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  1. Umm Yasmin
    Umm Yasmin October 24, 2007 at 11:05 pm |

    For me, along with many of the valid issues you raise, it’s the almost complete absence of any spirituality or recognition that religion can empower women. For some strange reason, much feminist discourse buys into the secularist narrative that religion is inherently problematic and should be privatised. This comes out as religion is inherently patriarchal – whereas for me as a Muslim feminism, I see the reclamation of my right as a woman to interpret and reinterpret religious interpretation is vital to my sense of autonomy.

  2. Silver Owl
    Silver Owl October 24, 2007 at 11:17 pm |

    I identify as feminist because I as a woman I want and demand to live as a full blown sentient human being.

  3. Vanessa
    Vanessa October 24, 2007 at 11:24 pm |

    I felt like this post was about me, when reading it.

    So, what you said. I’ve found myself recently saying in (real life) conversations saying “I’m a feminist, I guess,” and then going over all the exact points you listed.

  4. Alix
    Alix October 24, 2007 at 11:37 pm |

    Umm Yasmin – I’m right with you on that, though I’m a … hm. Eclectic religionist? I dunno. I study world religions. (I almost said “for a living”, but I don’t get paid for it. Still, I spend more time on this than on almost anything else, including work.) It is frustrating and, yes, insulting to hear all religions lumped together as this horrible, antirational, antiwoman thing, especially when it’s clear the people talking know pretty much nothing about any religion other than their local Christian denomination. From a personal angle, it angers me even more when other feminists then condescend to me (I get the “oh, you must not have ever really read the Bible, then” line a lot. Um, I’m translating the Bible right now, for the hell of it. I have also read most major scriptures of the world’s religions, albeit in translation. Don’t fucking condescend to me, dammit.)

    I am a feminist. That means, to me, that I decide what my truth is and what my life is. Not society, not my father, not my husband (should I ever marry), and no, not even other women, feminists, or liberals. I decide.

    And now that I think about it, what really bugs me about some feminists is that condescension that creeps up sometime, something I hope I’ve never manifested, but probably have. Condescension is an emotion of hierarchy; it places the condescender above the one condescended to. It’s an attitude devoted to putting the other in her place. I thought that attitude was what we were fighting.

    I do love this movement, though. The only blogs I ever really interact on are feminist blogs, and frankly I credit them with pulling me out of one minor depression and giving me back my sense of perspective. I really only do criticize what I love.

  5. Sirkowski
    Sirkowski October 24, 2007 at 11:42 pm |

    Religion is passed to the offsprings by the mother. Thus religion needs to control women in order to survive. So religion might not be necessarily patriacal, but it will always control women more than it does man.

  6. Alix
    Alix October 24, 2007 at 11:48 pm |

    Religion is passed to the offsprings by the mother.

    Huh. Really? Which ones? All religions? Even ones from cultures with different family and social structures than ours? Got some proof for that? Cause if you’re right, that’s pretty damn interesting…

  7. Cola Johnson
    Cola Johnson October 24, 2007 at 11:50 pm |

    I feel that a lot of these concerns are valid, but I worry that it does some injustice to the number of feminist bloggers that I read every day who are talking about these things.

    I, for one, come from a very poor family. My mother’s a deeply religious stay-at-home mom and yet I love and respect her to pieces. Although I consider my feminism a celebration of my freedom to pursue my desires without guilt and define my life on my terms, it was actually my mother who taught me to think this way well before I had any idea what feminism was. She probably wouldn’t call herself a feminist, and I won’t presume to, but I don’t know any feminists, or go online and read any, who would look down her or her lifestyle choices. I know people who pass judgement on who is and isn’t a feminist are probably out there, but I haven’t met them.

    I’m sorry that you feel alienated. I can honestly say that I know how that feels, but this post makes me feel uncomfortable for some reason.

  8. kate
    kate October 25, 2007 at 12:11 am |

    Where was that strong denunciation of welfare deform, that makes it that much harder for a woman on welfare to obtain her best chance at economic self-sufficiency—a college degree? Ask the average working-class woman what is the most pressing concern facing women, and you are likely to receive the answer making ends meet. “An Injury to One is an Injury to All.”

    Say it! When I and many other women across the country were struggling to attend college to gain skills, while raising children alone, welfare was the only way to make this goal achievable.

    But when the Democrats latched onto the Welfare Reform Act and joined in the scapegoating of poor women, most mainstream feminists stood aside and silent, leaving women like me to fend off the constant barrage of harassment and lies foisted at us and our children.

    Welfare Reform was a huge affront to women and utilized the time worn strategy of painting women who had children and did not have a man in the house as illegitimate and unworthy.

    For feminists to say that they wish more women would become independent, but then to stand back and do nothing when one of the most important roads to independence for the most vulnerable women in the country is stripped away, speaks volumes.

    I am still angry and disgusted at the failure of mainstream feminists groups such as NOW to actively address support services for women in crisis.

    I remember that the Nation (the only publication that had any writing of any concern about welfare reform) printed an article lamenting the damage done after the Welfare Reform Act had passed. Of course, what group was the were the editors suddenly concerned about? Women leaving domestic violence situations of course, women seeking temporary shelter and needing temporary financial assistance to leave their abusing husbands.

    Still, after all this time the feminist movement seems reluctant to open its arms to all women and to understand that the road to independence often does not include a life in the suburbs followed by an epiphany moment and then the dramatic escape.

    The struggle for economic independence that women in poverty, of all races, is far more complicated, difficult and fraught with contrasts to what we in this society are conditioned to think of as ‘correct’.

    Unfortunately, it is this very correctness that is often nothing more than the correction of the patriarchy itself and one would think that mindful and aware feminists would understand this and rise above it.

    Frankly, I also don’t think the welfare issue is ‘dead’ or decided of done. Assistance for job training, childcare and education still need to be given priority concern for feminists if we ever truly want to make the movement universal.

    Might I also add that the silence of feminists about the fact that women in job training programs are most often fast tracked into traditional women’s work (secretarial, nursing) while intentionally ignoring opportunities in non-traditional work. Where are the mainstream feminists groups to decry government funded sex segregation in job training?

  9. kactus
    kactus October 25, 2007 at 12:26 am |

    Of course I’m a feminist. I learned it at my mother’s knee. And although my faith in what seems like only a matter of logic has been shaken since entering the wacky world of online feminism, this is only a small, insignificant part of the struggles women are involved in right now, here and around the world. This online aspect is bullshit, in the end. Endless bickering over ideologies and theories and finger-pointing–but out there, where the work is happening, the work that matters, feminism is still important, even if its name is never spoken. It’s still there.

  10. XtinaS
    XtinaS October 25, 2007 at 12:38 am |

    I’m a feminist.  It took me a while to own up to it, but here I am.  With regards to the intent of your post, I have a good quote saved for just such an occasion:

    The goal of posts like this is consciousness raising; let’s look at the sexist subtext of these things so many people for granted. That doesn’t mean if you choose to do those things you are Cast Out of the Feminist Circle for All Eternity. It’s not about maintaining ideological purity, it’s about analyzing the attitudes underlying this sort of thing. We all compromise with the patriarchy just to survive, so if that’s one of the compromises you feel like you have to make, so be it. Just acknowledge that it’s a compromise. So many people feel attacked when things like this are analyzed through a feminist lens, but it’s absolutely necessary to do it in order to show the omnipresent patriarchal attitudes. This isn’t about judging the individual people living their lives, but challenging the meaning of traditions that demean women and treat us as possessions without autonomy.
    LivvySidhe

  11. Courtney
    Courtney October 25, 2007 at 1:04 am |

    I have many of the same objections you do, but I don’t really see the religion thing. Granted, I’m an atheist, and see religion from an outsider’s perspective. I used to be Christian, and much of the problems I had when I read the bible were the deeply sexist overtones and verses throughout. I found it insulting and frightening. On a bad day, Paul could make you want to throw yourself out a window.

    Atheists, for the most part, especially the vocal and popular ones, think religion is harmful. There is the murdering, genocidal, freaky-ass way that Allah and God present themselves in there holy books. There are violent disputes based on nothing but religious differences. There are evil people finding a justification for doing evil things because God tells them to. There are the atrocities that go without criticism is holy books. But, honestly, that is not what most folks who say religion is harmful really think is the harmful part of religion. It’s simply the idea that one must accept a belief in the supernatural with no evidence. It’s the idea that “faith” is elevated and logic is criticized. That’s dangerous, and much more so than any patriarchal structure outlined in the Bible.

    If feminism turned into a faith-based movement, even one that tolerated all faiths as wonderful, I would no longer be able to identify with it.

  12. jessilikewhoa
    jessilikewhoa October 25, 2007 at 1:06 am |

    i feel so odd reading this becos i am interested in all these causes and try my best to learn as much as i can about the lives of all marginalized people. i mean, eff, im childfree but im a momsrising member and applaud everything they do. the idea that i might be an anomaly is strange to me, how can anyone look at one group that is oppressed and not see the way it is all interconnected.

    i do admit that in alot of ways i do ignore the problems (white heterosexual christian) men face (i have no problem seeing the ways everyone else is screwed by our culture), there are days where i fear i might be bordering on becoming a misandrist. i read “the will to change” by bell hooks and it helped change my perspective on alot of things, but probably not enough, maybe its time for a second reading and some serious self analysis.

    and to single a point out, the classism has gotten to me before quite a bit, probably as it hits closest to home, having come from a working class borderline poverty background and spending most of my childhood being raised by a single mother, just now going to (2 year community)college in my late twenties as i simply couldnt afford it until i became old enough to recieve full aid based on my income, dreading my inevitable navigation of the public aid system as i apply soon for medicaid (unable to get private insurance due to a pre-existing condition and a medical record on a stack of paper roughly 2 inches thick), only being able to recieve dental care when a terrible abcess made me eligible to become a patient at the county dental clinic due to being an emergency. it gets frustrating to read comments about how all poor uneducated people vote republican, or comments about toothless yokels or whatever. certainly when im with my best friend who comes from a similar background to my own, but poorer, we will make jokes about whitetrash and whitetrash culture, but its making fun of our own background and our own culture. its like how you can complain about you family but people who arent part of your family had better refrain from saying anything disparaging about them cos it makes you see red.

    this comment feels very poorly written, but i really love what youve posted here thus far. you are an amazing writer.

  13. KC
    KC October 25, 2007 at 1:39 am |

    When I’m bothering to define myself as anything at all, yes, I identify as a feminist. Why? because it’s a word that I feel at least sort of means what I am, because I believe in the basic ideas of feminism – equality, reproductive rights, and what have you.

    Sure there are flaws, any movement is going to have flaws, anything real for that matter is going to have flaws. Just because it isn’t perfect, or misses the mark in places, doesn’t mean you have to stop identifying with it. Not everyone who calls themselves a catholic agrees with the church 100% of the time; all democrats don’t agree with all other democrats all the time. Sure, there’s a point where you stop being part of the same thing, It’s only a word, it only has meaning so far as you give it meaning. Movements pay attention to what the constituents talk about and are interested in…you don’t need a whole different movement, you just need to shift the frame a little bit.

    To slightly alter something that has been written on many a t-shirt for my sorority…We make the movement, the movement doesn’t make us. Feminism is us, we are the definition of it, it can’t force an identity on us if we don’t want it, because we’re the ones who can change it.

  14. Lirpa
    Lirpa October 25, 2007 at 2:14 am |

    Alix- The one I can think of off the top of my head is Judaism. If your mother is Jewish and your father is not, then you are Jewish, automatically. If it is reversed- your dad is Jewish (he has a Jewish mother or was converted) and your mother is not Jewish (her mother is not Jewish and/or she has not officially converted), then you are not Jewish, or you are “half Jewish.” Judaism is the only religion that I know of that determines your religion, or standing, based on your mother.

    Aside from that, I want to thank La Lubu for her post. I identified very strongly with many of your “disagreements” to feminism, and have often in the past used them as ways to prove that I was NOT a feminist, even though I may have been on the same side of many a debate as many feminists.

    Fairly recently I seemed to have a revelation. I may not agree with everything that is said here, or elsewhere in similar bogospheres, and I may have my disagreements, but I think we all can come together on a few choice points: We, as women, are people, and we, as women, have the right to live our lives inthe same way that our male counterparts may live. We not only have the right to perform the same jobs, but we have the right to earn as much doing so. We have the right so be taken seriously, we have the right to be heard. We have the right to take control over our own bodies.

    You bring up many, many good arguments, and many suggestions for feminism. I’m happy that you are one of the guest bloggers, because the things you brought up are not things I woud have expected to hear here, or elsewhere in a similar setting. Thank you!

  15. anonymous
    anonymous October 25, 2007 at 2:15 am |

    I have been thinking about this a lot recently, and I have tentatively decided that I am a feminist. I firmly believe in the core principle of equality, so how could I not identify as a feminist? For the same reason that I’m not part of the Democratic Party. I agree with a lot that the Democrats do, and I usually vote Democratic (sometimes Green). But there’s a fair amount of silliness in the Democratic Party.

    I’ve been reading several feminist blogs recently, and I like most of what I read. But there is definitely silliness in feminism too, including many of the points raised in this post. I feel that some feminists interpret everything in terms of feminist theory, which puts me off. Also, my mom, who wanted to stay home, run the house, and raise three kids, felt attacked by feminists. She thought raising kids was the most important job for her, and I reaped the benefits – homecooked meals all the time (and teaching me how to cook), always being there for me, etc. And feminists lambasted women like her for not leaving her kids alone and doing some other job that she didn’t want to do.

    So I call myself a feminist, but I don’t identify as part of any feminist movement.

  16. DNA
    DNA October 25, 2007 at 2:19 am |

    I feel the same way. I too feel isolated from alot of mainstream feminism due in part to the fact that I am the kind of person who wants to tear down the gender binary, rather than just going GIRL POWER! I think everyone has a distinct brand of feminism, and I think that mainstream feminism always has had a very white upper-class perspective. We need to acknowledge the multiplicities of identities, across gender, race, sexualities, because we are all fighting the same fight anyways. Thanks for a great post!

  17. EG
    EG October 25, 2007 at 2:36 am |

    I identify as a feminist because it is what I am–it forms the very foundation of the hopes I have for the world.

    My perspective on immigrant and working-class women’s feminist fights is possibly not representative, because I was raised by leftist parents who taught me very early on about the importance of the labor movement, the importance of immigrants and the various social movements to which the contributed, and encouraged me learn about figures who united all those qualities, so by the age of 11 or so I was reading Emma Goldman. But again, that may not be representative–certainly, though, it is part of the solid core of what I think of when I think of feminism.

    For similar reasons, my experience of feminism has been one that is very pro-mother. I’ve worked with feminist midwives who deliberately chose their profession in order to reclaim agency in motherhood for women. The other feminists I know of have all agitated for access to day care, to a living wage, to paid maternity leave, to health insurance, for the right to breastfeed in public, to all the things mothers need in order to do right by themselves and their children.

    Where was that strong denunciation of welfare deform, that makes it that much harder for a woman on welfare to obtain her best chance at economic self-sufficiency—a college degree?

    When welfare reform was inflicted on NYC, I and other feminists organized against it, precisely on these grounds–I was part of a group trying to do labor-union organizing among workfare workers. We couldn’t get the major labor unions to support us. I’m not saying I didn’t meet resistance among upper-class women in understanding the awfulness of destruction of AFDC, but the women I know who did were all feminists. And we lost.

    As an atheist, I value the absence of spirituality in many branches of feminism. There are so few arenas in the US in which religion isn’t automatically assumed to be a good; atheists are the group, polls tell us, least accepted, respected, tolerated by the good people of the USA. We don’t have one openly atheist elected official. It is important for me to have contexts in which I’m not expected to apologize for my atheism and in which I’m not expected to defer to religious experience.

    It’s my impression that there’s a lot of feminist religion afoot. Divinity schools are kept afloat with women students interpreting and re-interpreting religious teachings to be more in harmony with feminism; books about feminist spirituality and reclamation of goddess worship seem to me to be pretty easily found; many of the feminists I know in real life are religious and have molded that religion to fit them. It doesn’t sound like that’s your experience, so we may be moving in wildly different circles, I guess.

    It’s interesting to me–I’ve grown up a feminist, and so much of my feminist experience seems to be so different from what other posters and commenters have experienced, that I’m left wondering again–is it just that my experience is marginal? Does that make it less valid? Or does the nature of the internet mean that my experience of feminism is representative of my local context and that I’m talking to people from far away? I just don’t know.

  18. EG
    EG October 25, 2007 at 2:40 am |

    Let me qualify–the major labor unions supported us to an extent. They actually came out to some rallies. But what we needed to make the work a success was labor organizers, (wo)manpower, and money. We didn’t have those resources, and the AFL-CIO didn’t seem interested, as I recollect, in assisting. Which is a shame, because the workfare workers were actually replacing union workers, which was utterly disgusting.

  19. Rebecca
    Rebecca October 25, 2007 at 2:48 am |

    Actually, no, I rarely self-identify as a feminist. I self-identify as a bisexual, as a non-believer and as childfree, but feminist only comes up occasionally and generally when I am pissy.

    I am, obviously, but it’s a word that has too many meanings for me to comfortably make my own. I identify as myself, as a person I make of myself, not as a person that others makes me. Feminisn, for all it’s great strides, tends to get bogged down by it’s own press. (It’s also the reason I don’t self-identify as an athiest/agnostic, but as a non-believer. Same thing, in the end, but it’s something I’ve made as opposed to something others have made of me.)

    From a certain point of view, the fact that I can self-identify as so many things makes me a feminist, since it is through feminism that I have the oppurtunity to make my own image, instead of stoically accepting someone else’s.

    That being said, there are also some aspects of feminism that I do not like, mainly the idea that I must embrace all aspects of feminism, even those that I have little to no interest in. Women as a group tend to be rather harsh on those who try to walk different paths.

    Ask any of the childless by choice women here who they receive the most criticism from and most of the time the answer will be ‘other women’. As an example of what I’m doing a poor job of explaining, I’m aware that children’s healthcare is very important to many woman, but it holds little interest to me and I’m much more concerned with protecting and expanding the healthcare options and reproductive choices of women. Try saying that to a group of women focused on children’s healthcare, however, and be prepared to be called everything from selfish to a child hater to misogynistic.

    Been there and done that, simply because I have different priorities and concerns from the group.

    Sorry, didn’t mean to ramble on so much.

  20. Marissa
    Marissa October 25, 2007 at 3:17 am |

    I identify as a feminist, but I also beleive feminism includes everything you have mentioned. I do think some mainstream conceptions of feminism exclude much of your key points. But I also think feminist discourse runs much deeper than this mainstream. I suppose it depends on what you mean by mainstream to an exent. I don’t think I could identify as feminist if my understanding of and my engagement with feminism did not include these very important issues. But also, there is more than one feminism, and the interchange of ideas throughout these feminisms is what keeps them alive and interesting.

  21. sophonisba
    sophonisba October 25, 2007 at 4:44 am |

    Women as a group tend to be rather harsh on those who try to walk different paths.

    Feminists as a group tend to be rather harsh on people who are full of smug sexism, too. Even when they’re women.

  22. sophonisba
    sophonisba October 25, 2007 at 4:59 am |

    Try saying that to a group of women focused on children’s healthcare, however, and be prepared to be called everything from selfish to a child hater to misogynistic.

    One has to wonder why we would volunteer our disinterest in children’s healthcare to a group of women focused on children’s healthcare if we were not interested in being insulting.

    Also, you say you’re interested in reproductive healthcare. What do you think women make when they reproduce–kittens?

    Me personally, I care about women and don’t like kids, and I put all my healthcare-related political energy into supporting abortion rights. If that’s what you’re interested in, you’ll get less grief from mothers if you don’t dress up your interests in vague euphemisms that lead them, quite legitimately, to suppose that someone who expresses support for reproductive choices might also be interested in supporting women who reproduce.

  23. Renegade Evolution
    Renegade Evolution October 25, 2007 at 7:15 am |

    First off, excellent post.

    I used to identify as a feminist, albeit a strange one. I don’t any more. Too much strife over who gets to claim the word and who doesn’t, too many aspects of my life and beliefs which apparently are not “feminist enough”, too many aspects of feminism, at least as it is seen in many circles, that I simply don’t agree with or do not find at all practical or realistic. That doesn’t mean I don’t bring what some might consider a feminist agenda with me to the various tables I sit at, as it were. I just don’t feel like fighting over the word any more, so easier not to use it.

  24. Dr. Confused
    Dr. Confused October 25, 2007 at 7:16 am |

    There are so many feminisms out there, and we really have to pick the parts of the movement that we identify with and go with them. My feminism is definitely focused these days on some of the issues you mention, such as broader conceptions of reproductive justice, access to non-traditional fields (though I think that the way that class issues intersect with that work is interesting; I wouldn’t be surprised to find there’s more feminist support for me as an engineer than you as an electrician) , and women’s sexuality. On the other hand, I’m less interested in other issues you mention, such as feminism within religion, since it’s really just not relevant to my life and I don’t have a whole lot to say on the topic. And I think that’s ok. You and I can work together and support one another even if our priorities within feminism are slightly different. I may not get your religious belief, but I can respect them and stand behind you while you work in that area. It’s unreasonable to expect that a broad movement can make everyone’s feminist issue a number one priority, or that each of us can be experts on every topic that could be housed in the big feminist tent.

    Can you point me to some resources on how the Iroquois confederacy has impacted feminism? A good friend of mine is Six Nations and is a “I’m not a feminist but…” person.

  25. irisira
    irisira October 25, 2007 at 7:32 am |

    The other day, my coworker (we’ll call him “E”), said something to the effect of, “I wouldn’t refer to you as a raging Fem-Nazi!” I’m still not exactly sure what he meant, but I have a few thoughts:

    To preface: My office has about 25 or so professionals, and my “team,” made up of seven people, only two of us are female (and our team lead is male).

    Additionally, there’s speculation from outside of our office that the leadership within our office is sexist and chauvinistic. This is not only 100 percent NOT TRUE, it’s also completely contrary to what a supportive and fostering environment my office ACTUALLY is.

    The guys – E especially – can get pretty outrageous at times, making absolutely ridiculous comments, however I’ve never felt insulted or degraded by any of them, nor ever felt there was any reason I SHOULD feel that way. I wear skirts frequently, I wear the color pink frequently.

    And, yet, I will rage on about women’s rights, about how I hate being measured by the sum of what my uterus is capable of, about my powerhouse single mom who instilled these values in me, etc. etc. etc. So, because I wear skirts and joke with the guys, I’m not a “feminist?” I know he wasn’t insulting me with that comment, but it simply made me think: think, that is, what most people equate the word “feminist” with. And, in reality, that’s not what most feminists resemble, even a little bit.

    PS – my mom wears skirts (and pink), and jokes with the guys, too. :)

  26. EKSwitaj
    EKSwitaj October 25, 2007 at 7:34 am |

    I’m a feminist of course. That has never been a question for me. I am also an aspie– that is, someone who qualifies for a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome, a cousin to classic autism. And that (along with a few things others have already mentioned) often leads me to feel excluded. Even where I see a lot of good work going on to combat ableism within feminist communities, I don’t see a lot of understanding of those of us on the autistic spectrum. Perhaps that’s because there are so few of us on the spectrum who are also female?

    When it does come up in feminist circle, the focus tends to be on finding a cure/prevention or on what some parents of autistic children want. What a lot of people don’t get is that a lot of us who actually are on the spectrum don’t regard it as a disease, and we don’t want a “cure”.

  27. alphabitch
    alphabitch October 25, 2007 at 7:34 am |

    kactus said:

    This online aspect is bullshit, in the end. Endless bickering over ideologies and theories and finger-pointing–but out there, where the work is happening, the work that matters, feminism is still important, even if its name is never spoken. It’s still there.

    Yep. I struggle sometimes to keep doing the work, because it seems just too hard to keep the faith, if you listen to what everybody is saying about it.

    But the work? It’s never gonna be completely done. Sorta like the damn laundry. You just hauled your ass to the laundromat and did all 17 loads? Yay for you, but you’re still wearing your clothes, and so is everyone else in the house, and by the time you get home someone will certainly have spilt something or gotten all grubby. Or they will, sooner rather than later. Doesn’t matter how you sorted, what products you used (or won’t use), or how you precisely you fold it when it’s done.

  28. La Lubu
    La Lubu October 25, 2007 at 7:39 am |

    the reclamation of my right as a woman to interpret and reinterpret religious interpretation is vital to my sense of autonomy.

    Thank you, Umm Yasmin!

    kactus, of course you are right. (and I miss your writing!) This post was deliberately U.S.-centric as I am situated in the U.S., and….well, I perceive mainstream feminism as having dropped the ball in missed oppportunities. Feminism has made some powerful achievements, and has gained a certain political clout. Whether I claim feminism as my own or not, it is a movement that will claim to speak for me when that is politically expedient, even if I perceive it (at times) for wanting me mostly as “reserve labor” (kinda like how electricians are listed on “the Book”—the out-of-work list—waiting for the next job call). The more I read international sources, the more I am disappointed with what gets the most press as representing U.S. feminism.

    EG, I agree that it is frustrating that what should be a natural alliance between labor and feminism isn’t there (in the U.S.). But unions have more political power (in that we can still raise a helluva vote) than economic power—most union halls operate on a shoestring. It has been my observation that some feminist groups assume otherwise. Why not do what the politicians do—look to the halls for rank-and-file members to create greater visibility? Here’s a disconnect from my community—years ago, the local women’s shelter was raising money for their new construction; they asked for donations from Trades and Labor, yet did not even allow union contractors to bid on their project. As a (then) unemployed tradeswoman, I came un-fucking-glued on the floor when that particular letter was read.

    Rebecca, I don’t think we should have to embrace everything that has ever been labelled as feminist—just that we have to make room within the movement. We will all have different emphases that are based in who we are and where we come from. That shouldn’t prevent us from being allies to other women. Whether or not a woman has children, whether or not a woman is LGBT shouldn’t prevent her as a feminist from supporting family leave, or a non-watered down Employment Non-Discrimination Act. An injury to one is an injury to all, right? Shouldn’t feminists support the Newark Seven and the Jena 6? Can’t build a fractured movement. And you know, the gatekeeping you are experiencing from other women in regards to your childfree status, is the same gatekeeping I experience as a mother. Why shouldn’t we be allies?

  29. Aulelia
    Aulelia October 25, 2007 at 7:48 am |

    great topic. feminist identification is a hard one. i have been reading a lot of bell hooks recently and i have noticed a trend that she links herself to black feminism more than just womanism. i identify as a black feminist because race and gender intersect for me. i am glad that i found feminism. it has helped me channel a lot of my thoughts and ideas on society.

  30. Jay
    Jay October 25, 2007 at 7:50 am |

    I identify as feminist and more and more see the issues of class as fundamental to the work of feminism. I think Dr. Confused is right on when she says there’s more support for women engineers than for women in the trades. In my own field, I find the gulf between women docs and women who are nurses really troubling.

  31. alphabitch
    alphabitch October 25, 2007 at 7:57 am |

    I’m struck most at the moment by your first point, Lubu. I agree absolutely that the official record neglects an awful lot, as does what I guess you could call the “received feminist narrative,” esp. with regard to colonialism and the short shrift given to labor/union activisim within feminism.

    Which is interesting me personally at the moment because even in my family of immigrants, farmers, and labor activists, the feminist strain of the narrative focuses on the temperance activists and the suffragists. Even though they were also fighting –alongside men — for fair wages and immigrants’ rights. That is left out of the feminist narrative, and the efforts of women like them (like us) are minimized in the orthodox labor history narrative as well.

    Your points about the inherent classism and racisim and anti-child/anti-parent and anti-religion of mainstream feminism? Yep. Yep. Yep.

    PS — I hadn’t heard the phrase ‘reproductive justice;’ I really like that “pro-choice” has never really felt right to me — thanks for the link.

  32. Spotted and Herbacious Backson
    Spotted and Herbacious Backson October 25, 2007 at 8:08 am |

    Considered myself a feminist from day 1–like back in the late 60’s, even before I heard the word. When I stumbled on a massive Ladies Home Journal article on a hard-up-for-reading-matter day in 1970 that introduced something called women’s liberation, it was like a great big light came on… For me the trouble began later when I encountered some women who seemed to think technology, and Reason itself, were some sort of patriarchal intrusion rather than part of what makes us real minds. That technology is being misused so as to trash the biological infrastructure was no help. But not enough people realized that it was overpopulation, and lack of women’s control over breeding, that is a big part of this problem. (This was particularly virulent in the area of “spirituality”.) Once again I was left out.
    It wasn’t bad enough that certain relatives were trashing me (also from day 1) for being more interested in things/ideas than in people. Now one of said relatives keeps trying to tell me I belong on the autistic spectrum, just because she has read a bunch of Temple Grandin books, but I checked and the matchup isn’t close enough, I have my own damn spectrum. But if I didn’t have some exotic form of ADD, I’d be some big engineer or scientist now.
    If I wasn’t being left out of something rightfully mine, I was being swept into something that wasn’t, it seemed. Except that I put my foot down and refused to let anyone else tell me what I am. But since coming online, and reading all these blogs, I have found that some people are cutting apart all those tangles of distortion. And sometimes saying things I thought but could not quite put into words. And I want to thank all of you that are working on that. Don’t give up.

  33. EG
    EG October 25, 2007 at 9:18 am |

    Women as a group tend to be rather harsh on those who try to walk different paths.

    Yep, just like the rest of humanity is. Go figure.

  34. Ailei
    Ailei October 25, 2007 at 9:33 am |

    The older I get (and the more to the left my worldview leans), the more I identify first as a Socialist, then as a Pagan, then as a Feminist (more to catch the very few bits not left over after the first 2). I’m growing more and more radical the older I get. Now the primary thought in my world is ‘If we don’t all cross the finish line together, we all lose’, which to me is the heart of Socialism. The other thing I’ve been mulling over recently is Marx’s quote (paraphrasing here) that producing too many useful things leads to too many useless people. Looking at the rise of industrialization, the disenfranchisement of humans from the land (from the mother), the spread of filth and pollution, we increasingly see how people are no longer valued for their individual abilities and contributions, but rather for how well they shut up, stand in line, and work in a factory 16 hours a day. There are very few weavers, farmers, blacksmiths, and fishers left, and as a result we all…what? Are ace pencil pushers? Fighting keyboardists? Clock punchers? Widget A that works in Widget B to make Gadget C specialists? We are, so many of us, essentially useless (and I fully include myself here).

    Lives without purpose are poisonous to everyone, female and male, young and old, first world or third world.

    Don’t you ever feel like this society we live in is built on thin air? Like if we look too hard at it, it will all come tumbling down? I know I do, and I still LOOK. And POKE.

    I have to still self identify as a feminist, because this world is so deeply, deeply anti-woman. It’s everywhere, in every facet of our culture. Do we despise women for their inherent usefulness? Do we despise them because we CAN? Because no one calls us on it? I’m raising two children, a boy, 7, and a girl, 12. Teaching them both to respect their own self worth and the self worth of other human beings, to whom we are all connected, is very very hard. Having a little boy, especially one athletically inclined, and reading story after story about the bro-jock-football-player-rapist culture that’s ahead of him makes me physically ill. He’s so sweet, so kind hearted, so eager to please that the thought of those assholes getting their grubby hands on him and changing him…so I have a lot of work to do in instilling better values in him, ones strong enough to withstand that deeply woman-hating culture. My daughter just gives them all the finger and does as she pleases, and as much of a pain as that is sometimes, I wouldn’t have her any other way.

    So yes…I do identify as a Feminist, but it’s one part of a whole. I do feel sometimes underserved by Feminism as a mother, especially a deeply religious mother with a male child to raise.

    It’s funny, but when I think about my identity, lesbian doesn’t really factor in, even though I am. Huh. I’ll have to think on that.

  35. You’re not alone, La Lubu « Natalia Antonova

    […] not alone, La Lubu Jump to Comments As much as I hate myself for meta-blogging – this post makes me want to jump up and shout, “you are absolutely not […]

  36. DaisyDeadhead
    DaisyDeadhead October 25, 2007 at 9:53 am |

    Agree with Umm Yasmin. The hostility to religion is amazing. I am pretty easy-going about my own syncretic collection of beliefs, but I have encountered open hostility, often from women who are far more conventional in terms of femininity, politics, sexuality and lifestyle than I am.

    There is the murdering, genocidal, freaky-ass way that Allah and God present themselves in there holy books. There are violent disputes based on nothing but religious differences.

    And the fact that Harriet Tubman, Gandhi and Martin Luther King found strength for social change in those same books, means—? Maybe they were reading different books and didn’t see a “freaky-ass Allah or God”, and you are incorrect or biased in your reading?

    It’s that CATEGORICAL anti-religious fundamentalism (i.e. this is the way it reads, and if you read it differently you are damned to hell or a fool and an idiot) that turns so many women off. You correctly mention cultural differences between women, and culture includes religion. I don’t need to be talked down to and told what books I have studied all my life “really” mean.

    Until this difference is settled, the conventional, mainstream (male dominated) versions of these religions will always be able to point to feminism as godless and uncaring about women of faith. And um, maybe they have a point?

