American feminists do for women in Afghanistan is basically zero compared for what most American feminists do for, say, middle-class Americans.

    –IP

  5. bluestockingsrs says:

    IP, you are conflating what the media pays attention to as beign the subjects that feminists are advocate about.

    What the media pays attention to is not the fault of any feminist organization since last time I checked no feminist organization owned a news organization.

  6. bluestockingsrs says:

    Well, if I could type AND edit today that first sentence would say:

    IP, you have decided that only the subjects that the media pays attention to are the subjects that US feminists advocate on exclusively. This just ain’t so.

  7. preying mantis says:

    “We don’t here nearly as many mentions of women in Afghanistan in the mainstream Western media as we do of, say abortion rights in Western countries.”

    I believe the phrase is “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

  8. Mnemosyne says:

    We don’t here nearly as many mentions of women in Afghanistan in the mainstream Western media as we do of, say abortion rights in Western countries.

    So “mentions in the media” is what makes activism, not actual actions?

    I see you’ve been consulting with the Iraqi government, which has decided that if no one takes pictures of the bombing, the bombing never happened.

  9. Danyell says:

    If people think feminists are falling behind why don’t THEY pick up the slack?

    Answer: Because then they can’t blame feminists when they make it even worse!

  10. SunlessNick says:

    I believe the phrase is “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” – preying mantis

    You know, I read that “abstinence of evidence” – which I think is pretty also apt for today’s media .

  11. SunlessNick says:

    Should have been “read that as” of course.

  12. preying mantis says:

    “You know, I read that “abstinence of evidence” – which I think is pretty also apt for today’s media .”

    They’re certainly a lot better at it than those poor kids that get suckered into thinking a chastity pledge is the only sex-ed they need.

  13. Sorry, when I said “mainstream Western media” I mean feminist mainstream Western media. As in media from mainstream feminist groups

    I am on mailing lists for a number of feminist organisation, and the “mainstream” groups tend, for example, to send out a lot more stuff on reproductive rights than, say, access to sanitary products for women in Zimbabwe. Or FGM. Or women on welfare in the US. Or very much about any issue that concerns non-Western women or non-middle-class women more than it does Western middle class women.

    So I’m not basing my observation on the media, I’m basing it on my experience of mainstream feminist groups’ own mailings and activities.

    Bluestockings and Mnemosyne: I appreciate the carricature, but I don’t see how much original comment provoked your responses, I’m afraid. I’m not supporting the conservative strawfeminist argument, but I do think that there is a valid point to be made about the bias of mainstream feminism in wealthy Western countries.

    –IP

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