  37. lizvelrene
    lizvelrene October 25, 2007 at 10:03 am |

    My first exposure to the label of “feminism” was a negative one for exactly the reasons you list. A friend of mine who was in the pre-med track with me took a Women’s Studies course that I was signed up to take the following semester. The general narrative of the course was – women stayed at home and raised the children and were housewives, and then feminism came along and allowed women to go to work.

    My friend, a WOC, pointed out that this wasn’t the case for her AT ALL. Women in her family always worked, HAD to work, the situation was fundementally different for reasons associated with both race and class. She approached the professor about this and asked if they could discuss this in class. The professor said no. She recommended books and articles that could be introduced to the course materials, and the professor refused them. My friend brought it up in class discussion, and the professor changed the subject. She even brought in photocopies of articles and requested just to give them out to students for them to read on their own time if they were interested. The professor confiscated the materials and threatened to lower her grade. My friend finally let the issue drop, because she was a Biology major anyway and our pre-med track was too demanding to let this professor distract her from it.

    I am troubled by the fact that I can so easily embrace the label of feminism years later despite watching her go through that experience. It wasn’t until years later (I dropped the course from my schedule and never took a women’s studies course in college after that) that I encountered feminism again in my own research and identified myself in it. But of course I can – I’m white, I grew up middle class, I dont’ want children and I’m an atheist. I make an effort to seek out feminist thought that doesn’t reflect that background, but… I felt when I was younger that as long as I wasn’t like that professor and personally shutting down other voices that might threaten my own narrative, that was enough. I wonder now. In effect I’m sitting in that class quietly and listening to the professor talking to me and ignoring my WOC friend, when maybe I should be walking out with her. I do know that this isn’t the movement I wanted. I just don’t know what to do about it.

  38. Natalia
    Natalia October 25, 2007 at 10:03 am |

    I started typing a response, and it got a little bigger than I intended. So it’s up on my blog. Once again, great post. And it was good to read all the different responses. Thank you for making us think.

  39. Shinobi
    Shinobi October 25, 2007 at 10:10 am |

    I think a lot of the concerns mentioned in this post ARE addressed on a fairly regular basis on blogs like this one.

    Here you are on one of the most popular feminist blogs whining because feminism does not always cater exactly to you personally. Should we all call to check in before we have an opinion to make sure you are okay with it? I wouldn’t want to make you feel left out or anything because you didn’t agree with every word coming out of my mouth.

    Seriously you currently have an amazing opportunity to start conversations and post about issues that are important to you. I can understand that maybe that is what you thought you were doing here, but to me it just seems like a whine fest. If you want to work to change the dominant narrative, here is your chance, but listing all the things that make you feel like you aren’t part of the “cool” group isn’t the way to make change.

    Feminism belongs to all of us, if you don’t like something, then work to change it.

  40. Nell
    Nell October 25, 2007 at 10:37 am |

    Like EG at #17, my privilege (I’m a white Phd carrying WASP – and so are my parents…..) extends to that of growing up in a household with an open and active 1970s era ‘women’s libber’ who handed her geeky daughters all sorts of biographies of women and histories of ‘the movement’ that included working women and women of color right along with the rest. I have always known feminism as a diverse and multi-pronged movement.

    So I’ve literally always been a feminist – without doubt or question. Which means that for me, a lot of what the media presents as ‘mainstream feminism’ (along with the version of that often gets harshed on in many blogs) has always appeared to me – from my safe harbor of total confidence in my feminist identity – to be mostly made of straw. I get a total ‘we who, white man?’ feeling from reading much of it. And other times, I read and learn and know that I am, in my daily life, as guilty of any other in thoughtlessly and blithely passing over the struggles of others in a state of blinkered bliss. It is feminist blogs that remind me me to pull them off and stay the impulse to put them back on again when I get to feeling overwhelmed. (So for you who think the blogs are pointless – I completely disagree. My slow tentative movements back toward RL activism have come because I re-engaged with feminist thinking via blogs, and without them I’d still be totally focused on my own concerns.)

    For me, Feminism – the central idea that we are fully human – means that we feminists – men and women – will disagree, and disagree vehemently about many things. In some ways I believe that one of Feminism’s great and complex gifts is that it should (but hasn’t yet) ultimately trash the notion that there is only one group ‘woman’ (or even ‘feminist’) out there, and that ‘she’ can be fully described as a single coherent individual.

    But I know I say and believe this from a position in which it has never mattered to me how others define feminism – *I* am a feminist. Period. And what ever in some one else’s definition doesn’t apply to me just – doesn’t apply to me.

    If I could give any gift to other women who came latter and with more struggle to knowing feminism as theirs it would be that confidence – which, sadly, is not something I can give like that.

  41. Tina
    Tina October 25, 2007 at 10:47 am |

    Wow Shinobi, that was pretty harsh and inaccurate. I don’t think there was any “whining” involved. Instead, that La Lubu was trying to point out that feminism isn’t all about privilege, that various groups of women have helped advance women’s rights at different points in history, and I think that she’s trying to discourage homogenization of feminist history by the mainstream media and academia.

    Your reaction to La Lubu’s writing seems like just that: a reaction. Not a thoughtful response, just an angry, defensive reaction.

  42. DaisyDeadhead
    DaisyDeadhead October 25, 2007 at 10:49 am |

    Yoo hoo, I am still in moderation, but my last comment echoed the others who wish feminists were not so hostile to religion.

    Feminism belongs to all of us, if you don’t like something, then work to change it.

    And so, what does this mean, regarding the hostility to religion? Convert people? I have no desire to convert anyone. I simply want all feminist’s religious choices tolerated with respect.

    This dialog IS a working to change something, the fact that many women do not feel welcome in feminism and will not join with us.

    Doesn’t that situation concern you?

  43. Tara
    Tara October 25, 2007 at 11:07 am |

    It’s very interesting the different narratives that people attach to ‘mainstream feminism.’

    My first response to this post was, hell yes, I identify as a feminist.

    That’s maybe easier for me because I see my other identity, Jewish woman, all over the history of North American feminism. Maybe for that reason, mainstream feminism, for me, *is* associated with struggles for civil rights, labor rights, immigration, and socialism, because those are some of the primary axes with which Jewish feminists historically engaged.

    It’s also probably why I don’t feel so alienated by the anti-religious aspects of the feminist movement, because for me, my religious/tribal identity and my feminism are completely congruous (even though I know that neither all feminists nor all Jews would agree!)

    And it’s probably because I feel so completely at home in the identity, that I also feel (deep in my bones), that how I define feminism is VALID.

    I’m not saying universally valid or superior – what I mean is that if someone else holds an image of feminism that I disagree with, I would not attribute that to feminism and distance myself from feminism, I would feel comfortable saying that their vision is incorrect or incomplete, and continuing to claim my identity and to define feminism for myself (and whoever else I engage with) on my own terms.

    Because of that sense of ownership, I think it’s on me to make other women, who might not have the same connections, feel welcome enough that they can have the same sense of ownership. It’s a challenge to do that, however, without first having granted, in whatever sense, that I’m an insider and they’re an outsider, which is the very thing that I think we want to avoid. So, yeah, tricky?

    (btw, for me the one place that I feel the most out of step with modern feminism is on issues of antisemitism, Israel, and Zionism. That can be very challenging and is one area where I can feel myself on the outside. And it does suck. So far thankfully not bad enough for me to consider abandoning my feminist identity, even though sometimes I feel like dialogue on these issues, within the feminist community, is kind of pointless. But overall, I feel so strongly in solidarity on so many issues… it’s not even close).

  44. EG
    EG October 25, 2007 at 11:16 am |

    Daisy, while “freaky-ass” could be open to interpretation, “genocidal” and “murderous” aren’t, at least when it comes to the Judeo-Christian god. Even if I believed such a god existed, I couldn’t worship anybody who felt that slaughtering children was an acceptable use of omnipotence.

    I can’t speak for anybody else, but as an atheist I am willing to respect religious people. That is not the same thing as respecting religion. Religious people so often seem unwilling to hear any criticism at all of their belief system–even one founded in their own religious texts, i.e. that Yahweh is murderous. Such criticism is often called “hostility to religion,” but I cannot help but be hostile a world-view that would justify such slaughter.

    Religion seems to me to be a morally neutral way of looking at the world–it has been used to justify great evil as well as being a source of strength for the righteous people that you cite. That suggests to me that there’s nothing inherent in religion to command my respect, but that there can be something inherent in people whether they be religious or not.

    So tell me, what is it that you want from atheists? We make up about .4% to 14% of the population, depending on how you phrase the questions you put to people. We have very little power. I venture to say that most feminists are not atheists. What is it you’d like us to do to make you feel more welcome–bearing in mind that we are also people of conscience, and simply cannot write over or efface our own deep concerns about religion and its history?

  45. alsojill
    alsojill October 25, 2007 at 11:23 am |

    I stand now in a position of privilege–white, educated, finishing a PhD, relatively financially comfortable, despite living on a grad student’s stipend. (Which, at my large Eastern university, is more than adequate, really.)

    In some ways, I was privileged growing up, but only b/c I was protected by a child’s relative lack of awareness of economics. My parents were working-class–my dad was a mechanic, my mom worked in a drug store. They married as teenagers, never went to college, etc. My brother is a laborer. I learned feminism from my working-class mother, grandmothers, and aunts, and from my working-class father, all of whom told me through words and actions that I was going to college, that I could do anything I wanted, and that being a girl wasn’t going to slow me down.

    Not one of them–not ONE–would define themselves as a feminist.

    I claimed the term as a teenager, and I cling to it, but, like so many women here, I feel like I exist on the fringes of the mainstream movement. My privileges should put me in the center, but… I identify as a Christian (albeit one who feels on the fringes there, too). I’m a 28-year-old virgin. I want to have children. I don’t know that I believe widespread socialism is necessarily the best approach to solving the world’s problems. I think we need to expand some of our concerns to include those of our brothers, fathers, and sons, b/c feminism should be about all oppression. I don’t believe pacificism or non-violence is always the best approach (though war should be a last resort).

    The assumptions about class from people in my privileged position anger me, b/c I see the struggles my family members go through, lacking those privileges. But I cling to the term feminist, b/c I want to it to be what it should be. I want it to address real injustice, and stop struggling over gate-keeping and judgment. I want it to be about real choices and support for those choices. But I keep myself on the fringes, b/c I think, like La Lubu, that so many of the things I passionately believe in are not necessarily supported in the movement.

  46. Alix
    Alix October 25, 2007 at 11:29 am |

    DaisyDeadhead at #37: You said it far better than I could. Also, it constantly frustrates me that when feminists (and some others) criticize “religion”, they’re only talking about certain branches of Christianity and, oh, maybe Islam. Um, hello? There’re far more religions in the world than that, and it undermines the hell out of an argument against religion when one conflates religion with fundamentalist Christianity/Islam, especially ’cause that’s the same error that those fundamentalists themselves make.

  47. zuzu
    zuzu October 25, 2007 at 11:35 am |

    I’m going to have to agree with EG here and ask for some examples of this widespread anti-religiousness thing. Because it smells a bit like a strawatheist in here.

  48. Elaine Vigneault
    Elaine Vigneault October 25, 2007 at 11:37 am |

    La Lubu,
    I agree with many of your points.

    1. The ancestry analysis is interesting. I’m descended from many various peoples, but some of them were Iroquois. I don’t know much about them and that’s in part due to the patriarchy, but also due to feminism’s lack of acceptance of a more comprehensive women’s history.

    2. I absolutely agree with you regarding reproductive justice. I think the word “choice” is flawed and has been co-opted. I see to many women coerced into having abortions when they don’t want them than the other way around. I know both sides exist, but reproductive justice is the basic right to do with one’s body as one chooses. So that means using BC as well as not using it.

    3. Regarding mothers – I think there are sort of two feminisms. There is the anti-child feminism and the pro-child feminism. And the anti-child feminism tends to also be anti-mother. I think it’s related to a few things: the class and race and age of many leaders in the movement tend to postpone having children and tend to emphasize education and careers. While making personal choices about one’s life is all good, pretending that going the career route (eg. feeding the capitalist patriarchy) is the right and true path of card-carrying feminists is dangerous.

    4 & 5. Classism absolutely exists within the movement. As well as racism and ablism and all kinds of other isms. Fundamentally, I think the problem is that many people approach feminism from a “what can it do for me?” perspective rather than a desire for justice and fairness perspective. Now, I don’t want to say there’s anything wrong with nondestructive selfishness, but selfishness is not the root for feminism. I believe feminism is about ridding the world of sexism and misogyny. It is about smashing the patriarchy. It is NOT about getting what you deserve or expanding your own personal freedoms. Gaining freedoms may be a side benefit, but it is not the cause.

    6. Men – not sure how to help them into the fold, but definitely willing to try.
    7. Nontraditional fields – Again, just not so sure what I can do to help this.

    8. Agreed that the sexuality gatekeeping is bad. I think some of this comes from many feminists identifying feminism as a type of person more than a as a cause. A feminist does this, a feminist doesn’t do that… But really feminism isn’t about that. It’s about breaking down the patriarchal barriers, both the barriers external to us (sexism in the workplace, lack of health care, etc) and the barriers within us (beliefs that we’re inferior, beliefs that we don’t deserve pleasure and happiness).

    9. Yes, this breaks us apart: “assumptions that religious or spiritual practice/belief is necessarily ‘patriarchal.’ Or inherently antifeminist.” Again, I think this stems from an assumption about what a feminist is rather than what a feminist does or what a feminist works towards. We all come to the table with our prejudices and beliefs. Some of those are true and some are false. We should be careful to identify the key strengths and weaknesses of belief systems in regards to feminism a) without making it personal and b) without assuming that we can really understand someone else’s belief system from the outside looking in and c) with a clear definition of what feminism is to compare this belief system to. Without a clear definition, we can easily get confused about what is and what is not feminist.

    Do you identify as feminist? If so, why? If not, what would have to change within feminism to gain your full participation?

    Absolutely. I agree that patriarchy is evil and must be ruined so I feel I must call myself feminist. I get frustrated with some peole’s interpretations of what feminism is or is not and that sometimes makes me want to leave or give up, but I remind myself that it’s about ridding the world of sexism and misogyny (and not about emphasizing our humanity or about being pro-choice or about finding equality by oppressing men or other groups or about vanilla sexuality or about ignoring science or about supporting prejudices…) and that helps me stay a part of the movement.

  49. EG
    EG October 25, 2007 at 11:42 am |

    There’re far more religions in the world than that, and it undermines the hell out of an argument against religion when one conflates religion with fundamentalist Christianity/Islam

    That’s true, but in the context of the US, Christianity is the one that’s shoved down the throats of the non-religious via major holidays, politicians’ public displays of piety, and religiously motivated political action. It’s the one I feel the heat from most, so it’s the one I criticize the most. Further, it seems a bit disinguous to complain that most feminist criticism is directed against two of the most popular and powerful religions in the world.

    Finally, there is plenty of feminist criticism of Judaism–entire books, in fact.

  50. Elaine Vigneault
    Elaine Vigneault October 25, 2007 at 11:57 am |

    There are violent disputes based on nothing but [fill in the blank] differences.

    Virtually all oppression and violence is based on (real or perceived) difference. That difference is used as a justification for whatever violence or oppression occurs, usually simply because some one or some group wants what the oppressed has.

    I see feminism as a movement to eradicate the justification that difference is reason to oppress.

  51. Alix
    Alix October 25, 2007 at 12:23 pm |

    EG – I didn’t say don’t criticize. God knows I do it all the fucking time. I am rather a bear for accuracy, though. Don’t ascribe to religious thought in general what is specific to a particular religion. It’s not like it’s that fucking hard to write “Christianity” as opposed to “religion”. And when someone points out you’re really talking about things specific to, say, Christianity, don’t fucking say “no, I’m talking about all religions” when you’re clearly not.

  52. LivvySidhe
    LivvySidhe October 25, 2007 at 12:46 pm |

    XtinaS, you totally made my day.

    This is an amazing post. I agree with almost all of it, and I’d be all over a march for universal childcare. The one part that troubles me –

    The labor movement did organize around issues important to men in a way similar to feminist movement (with the best of the labor movement actively coordinating both men’s and women’s struggles into a cohesive whole), yet the destructive impact of the oppression of the labor movement had massive repercussions for labor as a unified vehicle for justice. Why shouldn’t feminism move to bridge that gap? Men can also be co-authors of the movement for justice; men are also subject to oppression(s).

    I do think the suppression of the labor movement is a real and valid problem for feminism to address. I don’t think continuing to frame labor as a male issue is helpful, and I don’t think it’s feminism’s job to “bridge the gap.” Yes, men should be “co-authors of the movement for justice,” yes, men are “subject to oppression(s,)” but I don’t see how present feminist ideas of intersecting oppressions negates this truth in any way. I feel that I’ve wasted a lot of energy trying to bridge the gap, and it often feels like placating privilege rather than a legitimate dialogue. Male voices are valid and valuable, but patriarchy trains men that their concerns have primacy, that their interpretation of reality is more valid. As a broad blanket generalization, men need to learn to listen to womens’ truth more often than they need to be reached out to by the womens’ movement. I don’t want to dismiss anybody’s oppression, male or female, or reject anybody’s attempt to create a more just world, even if it’s flawed, but it’s not women’s job to do all the communicating and compromising, and it so often winds up working out that way. I hate to pick nits on such a beautiful post, though. It’s been bookmarked to be reread for full absorption.

  53. Nell
    Nell October 25, 2007 at 12:47 pm |

    Now, see – look! – real, meaningful intellectual and philosophical difference between feminists:

    Elaine says Virtually all oppression and violence is based on (real or perceived) difference.

    I don’t agree. I tend toward an economic determinist model of understanding the world (tempered by social and cultural and even biological factors… but that’s all the explanation relevant here) – and as a result, I believe that ‘virtually all oppression and violence’ is based on competition over scarce resources. (Though being a cautious scholar type, I’d say ‘most’ rather than ‘virtually all’ !)

    Following from that, I don’t think the triumph of feminism (a day I doubt I will live to see) will eliminate all oppression and violence. Feminism will not make more earth, more water, more air, more oil…….. or generate enough social and cultural power for ‘all’ to have it. So I don’t see how feminism can possibly aspire to eliminate all competition over those things. The best I believe we can hope for is fairer and more just distribution based on wide spread acceptance of the humanity of others.

    In the meantime, what re-distribution feminism has already forced has generated enormous backlash, which takes many forms, including creating caricatures of scare-quote “feminism” to scare away those who might benefit from it, or lend more power to the movement to force still greater re-distribution.

    This is my view – and I am also a feminist. But this doesn’t mean that all feminist share my views. Part of being fully human is having the freedom to disagree.

  54. XtinaS
    XtinaS October 25, 2007 at 1:10 pm |

    Apparently, a 2001 census in the US showed that out of 207,980,000 people, 29,481,000 people answered that they were some variety of nonreligious.  That’s 14%.  If you take out the ‘no religion’ answers, you get down to less than 1%.

    Wow.

  55. DaisyDeadhead
    DaisyDeadhead October 25, 2007 at 1:13 pm |

    Daisy, while “freaky-ass” could be open to interpretation, “genocidal” and “murderous” aren’t, at least when it comes to the Judeo-Christian god. Even if I believed such a god existed, I couldn’t worship anybody who felt that slaughtering children was an acceptable use of omnipotence.

    And this applies to every governments of the world too. Are you for dismantling (or disbelieving in the efficacy of) all governments? As you probably know, anarchists and many libertarians say we should, precisely for this reason.

    If you don’t want to dismantle all government, why not? Maybe you think it’s the TYPE of government that makes the difference?

    And if you don’t, why are you applying a different ethical standard to religion than you do to government?

  56. DaisyDeadhead
    DaisyDeadhead October 25, 2007 at 1:28 pm |

    Thanks Alix! Ironically, I just attacked Bob Jones University this week on my blog (they are right here in my backyard) and I’ve received emails that would make Aimee Semple McPherson freak out!

    I see fundamentalism (all kinds, including atheist) as part and parcel of patriarchy.

    That’s true, but in the context of the US, Christianity is the one that’s shoved down the throats of the non-religious via major holidays, politicians’ public displays of piety, and religiously motivated political action. It’s the one I feel the heat from most, so it’s the one I criticize the most. Further, it seems a bit disinguous to complain that most feminist criticism is directed against two of the most popular and powerful religions in the world.

    True enough, and I understand your point.

    Thing is, many of us feel a tribal and ethnic connection to Christianity and Islam, also, as Jews here have described. When people criticize us for honoring these traditions, we feel our ethnic identity and intellectual traditions are under attack, not simply religion. We can’t simply erase these aspects of our lives and identities. Example: I wrote about St Therese on my blog, and got a long, rather nasty email about how I shouldn’t be writing about her, if I am feminist or progressive. Why are other people allowed to write about the women who influenced them, but I’m not supposed to write about women saints?

    And then, this person went into a long dissertation about the sins of the Catholic Church, as if I don’t know what they are. Believe me, I wrote back, these sins pain me far more than they pain you. (They also got a few of the historic dates wrong, which is funny, since they were lecturing me about my supposed ignorance on the subject.)

    I think Islamic feminists, similarly, know far more about their own religion and what needs to be done, than I do. When I see non-Muslims preaching to them in this same condescending way, I just cringe.

    Why do you think you are telling them/us what we don’t already know?

  57. roses
    roses October 25, 2007 at 1:38 pm |

    EG – As a religious person, I have no problem with atheists pointing out their disagreements with religion. What you said about the genocidal aspects of the Jewish Bible/Old Testament is something that troubles me as well. What makes me feel uncomfortable as a religious feminist is the mockery of believers, the implication that people who believe in God are silly, illogical, deluded, etc.. It’s not something I’ve seen a lot at this particular feminist blog, but something I have seen at least one other one.

    Same thing with the child thing – seeing women who choose to have children dismissively referred to as “breeders” makes me cringe every damn time. Not only is it insulting to me, it’s insulting to my mother and to many wonderful women I know who have children. I know how frustrating it is to be constantly told that you’re an unnatural woman for not wanting children (there was a point in my life when I didn’t want children), and I can understand the desire to fight back, but just keep in mind when you insult, you’re not just insulting your enemies but also your allies.

    I will say… despite those things, I do still self-identify as a feminist.

  58. zuzu
    zuzu October 25, 2007 at 1:57 pm |

    I see fundamentalism (all kinds, including atheist) as part and parcel of patriarchy.

    What, exactly, is an atheist fundamentalist?

    “Fundamentalism” has a meaning, one explained very well at Orcinus. But atheism, not being a religion (despite misconceptions to the contrary), doesn’t really lend itself to fundamentalism.

    Please don’t conflate criticism of religion or questioning of the basis for various religious faiths as “atheist fundamentalism.” Refusing to accept your beliefs at face value or pointing out that they’re contradictory is not the same thing as oppressing you or mocking you.

    Moreover, much of the reaction to religion expressed by feminists is not so much anti-religion as anti-religion-as-a-tool-to-justify-oppression. When a 21st-century politician wants to use some obscure, probably mistranslated verse in an ancient account of nomadic desert peoples to justify legislation stripping women or gays of their rights, or when the Catholic Church actively works to prevent the distribution of condoms in AIDS-ridden Africa, that’s using religion as a tool to justify oppression.

    As to the person who asked about MLK or Harriet Tubman’s religion being mocked: who does that? They used their faith not as a bludgeon to keep others down, but as a means to lift others up. If feminists talk more about the bludgeon, then they have good reason.

  59. zuzu
    zuzu October 25, 2007 at 1:59 pm |

    Same thing with the child thing – seeing women who choose to have children dismissively referred to as “breeders” makes me cringe every damn time.

    Again, this is one of those things that rarely happens IME but gets attributed to “anti-child feminists” with regularity.

  60. Deoridhe
    Deoridhe October 25, 2007 at 2:13 pm |

    I have identified as feminist my entire life, and I think it can easily be chalkd up to privilege that I assumed other feminists simply agree with me.

    Personally, I think a lot of the problems feminism has is that the default way of organizing in USian (and likely Western) culture is AGAINST injustice not FOR justice. Having a shared injustice allows people in a movement to gloss over differences.

    I think the reason diferences need to be glossed over, instead of embraced, is due to the negative hierarchal stucture most of us (all of us?) were raised in and live in to this day. The idea that those above set the standards and one is either for or against is deeply ingrained into USian culture. The rhetoric that hinges on this worldview can be found in every movement, left, right, or center. Within this worldview, difference is experienced as either passively hostile (they must be less intelligent/aware/moral/etc.. than I) or actively hostile (they want to destroy us).

    I am a radical feminist from this angle. I want to remove the root of “different is dangerous” while not sliding to the (inevitably used as a rhetorical consequence) orientation of having to accept everything without critical analysis or thought.

  61. DaisyDeadhead
    DaisyDeadhead October 25, 2007 at 2:13 pm |

    What, exactly, is an atheist fundamentalist?

    I define fundamentalism as holding to one view as supreme to all others, to the extent that one would punish or deny rights to those who do not agree. Depending upon the political system one is in, this can have varying degrees of consequences. I guess the most famous atheist fundamentalists would have been Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot. Meaning, they instituted laws not unlike those the Church instituted during the Middle Ages.

    Church: If you practice X, we will lock you up, burn you at the stake, put you on the rack, etc.

    Stalin: If you practice X, we will lock you up, put you in the Gulag, mental hospital, lobotomy, etc.

    In modern-day China, believers of all types get Treatment #2, and the Dalai Lama is still not allowed back into his ancestral home.

    Please don’t conflate criticism of religion or questioning of the basis for various religious faiths as “atheist fundamentalism.”

    I certainly don’t. However, when I hear atheists propagating certain ideas that I first read in Marxism and the National and Colonial Question, or The Little Red Book, well, I kinda freak out.

    As to the person who asked about MLK or Harriet Tubman’s religion being mocked: who does that?

    When you negatively refer to all Christianity in a wide-net sorta way, then you do that…indeed, the label belonged to MLK and Harriet Tubman as much as it belongs to anyone else who uses the term CHRISTIAN. If you specify progressive Christians as opposed to the assholes (and yes, we all know who they are) then I have no issue with that. But many atheists do not differentiate and seem to believe, in fact, that there is no difference, that it is only a matter of degrees of religious intensity, not a difference in religious manifestation.

    If you do make those distinctions, Zuzu, then I was not referring to you.

    If feminists talk more about the bludgeon, then they have good reason.

    Agreed. And as I said, I talk about it too. Wanna see my emails for the week? ;)

  62. zuzu
    zuzu October 25, 2007 at 2:21 pm |

    I guess the most famous atheist fundamentalists would have been Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot. Meaning, they instituted laws not unlike those the Church instituted during the Middle Ages.

    No, no, no. You don’t get to use Stalin as an example of atheist fundamentalism and then complain that feminists who complain about religion don’t distinguish between fundamentalists and progressive Christians.

    Stalin was a totalitarian dictator who was wielding the power of the state to enforce compliance of the population. Religions were banned not for any principled reasons but because they provided an independent authority which threatened the state.

    Atheists in the US are a reviled minority. A bit different, no?

    Also: I would suggest that if progressive Christians want to be seen as different in kind, not just degree, from the fundamentalist whackjobs who are the current face of Christianity in the media today and who are highly influential in the government, it’s not the job of atheists or secularists to make the distinction. Seems to me that it’s not the atheists and secularists who you have a problem with, but the whackjobs.

  63. Emily
    Emily October 25, 2007 at 2:25 pm |

    I think it’s also important to remember that within any group (including feminists) there are individual people with all kinds of personalities/issues. There are people with a tendency to be controlling, people with a tendency to be defensive rather than open to criticism, there are people with a tendency to be holier than thou. I hope that the label “feminist” is not unduly tarnished (among feminist-inclined people) by people’s personal shortcomings in these areas. Sometimes at least in the blog-feminist world, it seems like that’s what’s happening.

    (Criticizing NOW or other well-established feminist organizations for the particular issues they focus on or let slide by the wayside is a completely different thing of course.)

  64. DaisyDeadhead
    DaisyDeadhead October 25, 2007 at 2:44 pm |

    La Lubu, I guess you have forgiven me for being vegetarian now, huh? :P Well, excellent! :) I am FLATTERED AND THANK YOU!

    No, no, no. You don’t get to use Stalin as an example of atheist fundamentalism and then complain that feminists who complain about religion don’t distinguish between fundamentalists and progressive Christians.

    Stalin was a totalitarian dictator who was wielding the power of the state to enforce compliance of the population. Religions were banned not for any principled reasons but because they provided an independent authority which threatened the state.

    I disagree here, and I refer you to the previous text, Marxism and the National and Colonial Question. (And you realize you are arguing with an ex-Marxist?)

    Stalin pledged to wipe religion off the face of the earth, because he believed, as Marx did, that it made people weak and was the opiate of the masses. And coincidentally, he also wanted the Church’s money. Along these same lines (that we’ve been discussing here), he didn’t like how it made people “tribal” and supported ethnic ties, such as Russian Jews and Ukrainian Orthodox.

    China has “official churches” instituted that do not threaten the state, and if Stalin worried about church authority challenging his own, why didn’t he try that? I think Enver Hoxha did? (don’t quote me on that, have not had time to go to Wikipedia!)

    If you read DARKNESS AT NOON, you know that Soviet party members and KGB used religious practice against each other, to maneuver upward in the party. They used to rat each other out, reporting to party officials whoever carried secret prayer cards of St John of Kronstadt in their wallets.

    No “authority” was being questioned–they WERE the authority and they wanted to STAY the authority.

    Atheists in the US are a reviled minority. A bit different, no?

    I would agree that they are.

    Also: I would suggest that if progressive Christians want to be seen as different in kind, not just degree, from the fundamentalist whackjobs who are the current face of Christianity in the media today and who are highly influential in the government, it’s not the job of atheists or secularists to make the distinction.

    I meant, in discussion such as these. We all ask that people be called by the labels they choose… he or she, black, white, multi-racial, whatever. When people throw out a designation such as “The Christians are trying to taking over the government” –I simply ask they say “The Rightwing Christians are trying to take over the government”–as a gesture of goodwill to FEMINISTS HERE.

    I mean, this discussion is about why some women feel left out of feminism, right?

    Seems to me that it’s not the atheists and secularists who you have a problem with, but the whackjobs.

    No, I am talking about how to include as many women in feminism without being unnecessarily offensive and exclusive.

    It’s interesting about this analogy, though: I blame Stalin and his friends for “ruining” socialism, a damned fine idea, just as I blame the fundies for “ruining” Christianity, another damned fine idea…

  65. zuzu
    zuzu October 25, 2007 at 2:54 pm |

    Daisy, atheism =/= socialism, Marxism, Stalinism or anything else. Atheism is simply the belief that there is no God or other supernatural being. It’s not a religion, it’s not a political system.

    Unless you want to be held accountable, as an individual, for all the actions of the Catholic Church down through the ages?

  66. Orodemniades
    Orodemniades October 25, 2007 at 2:55 pm |

    I’m a feminist (please note the little ‘f’) – but y’know, I’m one of the ones out in the daily world, not the rarified air of academia where most of the published Feminists seem to reside. I don’t write about it, I live it, I have to sometimes make a choice between speaking out and getting a paycheck. Call me a practical feminist, then, not the theoretical, all of which is my long-winded way of agreeing with everything – yeah, everything – that you said above.

    The kind of feminist I am appears to have no place in Feminism, because I’m everything ‘they’ don’t discuss. Sometimes it seems like the only thing we have in common are vaginas.

  67. Orodemniades
    Orodemniades October 25, 2007 at 2:57 pm |

    Jasmine P – just ‘forget’ to sign the marriage license with his last name as your own. Ta-da!

  68. Christina
    Christina October 25, 2007 at 2:57 pm |

    Jamine,

    The only “right” thing to do is what you want to do. It’s your name, not your parents’, not even your husband’s.

  69. Christina
    Christina October 25, 2007 at 2:58 pm |

    Sorry, I meant to type “Jasmine”.

  70. Reproductive Rights or Reproductive Justice? : The Curvature

    […] is a really interesting post up at Feministe by guest-blogger La Lubu about some of the modern problems with feminism and why many do not identify with the movement. It’s a good post, albeit one that I have conflicted feelings on. I agree 100% with La […]

  71. EG
    EG October 25, 2007 at 3:17 pm |

    why are you applying a different ethical standard to religion than you do to government?

    Because governments don’t claim to be ultimate arbiters of good and evil, able to determine your everlasting fate and worth. Governments don’t demand worship.

    I also note that you’re imputing a claim to me that I did not make. You are claiming that when I say “I am an atheist, and I do not respect religion as a concept,” what I mean is “Everybody else should be an atheist and religion should be wiped off the face of the earth!” Those two statements are radically different.

    “Fundamentalism” actually has a meaning. It means that one adheres to the fundamental letter of the scriptures. Atheism has no scriptures; ergo, it has no fundamentalism.

    Please provide me an example of an atheist feminist claiming that religious people should be denied rights. Mao, Stalin, etc. never identified as feminists, as far as I recall. They’re certainly not part of mainstream American feminism, which is what this discussion is about.

    Thing is, many of us feel a tribal and ethnic connection to Christianity and Islam, also, as Jews here have described. When people criticize us for honoring these traditions, we feel our ethnic identity and intellectual traditions are under attack, not simply religion. We can’t simply erase these aspects of our lives and identities.

    I understand and sympathize with your feelings of hurt at hearing something you hold dear criticized. But I know of very few people who have actually criticized people for participating in their religions. Further, especially for Christians in this country, I submit that being criticized by atheists–or in my case, by a Jewish atheist–is like men being criticized by women. When a group in power is criticized or attacked by a subordinated group, sometimes the right thing to do is to swallow the initial response and listen, and try to learn exactly what it is about your group’s power and affiliation that has triggered the criticism. That’s how I learned more about what it means to be black in this country–I realized that I could shut up and listen to what black people were saying about white people, or I could get offended. Listening got me farther.

  72. Ravenmn
    Ravenmn October 25, 2007 at 3:32 pm |

    Thanks, La Luba, for your terrific post. I agree with so much, especially in regards to class and the labor movement.

    Since I’m over 50, I sometimes find discussions like these difficult to relate to. I was raised by a single mother and had a psychotic father who had a successful life practicing overt sexism for years.

    Feminism made a huge difference in our lives. In 1967, Mom could find only one bank to give her a loan to purchase a house, even though she was the sole breadwinner. In 1975, my Mom’s salary doubled in one year because of a sex discrimination lawsuit. Nothing in my life today has ever been as difficult as it was for my mother in the 1960s and 1970s.

    My father finally got called on his shit because women fought back and he was drummed out of academia. He was also sent to prison for assaulting his fourth ex-wife. All these things happened with the aid and full support of feminists.

    Can you imagine? This man who had terrorized my childhood and ruined the lives of countless women and children was finally called to task and made to pay for his crimes. That is huge and would never have happened without feminism.

    BUT, I realize I sound like the stereotypical oldster telling all you young ‘uns how good you have it and how difficult it used to be. Which gets us nowhere.

    Maybe because sexism (racism, classism, etc.) isn’t so obvious now, it’s harder to see and recognize. These days I listen and learn. I see people discussing all kinds of topics (religion, popular culture, sports), that never seemed “feminist” to me years ago. Feminists are coming to amazing analyses and conclusions as a result and I keep getting a good education.

    Thanks for being a part of that!

  73. DaisyDeadhead
    DaisyDeadhead October 25, 2007 at 3:34 pm |

    Daisy, atheism =/= socialism, Marxism, Stalinism or anything else. Atheism is simply the belief that there is no God or other supernatural being. It’s not a religion, it’s not a political system.

    Right. So, why were the party faithful reported for breaking the rules, if they were good socialists who helped make the revolution?

    Atheism was intrinsic to being a good Marxist, and one was thought not to be a good Marxist if you weren’t. Again, the analogy is that you aren’t considered a good American if you don’t believe in God.

    Belief (mostly Christian belief) is seen as intrinsic to patriotism, as atheism is seen as intrinsic to Marxism.

    Unless you want to be held accountable, as an individual, for all the actions of the Catholic Church down through the ages?

    In many ways, I do hold myself accountable. That’s why I take on fundamentalism and (what I consider to be) dangerous and hateful manifestations of religion wherever I find it.

    I do the same with whiteness and American-ness. (US-ness?)

  74. alsojill
    alsojill October 25, 2007 at 3:38 pm |

    zuzu, I do sympathize with your position. I’ve never been in it, b/c not believing in God makes no sense to me, but I can see why people feel that believing in any god makes no sense. (And that sentence made very little sense.) And being an atheist in the US is a subordinate position.

    That said, I think you’re being either overly defensive or disingenuous in your responses to Daisy. Many progressive members of dominant religions (here I’m thinking primarily of Islam and Christianity, but I think you could also say this about Hinduism, to name just the three biggest) feel that the radicals and fundamentalists who claim our religious identities are corrupting and/or destroying the faith itself. We may not want their world-destroying voices representing us, but they’re often a hell of a lot louder than we are.

    Now. Let me apply that to your comment. Stalin was an atheist. It is not all he was, nor is it necessarily what drove his politics. But he was an atheist. And he was a militant atheist at that–if he did not believe in a god, he was going to make DAMN sure no one else did, either. Maybe “fundamentalist atheist” isn’t an accurate term. I’ve always preferred militant atheist, myself, b/c there isn’t a fundamental creed beyond the lack of believe in a god.

    Atheists are a minority, and your views should be respected. But being a minority does not, in my opinion, give atheists a right to condescend to people of faith or to disrespect *our* views simply because we are part of a dominant group. You don’t have to believe in god. You should just respect that some of us do, and we do so mindfully. Most thoughtful people of faith, including feminists of faith, are more than aware of the flaws and disturbing elements that go along with religion. In fact, most of us know a hell of a lot more about those flaws and horrors than the average atheist does, so it’s really frustrating and patronizing to be looked at with a supercilious air and told that believing in a higher power is childlike, naive, or otherwise not carefully thought out.

    (For all of the talk of the “rareified air” of academia, I still think it’s a terrible place to be a person of faith. Those of us who are keep it very much on the DL, unless it is a key part of our scholarship. I imagine it’s rather like being a conservative academic–though I can’t say for sure, as I’m a liberal person of faith.)

  75. alsojill
    alsojill October 25, 2007 at 3:48 pm |

    Having now read EG’s last comment, I want to add that there’s a difference between criticizing religion and/or those who use it to oppress the non-religious or religious minorities, and attacking/denigrating a person who identifies as religious.

    Of course atheists should criticize religion. So should religious people. It’s important that we criticize all institutions, if only to see them improved.

    But I really believe there’s a line between legitimate criticism and condescension or disdain masked as critique. EG compared atheists criticizing non-atheists to women criticizing men. It’s a fair comparison, in that one group is privileged in certain ways that should be recognized and examined. But it’s also a fair comparison in that the non-dominant critique is not always an accurate one. (Yes, I just defended men against the occasionally-unjust critiques of women who claim to be feminists. Maybe I’m a bad feminist, but sometimes men do have a point.

  76. EG
    EG October 25, 2007 at 3:49 pm |

    So, why were the party faithful reported for breaking the rules, if they were good socialists who helped make the revolution?

    Because the CCCP was a ruthless, totalitarian state from the very git-go. You’re making a logical error. The fact that Marxism considers atheism a necessary part of its political system does not mean that atheism considers Marxism to be a necessary part of its non-belief. The truth of an intial statement says nothing about the truth of its converse. All dogs are born tails; that doesn’t mean that all creatures born with tails are dogs. There have been plenty of schools of religious socialism in the past.

    Again, Marxism does not equal atheism. While it may not be possible to be a Marxist without being an atheist, it is very possible to be an atheist without being a Marxist.

  77. EG
    EG October 25, 2007 at 3:54 pm |

    I agree with you about that important difference, alsojill. And I’d like someone to show me where mainstream feminists–or hey, even mainstream blogger feminists–attack or denigrate someone for being religious. I know we do it all the time to people who feel the need to inflict their religion on others, but that’s not the same thing, is it?

  78. zuzu
    zuzu October 25, 2007 at 4:02 pm |

    Atheists are a minority, and your views should be respected. But being a minority does not, in my opinion, give atheists a right to condescend to people of faith or to disrespect *our* views simply because we are part of a dominant group. You don’t have to believe in god. You should just respect that some of us do, and we do so mindfully. Most thoughtful people of faith, including feminists of faith, are more than aware of the flaws and disturbing elements that go along with religion. In fact, most of us know a hell of a lot more about those flaws and horrors than the average atheist does, so it’s really frustrating and patronizing to be looked at with a supercilious air and told that believing in a higher power is childlike, naive, or otherwise not carefully thought out.

    It’s also frustrating and patronizing to be looked down at with a supercilious air and told that you’re too defensive and disingenuous when someone (i.e., Daisy) conflates totalitarianism and atheism. Or when you’re accused of mocking religious people of all stripes just because some other atheist elsewhere wrote something about the Sky Fairy. Or when you’re compared to Stalin. Or when you’re told that your lack of belief constitutes a religion, and thus you can be a Stalinist fundamentalist. Or when you’re blamed for 9/11, along with the abortionists, wiccans, feminists and gays.

    You get the picture.

    But I really believe there’s a line between legitimate criticism and condescension or disdain masked as critique.

    And I think, in a lot of cases, religious people hear legitimate criticism as condescension or disdain, because there’s such a tradition of treating religious belief as sacrosanct, and not to be questioned simply because the person professing that belief has faith. Personally, I think it’s very dangerous to just draw a line around religious belief and make it untouchable.

    Atheism was intrinsic to being a good Marxist, and one was thought not to be a good Marxist if you weren’t. Again, the analogy is that you aren’t considered a good American if you don’t believe in God.

    Belief (mostly Christian belief) is seen as intrinsic to patriotism, as atheism is seen as intrinsic to Marxism.

    The Founding Fathers were mostly Deists and rather irreligious. Somewhere along the road, their careful separation of church and state got corrupted, and now candidates for high office are expected to spout pieties about this being a Christian nation.

    And I don’t know how many times I can say this before you believe it, but atheism =/= Marxism. I don’t care how many books you’ve read about Stalin.

  79. DaisyDeadhead
    DaisyDeadhead October 25, 2007 at 4:03 pm |

    Because governments don’t claim to be ultimate arbiters of good and evil, able to determine your everlasting fate and worth.

    Are you kidding? We are making war on people right now, for this very reason. The US Govt judges other governments as good or evil, and chooses whether to make war on them or impoverish them through embargoes.

    As for “everlasting”–if you are an atheist, you don’t believe anything is “everlasting”–so that is a moot point.

    Governments don’t demand worship.

    Of course they do, they even demand your money. If you destroy one of their symbols (a flag) they can even jail you for it.

    Many progressive members of dominant religions (here I’m thinking primarily of Islam and Christianity, but I think you could also say this about Hinduism, to name just the three biggest) feel that the radicals and fundamentalists who claim our religious identities are corrupting and/or destroying the faith itself. We may not want their world-destroying voices representing us, but they’re often a hell of a lot louder than we are.

    Great comment and it bears repeating.

  80. EG
    EG October 25, 2007 at 4:04 pm |

    I also want to point out, once more, that Stalin was not a feminist. So if we’re talking about the situations of religion and atheism in the feminist movement, which is what I believe this post to be about in part, Stalin is not a relevant example.

  81. DaisyDeadhead
    DaisyDeadhead October 25, 2007 at 4:07 pm |

    It’s also frustrating and patronizing to be looked down at with a supercilious air and told that you’re too defensive and disingenuous when someone (i.e., Daisy) conflates totalitarianism and atheism.

    Um, I didn’t CONFLATE the two, I reminded everyone that the two can and have co-existed historically. Atheism does not automatically = progressive utopia.

    I only remind people of this when (as earlier in the thread) someone calls religious faith “freaky-ass” and hyper-violent.

    I merely point out, we ain’t the only ones.

  82. EG
    EG October 25, 2007 at 4:10 pm |

    Thank you for saying all that, zuzu. I’d also add that it’s pretty annoying to have it implied that you’re going to be tortured for all eternity and that that’s OK with the speaker.

  83. DaisyDeadhead
    DaisyDeadhead October 25, 2007 at 4:13 pm |

    I also want to point out, once more, that Stalin was not a feminist. So if we’re talking about the situations of religion and atheism in the feminist movement, which is what I believe this post to be about in part, Stalin is not a relevant example.

    Zuzu asked me what I meant by “atheist fundamentalist” was, and I gave him as my primary example of one.

    Then everyone gets mad at me for bringing him up. Context, please.

    I would agree with alsojill here, that “fundamentalist” probably isn’t the correct term:

    And he was a militant atheist at that–if he did not believe in a god, he was going to make DAMN sure no one else did, either. Maybe “fundamentalist atheist” isn’t an accurate term. I’ve always preferred militant atheist, myself, b/c there isn’t a fundamental creed beyond the lack of believe in a god.

    I think “fundamentalist” in the way I am using it here, applies to a certain temperament that can’t tolerate dissent of any kind from certain core beliefs. (Stalin, Rumsfeld, Bob Jones III, etc) So I should probably use the term “militant”–thanks, alsojill!

  84. zuzu
    zuzu October 25, 2007 at 4:16 pm |

    Um, I didn’t CONFLATE the two, I reminded everyone that the two can and have co-existed historically. Atheism does not automatically = progressive utopia.

    I only remind people of this when (as earlier in the thread) someone calls religious faith “freaky-ass” and hyper-violent.

    I merely point out, we ain’t the only ones.

    Except Courtney didn’t call “religious faith” freaky-ass and hyper-violent, and in any event, that wasn’t her point at all:

    Atheists, for the most part, especially the vocal and popular ones, think religion is harmful. There is the murdering, genocidal, freaky-ass way that Allah and God present themselves in there holy books. There are violent disputes based on nothing but religious differences. There are evil people finding a justification for doing evil things because God tells them to. There are the atrocities that go without criticism is holy books. But, honestly, that is not what most folks who say religion is harmful really think is the harmful part of religion. It’s simply the idea that one must accept a belief in the supernatural with no evidence. It’s the idea that “faith” is elevated and logic is criticized. That’s dangerous, and much more so than any patriarchal structure outlined in the Bible.

    Moreover, nobody said that atheism would result in a progressive paradise. But I find this need to bring up Stalin and other totalitarian dictators who were ostensibly running atheist operations (but in reality, substituting themselves as the figure of worship and authority) whenever anyone criticizes the long history of the use of religion to justify wars, murder, genocide, slavery, racism, sexism, etc., etc., to be very interesting.

  85. EG
    EG October 25, 2007 at 4:22 pm |

    The US Govt judges other governments as good or evil, and chooses whether to make war on them or impoverish them through embargoes. As for “everlasting”–if you are an atheist, you don’t believe anything is “everlasting”–so that is a moot point.

    The US makes war in its own perceived self-interest, and uses the trappings of good and evil as an excuse. And the point is not whether I believe that anything is everlasting–the point is whether or not the powers that be do. Religious powers that be do; governmental powers that be do not consider that their province. They do not presume to judge the essential value of a person. They do indeed go to war and kill people, but they do that because they can, not because they claim to be right.

    Of course they do, they even demand your money. If you destroy one of their symbols (a flag) they can even jail you for it.

    That’s a weird definition of worship you have there. Demanding money is requiring worship? Is a mugger requiring my worship? How about Con Ed? Destroying symbols is debatable–it depends on when and where. But the essential point about worship, as I see it, is that it requires the worshiper to venerate the worshipped object, to declare oneself lesser than it, and to declare it above oneself in its innate worth. Governments don’t require worship. They require obedience. But as long as you pay your taxes and obey the laws, the government does not essentially care if you believe that they are a higher order of being or not. Case in point: me. I pay my taxes, I obey most laws, with occasional exceptions for jaywalking, and the fact that I think the current government is worth about as much as my shoe-scrapings does not make me less of an American. But I could attend church and obey the precepts–but if I don’t actually believe in God, or I believe in God but think He’s a putz, I’m not religious.

  86. EG
    EG October 25, 2007 at 4:24 pm |

    Well, exactly, zuzu. Stalin substituted himself for God in the dynamic of the faith in which he was raised.

  87. EG
    EG October 25, 2007 at 4:27 pm |

    It’s simply the idea that one must accept a belief in the supernatural with no evidence. It’s the idea that “faith” is elevated and logic is criticized.

    Indeed. Another important difference between governments and religions. Requiring people to believe in the supernatural without any evidence is not a necessary component of governments. There certainly have been governments that required their citizens to make a show of acknowledging some irrational ideas, but its not an intrinsic feature.

  88. Vanessa
    Vanessa October 25, 2007 at 4:42 pm |

    Requiring people to believe in the supernatural without any evidence is not a necessary component of governments.

    Ehhhhh…maybe, depending on your definition of the supernatural. We certainly have holy shrines of American-ness, be they historical (ie, the Liberty Bell, the Smithsonian Museum, etc) or cultural (Las Vegas, NV or Hollywood).

    We have governmental and historical origin myths. Ask an average school kid who recites the pledge of allegiance every day if they don’t believe the US is the greatest country in the world, and if they have any evidence to support their answer.

    I’m an atheist, but I’m also a cultural anthropologist, and “the state” relies on the same normalization of culture that “the church” does to achieve cohesion. Just like the Pope would like you to believe there’s one, and only one way to be Catholic, the American “state” (or any other country) has an interest in making people believe there’s only one American culture.

    So, no, it’s not a specific requirement to have supernatural belief in order to have a government. But state power and religious power aren’t different, they’re really the same kinds of hegemonic power. One just believes in ghosts and one doesn’t. Which doesn’t really affect their ability to be assholes, or to not be assholes.

  89. Natalia
    Natalia October 25, 2007 at 4:46 pm |

    China has “official churches” instituted that do not threaten the state, and if Stalin worried about church authority challenging his own, why didn’t he try that?

    He actually did try it, in part. Today’s Moscow Patriarchate is often viewed as a product of this. What happened was that he re-opened churches during WWII. Some (very gentle, nice) people like to believe that “Stalin saw the light.” Some argue that he was merely trying to boost the morale in the nation. Either way, people still ran into attack screaming “For Motherland! For Stalin!” not for God and Czar.

    Following the war, the church became expedient again and there were more repressions, ect. But the church, in some ways, did survive. And it cooperated fully (or almost fully) with the KGB.

    This is why there are still questions of the legitimacy of the Moscow Patriarchate to begin with. Personally, I’d like to give those people in Moscow the benefit of the doubt – but still, different people have different opinions.

    Oh, and zuzu – I understand completely what you mean by “atheists are a reviled minority” in the U.S. They are. For sure. My problem has to do that, in the circles I run in, in the kind of work I do – the people I interact with often identify as atheist (either that, or Muslim, so I’m stuck either way! ;) ). And yes, ugly comments have been made and will continue to be made in the future. C’est la vie.

  90. EG
    EG October 25, 2007 at 4:49 pm |

    I see your point, but to me the ghost distinction matters a lot. In one of them I can keep my beliefs and view of the world my own. The “shrines” you describe don’t score me any points with the powers that be if I visit them; nobody ranks me as a better or worse person; I’m not required to pay homage to them.

    But I don’t think you’re wrong–I think that religion is a way of channelling essential human needs and impulses, so of course those needs and impulses are going to turn up in other human institutions as well.

    Again, though, it’s sort of moot, because I never advocated “smashing” religion.

  91. MarilynJean
    MarilynJean October 25, 2007 at 4:56 pm |

    Interesting post…very similiar what women of color, poor women, immigrant women, etc. having been saying for decades. It’s good to see the discussion is still an ongoing one. I consider myself a feminist, but reluctantly so. I don’t prefer the term “womanist” either, but I guess it’s up to the individual to define his/her own labels.

    Feminism, like many other movements, has a loooong way to go. Great post.

  92. Vanessa
    Vanessa October 25, 2007 at 5:08 pm |

    Again, though, it’s sort of moot, because I never advocated “smashing” religion.

    Perhaps not, but the attitude is certainly out there in blogtopia. Not on this blog, for sure, and maybe not on feminist blogs as a whole, but I know I’ve seen things on Pandagon or Pharyngula (not a feminist blog, but a progressive one for sure) or I Blame the Patriarchy that made me feel uncomfortable.

    I know my Muslim father is tired of explaining that Islam doesn’t inherently make you want to kill Americans or shroud your wife. I know the attitude exists in percentages enough to not be dismissable as a strawman. And just as I think that Muslims and Christians and whoever else have responsibility to call out asshole thinking within their communities, I think the Atheist community has a responsibility to do the same thing.

  93. kate
    kate October 25, 2007 at 5:12 pm |

    Rebecca:

    Ask any of the childless by choice women here who they receive the most criticism from and most of the time the answer will be ‘other women’.

    Rebecca: If I had the agency that I should have had when I was a young woman, had been raised with feminist ideals, treated with dignity and respect as a child, then I am sure I would have been childless ‘by choice’.

    What I think a lot of women who are mothers find offensive is the blanket assumption that there is always a clear-cut choice about whether or not to have children.

    Unfortunately, yesterday, today and most likely tomorrow, women all over the world will become pregnant and carry that pregnancy to term and be responsible for rearing that child themselves. Oftentimes this fate has little do to with choice, as even in this country, not all women enjoy completely free agency over their lives or their reproductive system, which of course are quite closely entangled.

    Therefore, to assume that all women who have children, whether two or twenty, have them simply because they either are willfully ignorant, lazy or wanton careless breeders is arrogant, narrow and quite frankly, very offensive.

    I don’t mean to be harsh, but please, I want you to understand what it feels like to hear the words, “childless by choice” coming from someone who identifies as a person concerned with women’s ability to have choice.

    As I would embrace you (because mostly I can identify with your desire to remain childless), please find it in yourself to embrace those who, for whatever reason, have not had the privilege to have such a ‘choice’ available for them.

  94. EG
    EG October 25, 2007 at 5:27 pm |

    Perhaps not, but the attitude is certainly out there in blogtopia

    The attitude’s been out there for a long time–it’s currently out there in the writings of Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins. I really refuse to take responsibility for every dumbass thing any atheist has ever said on the internet. Further, you’ll note in context that I was remarking that Daisy’s equation of religion to government and subsequent question of why I don’t advocate smashing governments was completely irrelevant to anything I’d actually said.

    But another issue is that religious people are constantly saying that their way is the only true way–such an attitude is practically built in to Christianity. Why all the hand-waving because Hitchens and Dawkins are playing turn-around? Stop and consider–this is what atheists have to hear all the time.

    I know my Muslim father is tired of explaining that Islam doesn’t inherently make you want to kill Americans or shroud your wife

    Yes. And I’m tired of explaining that atheism doesn’t mean that I give two hoots about anybody else’s beliefs, that I am immoral or a complete moral relativist, or that I feel that life is meaningless. So there we all go.

  95. EG
    EG October 25, 2007 at 5:27 pm |

    Also, I gotta say…there isn’t really an “atheist community.” Not that I know of, anyway. Maybe they just haven’t been inviting me to their meetings, though.

  96. Vanessa
    Vanessa October 25, 2007 at 5:30 pm |

    Also, I gotta say…there isn’t really an “atheist community.” Not that I know of, anyway. Maybe they just haven’t been inviting me to their meetings, though.

    Well, maybe not in terms of having meetings. There aren’t black community meetings, either, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a black community. Or gay community, or whatever.

  97. Vanessa
    Vanessa October 25, 2007 at 5:52 pm |

    EG – just to clarify, I’m not picking on anything specific really you said in the thread. Just used your comment as a jumping-off point.

    I think it’s important to acknowledge that no, you don’t need to be responsible for every asshole who ever typed “Sky Fairy’ on a blog somewhere. But I do think “Sky Fairy” and “godbotherer” are dismissive and alienating, and should be called out as such. That’s all. It’s not the same level of oppression that atheists receive from the culture at large, but it still is felt as alienating.

    Similarly, as a mother I understand some asshole blogger using the word “breeder” isn’t the same level of oppression as the pressure put on women to have children by the greater society as a whole, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel alienated by the use of the term. (Or that it’s not annoying when, if I call it out as such, I get flooded by a bunch of people saying, “But you don’t understand, society puts so much pressure on women to breed!”)

    I’m not saying that you’re espousing that particular opinion, but I’ve seen threads where those same sentiments were written, over and over again, for 600 comments.

    Another example, just because society pressures women to dress a certain way doesn’t mean you get to call me a “sparklepony” and berate me again and again to “examine my choices” because I *do* dress that way. (And if you don’t think that happens – hoo boy, you and I have been reading different blogs.)

  98. DaisyDeadhead
    DaisyDeadhead October 25, 2007 at 5:57 pm |

    Again, Marxism does not equal atheism. While it may not be possible to be a Marxist without being an atheist, it is very possible to be an atheist without being a Marxist.

    I am fully aware of this fact, since as I said, I was once a Marxist, and as we have established here, I’m no atheist.

    EG, are you paying attention to anything I’m saying, or just enjoying your soapbox?

    Natalia, Kate and Vanessa, thank you for your comments.

  99. EG
    EG October 25, 2007 at 6:05 pm |

    I always enjoy a good soapbox, Daisy, and I don’t think I’m the only one. But yes, I have been paying attention to what you’ve been saying.

    Zuzu said:

    Daisy, atheism =/= socialism, Marxism, Stalinism or anything else. Atheism is simply the belief that there is no God or other supernatural being. It’s not a religion, it’s not a political system.

    To which you directly replied:

    Right. So, why were the party faithful reported for breaking the rules, if they were good socialists who helped make the revolution?

    If you were not arguing against zuzu’s assertion that atheism =/= Marxism, why did you phrase this argumentative response as a direct reply to that assertion? Your tone clearly indicates that this is supposed to be an argument against zuzu’s assertion. If it wasn’t, what was your point, exactly? That Stalin was a murderous totalitarian megalomaniac as well as an atheist? Has anybody denied that? Do you know a lot feminist atheists who say stuff like “No way! Stalin never included religious belief in the category of things people got purged for”?

  100. Courtney
    Courtney October 25, 2007 at 6:25 pm |

    alsojill said: “Atheists are a minority, and your views should be respected. But being a minority does not, in my opinion, give atheists a right to condescend to people of faith or to disrespect *our* views simply because we are part of a dominant group. You don’t have to believe in god. You should just respect that some of us do, and we do so mindfully. Most thoughtful people of faith, including feminists of faith, are more than aware of the flaws and disturbing elements that go along with religion. In fact, most of us know a hell of a lot more about those flaws and horrors than the average atheist does, so it’s really frustrating and patronizing to be looked at with a supercilious air and told that believing in a higher power is childlike, naive, or otherwise not carefully thought out.”

    I call bullshit. I don’t think my views should be respected per se, and thus I don’t think yours should either. I respect that some (and, I might add, a minority) of believers do so mindfully, having gone back during some time in their lives to think over indoctrinated ideas, and decided they agree with them. However, that does not make them immune to criticism. Religion doesn’t get a pass where other beliefs do not. I expect to be criticized for my feminist beliefs and even my atheist non-or lack of belief, and I expect to defend them. You should expect the same. I would not be respectful of the beliefs (N.B. I’m not referring to respecting a person, but their beliefs) a full-grown person who believed in Santa. I doubt you would either.

    Most atheists in the online community to which I belong (www.whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum) know much more about the bible and theology than many, many christians that I know. That’s personal experience, but I find your claim that atheists (most of whom are formerly religious, and thus, like me, did plenty of bible-reading and studying before deconverting) know little about religion unconvincing.

    I understand that it’s frustrating and patronizing. It’s nearly as bad being told that you’re going to be eternally punished. But if I didn’t want to hear it, I could walk away. So can you. You don’t have a right to not be frustrated or insulted.

    Anyway, now that I’ve defended myself, my point was merely that religion-pushing should not be on the feminist agenda. It’s a personal choice that has nothing to do with feminism. I personally think that vilifying logic and elevating faith (which, for the majority of religions and believers, is what is done) is dangerous, and not something that should be encouraged in feminist discourse.

  101. Dervish » Blog Archive » Feeling Alienated from Feminism

    […] Lubu has a post at Feministe on feeling alienated from feminism, even though she’s a feminist. I commented that the lack of recognition of valid spirituality […]

  102. Courtney
    Courtney October 25, 2007 at 6:37 pm |

    Daisy said: “And the fact that Harriet Tubman, Gandhi and Martin Luther King found strength for social change in those same books, means—? Maybe they were reading different books and didn’t see a “freaky-ass Allah or God”, and you are incorrect or biased in your reading?”

    If you would like to discuss the wonderfulness of the bible, I’d be happy to do so, but this isn’t exactly an appropriate place. My email address is courtneystoker@gmail.com.

  103. Umm Yasmin
    Umm Yasmin October 25, 2007 at 6:44 pm |

    Actually like the word ‘gay’, ‘fundamentalism’ has shifted in meaning from the original etymology. There is a place for definition atheist or secular fundamentalism:
    Fundamentalism has the following attributes:

    * Selective reading of human knowledge/history/traditions, whilst asserting the correctness of their selected narrative

    (fundamentalist atheists assert their views about material reality-there is no god-as being the only correct and true way to view reality)

    * Intolerance for pluralism (whether religious, cultural, political etc.)

    (fundamentalist atheists have no time for non-atheists, call them delusional, deride their beliefs etc.)

    * Views the world as a ‘clash’, a binary division into Us versus Them, Good versus Bad

    (fundamentalist atheists see a binary division between rational, scientific, logical atheists and irrational, unscientific, illogical religious people)

    * Sees an ever-present danger that ‘their world’ or ‘their country’ or ‘the purity of their faith’ is going to be overtaken by the dangerous enemy

    (fundamentalist atheists believe that Dangerous Religious Fanatics are trying to wipe them out of existence, and the only way to protect this is aggressive legislation to prevent Religion interfering in education, politics and other social structures – there is no live and let live. Now if they were *only* targeting other fundamentalists i.e. fundamentalist creationist Christians, then maybe I wouldn’t bother so much, but the fundamentalist atheist war on Religion affects all religious people.)

    * Can evolve into a militant fundamentalism, which uses violence to achieve its political ends

    a la Stalin

    * Is a phenomenon of modernity

  104. Neko-Onna
    Neko-Onna October 25, 2007 at 6:57 pm |

    I would say that I identify as a radical feminist. I’m very interested in history, cultural criticism, and postmodern rhetorical theory, so the interconnections of power/identity/culture all seem readily apparent to me. I tend to view oppression as systemic, and by extention, tend to prefer systemic solutions to such problems. I certianly back a lot of “here and now” advocacy, but I truly believe the underlying systems of dominance and oppression must be dismantled to achieve true change. So, from that perspective, I tend to see us all as flies wiggling around in the same net, not as disparate interest groups.

    The common “interest” of all marginalized groups is the abuse of power.

  105. Shayne Carmichael
    Shayne Carmichael October 25, 2007 at 7:50 pm |

    Wow, rather glad I didn’t care for the movement in the 70’s. When is everybody going to figure out that whatever a woman wants to be is fine?

    If she chooses to have children, if she chooses not to. If she chooses to marry, if she chooses not. If she chooses to believe in god, or doesn’t.

    Neither side is no less then the other. In the end the whole thing is suppose to be about a woman’s choice.

    It really isn’t about respecting someone’s choice to be religious or not, or what the hell ever, it’s realizing that you have the damn choice to decide for yourself.

    And Jasmine, if you want to be called by your married name or keep your last name as is…the choice is yours. It’s whatever makes you happy. I wouldn’t worry too much about whatever any others might think.

  106. Sally
    Sally October 25, 2007 at 7:51 pm |

    http://www.whywontgodhealamputees.com/forum

    It might just be me, but I find that pretty problematic from a disability standpoint, as well as kind of a silly question. Maybe God thinks there’s value in human diversity. There’s just something kind of icky about the implication that the existence of disability proves the non-existence of God. Unless I’m somehow reading that wrong?

    I definitely consider myself a feminist. I don’t always feel comfortable or welcome on feminist blogs, and I don’t feel like I fit especially well into any of the various camps that seem to have emerged in on-line feminism. I don’t know if that’s an issue with feminism, though, as opposed to with on-line feminism and with me. And I guess that I’d also say that I think sometimes there’s value in encountering things that annoy or offend you. I think I’ve really clarified some things for myself by reading stuff that truly infuriates me. I don’t know that I think that political activism is ever going to feel safe or comfortable all the time. I think sometimes there’s something to be said for stepping outside of your comfort zone. (And yes, I’m aware that a lot of us live outside of our comfort zones, which is probably why people feel so betrayed when they’re alienated in feminist space.) What’s problematic, I think, is when certain voices are systematically ignored or co-opted or silenced. So while I can see how religious feminists would be offended by all the “sky fairy” “godbotherer” stuff, I don’t know that I think it’s really a problem unless religious feminists are being denied an equal place at the table. And as a secular feminist, I don’t really feel equipped to say whether they are or not. I’m having trouble thinking of a religiously-identified feminist who blogs regularly at any of the really big feminist blogs, so maybe that is happening.

  107. kate
    kate October 25, 2007 at 7:52 pm |

    It is interesting how this thread has devolved into a discussion about religious affiliation/faith and one’s devotion to feminist progression.

    I am all for religious freedom and the wide variety of expressions thereof that we humans create. Oftentimes religious affiliation is as important as or a part of, ethnic, regional and familial identification and affiliation. Far be it from me or anyone else to begin to judge or dictate something as closely intertwined with someone’s identity as religious practice.

    BUT…when one chooses to affiliate with an practice or institution that has a deep grounding (and not all religion does) in an oppression one supposedly wishes to see end, then certainly an amount of strange rationalization or blindness has to occur.

    Some might say though that they want to work within the ‘system’ which I can respect on its own merits. As a result though, one should expect and get quite used to, the criticism and doubt that will flow from those who prefer to take an approach at change from a more deconstructive stance.

  108. alsojill
    alsojill October 25, 2007 at 7:53 pm |

    Anyway, now that I’ve defended myself, my point was merely that religion-pushing should not be on the feminist agenda. It’s a personal choice that has nothing to do with feminism. I personally think that vilifying logic and elevating faith (which, for the majority of religions and believers, is what is done) is dangerous, and not something that should be encouraged in feminist discourse.

    But isn’t your desire to remove religion from feminist discourse *just* as marginalizing? I don’t want you to convert. I couldn’t give a flying fuck what your thoughts on god(s) are. But I totally respect your right to make your atheism part of your feminism. So why should my beliefs be excluded from *my* feminism, and from my feminist discourses, just because you’re an atheist?

    Respect, to me, does not mean immunity from criticism. In fact, treating something as sacrosanct tends to indicate a *lack* of respect, as it implies that the thing is too fragile to take such scrutiny. Respect means that those who criticize should approach their criticisms from an informed and honest viewpoint. It ALSO means that the individual being criticized should respond in a way that does not become condescending, supercilious, disdainful, etc. So, yes. I stand by my statement that my beliefs and your beliefs deserve respect.

    I’ll give you the fact that a lot of Christians (and devotees of other faiths) are painfully, righteously ignorant of the Bible or whatever holy book it is that they should know. But–and maybe you missed this–I specifically said that “thoughtful people of faith.” I’m not talking about those who go to church just to thump the Bible they’ve never read, and I totally admit that they make up the loudest majority of American Christians. (Also, I don’t need to be informed that many atheists are former believers. I know that, and I should have made that clear. But I also know that a lot of atheists *don’t* know the texts, and can only judge the faith based on the culture that they see using it.)

    I feel like, when it comes to religion or spirituality, we all wind up being represented by the worst examples of our cohort. On the one hand, you have Oral Roberts, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and that whole smug, hypocritical Christian mafia–on top of the monsters who ran the medieval Church. On the other hand, you have individuals like Hitchens and Dawkins, who are unpleasant at best, and nightmares like Stalin or Pol Pot. And what happens is we’re all defensive and drawing lines in the sand.

  109. EG
    EG October 25, 2007 at 7:54 pm |

    But I do think “Sky Fairy” and “godbotherer” are dismissive and alienating, and should be called out as such.

    I see what you mean re: “sky fairy,” but I first became aware of “godbotherer” as a British term specifically developed to refer to those zealots who do their best to inflict their particularly self-righteous brand of religiosity on the public at large by pushing their religious agenda into political form. It really is a term meant to separate fundamentalist creeps like Pat Robertson from you reasonable people.

  110. Nell
    Nell October 25, 2007 at 8:03 pm |

    Now you’re just getting silly with your personal redefinition of “fundamentalism” a term that – in my own experience – still refers to people who embrace what they regard to be the ‘fundamental’ or ‘foundational’ texts of their faith traditions.

    Atheism is not a faith and it has no foundational documents. You can be militant or rude, but you can’t be a fundamentalist in this context.

    That you want to understand atheism as a faith is interesting. Many people of faith do. Because at some level it doesn’t seem possible to many people of faith for humans to operate without faith in something larger than themselves, and so when faced with people who proclaim no faith – that gets twisted into a faith in ‘nofaith.’ Which is pretty much the opposite of atheism.

    atheists believe that Dangerous Religious Fanatics are trying to wipe them out of existence,

    Well yes. Most atheists in the US do believe that. I do. I believe this because religious conservatives of many stripes say so. Loudly. At every opportunity. Further, both of the two major Abrahamic traditions – Christianity and Islam – are evangelical traditions that insist that only when all are converted will all be saved. So, even those nice ones who aren’t pushy about it, if they take their religious traditions seriously, really do want atheism, and atheists, stamped out.

    and the only way to protect this is aggressive legislation to prevent Religion interfering in education, politics and other social structures

    It’s called separation of church and state and it is written right into the bloody Constitution of the United States. It is not aggressive of me to want to keep your (for whatever value of your is relevant) religion from messing with what we as a pluralistic nation of multiple faiths and none teach and legislate.

    That you think it is ‘aggressive’ of me to want one of the central elements of the thinking of the founding fathers preserved into the 21st century creeps me right the fuck out.

  111. Ailurophile
    Ailurophile October 25, 2007 at 8:10 pm |

    *applauds La Lubu* Excellent, excellent post.

    For those who are interested in the contributions that the Iroquois Confederacy made to feminism:

    – Sally R. Wagner, Sisters in Spirit

    – Barbara A. Mann, Iroquoian Women: The Gantowisas (Dr. Mann is a member of the Seneca nation)

    As well, this excellent website by Max Dashu explores the historical and cultural underpinnings of feminism, and notes that many, MANY indigenous societies of color are gender-egalitarian:

    http://www.suppressedhistories.net

    I believe it’s very important to dismantle the idea that feminism is a privileged white woman’s burden. Nor is it a gift that white women come bearing to their “poor, oppressed” sisters of color.

    As for religion and women – Wicca, most forms of Paganism, and feminist spirituality/Goddess worship are by their very nature empowering to women; feminist spirituality and Dianic Wicca worship a female deity/ies and actively promote feminism. Z Budapest would be horrified to learn that her religion oppresses women. Of course, pagans and feminist spiritualists are not in the mainstream, and have little to no power in larger society, much like atheists in fact.

  112. Nell
    Nell October 25, 2007 at 8:23 pm |

    AGg. La Lubu I apologize for wanking in your thread about the ways feminisms get divided from themselves and from women in general. It is not the place to get into another thread jack of ‘what is atheism.’

  113. JenLovesPonies
    JenLovesPonies October 25, 2007 at 8:32 pm |

    Sally- I think the Why Won’t God Heal Amputees? site is pointing out that people will often thank their god for a person getting cured of cancer, or other things that people absent of religion sometimes get cured of despite treatment. It is easy to thank your god if your cancer goes away, for example, but athiest Amy down the street might have also had her cancer go away because sometimes people just get lucky, or a treatment takes unexpectantly. Meanwhile, no one ever thanks their god for lettting them regrow a leg, because he never regrows those legs. Why would a god who could regrow a leg always refuse to do so and only cure the cancers of the world, where his presense can be debated, instead of doing something truely amazing?

  114. Sally
    Sally October 25, 2007 at 9:17 pm |

    So it’s just a version of the “why doesn’t God do miracles anymore?” question? Because I think that’s one that religious people are aware of and have grappled with. They’re also aware that God doesn’t always answer prayers, and they know that even good Christians sometimes die of cancer. I know this may seem crazy, but some very, very smart people of faith have thought about this stuff for a very long time. Really. Smart, smart people. You’re not going to come up with the “gotcha!” question that will disprove the existence of God, and the “gotcha!” questions are kind of insulting, because they assume that religious people are too dumb to have thought of those questions already.

    But I’m glad to hear that the “why doesn’t God cure amputees” question is about miracles and not about how any just God would cure the pathetic disabled people!

  115. belledame222
    belledame222 October 25, 2007 at 10:14 pm |

    I’ve always taken “feminist” as a given–like, who wouldn’t be?–and weirdly enough, my various encounters with gatekeepers and so forth hasn’t shaken that at all. It’s posts like this that really make me feel -good- about it again, though.

  116. Helen
    Helen October 25, 2007 at 10:52 pm |

    Jasmine: It’s your name, and no one else’s business. He can always change his last name to Pierce if he wants.

  117. JenLovesPonies
    JenLovesPonies October 25, 2007 at 11:55 pm |

    I think it’s slightly more complicated- Why does your god do some miracles, but only the easy ones? and perhaps, Why do you attribute your successes to your god when they are owed to the doctors? But it’s not my site, I am simply explaining what the point of it is because I saw the YouTube video explaining their position, though I never visited the site. I just think I am very, very smart is all.

    I am not trying to come up with a damn gotcha question. I don’t think any one question can lead a person to atheism. But please, be condescending. That’s awesome.

  118. Tiffany in Houston
    Tiffany in Houston October 26, 2007 at 12:19 am |

    I think I uphold some feminist ideals and support many feminist platforms but I don’t call myself a feminist because the movement as a whole has not been welcoming to women of color and as a black women I am insulted a lot of the times when legitimate concerns by WOC are ignored, in particular by the ‘larger’ feminist blogosphere. For example, the cover of Jessica Valenti’s book…prime example of WOC feminists being told to to fuck off.

    I can’t take feminism as a movement seriously because I have a lack of trust in it.

  119. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie October 26, 2007 at 12:57 am |

    I have no interest in nor affinity toward any “religion,” because all the religions I know anything about put men at the top of the heap. God, Allah, Krishna, the Buddha — all men. In spite of the b.s. rationale that “but we mean ‘her’ and ‘she’, too, when we say ‘Him’ and ‘He’!”

    Where is the feminine divine in any mainstream religion? Is it simply a huge coincidence that the tenets of most (if not all) religions place women as second-class citizens, afterthoughts, less-than?

    I have no interest in religion because I do not relate to a bunch of men determining how everyone else should worship and believe.

  120. zuzu
    zuzu October 26, 2007 at 1:24 am |

    Rebecca: If I had the agency that I should have had when I was a young woman, had been raised with feminist ideals, treated with dignity and respect as a child, then I am sure I would have been childless ‘by choice’.

    What I think a lot of women who are mothers find offensive is the blanket assumption that there is always a clear-cut choice about whether or not to have children.

    Unfortunately, yesterday, today and most likely tomorrow, women all over the world will become pregnant and carry that pregnancy to term and be responsible for rearing that child themselves. Oftentimes this fate has little do to with choice, as even in this country, not all women enjoy completely free agency over their lives or their reproductive system, which of course are quite closely entangled.

    Therefore, to assume that all women who have children, whether two or twenty, have them simply because they either are willfully ignorant, lazy or wanton careless breeders is arrogant, narrow and quite frankly, very offensive.

    Kate, the term “childless by choice” or, alternately, “childfree,” isn’t meant as a comment on the ignorance, laziness or wantonness of anyone. It’s a term used by people who do not have and do not want children to let people know that this was a considered decision, that the absence of children is not the result of misfortune or infertility but something wanted and embraced. Basically, it’s got nothing to do with people who have children, but with people who don’t.

  121. lsrj.org » Blog Archive » Whose Choice? Whose Feminism?

    […] “feminism” and about choice vs. reproductive justice has popped up again, this time in a guest post on Feministe by La Lubu, and in some of the reactions to her […]

  122. Sally
    Sally October 26, 2007 at 9:35 am |

    I think it’s slightly more complicated- Why does your god do some miracles, but only the easy ones? and perhaps, Why do you attribute your successes to your god when they are owed to the doctors?

    Ok, but that’s arguing against a total straw-theist. None of the religious people I know would attribute medical success to God, rather than doctors. They might say that what’s miraculous is the reason that God has given humans, which has allowed us to make such extraordinary medical advances. This question doesn’t prove that religious people are wrong. It proves that some militant atheists have really dopey stereotypes about people of faith.

    But please, be condescending. That’s awesome.

    Sorry. I sometimes forget that condescension is just for religious people.

  123. Courtney
    Courtney October 26, 2007 at 10:50 am |

    Sally said:
    “Ok, but that’s arguing against a total straw-theist. None of the religious people I know would attribute medical success to God, rather than doctors. They might say that what’s miraculous is the reason that God has given humans, which has allowed us to make such extraordinary medical advances. This question doesn’t prove that religious people are wrong. It proves that some militant atheists have really dopey stereotypes about people of faith.”

    Whywontgodhealamputees is directed a people who believe in faith healing. If you had tripped into the forum, you would have encountered countless morons who post in there claiming God has healed amputees, but it was in China or Africa, and the camera broke, or that their doctors were afraid of the atheists and wouldn’t tell anyone. This is not a straw-man, because we have visitors who, almost ALL of whom believe faith healing happens, even if it’s just them praying to God to heal their migraines. I’m not kidding. The site is no one’s basis for non-belief, as we are often accused on the site. I defend the website, but I’m there because of the community of thoughtful atheists, and to be able to have a sounding board when atheism makes my life miserable, or, to be more accurate, when believers make my life miserable.

    You claim I’m dealing with stereotypes and straw men when you have already pulled out the Stalin card and the term “fundamentalism.” I find those to be the tools of someone who does not want to consider non-belief as anything but evil and stupid. I do not consider believers to be evil or stupid until they prove themselves so, and I do not judge them on the actions of other believers. All I had to say was that biblegod is not so sweet in his book, and that faith (which, by definition, is a belief without or against evidence) shouldn’t be elevated over reason before you called me militant and fundamentalist. Then you accuse me of being unfair (attacking strawmen) without even addressing either of those two statements! Do you disagree with my main point (the last)?

    Jill:
    I don’t want feminism to be anti-religious or excluding. I do not want to “take religion out of” feminism. But I don’t think religion is already “in” feminism, and I don’t think it should be. It should be a secular movement, one that includes believers and non-believers alike. Is that really too much to ask? Is that really insulting to believers?

  124. Mickle
    Mickle October 26, 2007 at 11:36 am |

    For me, along with many of the valid issues you raise, it’s the almost complete absence of any spirituality or recognition that religion can empower women. For some strange reason, much feminist discourse buys into the secularist narrative that religion is inherently problematic and should be privatised.

    I think that you can believe that religion is inherently problematic while also understanding that religion can empower women. I don’t think that religion’s inherent problems are patriarchal, I think that the patriarchy has increased the way in which religions are damaging. I also think that religion is inherently usefuI; I see them a lot like I see government itself. There’s always going to an inherent problem with government, but there’s always going to be an inherent problem with anarchy. I don’t think that lack of religion is an extreme a problem the way as lack of government is (but that may be personal bias – I tend toward atheism myself), but I do think that society needs a lot of the spiritual services that organized religion provides.

    I also think that, even if you do believe that everyone would be better off if they were atheists, it’s important to include empowering women within organized religions as part of the strategy. Rejecting religion (as a group strategy, not as a personal choice) only pits religion even more against feminism and makes people feel like they have to choose between the two. Empowering women within religion reaches people that might not be reached otherwise and gives women more tools for helping themselves and each other.

    I don’t think that most feminists are against his in theory, but that it’s very hard to figure out how to go about doing this as both outsiders to most religions and as common targets of religious extremists. I think, just like race and class, the first step is to talk about it more – which, of course, includes listening to those that are already talking about it – and to make an effort to not only talk about Jerry Fallwel, but also incidents such as when my feminist friendly all women’s college decided to reduce the number of chaplains (budget reasons), thus taking away what was for many students their first female spiritual leader – in a public position of power, in any case.

    Yasmin,
    ps – what do you mean by “should be privatised”?

  125. EG
    EG October 26, 2007 at 11:56 am |

    I sometimes forget that condescension is just for religious people.

    Indeed. Religious people have been condescending to the rest of us for years.

  126. littleflower
    littleflower October 26, 2007 at 1:15 pm |

    Precisely, it’s funny and most ironic when monotheists are the loudest when demanding absolute respect from others, oblivious (or pretending to be oblivious?) to the fact that the very tenet of their faith is outright contempt and extreme disrespect of unbelievers. Typical atheist “put-downs” of their religions are mostly the fruit of these age-old contempts. Monotheists should reflect upon that instead of being defensive and aggravated. I must say, your religions ask for it!

    Until you discard this belief and condemn it as bigotry then you have no rights to tell us to stop criticizing how wrong that kind of belief is! There is no way around it.

  127. littleflower
    littleflower October 26, 2007 at 1:25 pm |

    “Yasmin,
    ps – what do you mean by “should be privatised”?”

    I think , since she is a Muslim, she refers to the reality that religions in the west are mostly a private matter, the state has no saying in it. In Islam, however, religion and state can’t be separated, hence there is Sharia (the Islamic laws) and the clerics issue fatwas as to what the correct interpretation of the Koranic verses are and how those are implemented into the Sharia. Islam, when practiced within its supposed system, is very invasive into its followers’ lives. It rules every aspect of their lives: from how/which direction to urinate to whether one is still married to one’s spouse when one is considered an apostate (the Islamic court could just annull their marriage without their consent if they believe one has apostated as what happened to a female Egyptian intellectual).

  128. littleflower
    littleflower October 26, 2007 at 1:39 pm |

    Yasmin wrote:
    “* Intolerance for pluralism (whether religious, cultural, political etc.)

    (fundamentalist atheists have no time for non-atheists, call them delusional, deride their beliefs etc.)”

    Then by definition all monotheistic religions, including aqnd especially Islam, are fundamentalistic by definition because they see and treat unbelievers with contempt (they are destined to be tortured forever in hell and are harassed in an Islamic system -they have to pay hefty taxes and treated as second class citizens). There is no pluralism in the deepest sense of the word in monotheism. It’s either my way or the high way to hell. You are perhaps tolerated to deviate a little bit as long as you still believe in the God they profess as the one true God (Allah or Jesus) but outright disbelief? No. Questioning? No. Then you are disrespectful of their belief if you question, doesn’t matter that their belief, in essence, disrespects others first!! Now you know how we feel when we are told zillions of times that we are going to hell simply for unbelieving, for using our critical reasoning.

  129. EG
    EG October 26, 2007 at 2:01 pm |

    Yes, littleflower. To say nothing of the fact that monotheistic religions, in their dismissal of all other gods as either devils or delusions are profoundly contemptuous of polytheistic religions.

  130. Alas, a blog » Blog Archive » Still loving LaLubu, but…

    […] having trouble reading the discussion of this post as more than “someone somewhere once said something in the name of feminism I disagree with, […]

  131. littleflower
    littleflower October 26, 2007 at 2:25 pm |

    Yeah, my God is the biggest and strongest and the rightest! Your God(s) is/are satanic, evil, demonic. And what’s the proof for it? Nada. You just have to believe in what I say, believe in my God and he’ll change your heart. He’s all merciful. He has cured cancers (but never regrows legs/arms). But will he burn me in hell for eternity if I don’t believe in him? Yes, because he’s the highest truth. If he’s the highest truth why would he care of what a nobody like me thinks of him? He sounds more like a petty narcissistic megalomaniac as opposed to an almighty supreme being deserving of any worship and adulation. And if he’s all merciful how can he have a heart to inflict so much infinite pain upon his creatures for a sin as personal and finite as unbelief? You are a fucking …hater, …phobe (fill the blanks). You are bigots, you lump all of us with the hateful fundies who hijack our religion. No sweetheart, it’s not you personally, it is your faith which is problematic and defies logic at the very core to begin with. The fundies’ existence is to be expected from a religion that claims ABOLUTE and THE ONLY truth, a religion that is fundamentalistic to begin with!

  132. alsojill
    alsojill October 26, 2007 at 2:49 pm |

    Well, littleflower. Thanks for utterly destroying what good will individuals of faith might have tried to build up here.

    For what it’s worth? That attitude, the one you’re projecting right now? That is *precisely* why feminists of faith find it difficult to participate in many mainstream feminist discourses. B/c we have people SCREAMING at us that our choice is wrongwrongwrong, that by making X choice we are oppressing others, etc.

    You don’t know me, or DaisyDeadhead, or anyone else who professed to believe in a faith on this thread. You don’t know what we believe, or what parts of our faiths we choose to accept. Sharia? Not necessarily part of the Muslim faith.

    So thanks a lot. Thanks for making feminism such a welcoming place for different ideologies. In other words, fuck you.

  133. alsojill
    alsojill October 26, 2007 at 2:56 pm |

    I thought I was done, but I guess not. Atheists have to put up with a lot of crap both within and without the feminist arena. That’s wrong. WRONG. No one should tell you you’re going to hell. It’s arrogant, to say the least. Not to mention, if there is a hell, I doubt you go for something as petty as atheism.

    But if feminism is about inclusion and acceptance, then why do we have to shut up about believing in god(s)? Not one person on this thread–not ONE–said that they believe anyone is going to hell, or that God is a man, or that believing is logical. (I came closest when I said that not believing made no sense to me.) Not one of us here used our faiths to exclude others from the discourse. But we’ve been told over and over that by believing in something–just BELIEVING!–that we’re oppressive and tools of the patriarchy. (Oh, no one said that directly, but it was fairly clearly implied.)

    Gee, I wonder why spirituality rarely comes up on mainstream feminist blogs.

  134. zuzu
    zuzu October 26, 2007 at 3:04 pm |

    Thanks for utterly destroying what good will individuals of faith might have tried to build up here.

    While I think littleflower was unduly harsh, I don’t think that individuals of faith did much in the way of building goodwill by playing the Stalin card or by painting all atheists as sneering and condescending (while playing the Stalin card).

    And nobody’s asked anyone to shut up about believing in god(s). However, you’re asking that nobody question those beliefs and just accept them uncritically.

  135. littleflower
    littleflower October 26, 2007 at 3:08 pm |

    BTW, I don’t consider myself a feminist as such. I come here because a link that shows how much monotheists demand absolute respect which I find really ridiculous considering how disrespectful the core of their faith is. It’s not my business which part of your religions you pick and choose, that doesn’t defy the fact that the foundation of your religion is intolerance of other belief systems. I am not going to argue with certain members of a monotheistic religion that such and such values are not really their religion (it’s only the intepretation blah..blah) because it’s going nowhere. What you have to do is to convince your priests and fellow religionists first that their understanding of their religion is wrong. Not us. Religion is what religion does. And what it does, unfortunately, can only be seen in its representatives. If the majority of representatives are condescending toward others and seeing others as no good or less worthy simply because of their lack of belief, then we will always point out of what this religion does to you and to us all. And sure, we know the more tolerant ones of them all who don’t think we will go to hell but hey, why don’t you just believe in God without subscribing to the institution called monotheism? Because since you call themselves one of them , you are by default vouching for the exclusive and intolerant tenet of that religion. You are by default seeing us as defficient, not because of our action but our disbelief. That’s a problematic position you are putting yourself into right there… And I can’t help but feeling sorry for you for the resenment you feel directed at you indiscriminatingly but again, we don’t aim at any individual person here only the undisputable reality of the intolerance of monotheistic religions.

  136. EG
    EG October 26, 2007 at 3:09 pm |

    Well, also, Christian doctrine does teach that those of us who do not believe are going to hell. While individual Christians may reject that, I don’t think it’s unreasonable of atheists to point out that such contempt is written into the very religion, or to assume that in the absence of evidence to the contrary, a given Christian believes it.

  137. Ampersand
    Ampersand October 26, 2007 at 4:03 pm |

    But when the Democrats latched onto the Welfare Reform Act and joined in the scapegoating of poor women, most mainstream feminists stood aside and silent, leaving women like me to fend off the constant barrage of harassment and lies foisted at us and our children.

    That isn’t how I remember the welfare deform fight at all. Welfare deform was NOW’s most frequent topic for a year, and the criticism of mainstream Dems from mainstream feminism was fairly nonstop. As a result of losing the fight over welfare, NOW came very close to breaking off support for the Democrats altogether (they even spent a few months discussing starting a third political party).

    Just because they lost the fight, doesn’t mean they didn’t fight. But in the end, feminists weren’t powerful enough to win a fight against the combined forces of the Republican Party and the Clinton wing of the Democrats.

  138. Nan
    Nan October 26, 2007 at 4:09 pm |

    To answer the original question, I’ve never self-identified as a feminist and probably never will, but in the words of Rebecca West: “I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat, or a prostitute.”

  139. Charlotte
    Charlotte October 26, 2007 at 4:19 pm |

    In reading this discussion, I am finding myself wanting to separate two terms that seem to be used interchangeably, but whose separation might be beneficial:
    1. religion
    2. spirituality
    If we could understand religion as the hegemonic framework built around a specific polity, that would help keep arguments about oppression etc. on a theoretical level. Individual spirituality, I think, is a matter of personal choice and, even if I am already hearing voices decrying “the personal is the political,” might not be up for debate here.
    What do you think?

  140. Deoridhe
    Deoridhe October 26, 2007 at 4:22 pm |

    109. Kate: BUT…when one chooses to affiliate with an practice or institution that has a deep grounding (and not all religion does) in an oppression one supposedly wishes to see end, then certainly an amount of strange rationalization or blindness has to occur.

    I see one rather major problem with that – the majority of modern ulture has a deep grouding in the oppression feminism attempts to undermine and remove. Religion is often part and parcel, not some unique example of white male domination. “Logic” was created by men and has been used to this day to attempt to marginalize and oppress women; should it be abandoned as well? Languages has been used in the same manner, as have most forms of government.

    If you are advocating a sort of radical seperatism (though the internet was created by the male dominate military and is currently haven for mysogynists, so I have to woner at your presence here if this is the case) instead of simply dening members of feminism their particular type of deeply-grounded-in-oppression-belief-system, I can see some consistency between wod and action. However, it appears like you’re saying religion and religion alone has this gorunding, in which case I must confess myself baffled as to how to discuss the grounding of oppression found in many other arenas besides religion.

    113,: As for religion and women – Wicca, most forms of Paganism, and feminist spirituality/Goddess worship are by their very nature empowering to women; feminist spirituality and Dianic Wicca worship a female deity/ies and actively promote feminism.

    Urm.. you might want to re-examine Wicca in the context of being ‘empowering’ to women. Priestesses gain their moon) power rom the (sun) Priest, and from some of it’s earliest incarnations Wicca included setting aside “mothers” and “crones” for the “maidens” that the perpetually aging Priests wanted to perform the Great Rite with.

    That’s not even taking into account how deeply creepy it is to have the sole basis of authority and definition for female deities being their fertility and sexual activity, nor the role of the female as both mother and lover to the male.

    Some forms of paganism do have feminist elements, but I don’t think any religion can be said to be feminist because religions are made up of people, and sometimes even people with conscious feminist ideologies perpetuate the violent hierarchial practices they were raised with.

    Also, worship of a goddess, even having a goddess as the highest deity, does not render a religion feminist. A good example of this would be Ameratetsu in Japan, or the plethora of goddesses in India. These examples are somewhat unfair due to the colonializing nature of Wesern culture and it’s appropriation of foreign cultures in order to make the points of white women, but I hope they will be taken in the spirit of “the patriarchy is everywhere” instead of “look at those brown people over there doing odd things; isn’t it good we’re not as bad as them.” I would argue that ‘we’ are actually worse, since at least ‘they’ have goddesses. ;) This side note is somewhat amiss, however, for as a polytheist I do have goddesses.

    My central point, however, is that while it is very tempting to point to a religion and say, “Look, feminist!”, the risk taken by doing that is that one has a tendency to not notice how things labeled “feminist” often aren’t.

  141. littleflower
    littleflower October 26, 2007 at 6:04 pm |

    “I have no interest in nor affinity toward any “religion,” because all the religions I know anything about put men at the top of the heap. God, Allah, Krishna, the Buddha — all men. In spite of the b.s. rationale that “but we mean ‘her’ and ’she’, too, when we say ‘Him’ and ‘He’!””

    And when talking about religion, it is important to differentiate between the ones that encourage exclusivism and the ones that don’t. I don’t have a problem with faith, belief, religion..whatever you call it. I do have a problem with religion that claims itself to be the only way to truth and others should convert to it to be saved (Christianity, Islam, mainly and Judaism in a lesser degree). Believe in any ridiculous thing as you like, so long you don’t impose that belief on me and you don’t see me as less human than you and try to fight me, I am fine with that. But if you believe in illogical/unproven things AND feel morally superior to the rest of us, then hell yeah I will point out to you in not such a nice way how annoying and dumb your religion is, how undeserving of respect it is. And please…please, when I say “you” it is a generic “you”, not aimed at anyone here so stop trying to convince me which parts of your religion you take and reject. That part you have to discuss with your priests/clerics and co-religionists. It’s an internal affair as far as I’m concerned. I’m just tired of any effort of obfuscating what a religion actually teaches by saying “I don’t interpret it that way.” Well, good for you, but that’s not the case with the rest of your fellow religionists! It’s your words against theirs. Talk to them and make them change their erroneous ways, not to me! I am just repeating what majority and the learned mainstream think of what their religion teaches.

  142. Angel H.
    Angel H. October 26, 2007 at 6:08 pm |

    And I’d like someone to show me where mainstream feminists–or hey, even mainstream blogger feminists–attack or denigrate someone for being religious.

    This entire thread.

  143. XtinaS
    XtinaS October 26, 2007 at 7:02 pm |

    Angel H.:

    I’m halfway through the thread, and I’ve seen three or four commenters who make sweeping statements about all religion being bad.  Of those, I only recognised one name.  In fact, the bulk of responses seem to be people being supportive of Bint, sharing their experiences, and suggesting (flavours of) religions that might work better.

    I am not nitpicking just in order to nitpick, I’m more wondering how the entirety of that thread supports the “mainstream feminists denigrate religious people” idea.

  144. The Holes In My Parachute, Or Why Gentleman Farmerhood Sometimes Appeals To The Jaded at Faux Real

    […] for the week, has two fantastic posts up that have kicked me in the ass and all over the field. In Intersecting Identities she has basically laid out my lack of interest in blogging and political activism over the last […]

  145. angryyoungwoman
    angryyoungwoman October 26, 2007 at 7:27 pm |

    You know, I was liking the feminist blogs a lot more than the regular liberal blogs because because there seemed to be a bit more religious tolerance. Usually when I say I’m Mormon, I’m attacked outright and told there is no way I can be liberal/feminist/insert-“ist”-here while practicing my religion (some people actually think Mitt Romney represents my religion, I guess), but not as much on feminist blogs.
    I’ve decided the only way to be genuine is not to let the tags define me. I’m not defined by the fact that I am feminist or religious or disabled or poor. I create my own definition for myself and allow these things to be aspects of me. So, though it sometimes bothers me that feminism doesn’t always seem to get the religious disabled poor woman, this doesn’t offend me or alienate me because I am not defined by my characteristics. I’ll go on being what I am no matter what any group says I am or should be.

  146. Natalia
    Natalia October 26, 2007 at 8:23 pm |

    Well, also, Christian doctrine does teach that those of us who do not believe are going to hell. While individual Christians may reject that, I don’t think it’s unreasonable of atheists to point out that such contempt is written into the very religion, or to assume that in the absence of evidence to the contrary, a given Christian believes it.

    Christian doctrine also tells us that no one knows what will truly happen in this world – not even Jesus – only the Holy Spirit (or is it the Father now? – Sorry, am rusty). So any Christian telling anyone else that they’re going to hell is basically being a twit, no more, no less. And I say that as a Christian – a bad one, a wavering one, a reformist one (and that’s a dirty word nowadays, apparently), even *gasp* a femininst one, but a Christian all the same.

  147. kate
    kate October 26, 2007 at 8:39 pm |

    Basically, it’s got nothing to do with people who have children, but with people who don’t.

    I’m quite cognizant of that Zuzu, I guess what I have a hard time with is appreciating the pressure women feel to reproduce, which I can understand. Possibly it is my own sense of disappointment at not having been able to see that I had a choice at a time in my own life. It is also easy to ascribe sneering snideness and recall the ‘not a breeder’ label to mind when reading something online.

  148. angryyoungwoman
    angryyoungwoman October 26, 2007 at 10:33 pm |

    I’m just tired of any effort of obfuscating what a religion actually teaches by saying “I don’t interpret it that way.” Well, good for you, but that’s not the case with the rest of your fellow religionists! It’s your words against theirs. Talk to them and make them change their erroneous ways, not to me! I am just repeating what majority and the learned mainstream think of what their religion teaches.

    I can understand your frustration, littleflower, but the truth is religion (especially religious texts) tends to be very symbolic and thus open to interpretation. Members of religions are allowed and even encouraged (depending on the religion) to interpret things for themselves. Ideology is often individual. Religions may offer a basic pattern of behavior and ethics, but people enforce the guidelines in their lives in different ways and interpret different meanings for different things. Therefore, when people claim, “you are (insert religion here), so you believe (insert belief here),” it becomes frustrating for individuals (remember that religions are made up of individuals–they aren’t just a mass) with varying ideologies and varying degrees of belief. I know it’s frustrating to me when people try to tell me what I believe.

    Also, what you percieve as “mainstream” may not really be mainstream. The people covered in the media are usually just the loudest (or richest) and thus are not mainstream. This is demonstrated in Mormonism when mainstream Mormons are either shown as Mitt Romney (extremely conservative+extremely rich) or Utah Mormons (patriarchal to the extreme, extremely conservative), when the truth is that there are Mormons all over the world (the majority of Mormons) who do not fit into this stereotype.

  149. JenLovesPonies
    JenLovesPonies October 26, 2007 at 10:54 pm |

    Ok, but that’s arguing against a total straw-theist. None of the religious people I know would attribute medical success to God, rather than doctors. They might say that what’s miraculous is the reason that God has given humans, which has allowed us to make such extraordinary medical advances. This question doesn’t prove that religious people are wrong. It proves that some militant atheists have really dopey stereotypes about people of faith.

    Please explain my grandmother’s doctor, who, coming out of her proceedure, said to her waiting family, “Praise Jesus!”. My religious uncle even said, shouldn’t the doctor be taking some credit? For the record, the doctor and Jesus both failed to fix my grandmother. Thanks, Jesus. I have heard religious people praising their god for things that people do, so I don’t quite get where you think theists aren’t thanking their god for every little life success they get.

    That’s not even taking into account how deeply creepy it is to have the sole basis of authority and definition for female deities being their fertility and sexual activity, nor the role of the female as both mother and lover to the male.

    I agree. I enjoy reading about religions of the world, but I have yet to see one with any popularity that didn’t frame their goddesses in terms of their hymen or their babies.

    Well, also, Christian doctrine does teach that those of us who do not believe are going to hell. While individual Christians may reject that, I don’t think it’s unreasonable of atheists to point out that such contempt is written into the very religion, or to assume that in the absence of evidence to the contrary, a given Christian believes it.

    Seconded. I have read the Bible, studied it, and I can’t really see how the god described in NIV Bible could really be the type to save those who don’t do the little bitty believing in Jesus thing. Generally, in my discourse with the religious, it seems that most people who think that everyone (or ‘the good people’ like Ghandi) get to go to Heaven say so because they don’t like the idea that perfectly nice people go to hell according to their text. Any actual text that seems to support this viewpoint has always seemed like weak evidence to me- though I don’t claim to be a scholar, of course.

  150. littleflower
    littleflower October 26, 2007 at 11:31 pm |

    Angryyoungwoman, I understand what you say about varying degrees and stuff but it becomes impossible then to discuss religions as what they actually teach since each person claims his/her interpretation is the most correct one. I don’t think that’s fruitful in any discourse to water down what the subject matter being discussed actually entails. There should be an underlying paradigm for any ideology/religion that the followers can relate to and that separate them from the rest, otherwise why call yourself a member of that religion. And there is no way to discuss any religion if you insist that we have to tackle personal beliefs of every follower. Some kind of generalization needs to be applied, and rightly so for any discussion of any subject matter to be going somewhere. I define mainstream as what the majority believe in as supported by the church/religious authority. Christianity believes, as far as the mainstream is concerned, that Jesus is the only way to salvation. Some Christians might have a more inclusive/tolerant view and doesn’t take this notion wholesale but that doesn’t change the fact that the religious authority feels/thinks that’s the best interpretation for its members to follow. The same thing with Islam. Most Muslims believe unbelievers are on the wrong path and they have to be “righted” by being invited to Islam. Just because a handful of liberal Muslims think that it’s not necessarily so doesn’t change the fact that islam, the way it is preached by its clerics and majority of its followers, is a fundamentally intolerant religion. So don’t scream at us for pointing that out. If you don’t agree with that assertion you have to change the tenet of your religion first and by doing it I mean you have to make your religious leaders/authority agreeing with you.

    And I am not an atheist as such because I don’t lump all religions as one and the same. I believe spirituality is inherently good, though by that I don’t mean institutionalized religion. Non-monotheistic religions are usually tolerant and inclusive, though they may have false beliefs, and I have no problem with that. They don’t tell us that we are inferior because we are not one of them, and if they want respect, I’ll give it to them ’cause they deserve it. Not so with the intolerant monotheistic religions. As I said, they aggresively condescending tenets ask for the kind of criticism/mockery from unbelievers they are having right now.

  151. littleflower
    littleflower October 26, 2007 at 11:40 pm |

    “Please explain my grandmother’s doctor, who, coming out of her proceedure, said to her waiting family, “Praise Jesus!”. My religious uncle even said, shouldn’t the doctor be taking some credit? For the record, the doctor and Jesus both failed to fix my grandmother. Thanks, Jesus. I have heard religious people praising their god for things that people do, so I don’t quite get where you think theists aren’t thanking their god for every little life success they get.”

    This reminds me of a Hindu who converted to Islam and credited Allah and Allah alone for the good things she had in her life (her education, her career) while ignoring the fact that it is her Shiva worshipping parents who worked their ass off to send her to school and give her good upbringing. She should credit Shiva or the Hindu gods for the good life she had, not Allah!! Please…. :)

    Same selective reasoning to confirm one’s own belief.

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  154. angryyoungwoman
    angryyoungwoman October 27, 2007 at 1:33 am |

    There should be an underlying paradigm for any ideology/religion that the followers can relate to and that separate them from the rest, otherwise why call yourself a member of that religion. And there is no way to discuss any religion if you insist that we have to tackle personal beliefs of every follower.

    I did point out that religion offers a basic pattern–some patterns are more complex than others. I take it like this: my brother really likes to knit. When he knits, he follows a pattern and gets just what the pattern said there would be, or he can add his interpretation and knit one purl one (knit two, purl one, whatever) to get something that fits him better. I know this isn’t the greatest analogy, but it’s the only way I can think of it. I’m not saying you have to look at everyone’s ideology, but I am saying that you should look at the original pattern. When people have a problem with a religion, it’s usually not with the actual tenets of that religion, it is with someone’s interpretations of those tenets. Example: I studied Islam in school. I have no problem with Islam, but I do have problems with some of the interpretations of Islam.

    So don’t scream at us for pointing that out. If you don’t agree with that assertion you have to change the tenet of your religion first and by doing it I mean you have to make your religious leaders/authority agreeing with you.

    littleflower, if you believed I was screaming at you, I’m very sorry. I never intended my words to be interpretted that way. I’m only trying to discuss on an intellectual level some of the problems I have found in religious discourse.

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  156. Spotted and Herbacious Backson
    Spotted and Herbacious Backson October 27, 2007 at 8:15 am |

    As a Left Hand Path agnostic, I get it from both sides…
    142 nailed it on how much of Wicca isn’t as feminist or feminist-friendly as claimed. Even the Dianic traditions, free from horny priests, seem to derive one’s worth/holiness from one’s body functions rather than one’s brain and deeds. And why should we keep metaphorically identifying with the moon and earth but not the sun? Ancient stereotypes that need to be uprooted. I reserve the right to identify, seriously or otherwise, with anything I please. Also, I didn’t ditch a cruel and irresponsible god just to turn around and kiss up to an equally cruel and irresponsible goddess. Humanity has a lot of evils to answer for, but we didn’t invent rabies, for instance. –And don’t get me started (again) on the technophobia.
    I consider myself a feminist still, but I won’t right now presume to say who else is or isn’t. I must say, though, that when someone who calls herself a feminist turns right around and blames a fat woman for being fat, something is not right.
    The vindication of fat people, disabled people, introverted people and so on is not the sole responsibility of the feminst movement, capitalized or otherwise, but it is not one that feminists should thwart either. Just sayin’.

  157. littleflower
    littleflower October 27, 2007 at 10:37 am |

    “littleflower, if you believed I was screaming at you, I’m very sorry. I never intended my words to be interpretted that way.”

    No ayw, I didn’t think you screamed at me. Again, I use “you” liberally…not intended to anyone personally here but a generic you. Just my style to hammer points. I am all for intellectual discussions and I think we are doing just that.

  158. Susan
    Susan October 27, 2007 at 11:53 am |

    I am an absolute, complete, raving, radical feminist, and have been since I first realized how much men hate us and that I was just expected to knuckle down and accept second-class citizenship with grace and a sense of humor. I was about 8 years old when that “clicked” (sitting in Mass), and I’m 53 now– so that’s a long, long time. I didn’t call it “feminism” until I knew the word about 5 years later, but I’ve always identified as a feminist and never saw any reason not to.

  159. alsojill
    alsojill October 27, 2007 at 11:58 am |

    Christianity believes, as far as the mainstream is concerned, that Jesus is the only way to salvation

    Actually, no. That is *not* the core belief of Christianity, at least not in the way you’re implying. The core belief of Christianity is that Jesus was the son of God and that he died for our sins. Inasmuch as that idea–that he died for our sins–absolves human sin and “saves” us, yes. You’re right. But I read this as you taking the evangelical argument that you must “accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior” as the core and mainstream belief. Which it’s not. At all.

    And nobody’s asked anyone to shut up about believing in god(s). However, you’re asking that nobody question those beliefs and just accept them uncritically.

    No. When I ask that people of faith be treated respectfully, I am asking you (the general you) to say things like, “How do you reconcile your faith with the patriarchal structures of your religion?” or “Don’t you find it difficult to believe in god(s) in the face of all the suffering in the world?” I am sick of getting questions/comments like, “Anyone who believes in god(s) is ignoring logic,” “All religions (and their followers) are oppressive,” or “You’re naive and uneducated if you think there are god(s) and they care about us.”

    Questioning is great–when it’s phrased as a question and offered up as an opening to dialogue. When it’s phrased as an attack on the rationality, intelligence, or honesty of the other party, it’s not an invitation to dialogue. It’s a subtle way of telling the other person that her voice, at least on this subject, is not welcome here.

    And, for what it’s worth, my comments go both ways. People of faith should be respectful of atheists and agnostics and other faiths, and if they want to open a critical discussion, they should do so with honest questioning, not attack.

  160. Courtney
    Courtney October 27, 2007 at 12:46 pm |

    Jill said: “No. When I ask that people of faith be treated respectfully, I am asking you (the general you) to say things like, “How do you reconcile your faith with the patriarchal structures of your religion?” or “Don’t you find it difficult to believe in god(s) in the face of all the suffering in the world?” I am sick of getting questions/comments like, “Anyone who believes in god(s) is ignoring logic,” “All religions (and their followers) are oppressive,” or “You’re naive and uneducated if you think there are god(s) and they care about us.””

    If you could point out where anyone on this thread of comments said any of those things, I would be obliged. You may be talking about the atheist conversation in general, but you have to remember it’s much less unifying even than the fractured religious conversation, mainly because a lack of a belief in something really doesn’t mean you’ll agree on anything else. Not phrasing every critique on religion is not necessarily an attack. I said that religions (and I mean the major three monotheisms, since they sort of dominate the Western world) elevate faith and vilify reason in their books and in the media; I find that dangerous. If you disagree, feel free, but don’t take it as a personal attack.

    Jill also said: “Questioning is great–when it’s phrased as a question and offered up as an opening to dialogue. When it’s phrased as an attack on the rationality, intelligence, or honesty of the other party, it’s not an invitation to dialogue. It’s a subtle way of telling the other person that her voice, at least on this subject, is not welcome here.”

    Like this? “b/c not believing in God makes no sense to me” That’s not exactly opening up a dialogue. At the same time, I’ve grown quite a thick skin being an atheist, so that’s probably why I didn’t get offended.

  161. alsojill
    alsojill October 27, 2007 at 1:26 pm |

    Sure thing, Courtney.

    #5: Sirkowski says, “Religion is passed to the offsprings by the mother. Thus religion needs to control women in order to survive. So religion might not be necessarily patriacal, but it will always control women more than it does man.”

    #12: You said, But, honestly, that is not what most folks who say religion is harmful really think is the harmful part of religion. It’s simply the idea that one must accept a belief in the supernatural with no evidence. It’s the idea that “faith” is elevated and logic is criticized. That’s dangerous, and much more so than any patriarchal structure outlined in the Bible. If feminism turned into a faith-based movement, even one that tolerated all faiths as wonderful, I would no longer be able to identify with it.

    There, you have explicitly stated that logic is incompatible with religion (never mind that some of the important Western thinkers of the Enlightenment were themselves of a religious persuasion) AND that feminism should exclude faith as a positive expression.

    Similarly, in #102, you said, I personally think that vilifying logic and elevating faith (which, for the majority of religions and believers, is what is done) is dangerous, and not something that should be encouraged in feminist discourse.

    Again, you are claiming that the majority of people of faith reject logic above belief, which, for someone who claims to have been a former believer, is a particularly absurd statement. Outside of the radically conservative evangelical churches, no Christian I know rejects logic. In fact, logic is a fundamental part of their faith.

    At #109, kate said, “BUT…when one chooses to affiliate with an practice or institution that has a deep grounding (and not all religion does) in an oppression one supposedly wishes to see end, then certainly an amount of strange rationalization or blindness has to occur.”

    Here, she assumes that those of us who do ally with a religion (which, like most institutional structures in the world, has a strong patriarchal background) do not engage in critical examination. She might as well argue that my choice to go into academia requires willful blindness or strange rationalization, b/c it was traditionally a society constructed on the belief that women were intellectually and physically inferior.

    littleflower’s entire comments at #128 and #132 are probably the best examples in the whole thread. She said, “it’s funny and most ironic when monotheists are the loudest when demanding absolute respect from others, oblivious (or pretending to be oblivious?) to the fact that the very tenet of their faith is outright contempt and extreme disrespect of unbelievers … Until you discard this belief and condemn it as bigotry then you have no rights to tell us to stop criticizing how wrong that kind of belief is! There is no way around it.”

    Similarly, she says, “…it’s not you personally, it is your faith which is problematic and defies logic at the very core to begin with.”

    For littleflower, monotheism = bigotry, no matter HOW you construct your faith. If you are a monotheist, in littleflower’s view, you can never be anything but oppressive or bigoted. If you can’t see this comment as opposed to constructive and honest dialogue, then I’m probably wasting my time here. (Actually, I probably am anyway, but I don’t care.)

    Not to keep harping on her (though I am still angry with her), in #143, littleflower continues, “But if you believe in illogical/unproven things AND feel morally superior to the rest of us, then hell yeah I will point out to you in not such a nice way how annoying and dumb your religion is, how undeserving of respect it is,” which is great, b/c not one person here claimed moral superiority. At least, not on the faith side of things…

    Finally, *I* was the one who said “not believing in God makes no sense,” but you misquoted me. Here’s what I said: not believing in God makes no sense to me, but I can see why people feel that believing in any god makes no sense. I think it was a badly phrased sentence. Here’s what I meant: In my life, I have thought about why I believe in God. In the end, I never saw a way not to. My worldview does not permit the belief that there is not a higher power. However, I can see, especially given all of the suffering and horror in the world, why people don’t believe in God.

    Stop misquoting me and feeling all oppressed because of it, k?

    Hope this (extremely lengthy) comment clears up your confusion.

  162. Vanessa
    Vanessa October 27, 2007 at 3:00 pm |

    Here, she assumes that those of us who do ally with a religion (which, like most institutional structures in the world, has a strong patriarchal background) do not engage in critical examination.

    Yes, exactly, this is the whole problem.

    And you can substitute whatever contentious behavior with religious faith. The assumption that someone is religious (or wears heels, or is a stay-at-home mother…or is an atheist for that matter) because they just simply haven’t thought about it enough is insulting and self-righteous.

    I try to give people the benefit of the doubt that they’ve engaged in critical examination of their lives, especially if they’re feminists, unless they’re engaging in some serious evidence that they haven’t. And for me, doing things differently than me isn’t evidence enough that they haven’t.

  163. zuzu
    zuzu October 27, 2007 at 3:30 pm |

    There, you have explicitly stated that logic is incompatible with religion (never mind that some of the important Western thinkers of the Enlightenment were themselves of a religious persuasion) AND that feminism should exclude faith as a positive expression.

    Actually, a lot of the Enlightenment thinkers were Deists who believed in a Creator but weren’t especially religious as most people think of today.

    And at some point, religion *is* incompatible with logic, which is what Courtney is saying. Because there are certain things that have to be accepted on faith, and on faith alone. The divinity of Christ, for example. The existence of God. The special status of the Israelites. That this ancient text or the other is the True Word of God (and that all those other ancient texts that say they’re the True Word of God are false). That this obscure verse or another, which contradicts other verses elsewhere in the ancient text, is the justification for opposing abortion, or for the second-class status of women or gays.

    Pointing out that religion is incompatible with logic when a lot of the answers to the hard questions in religion are answerable only by a flat assertion of faith or reference to an ancient text that has been mistranslated, contradicts itself, is not supported by contemporaneous accounts and claims to be the direct word of God is not “attacking” religion, or being “disrespectful.”

    Also, I find your insistence that faith in Jesus is not central to Christianity mind-boggling. There are certainly disagreements as to whether faith alone is enough, or whether faith plus works are the way to salvation, but faith that Jesus was the son of God is pretty much the only way that you’re considered even eligible for salvation. And if you’re not eligible for salvation because you don’t believe in Jesus, or in God, or you belong to some other religion, you’re pretty much going to hell.

    Another question I have: if feminism is supposed to address matters of faith, whose faith? Which religion? Which version of the Ten Commandments?

    It’s one thing to talk about how your own faith informs your feminism, but to take the absence of such discussion on mainstream feminist blogs as some kind of sign of outright hostility to religion and an effort to shut up or sneer at the religious is kind of overreaching. Even on, say, Pandagon, there are plenty of people talking about their own faith in comments.

  164. littleflower
    littleflower October 27, 2007 at 3:55 pm |

    Alsojil, unfortunately being surrounded by monotheists all my life I can’t help feeling that they feel morally superior to the rest of us while they can’t defend their religions intellectually (the examples being: why unbelievers should go to hell, who creates God if everything needs creators to exist, the contradictory notion of predestination and God’s will, etc…). Sure there are always followers who interpret things differently like you which kudos to you all, but again I can’t talk about specific people. In any discussion you can’t help but always going in generalization. Generally, monotheists are like that. They feel they have found God, they feel only God can make them so happy blah..blah, other people can’t be at peace because they don’t worship the same God hence they need to convert to experience what they experience, and so on, etc… But when these claims are put under scrutiny they are falling apart and the owners of such claims can’t help but feeling violated because their most sacred beliefs are being questioned. Religion is very personal, sure people get upset when their sacred belief being viewed less that what they feel it should be viewed, but then again if you feel free to flaunt your faith to others and tell others to convert, you should be prepared of it being ridiculed. It happens like that all the time, but as I said the progressive rationalists of every religion shouldn’t feel the criticism directed at them personally. Your co-religionists, unfortunately, still rule the mainstream beliefs and they are the one who need some “wake-up” calls.

    No monotheist will say worshipping Wishnu or Krisna or Buddha is okay, but Hindus, generally, will tell you: it doesn’t matter which god(s) you are worshipping, as long as you are good in your conduct and respectful of other people’s rights to worship then it’s okay because all paths are basically leading to the same goal. Hindus will even worship your God (some of them do worship Jesus or Buddha). Is that a generality? Yes. So when we are discussing Hinduism, we can’t help getting into the stereotype of pluralism and tolerance because they are like that for the most part! And Hinduism doesn’t claim the sole truth that anyone should convert to it to be saved. It’s just an example.

    It’s not about being illogical that I frown upon about monotheism. it is the intolerance (and yes I put illogical in the statements to emphasize how intolerant some people who actually can’t intellectually defend their belief can be). It’s probably not more illogical than the Hindu gods/mythology, but since Hinduism doesn’t make it their mission to convert the world, I really have no interest in criticizing it. Not so with monotheism, however you the liberal would like to present/interpret it (again this is something you have to discuss with your priests and co-religionists). The core of the belief is still intolerance of other belief systems.

  165. littleflower
    littleflower October 27, 2007 at 4:11 pm |

    “For littleflower, monotheism = bigotry, no matter HOW you construct your faith. If you are a monotheist, in littleflower’s view, you can never be anything but oppressive or bigoted. If you can’t see this comment as opposed to constructive and honest dialogue, then I’m probably wasting my time here. (Actually, I probably am anyway, but I don’t care.)”

    Not so hasty in your conclusion, please. If you read me carefully, many times I said that there are people in every monotheistic religion which interpret their faith a little more inclusive/differently. Is monotheism bigorty, yes to me but the followers might not be. I think you miss my point entirely, the whole posts I made began with a disbelief how much and how loud monotheists demand respect from others oblivious to the fact that the very core of their belief implies directly or indirectly outright contempt of others. Sure you dispute that, but that’s the general consensus from the followers of monotheistic religions that their faith is the only true path, everything else is corrupted.

    “Also, I find your insistence that faith in Jesus is not central to Christianity mind-boggling. There are certainly disagreements as to whether faith alone is enough, or whether faith plus works are the way to salvation, but faith that Jesus was the son of God is pretty much the only way that you’re considered even eligible for salvation. And if you’re not eligible for salvation because you don’t believe in Jesus, or in God, or you belong to some other religion, you’re pretty much going to hell.”

    I agree with this. Personal beliefs of some Christians are not really the reality of what Christianity is all about. Same way with Islam. I am pretty much done discussing this with “heretics/liberals” of monotheistic religions because they basically just dismiss wholesale the current and most dominant consensus among the learned and majority of followers of what their religion is all about. It’s going nowhere. It’s never like “I see your point but…” but it’s always “No you are wrong, you don’t know Christianity/Islam teaches.” It doesn’t matter that I present authorities of those religions, as long as they don’t go along with their personal beliefs than they are not real Christians/Muslims.

  166. alsojill
    alsojill October 27, 2007 at 4:28 pm |

    No monotheist will say worshipping Wishnu or Krisna or Buddha is okay

    I will, but I don’t fit into your schema.

    I believe in a single God, but I also believe that nearly every expression of the divine (I say nearly, b/c I think I might exclude Devil-worship, if there is such a thing) is in fact an expression of a single divine presence. For me, that’s Christ/God/whatever. But I don’t believe a Hindu or a Wiccan worships a different divine presence. I believe we all have a different name and construct for our divine presence. That’s it. (Some Hindus are monotheists, by the way. For some, the gods of Hinduism are multiple faces of the same presence.) In other words, for me, God is too big to be encompassed by our small ways of understanding him/her/it.

    (And also, who worships Buddha? No one. Buddha =/= a god figure, at least not in Buddhism.)

    Fine, zuzu. I concede that, from your perspective, religion is to some extent incompatible with logic, but it does not mean that its practioners are not logical beings or have considered the logical implications of their arguments. Yes, the Enlightenment thinkers were Deists–that is itself illogical–but Deism, by acknowledging a divine presence of some sort, does, in my book, fall under “of a religious persuasion.”

    You know why it bothers me to hear atheists say that faith is illogical? B/c, in our culture, which values logic highly as an expression of intelligence, it implies that believers are less evolved or less intelligent, by dint of their valuing other structures over pure logic. You know what else is illogical? Intuition. Love. All of these things that have no empirical basis and cause people to do things that seem indefensible.

    find your insistence that faith in Jesus is not central to Christianity mind-boggling

    I didn’t say that. I said this:

    The core belief of Christianity is that Jesus was the son of God and that he died for our sins. Inasmuch as that idea–that he died for our sins–absolves human sin and “saves” us, yes. You’re right. But I read this as you taking the evangelical argument that you must “accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior” as the core and mainstream belief. Which it’s not. At all.

    Belief in Jesus is central and foundational to Christianity. I was taking issue with the way another person phrased her statement, b/c I think it’s rather more complicated than that. But I will concede that at one level, Christianity, like Islam and Judaism, can be exclusionary. I will NOT concede that that fact makes its followers automatically smug, morally superior, or bigoted.

    It’s one thing to talk about how your own faith informs your feminism, but to take the absence of such discussion on mainstream feminist blogs as some kind of sign of outright hostility to religion and an effort to shut up or sneer at the religious is kind of overreaching.

    I. Did. Not. Say. That. What the hell? My comments have been an attempt to show that there is hostility here–not in the silence, but in the angry responses. (Though there have been a number of great responses–EG, for example, seems open to honest dialogue.) The absence of discussion is not the problem except inasmuch as it seems to be the result of silencing. The fact that when some feminists try to talk about faith as part of their feminism, they are then accused of complicity with patriarchy, or accused of bigotry–THAT is hostile and it is silencing. It is hostile that those of who have faith are not encouraged to talk about it, b/c it seems like every time we do it turns into a defense of our faiths against those who think that faith is incompatible. And when you have people in this very thread saying that feminism would no longer work for them if it became tolerant of expressions of faith, that seems to me to be a fairly exclusionary and hostile statement. (Though perhaps all that Courtney meant was the first part–if feminism became “faith-based,” which is not at all the same thing as the second part of her statement–“even one that tolerated all faiths as wonderful.”)

    Vanessa–you’re saying everything I want to say in a much more concise manner. I think faith issues are exactly like issues of beauty standards, pregnancy, etc. If we make choices that, from the outside, appear to comply with patriarchy, we’re accused of not being mindful or self-examining. And that IS hostility.

  167. littleflower
    littleflower October 27, 2007 at 4:30 pm |

    “Not to keep harping on her (though I am still angry with her), in #143, littleflower continues, “But if you believe in illogical/unproven things AND feel morally superior to the rest of us, then hell yeah I will point out to you in not such a nice way how annoying and dumb your religion is, how undeserving of respect it is,” which is great, b/c not one person here claimed moral superiority. At least, not on the faith side of things…”

    Again, your anger is unnecessary ’cause it’s not directed at you personally. Read me again please, I use “you” as a generic you to hammer points. I didn’t even know you posted/existed till you screamed anger at me! I was just thinking outside the box of how I felt about this “respect” business monotheists so readily demand of others (whereever I go on the net, they feel it’s okay to preach that their religion is the only truth but get very think-skinned when their claims are being critically scrutinized. I just see it most ironic.) I don’t see Taoists or Buddhist scream at the top of their lungs: please respect my religions, assholes! :)

  168. alsojill
    alsojill October 27, 2007 at 4:36 pm |

    littleflower, you’re done, I know, fine, whatever, but…

    You said this:

    Until you discard this belief and condemn it as bigotry then you have no rights to tell us to stop criticizing how wrong that kind of belief is! There is no way around it.”

    And now you say that there’s no point talking about faith with liberal believers WHO HAVE DONE EXACTLY WHAT YOU SAID, because we don’t represent our faiths as a whole. So…we can’t demand respect, despite having discarded bigoted beliefs, b/c we still subscribe to some of those beliefs. Got it. Awesome.

  169. littleflower
    littleflower October 27, 2007 at 4:46 pm |

    Alsojil, you got my respect if you don’t subscribe to that exclusive belief. You as a person. And it’s great of you that you don’t. Nobody should. But the religions, until I see the religious authorities say it enough time, say it with kindness and sincerety that everyone can be saved despite their beliefs so long their actions are virtuous, I don’t think they deserve any respect and I encourage others to keep reminding them of that fact. Respect is earned. It’s a two-way street. Don’t expect me to respect you when you tell me I am going to burn in hell for eternity for nothing. (again, it’s a generic “you”)

  170. EG
    EG October 27, 2007 at 4:53 pm |

    Alsojill, I don’t think it’s that there’s “no point in talking with you.” It’s more that while I’m always pleased to hear that decent Christians don’t condemn me and think I’m going to hell, there’s no way around the fact that mainstream Christian thought, as supported by its religious texts, has thought that I am for most of its history. Which means that I don’t think it’s unreasonable of me to say “Christians and Christianity condemn me to hell.” If you don’t, that’s great, but saying that my talking about the dominant belief of Christianity in general is dismissing your opinions misses the point. It’s sort of like a man coming into a feminist discussion and saying “How dare you say that men feel entitled to women’s bodies! I’m a man, and I don’t feel entitled!” I mean, great, but if you’re the exception, then clearly we don’t mean you, do we? It doesn’t really change the overarching dominant cultural dynamic of either patriarchy or Christianity until and unless your brand of followers reaches critical mass, an eventuality I deeply hope occurs.

  171. Vanessa
    Vanessa October 27, 2007 at 5:31 pm |

    If we make choices that, from the outside, appear to comply with patriarchy, we’re accused of not being mindful or self-examining.

    Or, constantly reminded with the problems of Christian belief, or the fashion industry, or the pressure on women to marry and procreate, or veiling, or whatever, as though we weren’t aware of it.

  172. zuzu
    zuzu October 27, 2007 at 5:35 pm |

    You know why it bothers me to hear atheists say that faith is illogical? B/c, in our culture, which values logic highly as an expression of intelligence, it implies that believers are less evolved or less intelligent, by dint of their valuing other structures over pure logic. You know what else is illogical? Intuition. Love. All of these things that have no empirical basis and cause people to do things that seem indefensible.

    But faith *is* illogical, as are intuition and love. So what? Faith cannot be defended by reason. It’s just impossible, because it doesn’t follow rules of logic or reason, and its assertions are not falsifiable. Saying that is *not* saying that religious people are stupid or less evolved. If you’re hearing that, then you’re reading far too much into the simple word “logic.”

    The absence of discussion is not the problem except inasmuch as it seems to be the result of silencing. The fact that when some feminists try to talk about faith as part of their feminism, they are then accused of complicity with patriarchy, or accused of bigotry–THAT is hostile and it is silencing. It is hostile that those of who have faith are not encouraged to talk about it, b/c it seems like every time we do it turns into a defense of our faiths against those who think that faith is incompatible.

    I’d be really interested in seeing some concrete examples of what you’re talking about here, because from the get-go on this thread, there have been a lot of accusations about how intolerant and hostile feminism (and mainstream feminist blogs) are to expressions of faith, but with precious few examples. Moreover, when asked for examples of atheist intolerance, Daisy (as example) came up with Stalin, Dawkins and Hitchens. When I objected to that, you told me I was being defensive and disingenuous. Talk about silencing! And now you object to people raising Christian dogma as an indication of intolerance shown toward the non-faithful because you don’t personally accept all those tenets. I mean, I have to be held to agree with everything about Stalin, Dawkins and Hitchens, but you can sidestep a rather well-established part of Christian teaching?

    And I have to wonder about the kind of expressions of faith you mean. It’s very easy for expressions of faith to cross the line into proselytizing.

  173. Deoridhe
    Deoridhe October 27, 2007 at 5:43 pm |

    Littleflower: No monotheist will say worshipping Wishnu or Krisna or Buddha is okay, but Hindus, generally, will tell you: it doesn’t matter which god(s) you are worshipping, as long as you are good in your conduct and respectful of other people’s rights to worship then it’s okay because all paths are basically leading to the same goal.

    Actually, I have had several monotheists say exactly that to me. The more condescending ones tended to dwell on the “I believe your gods are just aspects of mine,” but the most generous – a Mormon, btw – simply went with her faith in YHWH valuing those who do good and are good, moral, loving, generous people.

    And Buddhists tend not to worship Buddha.

    In my experience, people tend to focus on the individuals who fit their theory for how they should get along with people with different labels than themselves. This becomes critically important in a case like this, where people who have felt different and excluded from a movement try to speak up about it.

    In other words, I don’t find it difficult to believe that both atheists and religious people feel excluded by Feminism; they are hearing different people tell them they should change.

    This brings us back, I think, to what is the fundamental challenge for feminism – we need to embrace a worldview of “yes and,” more than “yes, but”. That means not just tolerating differences, but seeking them out, finding the common chords, and embracing those. That means opening up awareness and floor space to people not traditionally included. That means shifting how one determines who should have a say and who should not, because the violent rejection of others is one of the tools of the patriarchy – and I for one want nothing to do with it.

  174. EG
    EG October 27, 2007 at 5:48 pm |

    Or, constantly reminded with the problems of Christian belief, or the fashion industry, or the pressure on women to marry and procreate, or veiling, or whatever, as though we weren’t aware of it.

    But isn’t that part of what we do on feminist blogs? We continually re-examine, critique, and think about the patriarchal social pressures we are subjected to. I’ve been involved in discussions on childbirth, on high heels, on fgm, on wedding dresses wherein all parties become heated and trade analyses, sometimes in hostile manners, sometimes not. I just don’t think religious believe should be set off as something we can’t or shouldn’t do this about.

  175. Vanessa
    Vanessa October 27, 2007 at 5:48 pm |

    What Deoridhe said.

  176. Vanessa
    Vanessa October 27, 2007 at 6:01 pm |

    But isn’t that part of what we do on feminist blogs? We continually re-examine, critique, and think about the patriarchal social pressures we are subjected to.

    Ah, here I think we’re getting to the problem.

    We (and who is the we, here, btw) continually re-examine the behaviors of *some* people. Childbirth, but not the childless. Wedding dresses, but not those who choose to remain single. BDSM, but not “vanilla.”

    Usually those doing the “examining” are those who are not participating in the behavior being examined. And usually the examined behavior is seen as somehow ceeding to the patriarchy, as though wearing heels or getting married or having a kid somehow gets you a “get out of patriarchy free” pass.

  177. EG
    EG October 27, 2007 at 6:03 pm |

    Oh, I disagree. That hasn’t been my experience at all. In my experience, on feminist blogs such as this one or feministing, these topics are usually being examined by women who are participating in them: mothers, married people, high-heel wearers, etc. Further, I have indeed been involved in posts that examine the dynamics of not having or wanting children, not getting married or wanting to, and BDSM, and those are being discussed by the women participating in them.

    My experience couldn’t be more different than what you say.

  178. Vanessa
    Vanessa October 27, 2007 at 6:09 pm |

    feminist blogs such as this one or feministing

    Which are not the only two blogs in the feminist blogosphere. (But Feministe is one in which this pretty much never happens, which is why I continue to read, comment on, and write for it!)

    I mean…it’s like you’re saying, “Well, I never do that, so it can’t be happening!”

    Do you really think people are making up their feelings of alienation? Why do you think so many people are feeling this way?

  179. EG
    EG October 27, 2007 at 6:16 pm |

    No, it’s not like I’m saying that. What I said was, my experience is radically different from yours. I didn’t say “You’re wrong, that’s not happening.” I’m saying that on two of the blogs I regularly visit, two of the most prominent and popular blogs in the feminist on-line community, I don’t see that happening.

    Really, Vanessa, the mere assertion that my experience is different is tantamount to saying that you’re making your experience up? If that’s your attitude, I can see why you feel the mere expression of unbelief by atheists is equivalent to rejecting religious people, but I can’t say I sympathize with you about it.

    Of course I don’t think people are making up their feelings of alienation. But nor do I think said feelings of alienation are necessarily always reflective of ironclad truth. As an example, I’ve heard women with children say that they feel alienated from feminism because in their experience, feminism is hostile to mothers and children and their concerns. I’ve also heard women who neither have nor want children say that they feel alienated from feminism because feminists are too focused on the needs of mothers. Do I think either group is making up their feelings? No. Do I think either group is delusional? No. Do I think that each group is highlighting different experiences to the exclusion of the whole picture? Probably.

  180. Vanessa
    Vanessa October 27, 2007 at 6:27 pm |

    No, it’s not like I’m saying that. What I said was, my experience is radically different from yours. I didn’t say “You’re wrong, that’s not happening.” I’m saying that on two of the blogs I regularly visit, two of the most prominent and popular blogs in the feminist on-line community, I don’t see that happening.

    Well, then I misinterpreted you. But you did start your post with “I disagree.” Not with “I’ve had a different experience.”

    Really, Vanessa, the mere assertion that my experience is different is tantamount to saying that you’re making your experience up? If that’s your attitude, I can see why you feel the mere expression of unbelief by atheists is equivalent to rejecting religious people, but I can’t say I sympathize with you about it.

    Relax. I misinterpreted you. And I don’t think the mere expression of disbelief is a rejection of religious people. (Please, tell me where i said that.) I think using terms like “Skyfairy” and constantly bringing up the oppressive nature of Christianity in a thread that was supposed to be about why some people feel alienated by feminisim might be part of said problem.

    I’m an atheist. I often feel alienated by feminism by the assertion that my “yoni” is some sort of sacred space and that I’m a member of the holy sisterhood of the tribe that bleeds, or something. But i don’t (think) I’ve ever used the term “skyfairy” and I understand that people get annoyed when they’re called to analyze beliefs as though they’ve never considered doing so.

    Because when people use terms like “sparklepony” and insist that I only dress the way I do because I haven’t thought about the patriarchal ramifications enough, I get annoyed.

  181. Vanessa
    Vanessa October 27, 2007 at 6:32 pm |

    I think using terms like “Skyfairy” and constantly bringing up the oppressive nature of Christianity in a thread that was supposed to be about why some people feel alienated by feminisim might be part of said problem.

    Let me clarify, that way badly worded on my part. I think using terms like “skyfairy” in general is part of the problem, because no one on this thread said that.

  182. EG
    EG October 27, 2007 at 6:33 pm |

    Yeah, I said “I disagree” followed by about two or three references to “my experience.” C’mon. You misinterpreted, fine. It happens. But don’t blame my phrasing.

  183. Vanessa
    Vanessa October 27, 2007 at 6:46 pm |

    Also, here:

    Do I think either group is delusional? No. Do I think that each group is highlighting different experiences to the exclusion of the whole picture? Probably.

    I kind of think we agree.

    The solution isn’t to *not* highlight the differences and *only* look at the whole picture (not saying that you said that, just using your comment as a jumping off point). I don’t think everyone should ignore differences in order to gain allies, but that they should *accept* differences in order to gain allies. Because we’re all (or at least, most of us) fighting the same battle.

  184. littleflower
    littleflower October 27, 2007 at 7:50 pm |

    “I will, but I don’t fit into your schema.”

    Well, you are then perhaps an exception rather than the norm.

    “(And also, who worships Buddha? No one. Buddha =/= a god figure, at least not in Buddhism.)”\

    Well you are mistaken, though Buddhism isn’t about worship more traditional Buddhists (China, Thailand) do worship and pray to him the way Christians pray to God. They are misled probably, but then again everybody is free to believe in whatever works for them. But then again, that’s beside the point. I am merely pointing out that other people have their own deities, which you have no issue of so then again it’s not about you.

    ?Fine, zuzu. I concede that, from your perspective, religion is to some extent incompatible with logic, but it does not mean that its practioners are not logical beings or have considered the logical implications of their arguments.”

    I don’t think anybody implies that. I think you are too much on the defensive, try to relax a bit :)

    “You know why it bothers me to hear atheists say that faith is illogical? B/c, in our culture, which values logic highly as an expression of intelligence, it implies that believers are less evolved or less intelligent, by dint of their valuing other structures over pure logic.”

    Again, nobody implied that. That they often can’t defend their faith logically, yes but does it mean believers are less intelligent? Not necessarily. That depends on how literal his understanding of his religion is. Can he go deeper than what the holy book says on the surface? Does he understand metaphors? You obviously are not a literalist, hence your intelligence is prolly over those fundies. Belief anyway speaks more about the believers than the belief itself, if you know what I mean. It is where your psychological profile fits. It works for you, not necessarily so for others. Hence, I’m not hostile to belief per se but intolerant belief.

    “I will NOT concede that that fact makes its followers automatically smug, morally superior, or bigoted.”

    Again, nobody said so. You keep refuting things you read into what people actually say. I didn’t say AUTOMATICALLY, but for the most part, GENERALLY, yes.

  185. littleflower
    littleflower October 27, 2007 at 7:57 pm |

    Another thing is certain Hindus consider Buddha as the incarnation of Vishnu so yes they worship him.

  186. alsojill
    alsojill October 27, 2007 at 8:00 pm |

    Moreover, when asked for examples of atheist intolerance, Daisy (as example) came up with Stalin, Dawkins and Hitchens

    I’m sorry, why is this part of the silencing/hostility to atheists? Seriously, I don’t understand. I mean, I understand why you feel including Stalin on that list is a problem, but, to be fair, Daisy was answering a question–someone asked for an example of a “fundamentalist”/militant atheist, and so she gave them one. Suddenly, all atheists are being compared to Stalin?

    Hitchens and Dawkins ARE atheists who are hostile towards expressions of faith. Why does it bother you that they are atheists?I don’t think you are like that, or that any of the atheists on this thread are necessarily like that. I am well aware that by being religious, I’m aligned with a bunch of nutbags in people’s minds, but I don’t get all up in arms b/c someone points out that Andrew Jackson or the Spanish Inquisitors were Christians.

    I can certainly come up with more examples of intolerant Christians (or Muslims or Hindus or Jews), but that’s largely b/c there are more people who are religious than are not. We’ve already established that you’re a non-dominant group. I do not GET why you are so upset about the examples of atheist intolerance.

    I stand by my disingenuous comment. I’m sorry if that offends you, but it’s like you refuse to see why we might have a legitimate gripe here, and you refuse to see that the original intention of using Stalin as an example was not to say that atheists = Stalin, but to show that Stalin is an EXAMPLE of a bad kind of atheist to have around. Shall I put into a logical proposition? Stalin was an atheist. Stalin was evil. Therefore all atheists are evil? Logical fallacy. Does not work. Was not what Daisy was saying (though I agree that she did go too far in trying to conflate socialism and religion).

    Maybe we should turn it around. If you don’t want atheists to get a bad rap, make all atheists align with your morality. That’s the basic suggestion to people of faith. Perhaps it should go both ways? (Yes, I’m being sarcastic here. I don’t actually hold anyone accountable for the actions of the global group to which they might belong, obviously.)

    If you want examples of how we see intolerance happening, see my response to Courtney at #163. The thread began because La Lubu listed spirituality/faith as one of the things she finds excluded from feminism. Many women of faith agreed that they felt excluded/marginalized there. And suddenly there’s a pile-on of atheists telling us that we are NOT excluded…don’t you see the problem? You’re not in our position. How do you know how we feel?

  187. Courtney
    Courtney October 27, 2007 at 8:07 pm |

    Jill said: “And when you have people in this very thread saying that feminism would no longer work for them if it became tolerant of expressions of faith, that seems to me to be a fairly exclusionary and hostile statement. (Though perhaps all that Courtney meant was the first part–if feminism became “faith-based,” which is not at all the same thing as the second part of her statement–”even one that tolerated all faiths as wonderful.”)”

    What I meant by that is that feminism should be tolerant of both faiths of all kinds and atheism. The only way to do that is to not endorse either, because atheism is a direct rejection (most of the time) to faith, to making decisions or having beliefs based on irrational grounds. Sure, love isn’t logical, but when I become jealous, I find it much more effective to analyze the situation from a logical standpoint then to fly off the handle because I’m in love. The same for intuition; if I reexamine the situation and see no real reason to trust my intuition, I don’t. If feminism were to elevate faith as this wonderful thing, I would feel my voice didn’t matter. When I read what you (plural) are writing, I feel you are much more talking about the atheist conversation than the feminist, because, to be honest, the religious voice, the faith voice, is not welcome in the atheist conversation. I don’t see that happening in the feminist conversation.

    Feminism has much different goals than the current popular atheist momentum, and that is why it is important to ally with whomever agrees on relevant grounds in feminism. In that atheist momentum, the relevant grounds are divided on the lines of religion and non-religion; this is why many popular atheist voices (including Dawkins and Harris, etc.) do not care that they are excluding moderate or liberal Christians. In feminism, this is certainly not the case.

  188. alsojill
    alsojill October 27, 2007 at 8:07 pm |

    Another thing is certain Hindus consider Buddha as the incarnation of Vishnu so yes they worship him.

    Cool. I didn’t know that. littleflower, I might have been unduly harsh, but even if your “you” isn’t directed at me personally, coming in the context it did, it seemed to be an attack on those of us who expressed faith positions here. I see what you were trying to say, and I apologize for “screaming” at you. Which I kind of totally did.

    whereever I go on the net, they feel it’s okay to preach that their religion is the only truth but get very think-skinned when their claims are being critically scrutinized

    Which is kind of assholish on their part. Evangelists annoy me (despite my perverse love of religious tracts, which I collect with glee for the purposes of mockery later).

    zuzu asked what I mean by “expressions of faith,” and I think that relates here. I believe that there is room in feminism for talking about how one’s experience as a [insert faith here] empowers one as a woman and a feminist. I do not think, however, feminism needs to make room for proselytizing. Religious conversion has no place in feminism, except as it is related to the larger question of empowerment. And replace “feminism” with liberalism or whatever political/social movement you wish, and there you have my position.

  189. zuzu
    zuzu October 27, 2007 at 8:33 pm |

    Moreover, when asked for examples of atheist intolerance, Daisy (as example) came up with Stalin, Dawkins and Hitchens

    I’m sorry, why is this part of the silencing/hostility to atheists? Seriously, I don’t understand. I mean, I understand why you feel including Stalin on that list is a problem, but, to be fair, Daisy was answering a question–someone asked for an example of a “fundamentalist”/militant atheist, and so she gave them one. Suddenly, all atheists are being compared to Stalin?

    Check her comments in the 60s and 70s here — she was conflating atheism and Marxism/Stalinism. I dunno, I tend to think dismissing atheists as followers of Uncle Joe (and, by implication, a supporter of gulags and mass murder and suppression of dissent) is meant to silence them.

    Hitchens and Dawkins ARE atheists who are hostile towards expressions of faith. Why does it bother you that they are atheists?I don’t think you are like that, or that any of the atheists on this thread are necessarily like that.

    It doesn’t bother me at all that they’re atheists. What bothers me is that they (and Stalin, and Mao, and Pol Pot) were invoked in response to a request for examples of hostility to religion on feminist blogs or within feminism. Which, come on. There’s some kind of Godwin’s violation there.

    I am well aware that by being religious, I’m aligned with a bunch of nutbags in people’s minds, but I don’t get all up in arms b/c someone points out that Andrew Jackson or the Spanish Inquisitors were Christians.

    And yet you’ve gotten very riled up on this thread when several people have pointed out that Christian doctrine is profoundly intolerant of non-believers, even if individual Christians personally reject such doctrine.

    But I guess I’m still puzzled about why you’d say I was “defensive and disingenuous” because I objected to Daisy going OMG STALIN!! And yet, you’re continuing to insist that atheists who say that faith isn’t logical are really saying that you’re not intelligent.

  190. angryyoungwoman
    angryyoungwoman October 27, 2007 at 8:38 pm |

    This brings us back, I think, to what is the fundamental challenge for feminism – we need to embrace a worldview of “yes and,” more than “yes, but”. That means not just tolerating differences, but seeking them out, finding the common chords, and embracing those. That means opening up awareness and floor space to people not traditionally included. That means shifting how one determines who should have a say and who should not, because the violent rejection of others is one of the tools of the patriarchy – and I for one want nothing to do with it.

    That was very well put, and that really expresses how I feel not just about feminism but about life in general. We should appreciate and enjoy each other’s differences, not just tolerate them.

    I do have to say that there are times on blogs when offensive things are said not just about Christianity, but about my faith in particular–and it is alienating. This happens more often in the comments than in the posts, but I’ve seen things even in posts that are disturbing. For an example of how these things happen, there’ll be a post about Mitt Romney (as everybody knows, he’s Mormon). Some of the comments in reply to the post will be about his politics others about his religion. A lot of things said about Mormonism will be stuff like: “They wear magic underwear,” or “They believe in life on other planets–ALIENS!,” or “How many wives does Romney have?,” or “To find out about Mormonism go here” (with a link to an anti-Mormon site). I don’t think I’m being overly sensitive when I say that comments like that are attacks on my faith. I appreciate that no one here has attacked my faith, but this is an example of how I feel alienated in the feminist blogosphere as a whole.

  191. Natalia
    Natalia October 27, 2007 at 8:43 pm |

    “I will, but I don’t fit into your schema.”

    Well, you are then perhaps an exception rather than the norm.

    Open-minded people are the exception in general.

    Personally, part of my return to Christianity had to do with the reaffirmation of my belief that God is not some vengeful monster bent on torturing and obliterating “the infidel.” But that involved introspection, searching and, yes, distancing myself from certain groups. It involved alienation and loneliness.

    Loneliness, because (and I’m not patting myself on the back here – just stating what I think should be obvious) most people just don’t want to take this this far. And it’s as true for non-religious folks as it is for religious ones.

    People don’t care for one another. I’m not a misanthrope (or try not to be). But that’s the way of the world, methinks.

  192. alsojill
    alsojill October 27, 2007 at 11:00 pm |

    It doesn’t bother me at all that they’re atheists. What bothers me is that they (and Stalin, and Mao, and Pol Pot) were invoked in response to a request for examples of hostility to religion on feminist blogs or within feminism. Which, come on. There’s some kind of Godwin’s violation there.

    Oh!! I totally get what you’re saying now. I can see that, actually. But I thought we were using them as examples of militant atheism, not militant atheism in feminism in particular. I can see why having them constantly lobbied as examples of the latter (which they’re not) would piss you off. Okay, misunderstanding. I apologize.

    But I guess I’m still puzzled about why you’d say I was “defensive and disingenuous” because I objected to Daisy going OMG STALIN!! And yet, you’re continuing to insist that atheists who say that faith isn’t logical are really saying that you’re not intelligent.

    I felt you had misread Daisy’s intent. I did not read her bringing up Stalin as an example of ways that feminist atheists silence feminist religious people. I read it simply as an example of what she was calling “fundamentalist” atheism. When she started conflating atheism and socialism, I felt she had detracted from her original point, but that’s what I was stuck on. As I read it, Stalin had nothing to do with you or any other atheist. It was simply an example. That said, I can see that you’re not being deliberately obtuse. Just a different interpretation of the text, I guess.

    And yet you’ve gotten very riled up on this thread when several people have pointed out that Christian doctrine is profoundly intolerant of non-believers, even if individual Christians personally reject such doctrine

    That’s b/c I don’t think Christian doctrine is intolerant. I think individual Christians can be intolerant, and can warp that doctrine to suit their purposes, and it does not bother me to have that pointed out. I’d even give you a few more examples. But the doctrine itself is not necessarily intolerant, and neither is a person who claims the identity of Christian. And not to keep beating a dead horse, but doctrine is instable at its core–it changes to reflect social changes, and interpretations with it. There’s a reason there are so many Christian denominations–the core doctrine itself (Jesus = Son of God who died for our sins) does not change across denoms, but the ways in which we apply it does.

  193. alsojill
    alsojill October 27, 2007 at 11:03 pm |

    Crap. I screwed up the HTML. Sorry about the extra bolding.

  194. EG
    EG October 28, 2007 at 12:51 am |

    alsojill, I think your last post gets at much of my dissatisfaction with many liberals’ and feminists’ representation of Christianity. You say that

    I don’t think Christian doctrine is intolerant. I think individual Christians can be intolerant, and can warp that doctrine to suit their purposes

    To say that Christianity is not intolerant, but has instead been “warped,” or the more usual word I see is “misinterpreted,” by intolerant and often murderous Christians is to advocate a certain interpretation of Christiantiy, the one that many of my friends believe in, as the correct one. But surely there are as many if not more Christians who would be willing to cite chapter and verse to “prove” that their interpretation is correct, that Christianity does demand the conversion of the Jews or that does show that all the rest of us will burn in hell forever, or that witches should not be allowed to live, and that it’s only wishy-washy liberal Christians who “misinterpret” scripture to indicate otherwise. And so what is there to suggest to an outsider which one of you is correct?

    And suddenly there’s a pile-on of atheists telling us that we are NOT excluded…don’t you see the problem?

    That’s not how I understand things to have happened. I mean…a pile-on? I just went back and counted up, and there are roughly equal numbers of religious and atheist commenters on this thread. I wonder if that’s what makes it feel like a pile-on to you; atheists are usually in such a small minority that hearing from us in equal numbers may well feel disproportionately large to the religious. But a good number of those who identify themselves as nonbelievers, like Vanessa, Sally, and Mickle were decidedly not posting comments claiming that you were not excluded; on the contrary, they were supporting your points.

    Those of us who were questioning them usually began by asking for examples of what you were talking about with respect to feminist atheists. We explained the position of atheists in the US in general and feminism in particular. We noted our concerns about and disagreements with faith-based systems of belief. To dismiss all this as “telling you that you’re not excluded” feels to me like a remarkably self-centered interpretation of what we’ve been saying.

    But when it comes to it, I do wonder if religious people, so used to being in a position of privilege with respect to the nonreligious, misinterpret conversations in which faith is not automatically deferred to for being excluded. It is not that I think religious feminists are lying about their feelings of exclusion; it is that I’m not convinced that those feelings represent the reality of the situation, as with the example I gave above of women who feel alienated from feminism because it’s too anti-mother and women who feel alienated from feminism because it’s to mother-focused. I’m sure the feelings are real, but that doesn’t mean I accept the interpretations provided of those feelings as iron-clad accurate.

  195. alsojill
    alsojill October 28, 2007 at 12:02 pm |

    But surely there are as many if not more Christians who would be willing to cite chapter and verse to “prove” that their interpretation is correct, that Christianity does demand the conversion of the Jews or that does show that all the rest of us will burn in hell forever, or that witches should not be allowed to live, and that it’s only wishy-washy liberal Christians who “misinterpret” scripture to indicate otherwise

    See, I really, really don’t think there are more. I think there are *louder* and more *obnoxious* self-identified Christians who argue this. But more? Not on those verses. I will, however, agree that more people argue against homosexuality, but we are working to change that. There’s good evidence, for example, that in one story, Jesus healed a man’s male lover. (Just learned that one yesterday.)

    I don’t deny that horrific things have been done in the name of religion. I just don’t think that invalidates the faith itself. Let me use a non-faith example. In its early days, modern feminism was not what you would call inclusive. It was primarily concerned with the issues of middle-class white women, and this is something we’re still struggling with. However, when it was pointed out, not everyone abandoned feminism. Many stayed, clinging to the name, in order to bring about positive change within and without. And why? B/c the doctrine itself–the idea of equality–was good at its core. But it had been misinterpreted or misused or misapplied, and injustice was the result.

    In the same way, I think most religious doctrines are good at the core. Christianity’s second most important commandment is “love thy neighbor as thyself.” (The first is “love God.”) It’s a doctrine of love. Unfortunately, people have used religion to justify their evil. But people have used a lot of other things–political movements (socialism), social justice movements, etc.–to justify their evil, but we don’t claim that the movement should be abandoned b/c of that. (Well, some people do, but I think they’re wrong, too.)

    Why is faith different, especially if we’re not pushing it on you?

    I do wonder if religious people, so used to being in a position of privilege with respect to the nonreligious, misinterpret conversations in which faith is not automatically deferred to for being excluded

    That’s a fair question and probably is at least some of the problem here. (I do think “pile-on” was me exaggerating to make a point, too.) However, while I agree that, generally speaking, the religious are in a position of privilege over the non-religious, there are certain arenas in which that is not the case. Academia is one of them, and I think a lot of my defensiveness in this thread (yes, I’ve been defensive, I admit it) has stemmed from the disdain for faith that I see in my colleagues. Maybe others’ experiences are different, but most people of faith I know in academia keep it very quiet, even in conversations about religion. (Not that you should be broadcasting it at work, b/c that’s kind of unprofessional, but there is a difference between broadcasting and admitting to something.) So, yeah. We talk a lot of about privilege, but one thing I don’t see acknowledged very often is that privilege is an unstable thing. Individuals who are privileged in one arena are often faced with a lack of privilege in another. It’s usually still imbalanced, but the fact is that there are situations in which, for example, women are privileged. (I’m thinking of interactions with children. Men are viewed with suspicion around children.)

    We explained the position of atheists in the US in general and feminism in particular.

    I saw quite a few examples of the former, but I honestly did not see a lot of discussion on atheism in feminism after the first couple of comments. It seemed to me that the discussion got away from feminism pretty quickly–probably too quickly–into a larger debate about the position of faith vs. atheism.

    I’m not convinced that those feelings represent the reality of the situation, as with the example I gave above of women who feel alienated from feminism because it’s too anti-mother and women who feel alienated from feminism because it’s to mother-focused. I’m sure the feelings are real, but that doesn’t mean I accept the interpretations provided of those feelings as iron-clad accurate

    Fair enough. I tend to think that exclusion is hard to “prove,” you know? And if those feelings are so prevalent, I think there’s usually a reason for it. The mother/anti-mother thing, for example…I think there is a legitimate gripe on both sides, b/c I think the dymnamic that exists currentlly is a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” kind of thing. And though I never said this, I think some faith traditions are arguably more acceptable in feminism than others. I have no idea–this is just a guess–but I wonder if Wiccans and other pagans might feel less marginal than those who identify with one of the “major” world religions.

  196. EG
    EG October 28, 2007 at 12:56 pm |

    but we don’t claim that the movement should be abandoned b/c of that. (Well, some people do, but I think they’re wrong, too.)

    Why is faith different, especially if we’re not pushing it on you?

    I never claimed that anybody should abandon Christianity because of that; and as an aside, that is something that as an atheist, I do get tired of. I’m not trying to convert you or anybody else. I fundamentally don’t care whether or not people abandon their religion, and the casual way religious people often elide “I don’t believe in any gods and I don’t see any particular good in religion” with “you ought to stop being religious” does get tiresome. I’m explaining why, as an atheist, repeatedly being told that the religion is good but sometimes the believers aren’t is hard to swallow–surely it’s just as accurate to say that the religion is bad but sometimes the believers aren’t? Or that religion is just a form of thought involving the supernatural with no moral valance one way or the other?

    Part of the difference between Christianity and feminism or other social movements has to do with the acceptability of criticizing those schools of thought. Repeatedly, atheists have talked about our experiences with being told that faith is so often considered to be exempt from rational criticism, that if somebody says “It’s my religion,” we’re expected to defer. But at no time does a feminist or a socialist say “that’s my belief system, and respecting it means not criticizing it.” In the larger social system, those beliefs–the ones that don’t involve supernatural events–simply don’t wield the kind of power that religion does. I don’t get to take holidays to celebrate my feminism or socialism–if I want to take every March 25th to mark the anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, I have to take a personal day or call in sick. I don’t get to invest my beliefs with the kind of untouchability that the religious do in the public arena. I know that you and other reasonable religious people on this thread have repeatedly said that you don’t mind criticism of religions, but of the religious, and I do appreciate that. But at the same time, what people like Zuzu and I consider to be criticism of religion seems to taken by the religious as criticism of them personally, or expressions of some kind of desire to “convert” them to atheism, as I noted above, and I’m not willing to cede the primacy of perspective.

    Christianity in particular and religion in general have far more power in the public arena than socialism or feminism, and that is precisely why I think it is different. If Christianity and other religions were just considered another school of thought–if its institutions had to pay taxes like everybody else, if its holidays weren’t given special consideration, if it weren’t enforced by things like mandatory pledge-of-allegiance recitation, if the country didn’t repeatedly say in polls that they would never be willing to vote for an atheist–I’d be more than willing to treat it like just another school of thought.

    The mother/anti-mother thing, for example…I think there is a legitimate gripe on both sides, b/c I think the dymnamic that exists currentlly is a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” kind of thing.

    I agree, but I think that the damned if you do, damned if you don’t thing is an example of the power of patriarchy being mapped onto feminism, and then feminism getting blamed for it–the real crime is to be a woman, regardless of what you do, in a male-dominated society. In order to fight that, feminism has to work with women on both sides of that divide, which means that there are always going to be conversations in which some women are going to feel excluded, and a certain amount of sucking it up is going to have happen on both sides.

    I hear what you’re saying about academia, but this is an area in which I have a different perspective. I am an academic, and indeed, in my experience, personal religious belief almost never comes up in conversations among my colleagues. But I have certainly known academics who are actively practicing, and I’ve never heard any of my colleagues expressing disdain or scorn for the religious. In the departments and programs I’ve been a part of, we’ve always gone out of our way to be inclusive to everyone, scheduling festivities so as not to conflict with religious holidays, making sure there is kosher, halal, and vegetarian foods (I did once get castigated for scheduling a biweekly departmental drinks ‘do on Yom Kippur, but as I pointed out, I had emailed the schedule of the get-togethers out two weeks previous and asked if there were any scheduling conflicts and gotten no feedback, and I was the one hosting it, and I was unavailable on any of the alternate nights, but if somebody else wanted to step up and host it, we could move it. Nobody did, so we had it that night.). Religion just doesn’t play a role in that professional life. And I’m glad of that. Academia is one of the few enclaves in which atheists can feel normal–not superior, not scornful, just not excluded and looked down on, and that is one of the reasons I love being a part of it. The impact on students who have had to hide their atheism from their families is also huge–I’ve known more than one friend who grew up in a deeply religious born-again family, who only became brave enough to admit their atheism even to themselves and to break away from their parents’ strictures because of the secular atmosphere at universities, where they saw adults for the first time who openly admitted to being atheists without shame or apology. Hell, I’ve been that professor for students, and the experience they describe of feeling liberated for the first time is powerful.

    I think that what I’m asking for is for religious people to be more conscious of their privilege, and to bear in mind that even though enclaves in which the religious might not be as privileged as they usually are do exist, those enclaves are still in the context of the larger US culture of extreme religious privilege. Obviously the situation is different in societies such as the USSR, when the religious were persecuted, but that isn’t our context.

  197. littleflower
    littleflower October 28, 2007 at 2:07 pm |

    I for the most part have no problems with Jesus’s teaching, only I have no affinity with how it is translated and dumbed-down into an institutionalized religion called Christianity that is largely condescending of others, intolerant, shallow and absurd. Christian mystics make Jesus’s teaching beautiful but there are only so many of them out there.

    All in all, I think, especially today, Christianity is less problematic than Islam which is even harder to defend both theologically and historically. Having talked to members of both religions of both liberal and traditional persuasions, I think it suffices to say that both sides use selective reasoning/reading to justify their own stances. The liberals surely only pick and choose the good, tolerant verses to present to outsiders, completely ignoring the bad ones or harsher interpretations by more orthodox scholars which are in the majority. The fundies, otoh, pick and choose the intolerant verses to justify their position, and supported by those scholars. It’s especially true with Muslim liberals, while their intention is commendable, I think their views are largely skewed. If anything monotheistic religions, esp. Islam, are highly and inherently problematic. We never know what they truly teach unless we want to look at their histories in totality without ommissions and the way of life of the founders. We know Jesus was mostly a good person, but Muhammad was far more complex. He was good and gracious at times, but was a nasty, cruel warrior and a manipulative, self-serving human being/womanizer at others. Liberal Muslims refuse to look at and acknowledge his nasty side though they found it difficult to defend his actions while the fundies readily and liberally glorify his nasty examples (which of course they label as “great”).

    Personally, based on how Islam was spread, the examples of the prophet enshrined in their own Haddith and its brutal conquests across history as well as how today it still inspires global radicalism and terrorism and how the many orthodox scholars interpret it in not such an inclusive way, and supported by the fact that its clerics are highly hostile to unbelievers (probably the only religion whose mainstream and often prominent religious authorities constantly call for hatred and violence for infidels with impunity), suffice it to say that Islam is a fascist ideology that is incompatible with universal humanitarian values.

  198. EG
    EG October 28, 2007 at 3:24 pm |

    Islam is a fascist ideology that is incompatible with universal humanitarian values.

    I just want to make it clear that I, and other atheists I know, absolutely reject this assertion. Quite frankly, you could easily say the same for Christianity–based on how it was spread, its brutal conquests across history as well as how today it still inspires global radicalism and terrorism (state-sponsored terror, the brutal fighting and bigotry among Christians in Ireland, the Vatican’s use of its authority to advocate against condoms in AIDS-ravaged parts of Africa). And you’d have the evidence that fascist states arose in Europe in two countries with a strong history of Christianity: Germany, the origin of Protestantism, and Italy, the home of the highest ranks of Catholicism.

    I don’t find any given religion better or worse than any of the others; I certainly wouldn’t conflate a given religious belief with fascism–a political-economic system–any more than I would condone conflating atheism with Communism (big C for the CP), another political-economic system. And it is precisely that kind of statement that would marginalize feminist Muslims.

  199. littleflower
    littleflower October 28, 2007 at 4:02 pm |

    Having said the above, however, I should add that it doesn’t automatically follow that all Muslims are fascist or bigoted. There are always degrees of commitment and religiosity in the followers of any religion. Most Muslims are traditional Muslims who subscribe to the minimum required (Belief in one God, prayers, fasting, hajj) without literally attached to all doctrines and are largely ignorant of these aspects (many are surprised when these are pointed out to them) and like the liberals they conveniently stick to the relatively mild verses (thank God!) -to me it’s just a display of inherent humaneness in all human beings despite of creed, nothing to do with religion per se whatever that is. The Islamic ruling, however, will show them the true color of Islam which gives very little room for pluralism. When the apologists of Islam of all sorts point out to us that Islam is not what the radicals represent because most Muslims are normal, peaceful (I would say pragmatic) people, they have to be able to explain why no society ruled by the Sharia isn’t working and is the worst in terms of human rights violations and treatment of women (and sure, hell, that we are going to be told that these people are not really practicing Islam…we can’t win with them, if we say things without proof then we are prejudiced, if we show proof that that is not real Islam. Denial is so thick in the Muslim apologists’ minds).

    See here for a better picture:
    http://www.homa.org/
    http://tbknews.blogspot.com/2007/10/violent-oppression-of-women-in-islam.html

    And even Sam Harris who wrote Letter to A Christian Nation, which is pretty “hostile” to Christianity, said that Islam is quite a bit scarier that Christianity:
    http://tbknews.blogspot.com/2007/10/sam-harris-on-islam.html

  200. littleflower
    littleflower October 28, 2007 at 4:13 pm |

    “I don’t find any given religion better or worse than any of the others;”

    I strongly disagree to that. It is dangerously bordering to moral relativism. The politically corrects say that all cultures or religions are equally good. Of course not. Objective study of religions will show you the inclusive, peaceable Buddhism is better than Islam (of course the Muslims disagree), the proof to that is we don’t have Buddhist terrorists (at least not at the scale of Islamic ones).

    All I say, judge a religion of what the founder did first and foremost, then its most esteemed scholars/authorities second and then the followers distant third. Based on those fist two alone, Islam fail miserably. A lot of dissertations have been written on how the founder of Islam fell short of being called a moral person in many instances. And the scholars/clerics have been encouraging the kind of us.vs them mentality among their people. Christianity surely has this aspect of corrupt authorities, but Jesus was nothing like Muhammad. At least we can agree with that.

  201. littleflower
    littleflower October 28, 2007 at 4:21 pm |

    “I certainly wouldn’t conflate a given religious belief with fascism–a political-economic system–any more than I would condone conflating atheism with Communism (big C for the CP), another political-economic system. And it is precisely that kind of statement that would marginalize feminist Muslims.”

    That’s pretty well-meaning but what you perhaps don’t know is there is no separation between Islam and politics. Islam is politics, unfortunately. Islam requires to be enforced by societal power (state), hence the Sharia which is an inherent part of religion. So when a political power in the name of religion which is a sacred absolute authority seeks to rule every aspect of the lives of its followers vis a vis to unbelievers which are deemed defficient, the chance of it to become a fascist ideology is pretty huge, I should say.

    Atheism, otoh, lacks of structure. It’s pretty fluid. It’s a lack of faith/belief in God instead of faith in no-faith/no God, hence it doens’t necessarily follow that atheism is Communism or Marxism. I think that should be clear to any clear thinking individuals, with religion or not.

  202. Vanessa
    Vanessa October 28, 2007 at 4:57 pm |

    That’s pretty well-meaning but what you perhaps don’t know is there is no separation between Islam and politics. Islam is politics, unfortunately. Islam requires to be enforced by societal power (state), hence the Sharia which is an inherent part of religion.

    Wow.

    I bet you just totally shit a brick when they elected that Muslim guy to the House of Representatives.

  203. littleflower
    littleflower October 28, 2007 at 5:04 pm |

    Vanessa, I don’t know what you are talking about. I am talking about Islam, as an idea, an ideology. What about you? What has it got to do with anything I say?

  204. Vanessa
    Vanessa October 28, 2007 at 5:08 pm |

    Islam requires to be enforced by societal power (state), hence the Sharia which is an inherent part of religion.

    I would think the existence of Islam in countless countries where it’s *not* enforced by the state would kind of contradict that.

  205. littleflower
    littleflower October 28, 2007 at 5:26 pm |

    “I would think the existence of Islam in countless countries where it’s *not* enforced by the state would kind of contradict that.”

    Yes but they are Muslim countries, instead of Islamic ones. You have to differentiate the two. Indonesia, for example is the largest Muslim country in the world, but it’s largely secular. It is NOT a Sharia-run country. The people largely oppose to Sharia (mmm…wonder why that is). Turkey is a secular country as well. Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, otoh, are Islamic countries and see how great they are.

    Islam should be ok, as long as the clerics are not let to rule the people.

  206. Vanessa
    Vanessa October 28, 2007 at 5:37 pm |

    Yes but they are Muslim countries, instead of Islamic ones.

    So what you really mean is that they are secular countries, not theocratic ones. (Btw, that’s not the difference between the word “Islam” and the word “Muslim.” Islam is the religion. Muslim is the person or persons who practice the religion.)

    Also, Turkey isn’t exactly a human rights paradise.

    Theocracy is bad, no matter the religion. There’s nothing inherent in Islam that makes it more prone to theocracy than Christianity or any other religion, and there’s nothing about Islamic theocracies that make them worse than theocracies of any other flavor.

  207. alsojill
    alsojill October 28, 2007 at 5:43 pm |

    Personally, based on how Islam was spread, the examples of the prophet enshrined in their own Haddith and its brutal conquests across history as well as how today it still inspires global radicalism and terrorism and how the many orthodox scholars interpret it in not such an inclusive way, and supported by the fact that its clerics are highly hostile to unbelievers (probably the only religion whose mainstream and often prominent religious authorities constantly call for hatred and violence for infidels with impunity), suffice it to say that Islam is a fascist ideology that is incompatible with universal humanitarian values.

    Yeeeeah, not to prove your point about religion or anything, but the *exact* same argument can be made about Christianity. We burned people at the stake in the name of God. We burned people who are now considered SAINTS at the stake. We slaughtered fellow Christians (the Sack of Constantinople) and forcibly converted/slaughtered Jews, Muslims, and the native peoples of the Americas. And yet Christianity isn’t a fascist ideology? Admittedly, it’s changed in the past 200 years, but Islam is 600 years younger than Christianity. It’s still growing and changing in positive as well as negative ways.

    If you look at only the worst of a religion, they’re all “fascist.” But if you look at the worst of any ideology–and this is my earlier point–no ideology is good. I mean, the founders of democracy weren’t the greatest folks, either (either the so-called “Founding Fathers” of the US or the ancient Athenians, who oppressed women like no one’s business), and horrible things have been done in the name of “democracy”–*cough*Iraq*cough*. (Not to mention slaughter of the Native Americans, slavery, etc.–and that’s just in the US.) Or look at socialism/communism–you can’t tell me that Stalin and Mao did not corrupt the message, but they used the message all the same.

    (EG, you’re right that comparing religions to other ideologies is different, b/c there is a privilege there, and I will think more about what you said.)

    Condemning Islam on the basis of its history and its application is, I think, a mistake, unless you’re willing to take it further. (Now, I should put away my can opener–I think I’ve opened enough cans of worms.)

  208. Vanessa
    Vanessa October 28, 2007 at 5:49 pm |

    Also, if Sharia is inherent to the religion of Islam, what are the Muslims living in places without sharia practicing? Shmislam?

  209. littleflower
    littleflower October 28, 2007 at 5:52 pm |

    “Quite frankly, you could easily say the same for Christianity–based on how it was spread, its brutal conquests across history as well as how today it still inspires global radicalism and terrorism (state-sponsored terror, the brutal fighting and bigotry among Christians in Ireland, the Vatican’s use of its authority to advocate against condoms in AIDS-ravaged parts of Africa). And you’d have the evidence that fascist states arose in Europe in two countries with a strong history of Christianity: Germany, the origin of Protestantism, and Italy, the home of the highest ranks of Catholicism.”

    I am no defender of the Catholic Church and the Pope, obviously, but to point out that Islamic extremism is akin to Christian extremism today is baloney with a capital B. Sure you can point out a handful isolated cases of Christian extremism such as the IRA (where are they nowadays, after all?), abortion clinic bombers, and the Vatican’s stupid rules but there is no way you can put them on quite the same scale with Islamic extremism. It is a futile effort by all leftist liberals and Islam’s apologists to downplay and excuse the scale of Islamic extremism by saying that all religions have their own extremists. That’s bullshit. Not all religions have the kind of extremists Islam has, in fact No ONE religion but Islam does. Why deny the obvious? Some religions don’t at all. That’s completely dishonest for anyone to think that can be used as a valid reasoning. And I despise that kind of political correctness.

  210. Lisa Harney
    Lisa Harney October 28, 2007 at 5:54 pm |

    There’s no special feature about Islam that makes it more suited toward slipping into fascism than other government models. They’re all vulnerable.

    This whole “Islamo-Fascism” thing we’re hearing about is just scapegoating and hate speech. Yes, it is absolutely true that there are human rights violations in Islam nations. It is true that there are human rights violations in many nations. There are human rights violations in the United States right now (or rather, in legal “outer space,” as a certain politician put it).

  211. littleflower
    littleflower October 28, 2007 at 5:55 pm |

    Vanessa, they are practicing Islam sans the authoritarian and usually fascist interpretation of the clerics. They make their faith a private matter, or private enough. So if they want to eat in a restaurant during Ramadhan, no religious police will arrest them. If they don’t feel like praying during praying times, they won’t be lashed. And if women want to go out in mini skirts, no religious police to harrass and beat them either. Get it now?

  212. Vanessa
    Vanessa October 28, 2007 at 6:04 pm |

    Get it now?

    I can’t say that I do. Please explain how authoritarian interpretation of some clerics = inherent to the religion. Because that’s what you said. You didn’t say that people have interpreted it in an authoritarian manner. You said authoritarian sharia was inherent to the religion.

    Not all religions have the kind of extremists Islam has, in fact No ONE religion but Islam does.

    Oh wait, now I get it. You’re Christopher Hitchens. Now it makes sense.

  213. littleflower
    littleflower October 28, 2007 at 6:31 pm |

    “I can’t say that I do. Please explain how authoritarian interpretation of some clerics = inherent to the religion. Because that’s what you said. You didn’t say that people have interpreted it in an authoritarian manner. You said authoritarian sharia was inherent to the religion.”

    Some clerics? No. Most of Islamic clerics, I would say. The most prominent early scholars of Islam as Ibn Tamiya are often used to justify Islamic interpretation (and they are mostly fascistic). Any wonder why you rarely hear a Muslim cleric saying good things about others? ‘Cause they are rare. Sharia is inherent to Islam, but you are mixing Muslims and Islam. Most Muslims don’t follow the religion to the letter, they are pragmatic. There are degrees of commitment and religiosity among them, just as in any religion. Hence when discussing Islam, it’s important at times to separate the two so you don’t get confused. You have to remember, most Muslims are born into Islam. They have little reference to other ways of thinking and even when they are exposed to it, apostacy is extremely frowned upon so practically they are forced to be Muslims and remain ones. Hence based on those, the fact that Muslims are largely not dangerous doesn’t negate the fact that Islam is.

    Another example, Sharia requires stoning to death for women who commit adultery, most Muslims will oppose to this because it’s crazy. Hence, in a non-Islamic state this law isn’t applied.

    “Oh wait, now I get it. You’re Christopher Hitchens. Now it makes sense.”

    You can’t be serious can you? Instead of trying to come up with good arguments, you use this smart-assed comments for what, exactly? I don’t even read his book. I think his wholesale dismissal of religion is crazy and counterproductive. Some religions are better than others, so let those good ones that preach equality live. But I know Christianity (or mainstream Christianity) and Islam don’t.

  214. Lisa Harney
    Lisa Harney October 28, 2007 at 6:33 pm |

    Not all religions have the kind of extremists Islam has, in fact No ONE religion but Islam does.

    I don’t suppose naming Cromwell right now would ring any bells?

    Totalitarian fascism can spring up from any group with power. Theocracy, as a form of government, is as susceptible to this as communism and democracy both have been. If you put people in power, you have the risk they’ll seize more power and abuse it. You’re not talking about Islam anymore, or at least nothing that relates specifically to Islam. By the definitions you’re using, every form of government is fascist.

  215. littleflower
    littleflower October 28, 2007 at 6:47 pm |

    “There’s no special feature about Islam that makes it more suited toward slipping into fascism than other government models. They’re all vulnerable.”

    Oh really? What about these?

    O believers, do not hold Jews and Christians as your allies. They are allies of one another; and anyone who makes them his friends is surely one of them; and God does not guide the unjust.” (5:51)

    I can come up with more if you want. And please don’t come up with this magic excuse that those verses are used out of context. What context can justify hatred against Christians and Jews/unbelievers and why the message of all time should be so context-ridden? Since it’s no longer relevant now to hate unbelievers, should then Muslims get rid of such verses? Do you know that they believe that the Koran is the verbatim, unchangeable words of God?

    And Lisa, when you say they are all vulnerable I challenge you to produce such equal verses from Buddhism.

    “This whole “Islamo-Fascism” thing we’re hearing about is just scapegoating and hate speech. Yes, it is absolutely true that there are human rights violations in Islam nations. It is true that there are human rights violations in many nations. There are human rights violations in the United States right now (or rather, in legal “outer space,” as a certain politician put it).”

    Ah well, instead of making a blanket statement like that why don’t you come up with some concrete examples of Buddhist or Hindu or Taoist fascism in the degree that is equal to Islamo-fascism? I’d like to hear that. By that I mean, let’s see recent incidents where Buddhists/Hindus/Taoists/Christians go to foreign lands and organize their efforts globally and start bombing buses, discos, crashing planes to buildings, taking and killing infidel hostages or fighting unbelievers in their lands in the scale and number that Muslim extremists do.

    Please back up your assertion with evidence.

    Is it hate speech to condemn Nazism, Lisa? No, why not? Why the double standard?

  216. Vanessa
    Vanessa October 28, 2007 at 6:49 pm |

    Most Muslims don’t follow the religion to the letter, they are pragmatic. There are degrees of commitment and religiosity among them, just as in any religion

    And this is my point. Only fundamentalists practice something to the letter. It is (empirically, as there are practitioners of Islam that are not fundamentalists) not essential to be a fundamentalist to be a Muslim.

    So. If most Muslims practice Islam in a non-authoritarian manner, then why is authoritarianism inherent in the practice of Islam, again?

    Actually, don’t bother to answer. I have better things to do than waste my time on the internet with crazy-talkers. It just saddens me that neo-con (because, yes, that’s just who you sound like) positions such as this have informed US foreign policy to such a degree.

  217. littleflower
    littleflower October 28, 2007 at 6:54 pm |

    “Totalitarian fascism can spring up from any group with power. Theocracy, as a form of government, is as susceptible to this as communism and democracy both have been. If you put people in power, you have the risk they’ll seize more power and abuse it. You’re not talking about Islam anymore, or at least nothing that relates specifically to Islam. By the definitions you’re using, every form of government is fascist.”

    What definitions am I using, excuse me? Tell me please other religious groups that produce fascism the way Islam does? It’s no good to point out to just a handful examples of Christian or Hindu nationalists. I don’t deny every group has its own fanatics, what I am confronting is your asssertion they are all just equally vulnerable (which means they should produce equal degree of fascism and equal number of fascistic activities).

  218. littleflower
    littleflower October 28, 2007 at 7:40 pm |

    “Condemning Islam on the basis of its history and its application is, I think, a mistake, unless you’re willing to take it further. (Now, I should put away my can opener–I think I’ve opened enough cans of worms.)”

    How so? Isn’t religion what religion does? You need both see the ideology and the fruits of that ideology. The fruits of an ideology is how the ideology shapes the worldview of the majority and the most learned/pious within that ideology. Islam is both intolerant in its core and its interpretation by its scholars (and the worldview of the majority of the people even when they are not physically violent also see others as defficient, the way most Christians see others). That alone should be enough a basis to judge an ideology.

    And not only that, what about the founder of that religion? Should he be the most shining example of what the religion is all about? Since we don’t beieve Islam is from God, it follows that it is founded by Muhammad and the history of this man is far from rosy.

    See here:
    http://www.news.faithfreedom.org/index.php

    It is way too nebulous to theorize that all ideologies/religions are equally good/bad in the name of political correctness. Look at the facts, they don’t lie to you.

  219. Sally
    Sally October 28, 2007 at 7:44 pm |

    Sure you can point out a handful isolated cases of Christian extremism such as the IRA (where are they nowadays, after all?)

    Erm, the IRA claimed not to be about religion at all. They were a Marxist liberation movement fighting colonial oppression, according to their own rhetoric, and they were open to people of any religion, again according to their rhetoric. If you talk to Irish republicans, they get pissed off when you refer to the two sides as Catholic and Protestant, rather than nationalist and unionist. They insist that the conflict was/is political, rather than religious. That’s not to defend the IRA at all, but if you’re looking for overt religious extremists in Northern Ireland, you’d do better to look at the other side.

    Which I say to point out that you’re pig ignorant and should probably stop posting, because you’re not doing your side any favors.

  220. EG
    EG October 28, 2007 at 11:27 pm |

    Sure you can point out a handful isolated cases of Christian extremism such as the IRA (where are they nowadays, after all?), abortion clinic bombers, and the Vatican’s stupid rules but there is no way you can put them on quite the same scale with Islamic extremism.

    Are you kidding me with this? US militias, the IRA, the INLA, the UDA, state sponsored terror for hundreds of years, the St. Bartholomew’s day massacre, the witch hunts, the reigns of Bloody Mary and Elizabeth I (who only escapes the term “bloody” by viture of having won), Cromwell–and you claim I can’t put Christian violence on the same scale with Islamic? Why the hell not? You can go back to the founding of Islam for evidence of its so-called bloodthirsty nature, but for Christianity, you only want to take a look at the past 20 years? And, wow, whatever became of the IRA? Check a newspaper. There’s been various ceasefires over the years. But go on. Go find the families of British kids who were blown up by the IRA. Go to Belfast and tell some of the Catholics there that the violence visited on them by Protestant paramilitaries just doesn’t compare. Just make sure you’re near a hospital when you do.

    I mean, really. Christopher Hitchens indeed.

    Alsojill, I want to thank you for what has felt to me like a good conversation. I really appreciate your listening to me with an open mind, and I definitely feel like I have a better idea of where you’re coming from.

  221. EG
    EG October 28, 2007 at 11:50 pm |

    Providentially, here’s a link to a recent letter to The Guardian discussing the scale of IRA attacks: http://www.guardian.co.uk/letters/story/0,,2200886,00.html

    Here’s the relevant quotation:

    If you take the respective populations of Northern Ireland and the US, and perform a simple equation, then the numbers of those killed by the IRA in the province would be the equivalent of around 300,000 Americans, as many Americans as who died in the second world war, not to say about 100 times as many as those killed in New York six years ago.

    And that’s not even including the violence of the UDA and other Protestant paramilitaries.

    Now, of course the IRA is also fueled by years and years of English colonialism and Protestant abuses of Irish Catholics, which is to say that political as well as religious influences are motivating their actions. I don’t know the history of the Middle East as well as I wish I did, but I would be positively stunned if political forces weren’t also motivating their terrorist violence.

  222. EG
    EG October 29, 2007 at 12:19 am |

    Interestingly, despite your quotation, littleflower, for many, many years Jews could expect significantly better treatment in Muslim nations than in Christian ones. When Jews were thrown out of Spain, they were specifically invited into the Ottoman Empire. According to Wikipedia, not an ideal source, I know, but feel free to look it up in a more reliable one and correct me, “it is undeniable that the tolerance they [the Jews] experienced in the Ottoman Empire was unprecedented.”

    Funny how the Jews didn’t find such a welcome in Spain, England, or any of the other Christian countries whose religion you consider so much better. Even the the Jewish Vitual Library, hardly a source prejudiced in favor of Islam, states that “Jewish communities in Arab and Islamic countries fared better overall than those in Christian lands in Europe.”

    Don’t mistake the way things appear to be now for the way they have always been or the way they always must be.

  223. zuzu
    zuzu October 29, 2007 at 12:25 am |

    Interestingly, the Mongol Empire was incredibly religiously tolerant, mostly because their own religion wasn’t of the kind that required conversion. Plus, once they conquered someplace, they took the most talented people and put them to work. Apparently, there was a fairly sizable Jewish community in China as a result of the Mongols.

    Granted, they were fairly bloody during the conquering business, though if a city surrendered, it was spared a lot of violence. They were mostly in it for the loot.

    Not really making a point so much as just throwing out more data.

  224. Umm Yasmin
    Umm Yasmin October 29, 2007 at 12:32 am |

    Just a quick point about privatisation of religion – I meant it in the form of secularism that is anti-religious i.e. only belongs in the private sphere. I live in Australia where we do have a separation of church and state but it is not as aggressive a secularism as in France and the US. So not everyone follows the US Constitution ;)

    As for the plethora of anti-Islam type comments, seems to come with the territory these days whenever a Muslim pipes up. For the record, as a Muslim feminist who has a Masters in Islamic Studies and studied Arabic in Yemen, I am not a ‘nicey Muslim who doesn’t know anything about her religion and would be shocked to find out how yucky it really is, if only some nice neo-Con or Christian fundamentalist would show me the truth’.
    Muslims – and their interpretations of Islam – come in just as many flavours as do followers of every other religion (and yes, God help us there are Buddhist militants as well). As soon as anyone from *any* side of the debate (Islam or anti-Islam) starts asserting there is a ‘right’ or ‘true’ Islam that is the one right way or interpretation, you can hear the fundamentalism bells start ringing a mile off. That goes for Horowitz, Pipes, Coulter et. al. who buy the fundamentalist Islam just as much as Osama bin Laden does.

  225. Vanessa
    Vanessa October 29, 2007 at 12:43 am |

    Don’t mistake the way things appear to be now for the way they have always been or the way they always must be.

    Yay! That was put so well, EG.

  226. EG
    EG October 29, 2007 at 1:25 am |

    Thanks, Vanessa!

    I live in Australia where we do have a separation of church and state but it is not as aggressive a secularism as in France and the US.

    Secularism in the US is nowhere near what it is in France (I’m guessing there aren’t any monuments to the 10 commandments on public property in France!). We have separation of church and state in theory, but for specific cases, we have to fight every step of the way.

  227. Lisa Harney
    Lisa Harney October 29, 2007 at 2:26 am |

    Is it hate speech to condemn Nazism, Lisa? No, why not? Why the double standard?

    The entire point of Nazism was to be fascism. This is not true of Islam, no matter how you try to twist it. The two are not equivalent.

    When I point out that any government, whether theocratic, democratic, monarchy, whatever, is vulnerable to turning fascist, I describe – most especially, the 20th century, but there were other extremist states in the past. It doesn’t matter what religion the theocracy operates under, it doesn’t matter what political parties and their philosophies drive a democracy or a republic, all it takes is a government with the desire to close the society down and turn it into an authoritarian state.

    Demands that I produce evidence of totalitarian Buddhist or Hindu states are kind of pointless as the world doesn’t seem to be dealing with an abundance of either.

    Also, you can cherrypick warmongering scripture from the Bible or the Torah just as easily as you can from the Q’uran. The fact that you can point to bloodthirsty verses doesn’t say anything about all of Islam any more than pointing to the fact that Elisha asked God to send bears to eat children because they mocked his baldness proves that all Christians are child murderers.

    Saying that Islam is inherently fascist is hate speech because of the dehumanizing, profiling nature of that statement. Given how much of Islam is Middle Eastern, it’s probably racist hate speech. It’s a convenient opinion to hold in a political climate that is all about smacking down Middle Eastern countries one at a time, especially in combination with the enemy buzzword of the 21st century (terrorist). It’s incredibly easy to invoke Islam as a terrifying external enemy without because the US government has spent the past six years building up that image.

    But it’s just an image. On the other hand, the United States government has been taking pages from Mussolini’s, Hitler’s, Goebbels’, and Stalin’s playbooks. We’re only a few short steps from actually really truly being a fascist state. Invoking Islam as fascist only serves as smoke and mirrors. “Don’t pay attention to your government carefully shredding the Constitution. Be afraid of the people whose nations we’re invading under false pretenses!”

    Consider Naomi Wolf’s writing. Consider HR 1955, passed in the House only a few days ago and tell me with a straight face that Islam is the greatest threat we face today.

  228. littleflower
    littleflower October 29, 2007 at 7:09 am |

    “Erm, the IRA claimed not to be about religion at all. They were a Marxist liberation movement fighting colonial oppression, according to their own rhetoric, and they were open to people of any religion, again according to their rhetoric. If you talk to Irish republicans, they get pissed off when you refer to the two sides as Catholic and Protestant, rather than nationalist and unionist. They insist that the conflict was/is political, rather than religious. That’s not to defend the IRA at all, but if you’re looking for overt religious extremists in Northern Ireland, you’d do better to look at the other side.

    Which I say to point out that you’re pig ignorant and should probably stop posting, because you’re not doing your side any favors.”

    Eh, then your anger is misdirected. You should point out that to those who say that Islamic extremism is equal to Christian extremism. In fact, I can agree with you about that, I only hammer it to them if they use IRA as an example without going too far dissecting the cause, then it’s pretty isolated to me and not representative of Christians or Christianity, AT ALL!

    “Are you kidding me with this? US militias, the IRA, the INLA, the UDA, state sponsored terror for hundreds of years, the St. Bartholomew’s day massacre, the witch hunts, the reigns of Bloody Mary and Elizabeth I (who only escapes the term “bloody” by viture of having won), Cromwell–and you claim I can’t put Christian violence on the same scale with Islamic? Why the hell not? You can go back to the founding of Islam for evidence of its so-called bloodthirsty nature, but for Christianity, you only want to take a look at the past 20 years? And, wow, whatever became of the IRA? Check a newspaper. There’s been various ceasefires over the years. But go on. Go find the families of British kids who were blown up by the IRA. Go to Belfast and tell some of the Catholics there that the violence visited on them by Protestant paramilitaries just doesn’t compare. Just make sure you’re near a hospital when you do.”

    Bring it with Sally re. the IRA!! And the rest of your list still pales in comparison to what Islam extremism is today in scale. and no I don’t only think the last 20 years, Islam has been bloodthirsty since the day Muhammad gained power in the Arab soil. Christianity today is very much reformed, still intolerant but nothing like Islam.

    Don’t take it from me. But look at this rabid anti-Christian author who basically says the same thing about Islamic extremism:
    http://tbknews.blogspot.com/

    “Interestingly, despite your quotation, littleflower, for many, many years Jews could expect significantly better treatment in Muslim nations than in Christian ones. When Jews were thrown out of Spain, they were specifically invited into the Ottoman Empire. According to Wikipedia, not an ideal source, I know, but feel free to look it up in a more reliable one and correct me, “it is undeniable that the tolerance they [the Jews] experienced in the Ottoman Empire was unprecedented.””

    Yeah, there might be some truth in it for a period of time it but it’s not the entire truth. Bay Yeor shall explain it to you.

    http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-yeor061902.asp

    “Don’t mistake the way things appear to be now for the way they have always been or the way they always must be.”

    Indeed, and Islam has been bloody since the day Muhammad gained power. When it came to India Buddhism perished, they burned the first university in the world Nalanda for weeks, destroyed their vast library and killed the monks. They desecrated Hindu temples and build mosques on it (remeber Ayodhya?). There it is Islamic tolerance for you. It is one thing to point out the brutality of Christendom but it is total ignorance of history to think otherwise of Islam.

    Then the Ottoman brutality against the Armenian. Indonesian (Javanese) Hindus were cornered into the most eastern part of Java and Bali. Wherever Islam went local civilizations and cultures almost surely perished, example: Persia (Iran) and Pakistan (whose people should identify more with India then with the Arabs). The list is much longer than you think.

    More on Islamic imperialism by A Middle Eastern Scholar:
    http://www.amazon.com/Islamic-Imperialism-History-Efraim-Karsh/dp/0300106033

    One of the reviews says:

    For the last 100 years Academics have weaved a web of distortion regarding the role of political and temporal Islam in world history. We have been told that the `bad’ West invented slavery, racism and imperialism and that because of these terrors the world’s problems must all be blamed on western colonialism. This startlingly original book dares to turns the tables on this interpretation. In fact it was Islam that first colonized the West, it was Islamic armies, of African slaves, who invaded France in the 8th century, and Islam then colonized southern Italy and Spain where it created societies where the majority ethnically indigenous Christian population was discriminated against and enslaved. Then Islam colonized eastern Europe where it enslaved Slavs, then it was on to colonize central Asia and India in the 11th century. Then it was eastern Africa and areas near the west coast of Africa where Islamic empires and `sultanates’ invaded Africa in order to export slaves.

    By 1700 the Islamic empire in Africa and India, eastern Europe and the Middle East merely mirrored what the European empire of 1900 would look like. It was Islamic empire that first deported 11 million Africans for sexual and military slavery. When one blames American `imperialism’ for Bin Laden’s terrorism, one should recall that it was first Islam that colonized Europe, it was the minaret and mosque that were first symbols of oppression, not the cross and the sword. Many will find this book unsettling because it dares to challenge the traditional interpretation of history where the West is `evil’ and Islam is portrayed as the victim.

  229. littleflower
    littleflower October 29, 2007 at 7:28 am |

    “The entire point of Nazism was to be fascism. This is not true of Islam, no matter how you try to twist it. The two are not equivalent.”

    How do you know? This is not what many historians and scholars on Islam say:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SddesLgxzHM

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1Ke7nnedWM

    And if you think he’s too biased, take it from Wafa Sultan who is an ex-Muslim:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wPglHZQf-0

    You are just parrotting what the extreme leftist has been saying all the time totally ignorant of the fact.

    This is my definition of fascism: a belief in the supremacy of one national or religious or ethnic group, a contempt for democracy, an insistence on obedience to a powerful leader, and a strong demagogic approach.

    It very much fits the Islamic mindset.

    What is yours?

    “Also, you can cherrypick warmongering scripture from the Bible or the Torah just as easily as you can from the Q’uran. The fact that you can point to bloodthirsty verses doesn’t say anything about all of Islam any more than pointing to the fact that Elisha asked God to send bears to eat children because they mocked his baldness proves that all Christians are child murderers.”

    Well you are wrong, my position has been clear from day one that all monotheistic religions are intolerant at the very core precisely for reason you stated above. However, Islam is the worst among the 3 and I back it up with evidence.

    “Saying that Islam is inherently fascist is hate speech because of the dehumanizing, profiling nature of that statement. Given how much of Islam is Middle Eastern, it’s probably racist hate speech.”

    So according to you pointing out Islamic fascism in the form of honor killings, stoning to death, extreme brutality to women and unbelievers, slavery, death to apostasy, death fatwas to writers and intellectuals because they are considered blasphemous is hate speech, is it? I see. And it’s racist too? Mmmm…that sounds familiar especially coming from those who reject an honest investigation into Islam. Please explain how an objective criticism on an ideology is considered racism especially since Muslims constitute all kinds of races and ethnich groups. I am a bit at a loss here.

  230. littleflower
    littleflower October 29, 2007 at 7:52 am |

    “Muslims – and their interpretations of Islam – come in just as many flavours as do followers of every other religion (and yes, God help us there are Buddhist militants as well)”

    Oh sure, but to what degree? Bring out the Buddhist militants that equal what the Muslim militants have done, in number and degree of violence/fascism. And do they compare to this fact that a recent poll in the UK showed that a third of young British Muslims say they want to live under sharia law and think that anyone who wants to leave the faith should be put to death for apostasy. This is a third of British Muslims. 68% of British Muslims think that their neighbors who insult Islam should be arrested and prosecuted. 78% think that the Danish cartoonists should be brought to justice. These people do not have a clue about what constitutes a civil society.

    Can you show a single Buddhist who agrees to put anyone to death for converting to other religions? Why is the absence? Probably it’s something to do with what the religion teaches? Why do 1/3 of Brits Muslims believe in killing apostates? Could it be related to what Islam teaches? And Muslim apologists always mention how the violent Muslims are in the minority, one third to me is pretty abundant. And that is in UK alone, don’t even imagine how it’ll be like, say, in the Middle East or Pakistan. And considering they account for about 1.5 billion people worldwide, 1/3 is staggering and overwhelming. Even when less than 1 percent of Muslims are extremists who will actually do the bloody work, it still accounts to millions of them. And the picture isn’t pretty.

    It’s easy to downplay the seriousness of Islamic fascism by nebulously saying others have done the same thing. Where? Who? Bring them out. Talk is cheap.

  231. littleflower
    littleflower October 29, 2007 at 8:27 am |

    To EG and others. Dr. Wafa Sultan sums up the real problem with Islam and Muslims’ chronic sense of being victimized by a cruel conspiracy of infidels here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYB4pG3kHIY

    An excellent debate. She basically points out that the Crusaders came after Islam’s teachings and a response to these teachings, it’s the law action and reaction. And Islamic atrocities have started long before USA and Israel existed. It happened in many Muslim countries such as Indonesia, Syria and Turkey in which the people oppose the invasion of Iraq as well. The Muslim cleric, of course, says that all innocents should protected BUT Muslims should protect Muslim innocents first. It’s hardly something an exalted spiritual leader should say but hey, Islam is unique.

    When you all say Islam is not this and that, you practically belittle many Muslim apostates’ first hand experience of the reality of living under it. The first victims of Islam are Muslims, don’t forget that, and most are born into the religion, they don’t choose to be Muslim.

  232. alsojill
    alsojill October 29, 2007 at 8:32 am |

    Apparently, there was a fairly sizable Jewish community in China as a result of the Mongols.

    Really? That is *fascinating*. I’m always really interested in the breadth of the Jewish Diaspora. The Jewish community in Ethiopia, for example (which is not *technically* part of the Diaspora, as they predate the destruction of Jerusalem, but you know what I mean). Of course, I’m always interested in religious groups popping up where they’re least expected. (The Christians in India who claimed to have been converted by St. Thomas, for example.)

    Alsojill, I want to thank you for what has felt to me like a good conversation. I really appreciate your listening to me with an open mind, and I definitely feel like I have a better idea of where you’re coming from.

    Ditto. :)

    It’s easy to downplay the seriousness of Islamic fascism by nebulously saying others have done the same thing. Where? Who? Bring them out. Talk is cheap.

    I believe we have. We could keep saying them: the wars of the Reformation, the Inquisition, witch hunts, Cromwell in Ireland, the slaughter of the Huguenots, the forced conversion/slaughter of the native peoples of the Americas, the blood libel against Jews used to justify pograms–which led directly to the Holocaust, etc. Despite his pagan/mystical interests, Hitler used the Protestant church to shore up his rule. Western civilization is entirely underwritten by the horror wreaked by Christianity. And yet the religion itself is not to blame. Sure, I could pull out quotes that support it–Jesus says in Matthew, “I come to bring not peace, but the sword,” for example, or you could bust out the OT and really have a go at people. (Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. When in doubt, cut up your concubine and mail her pieces to your enemies…oh, wait. I don’t think people want to bring that one back. Or the one that has you offering your virgin daughters to the rapist mob as proof of your righteousness.) But it was the radically conservative interpretations of priests and pastors who created those horrors.

    My point about the relative ages of the faiths is that I wonder if Islam isn’t suffering the kinds of growing pains that plagued Christianity in the 16th and 17th centuries. Just a thought. (I’m leery of that argument, b/c I don’t believe that that means the cultures intertwined with Islam are backwards–they’re not–but I’m just thinking of the radical parts of the faith itself.)

  233. MyDD :: Democratic Majority News Trawl
    MyDD :: Democratic Majority News Trawl October 29, 2007 at 9:05 am |

    […] woman talks about feeling alienated and distrustful towards the feminist movement, but also how she thinks that labor union style […]

  234. littleflower
    littleflower October 29, 2007 at 9:07 am |

    “As soon as anyone from *any* side of the debate (Islam or anti-Islam) starts asserting there is a ‘right’ or ‘true’ Islam that is the one right way or interpretation, you can hear the fundamentalism bells start ringing a mile off.”

    Then the same thing can be said about the liberals who proclaim that their version of Islam is the true Islam and everything else is a hoax. Don’t you downright reject the harsher version of Islam, which unfortunately was supported by a hordes of early Islamic scholars such Ibn Khaldun and Ibn Tamiyya? Don’t you refuse to see this side of Islam as if it didn’t exist at all? The 1400 years of history of conquest and brutal occupation and apartheid under islamic rule (dhimmitude)? Wouldn’t you rather close your eyes to the numerous bloody and not-so-noble examples of the prophet as if they never happened? Or wouldn’t you rather explain them away with lame arguments?

    If you think Wahhabism is the root cause of this fundamentalism, you are wrong becuse the concept of jihad and dhimmitude has long been elaborated since 8th century, 1000 years before Wahhabism arose in 18th century. Islam has been largely intolerant and imperialistic since in the crib (since Muhammad, I would say) and it’s not me who says that but a throng of historians/scholars of different races and colors. What is your say to that?

    See here:
    http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-bostom120602.asp

    “That goes for Horowitz, Pipes, Coulter et. al. who buy the fundamentalist Islam just as much as Osama bin Laden does.”

    That’s something you have to settle with your co-religionists, not with unbelievers. If you can convince them that their Islam is wrong, then you can convince the rest of the world. And if you think OBL doesn’t have supporters among average Muslims, you are wrong. Pakistan is an ideal place for Al Qaeda members to hide because the people are loyal to them. Convince these people that the fundies and terrorists are not defending Islam, then we’ll see Pipes et al change their position.

  235. littleflower
    littleflower October 29, 2007 at 9:21 am |

    “I believe we have. We could keep saying them: the wars of the Reformation, the Inquisition, witch hunts, Cromwell in Ireland, the slaughter of the Huguenots, the forced conversion/slaughter of the native peoples of the Americas, the blood libel against Jews used to justify pograms–which led directly to the Holocaust, etc. Despite his pagan/mystical interests, Hitler used the Protestant church to shore up his rule. Western civilization is entirely underwritten by the horror wreaked by Christianity. And yet the religion itself is not to blame. Sure, I could pull out quotes that support it–Jesus says in Matthew, “I come to bring not peace, but the sword,” for example, or you could bust out the OT and really have a go at people. (Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. When in doubt, cut up your concubine and mail her pieces to your enemies…oh, wait. I don’t think people want to bring that one back. Or the one that has you offering your virgin daughters to the rapist mob as proof of your righteousness.) But it was the radically conservative interpretations of priests and pastors who created those horrors.”

    That’s not good enough because I already know how intolerant Christianity is and I am in fact the first person who would just state it point blank. I’d like to hear about other people. She brought up the Buddhist millitants. Where is it? Sure I can bring you a link to a Buddhist millitant’s atrocities but where is the proof that it is equal to Islamic extremism in the past and the present? What about Hindus? (yeah there are Hindu fanatics in India and they fight with the Muslims, surprise…surprise). What about others….whatever, come up with something other than Christian extremism in the past. Again, talk is cheap.

    “My point about the relative ages of the faiths is that I wonder if Islam isn’t suffering the kinds of growing pains that plagued Christianity in the 16th and 17th centuries. Just a thought. (I’m leery of that argument, b/c I don’t believe that that means the cultures intertwined with Islam are backwards–they’re not–but I’m just thinking of the radical parts of the faith itself.)”

    I think a lot of Christians feel guilty about their dark past so they make excuses for Islam. There is no proof of such assertion. The situation within Islam is so gloomy, the moderates are too frightened to talk against the fundies for obvious reason. How often do you hear them condemn or disown these people and mention them by names? What we hear is mostly lip service or a half-hearted condemnation ladden with ifs and buts (and it always boils down to how America and Israel have victimized the Muslims first, always blaming it on other people).

  236. littleflower
    littleflower October 29, 2007 at 9:52 am |

    And to you all who uncritically think critics of Islam are racist, Sam Harris probably sums it up better than me:

    http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/response-to-controversy2/

    My criticism of Islam:
    Especially unscrupulous critics of my work have claimed that my critique of Islam is “racist.” This charge is almost too stupid to merit a response. But, as prominent writers can sometimes be this stupid, here goes:

    My analysis of religion in general, and of Islam in particular, focuses on what I consider to be bad ideas, held for bad reasons, leading to bad behavior. My antipathy toward Islam–which is, in truth, difficult to exaggerate–applies to ideas, not to people, and certainly not to the color of a person’s skin. My criticism of the logical and behavioral consequences of certain ideas (e.g. martyrdom, jihad, honor, etc.) impugns white converts to Islam–like Adam Gadahn–every bit as much as Arabs like Ayman al-Zawahiri. I am also in the habit of making invidious comparisons between Islam and other religions, like Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Need I point out that most Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains are not white like me? One would hope there would be no such need–but the work of writers like Chris Hedges suggests that the need is pressing.

    As I regularly point out when attacking Islam, no one is suffering under the doctrine of Islam more than Muslims are–particularly Muslim women. Those who object to any attack upon the religion of Islam as “racist” or as a symptom of “Islamophobia” display a nauseating insensitivity to the subjugation of women throughout the Muslim world. At this moment, millions of women and girls have been abandoned to illiteracy, forced marriage, and lives of slavery and abuse under the guise of “multiculturalism” and “religious sensitivity.” This is a crime to which every apologist for Islam is now an accomplice.

    And he said this also:

    “Consider how we as atheists are constrained to talk about Islam. And Christians often complain that atheists balance – and the secular media, generally – balance every discussion of Islam with a discussion of extremist Christianity. The usual mode is to say, ‘Well, they have their jihadists, but we have people who kill abortion doctors.’ I think our Christian neighbors, even the craziest of them, are right to be outraged by this pretense of evenhandedness. The truth is that Islam is quite a bit scarier and more culpable for needless human misery at this moment than Christianity has been for a very, very long time. And we have to point this out.”

  237. littleflower
    littleflower October 29, 2007 at 11:17 am |

    “Demands that I produce evidence of totalitarian Buddhist or Hindu states are kind of pointless as the world doesn’t seem to be dealing with an abundance of either.”

    You are too ignorant, Lisa. Most of what you say just come out of your a** without any evidence to back it up while things like this are pretty easy to find in the internet:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_religious_populations

    You see Buddhists are between 500 million- 1.5 billion. Let’s be pessimistic, 500 million is pretty abundant, is it not?

    Hindus are even more: close to 1 billion people! Do you know what’s the population of India alone? Geeezzz..

    Now tell me in my face, these people don’t make visible number of terrorists because of what? Because what their religions teach is pointless, you say? Tell your kids enough time that stealing is fine, how long do you think it will take until they start stealing? I despise all the politically correct leftists who are simply dishonest and refuse to call a spade a spade and make them a willing accomplice to the fundies in spreading their message of hate. Your hands are as bloody as theirs.

  238. zuzu
    zuzu October 29, 2007 at 11:28 am |

    littleflower, dial down the condescension and the personal attacks.

  239. littleflower
    littleflower October 29, 2007 at 11:38 am |

    Zuzu, I was called pig ignorant by Sally and did I cry foul? Why don’t you tell her to dial down her condescension too? And where are my personal attacks? Please point them at me.

  240. siti aminah
    siti aminah October 29, 2007 at 12:13 pm |

    As an ex-Muslim from Malaysia I can attest that what littleflower has been presenting about Islam isn’t at all exaggerated. Non-Muslims think Islam is a body of theory devoid of tradition and historical applications. Islam is a “complete way of life” which means it can’t be stripped from tradition that has been exemplified by our holy prophet and his disciples and closest friends and its generations of scholars that follow afterward. We are commanded to follow their examples which are recorded in the Haddith in which there are records of torture and murders of critics of the prophet under his order. Within the broad tradition of Islam from century to century, it is clear that there is this strict code of subjugation among Muslims, especially women and inherent hatred or at least suspicion against unbelievers. Women are the bearers of honor in our tradition, hence we need to be covered because all of our body is considered “aurat” or pudenda, and once it’s exposed it causes corruption among the men. Now you understand why honor killing is rampant in Islamic societies. This is not to say all Muslims support this kind of view, but the fact that this has been ingrained in our culture and mindset is undeniable.

  241. EG
    EG October 29, 2007 at 1:13 pm |

    I’d like to see some evidence, littleflower, that more people have been killed in the name of Islam than Christianity. Not more rants, but actual stats that cover all the various atrocities we’ve named, as well as the ones we’ve left out. You keep saying Islam is worse, but you don’t provide any hard-core evidence.

    Further, the way you’re twisting history is fascinating: the hundreds of years in which Jews were far better off under Muslim rule is a quirk, or an isolated moment in history, but today’s relatively more tolerant Christianity is The Truth of the religion? Whatever. You’re not even trying to address history.

  242. siti aminah
    siti aminah October 29, 2007 at 1:15 pm |

    The problem with Muslim liberals is I think they are really elitists, their concerns are mainly to appease the world, and trying too hard to convince the world instead their own brethern that Islam is really not what the fundies say it is. The grassroots still follow and look up to the Orthodox clerics with all their backward and mysoginistic views. These are the majority of Muslims, the simple minded silent majority. It is not uncommon among these people and these Orthodox clerics in my country to express sympathy overtly or covertly to the Talibans, for example or the Hamas or even the 9/11 terrorists (many, even among my own friends and family members, showed glee saying that the Americans deserved it). It’s not considered a bad thing in our society to support Muslim geurilla abroad who fight in the name of Islam. And again, this is the real picture of our majority. They are not exactly Al Qaeda material, but they are not open-minded liberal either. The liberals and moderates are busy with PR condemning islamic extremism, but among ourselves really there is very little introspection and self-criticism. It’s always somebody else’s fault, never ours. Hence, the problem with Islam is not the handful Al Qaeda members, but the millions who secretly or not sympathize with them and keep their silence about their wrong ways at the best and I can tell you there are many among us (the same way with Nazism/Hitler, it was the silence of the German majority that enabled its atrocities). It is for that very reason OBL is still at large despite the millions of dollars attached to his head. Muslims, in most instances, won’t sell out their own brothers, especially not to infidels, no matter how wrong/evil other people think they are. We are not terrorists, we are only enablers through our silence or misplaced sympathy. The sooner the west realize of this thick Muslim brotherhood/solidarity, the better they are equipped to face this challenge.

  243. siti aminah
    siti aminah October 29, 2007 at 2:09 pm |

    EG, read this book (I just ordered from amazon and I will give it to my dad after reading it:) ):

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1591023076/bookstorenow700-20

    Here are the numerous classic scholars the book use as sources:

    Muslim Theologians and Jurists on Jihad: Classical Writings
    Muwatta (Malik b. Annas)
    [Untitled] (Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani)
    Bidayat al-Mudjtahid (Averroes)
    The Muqaddimah (Ibn Khaldun)
    Legal War (Ibn Qudama)
    Al-Siyasa al-shariyya (Ibn Tamiyya)
    Kitab al-Kharaj (Abu Yusuf)
    Siyar (Shaybani)
    The Hidayah (Sheikh Burhanuddin Ali of Marghinan)
    Al-Imam Muhammad ibn Idris al-Shaf’i’s al-Risala fi us ul al-fiqh (Al-Shaf’i)
    Al-Ahkam as-Sultaniyyah (Al-Mawardi)
    Fatawa-i Jahandari (Ziauddin Barani)
    Kitab al-Waiz fi fiqh madhab al-imam al-Saf’i (Al-Ghazali)
    [Untitled] (Sirhindi)
    [Untitled] (Sha Wali-Allah)
    Shara’i’u ‘l-Islam (Al-Hilli)
    Jami’-i ‘Abbasi: Yakdawrah-i fiqh-i (Muhammad al-Amili)
    Risala-yi Sawa’iq al-Yahud (Muhammad Al-Majlisi)
    1915 Ottoman Fatwa (Sheikh Shawish)
    [Untitled] (Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini)
    Jihad in the Cause of God (Sayyid Qutb)
    [Untitled] (Yusuf al-Qaradawi)

    It is pretty comprehensive.

    There is countless evidence documented by historians of the bloody Islamic invasions (so there is no twisting at all, Bat Yeor is a respected historian btw). Just because the Jews were treated a little better than the Christians treated them doesn’t nullify the fact that the Muslim invaders practiced discriminations and treated non-Muslims as second class citizens (even we do that too in Malaysia, so it’s nothing new in this, I know it first hand) and when they invaded a country they enforced the religion and converted the people en masse under the sword. And mind you, today wherever you look very few Muslims speak nice things about the Jews. For us the Jews are the archetype of conniving and evil traits

    Whether or not Muslims killed more than Christians, fact is while Christians can say that Jesus doesn’t teach this, Muslims can’t because even our prophet was involved in many agressive wars (remember we went to Spain and colonised parts of Europe as well). War is our way of life since the prophet’s time that’s why the Koran is replete with injunctions to kill, ambush, enslave, etc. Contextually they were revealed during the war but it then also shows our inherent penchant for bloody battles.

    And while Christians no longer have a penchant to kill dissents, it is a common occurence in Islam (even the prophet did that too, so what do you expect?). It is right to say that Islamic extremism today is the most dangerous as we all can see it because where in the world we will get death threats for criticising Christianity? And have you seen similar outrage the way Muslims display in response to the Danish cartoon brouhaha? Did you hear Buddhists kill Muslims, burn their mosques and held violent demonstrations when the Taliban destroyed their religious icons? Do you see Buddhists or Hindus or Confucians indignantly demonstrate in the west threatening to take over their benevolent hosts and the world or demanding that they are given special treatments? Comparison is important here to really nail down the point that nobody else today is vulnerable to the kind of extremism that Muslims are as well as the typically righteous mentality of our people.

  244. littleflower
    littleflower October 29, 2007 at 2:32 pm |

    “I’d like to see some evidence, littleflower, that more people have been killed in the name of Islam than Christianity. Not more rants, but actual stats that cover all the various atrocities we’ve named, as well as the ones we’ve left out. You keep saying Islam is worse, but you don’t provide any hard-core evidence.”

    Do you see the links I gave you? Check them out. And better still buy those books on the subject and read them so you just don’t conveniently accuse me of concocting stories to make Islam look bad (Islam is islam’s worst enemy). I don’t have comparative stats at hand at the moment. But the fact that many historians account Islamic invasions as no less brutal than Christianity should raise your red flag, instead of denying it wholesale. And again, we haven’t heard such extremism from Christians in a very long time. We hear it from Muslims day in day out. At least you can be honest about it.

    “Further, the way you’re twisting history is fascinating: the hundreds of years in which Jews were far better off under Muslim rule is a quirk, or an isolated moment in history, but today’s relatively more tolerant Christianity is The Truth of the religion? Whatever. You’re not even trying to address history.”

    Me twisting history? That’s funny coming from a person who’s denying history. The Muslim wars of imperialist conquest have been launched for almost 1,500 years against hundreds of nations, over millions of square miles (significantly larger than the British Empire at its peak). The lust for Muslim imperialist conquest stretched from southern France to the Philippines, from Austria to Nigeria, and from central Asia to New Guinea. This is the classic definition of imperialism — “the policy and practice of seeking to dominate the economic and political affairs of weaker countries. That’s history for you.

    And talking to you is circular because you keep twisting me. It’s apparent that I have no affinity for Christianity and I have debated of what true Christianity is with Alsojil to her extreme dismay (amnesiac, are we? :) ). If you go back to my earlier posts (I doubt you read them) I made it very clear this is the yardstick I use to judge a religion:
    1. morals and behavior of the founder (please compare Jesus and Muhammad and be honest about it).
    2. the worldview and interpretation of the most esteemed scholars of the religion
    3. this will be distant third, the worldview and mentality of the followers.

    Based on the first 2 alone Islam is in a more problematic position than Christianity. Now if you want to debate me on this, go ahead, but please do not twist what I say!

  245. littleflower
    littleflower October 29, 2007 at 3:07 pm |

    Here is the list of Islamic conquest battles:

    During Muhammad:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Battles_of_the_Islamic_conquests

    Post-Muhammad:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_conquests

    Don’t tell me I’m twisting history. At least you can admit that from the long list alone it’s hard to say that Islam doesn’t condone fascism and imperialism and seeing how hostile its teaching against unbelievers are you can expect the kind of cruelty they inflicted on the people they invaded which are confirmed by numerous historical accounts.

  246. EG
    EG October 29, 2007 at 3:11 pm |

    Uh-huh. I never argued that Islam doesn’t have a violent history. I have argued that its history is no more violent than Christianity’s. Therefore, citing instances of Muslim violence doesn’t actually argue the point I and others have been making.

  247. siti aminah
    siti aminah October 29, 2007 at 3:30 pm |

    Oh excuse me if I post too much (too bad we can’t edit our comments). I need to add that while Christians very much acknowledge their wrongs in the past and actually work to redeem themselves, Muslims, even the liberals and moderates, have yet to do this. Most Muslims think their history is rosy that only Christians persecuted them but not the other way around. Hence you see they are so ready citing examples of Christian atrocities every time the subject of Islamic fundamentalism comes up as if by doing so they do away with their bothers’ current crimes. Until Muslims are big-hearted enough to admit past mistake and acknowledge the wrongs in the way we do things in our tradition for centuries, there is no hope for Islamic reformation in our societies. That’s why it’s so bleak in our world currently because we are not trained for introspection and self-criticism.

  248. Lisa Harney
    Lisa Harney October 29, 2007 at 4:06 pm |

    If we’re only working from long lists, it’s hard to say that Christianity doesn’t condone fasicm and imperialism, and seeing how hostile its teaching against unbelievers are, you can expect the kind of cruelty they inflicted on the people they invaded, which are confirmed by numerous historical accounts.

  249. alsojill
    alsojill October 29, 2007 at 6:27 pm |

    the worldview and interpretation of the most esteemed scholars of the religion

    Depends on who these people are, doesn’t it? I mean, to use Christianity again, I think St. Jerome is a crackpot, as do a number, if not a majority, of Christian scholars today. But he’s long been considered “esteemed.”

    What determines who is considered an esteemed scholar? Tradition shifts allegiances all the time.

    it’s hard to say that Christianity doesn’t condone fasicm and imperialism, and seeing how hostile its teaching against unbelievers are, you can expect the kind of cruelty they inflicted on the people they invaded

    True, though that’s only looking at the historical long lists. The text itself (I’m talking only about the New Testament here, by the way) says very little about non-believers, and specifically condemns worldly conquest. Many of our most evil “Christian” deeds were done in the name of the Old Testament…a document that belongs to Judaism above all. And yet Judaism hasn’t yet been condemned! Let’s condemn Judaism next!! (Sarcasm. Obvs.)

  250. RadicalFemme
    RadicalFemme October 29, 2007 at 6:48 pm |

    I absolutely identify as a feminist, and I suspect as a 20something white, middle-class queer woman that’s a lot easier for me than it is for some. Feminism gave me a voice and language for my experience in the world. But it also gave me a lens to examine why that identity felt so right and rich for me and why some folks have a harder time with identifying with feminism.

    I also have strong critiques of feminism. I don’t need to reenumerate them here; racism, classism, transphobia, and these critiques make me very unpopular with some feminists, claiming that by examining our own participation in oppressive systems we detract from the “real” plight of women — assuming of course that those women are rich, white, straight and educated.

    I love the call to create feminism with sisters and brothers. Stagnation is the death of any movement.

  251. EG
    EG October 29, 2007 at 7:58 pm |

    Heh, alsojill. You should hear my mother on the Old Testament God (we’re Jewish nonbelievers!); the air turns blue when she gets going…

  252. alsojill
    alsojill October 29, 2007 at 8:03 pm |

    You should hear my mother on the Old Testament God (we’re Jewish nonbelievers!); the air turns blue when she gets going

    Heee. Yeah, I may be a religious individual, but I will admit to an *extreme* amount of discomfort with the OT. (Except for Song of Songs, or “The Book Explaining How Much God Is In Favor of Sex.” Which is why I read the Old Testament as a long extended metaphor.

    Jewish nonbelievers I get.I have a friend who’s a Catholic atheist–I’ve never quite figured it out, but if it makes her happy, more power to her.

  253. La Lubu
    La Lubu October 29, 2007 at 9:24 pm |

    Looks like this thread has become “Exhibit A” for “why Muslimah feminists feel excluded from secular, Western feminist space.”

  254. littleflower
    littleflower October 30, 2007 at 10:59 am |

    “Looks like this thread has become “Exhibit A” for “why Muslimah feminists feel excluded from secular, Western feminist space.””

    Apart from that I am not a feminist. The discussion just happened to be here so don’t blame it on feminism or other feminists. Got nothing to do with that.

  255. siti aminah
    siti aminah October 30, 2007 at 11:42 am |

    And I don’t know if I am a feminist even though I resent all the female devaluing teaching in Islam. It’s hard to be a feminist in Islam when the religion states that women are half intelligent than men’s (2 female witnesses in court are equal one male witness), we are the majority dwellers in hell according to our holy prophet after his brief sojourn to the lovely place (I would assume Madonna, Britney and I will have our weekly get-together there). And then men/husbands are our leaders, they are obligated to discipline us. I won’t mind so much about my hubby being the head of the family sans the beating injunction when we stray (though they try to downplay it as “light” beating but we all know that no husband really give a light beating, the women in shelter will testify to that). And then the obsession of keeping all of us prudish and totally covered (our naked meat -that’s uncovered women- will invite rapists and cause immorality in our society) while our husbands can take 3 more wives without our consent/knowledge (after we were sticking by them in difficult times, he then shared his success with other women and there is nothing we can do about it other than crying). And if we complain too much they can divorce us by saying “I divorce thee” three times. When we are divorced, we won’t get half of what our husbands made during our marriage the way western women do. Not even our kids after the age of 7 or 9 (if the husband insists it). If we apostate then automatically we lose rights over our kids altogether and our husbands can legally abduct our kids if we are not Muslims. If we are raped we have to come up with 4 witnesses to confirm that there is penetration involved otherwise we’ll end up jailed and beaten. We inherit half of our borthers’ no matter if they’re single lazy assholes and we are the breadwinners with 4 kids in our family. If we commit adultery, the men go to jail and the women will be stoned to death (not in malaysia but true in other stricter Islamic countries). If we love a man out of our religion, he has to convert or we’ll be outcast and disowned. In other fundamentalist socieities it’s enough ground for a honor killing by family members (icl. fathers and brothers). Such things happens quite a bit in Europe and the governments in political correctness try to keep it low profile (we respect the Muslim culture, so they say).

    That’s what the Muslim feminists are up to in our society. We against the bearded old-school mullahs who see us as half human and the simple-minded majority who will just say amen to what they say (well the men got quite an advantage too, they can take 4 wives). Now you understand why they are feeling alienated. What we need is really the male Muslim feminists, it will be great if they are also clerics (but don’t hold your breath, most clerics in my country are polygamists) because people will listen to what they say.

  256. EG
    EG October 30, 2007 at 12:22 pm |

    The discussion just happened to be here so don’t blame it on feminism or other feminists.

    The discussion didn’t just happen to be here. It’s specifically a discussion about inclusion in feminism. It certainly took a strong direction into talking about faith and atheism, but it has always been about feminism.

  257. littleflower
    littleflower October 30, 2007 at 1:21 pm |

    “The discussion didn’t just happen to be here. It’s specifically a discussion about inclusion in feminism. It certainly took a strong direction into talking about faith and atheism, but it has always been about feminism.”

    I didn’t say it wasn’t about feminism. I said that the result of this disscussion make Muslim feminists alienated had nothing to do with feminism because I started the whole thing about Islam being the most intolerant to the majority of you’s disagreement. So it’s not that feminists make Muslim feminists feel alienated because I am not a feminist, not an activist type anyway. Most posters here hold much more postive view on Islam than I do. Try to really understand what I’m trying to say for a change :).

  258. La Lubu
    La Lubu October 30, 2007 at 4:33 pm |

    I said that the result of this discussion make Muslim feminists alienated had nothing to do with feminism because I started the whole thing about Islam being the most intolerant to the majority of you’s disagreement.

    And yet, of all spaces on the blogosphere to rant against Islam, you miraculously chose a post on a feminist blog discussing alienation from and/alternately identification with feminism. Why would you do this, unless your intent was to silence Muslim feminists and their allies?

    In any case, you’ve provided a good example of how to derail a thread and stifle productive discussion, with your repeated, link-heavy posting. Folks that want dialogue usually post, then let some responses show up before posting again. You’ve offered us monologue, not dialogue. And on a post that specifically mentioned how Muslim women are used as a stand-in for female oppression on Eurocentric portions of the feminist blogosphere. Interesting, no?

  259. littleflower
    littleflower October 30, 2007 at 5:52 pm |

    La Lubu, many asked and attacked me for my opinions so I just presented my side of the argument as the way it should be. I am just one person against how many here before siti aminah came to the picture? So of course I looked that I posted so much because I got the most challenge and I back my opinion with evidence and cause I can’t write everything I posted the links so they can look at them if they really want to know the truth. Blame it on them not me.

    No I didn’t choose a feminist blog to air my opinion on Islam per se, monotheistic religions yes, it just developed that way just because I stated it was the most intolerant religion which was very easy to verify. And I was challenged by not just one or two but 5 or 6 people here to present my case. Why you have a problem with that is beyond me. And how you think I don’t offer you a dialogue as if I had a power to stop anyone from airing that opinion escapes me too. I offer my case, you offer yours, that’s dialogue to me. What’s your definition of a dialogue? That I have to agree with consensus and what is politically correct to accept?

  260. siti aminah
    siti aminah October 30, 2007 at 6:18 pm |

    There is nothing like discussion on religion and politics, each person feels strongly about what they believe: pro or contra. If only there was no religion that claimed it was the only truth and everybody else was wrong, it wouldn’t have been an endless debate on religion in the first place and there would certainly have been no oppression, war and persecution in its name. I am so done with religion myself. Sometimes I wonder what this world would be like without religious prejudice, people accpeting others for who they are as a human being, not their religious affiliation. No hooray and hallelujah for new converts, no anger and suspicion for the apostates. No energy and resources wasted on convincing others that our religion is the best. We are just one and the same with our human problems and issues which are aplenty even without religion and its divisive effect.

  261. siti aminah
    siti aminah October 30, 2007 at 6:42 pm |

    I don’t know if you all still have any taste for more points, if not let me know but alsojil asked this and I don’t think it’s been tackled by littleflower, so I think I will try to answer from my POV:
    “What determines who is considered an esteemed scholar? Tradition shifts allegiances all the time.”

    I would say esteemed scholars are those often sourced by our religious leaders/writers to justiy their edicts when there is no clear-cut answer in the Quran or Haddith. All I know for mainstream Sunnis where I’m from those classic scholars many Muslim clerics quote are credible. I understand this whose-interpretation-holds-more-water argument but based on my life long observation and experience, Islam is really what you see is what you get. You see what’s going on in the world today and in the Muslim lands -the rage, self-righteousness and belligerence-, it’s because the interpretation has been like that for centuries. There is really no hidden meaning or anything that we haven’t heard, really. I guess if you want to imbue mysticism in that you could, but Sufism is too out-of-reach even for our most learned mullahs. It’s just too deep and we are just simple people. And our culture is the one that’s so used to wearing our faith and piousness upon our sleeve and brag about it left and right. Religiosity is about what appears on the outside, about conformation to symbolism and laws (so the hijab and everything), very rarely about substance. Not the one on personal contemplation as the Buddhist or Sufis for instance. It’s just too difficult to measure and appearance is very important in our culture.

    Hope that helps.

  262. La Lubu
    La Lubu October 30, 2007 at 8:00 pm |

    What’s your definition of a dialogue?

    On a blog? In online discourse, since we miss so many of the visual cues of in-person conversation, a little extra care needs to be taken in order to not be misunderstood. For example, using all capital letters IS GENERALLY CONSIDERED TO BE SHOUTING, AND IT IS RUDE NETIQUETTE. When talking to a person who isn’t “known” (as much as we can be said to “know” one another online) to you, or you to them, yet you want to use sarcasm, one technique to insure no misunderstanding is to finish with /snark or /sarcasm. And the consensus on blogs I visit is generally that you wait for a response before cascading with further posts (especially when using a lot of links)—to do otherwise is to appear to be shouting others down, drowning out their words. The online equivalent of raising your voice and talking right over the other person’s words.

    Now, I’m not inside your head. I don’t know what your intention is. But it read to me as shouting others down. And considering that the entire point of the thread was that non-dominant voices within feminism can be and are drowned out by dominant narratives…..damn. What you did with those multiple posts was replicate the exact dynamic I was talking about.

  263. La Lubu
    La Lubu October 30, 2007 at 9:07 pm |

    littleflower, I won’t be moderating this thread any more, as my guest blogging stint is done. However, I did just delete several of your comments; invoking the “twin towers” and bringing out “Islamo-fascism”—come the fuck on. That’s not arguing in good faith to anyone, but particularly when addressed to a woman with a Muslim father.

    You’ve made your point now. You hate and fear Muslims. Ok. Now, go back to writing speeches for David Horowitz; I hear he’s really been falling flat onstage during his recent “Muslims! they’re everywhere! gaahh!” campus tour.

    apologies to other readers; I hate to delete comments, but that stuff was really over the top.

  264. siti aminah
    siti aminah October 31, 2007 at 12:53 am |

    La Lubu, I think littleflower doesn’t hate Muslims. She hates the intolerance of Islam. She hates the ideology and it’s rightly so. Since we can hate Communism, that doesn’t follow that we hate all the communists, only the bad ones. I’ve been told that I hate Muslims too and that makes me sad that people keep telling me so after I say repeatedly that it’s the ideology that’s at fault. This is what people who choose to stay in the politically correct discourse do not and never try to understand. Criticising an ideology for its merit or lack thereof is not the same as hating the entire people who belong to that ideology. Objectively we should be able to critique any religion/ideology. It’s dangerous and uncalled for to label them all as haters just because they don’t fall under what we think they should think. Especially when those people present their case with solid arguments.

    Most Muslims are born into Islam and they are stuck in it. If not because I am a rebel, I would have been stuck in it forever too. Even not many know that I no longer believe. I will be prosecuted and jail for leaving Islam so we know who the haters are here. My parents only vaguely guess since I no longer do the rituals. And they are deeply upset by it. I don’t fear Muslims either in general, only it concerns me the lack of self-criticism and the penchant for self-pity and blaming others. Most critics of Islam I know feel very compassionate of the people who suffer under Islam, that’s why they care to respond in the way they do. Like we all know, the first victims of Islam are the Muslims.

    It is Islam, the real culprit. The bad Muslims are the result of the bad ideology. And most Muslims are pretty moderate because people are inherently “normal” if you know what I mean, though I have a problem with their mentality as I mentioned in my previous posts. Narrow-minded maybe, but physically violent not really. Do we hate them? Of course not. And I know some of you can’t really accept that if Islam is so bad why I say most Muslims aren’t terrorists or bad. I already said that partly because most people are inherently normal and practical in their religious practice. And another reason is most Muslims are traditional Muslims the way Christians are in the west. And I can come up with more reasons if you like but it will be too long. People don’t need religion to be normal, anyone from any religion or even atheists can be and most of them are. But the fascists within Islam is a direct result of a fascist ideology they hold so dear. And the more religious they become the more vulnerable they are to extremism. It shouldn’t be like that because I know it’s not the case with Buddhists or Confucians or even Christians I know. Which converts to other religions behave the way some converts to Islam like Adam Gadan (?) or Richard Reid? None. The analogy is not all smokers are gonna get cancer but that doesn’t mean smoking doesn’t cause cancer. It is a difficult subject I know to make people see what I see. All I know if a religion teaches hate and division then people should speak up against it without being labeled a hater. Let’s focus on the subject matter rather than attacking the person (I’ve been accused many things myself while my points are largely ignored so I know how it feels).

  265. littleflower
    littleflower October 31, 2007 at 1:07 am |

    La Lubu, you are self-righteous and ignorant. Show me in my comments that indicate my hate and fear of Muslims. I defend the Muslim women who suffer under Islam, I hate them too, right? Smart. I fear the fascists, of course, they will kill and behead me without much thought. Have you read the news recently? But do I fear all Muslims? How ignorant. My best friend is Muslim. How can I befriend her if I hate all Muslims?

  266. La Lubu
    La Lubu October 31, 2007 at 8:16 am |

    littleflower, in one of the comments I deleted, you very specifically called Vanessa out by name, and blamed her acceptance and open-minded towards Muslims (and everyone else who shared that acceptance and open-mindedness) for the reason the WTC was bombed and thousands of people died.

    And now you’ve gone and invoked your “best friend” too. (Funny how all bigots seem to have a “best friend” that shares the identity of the folks they hate the most).

    Bah. Basta. I’m done with you. Go ahead and get the last word in, and then let the thread die a natural death.

  267. siti aminah
    siti aminah October 31, 2007 at 1:34 pm |

    And I guess I’m a bigot and a liar too then huh cause my parents and siblings are all Muslims! So much about being open-minded. :)

  268. siti aminah
    siti aminah October 31, 2007 at 2:22 pm |

    Oh since you don’t care to respond to my long argument why hating Islam is not the same as hating Muslims I will then show this piece on IT’S BIGOTED TO BE AGAINST BIGOTS (yes according to you it is).

    http://www.nickcohen.net/?p=152

    It is actually my pet peeve when others conveniently call me names just because they can’t refute my arguments or defend theirs. It is intelectually dishonest to shift the discussion from a subject matter to personality/character of the speaker. And having come from a society that oppresses free speech, I don’t take freedom of thought and speech many of you are just given away freely for granted and I will defend everybody’s right to speak their mind without persecution and character assasination even when their opinions don’t agree with mine. I and many other apostates risk our lives for saying what we say about our religion but we have to do it because it’s the right thing to do. We love our parents and family and never thought they are all just scumbags because we know the real issue, unlike others who may be well-meaning but largely ignorant of what’s happening in our societies. And I won’t let anyone call us bigots without a fight.

  269. siti aminah
    siti aminah October 31, 2007 at 4:33 pm |

    Oh La Lubu, why did you delete my comment? Afraid that because it rings so true, huh? That having come from an oppressive society I won’t let you try to silence us by calling us bigots for exposing the bigots in our religion? That I don’t take for granted freedom of speech/thought the way you do because it’s freely given to you at birth?

  270. littleflower
    littleflower October 31, 2007 at 4:46 pm |

    Ah Siti, she won’t let me have my last words either as she said! I told her she should talk to Feminists who left Islam like Homa Darabi, parvin Darabi, Taslima Nasrin, Wafa Sultan, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and tell them in their face how bigoted they are for fighting against the bigoted mullahs/society that oppressed them. What a joke. I said she and the fascists share the same values of silencing dissenting opinions. I told her that Islam is a bad idea for exactly that reason because there is no room for dissenting opinions. I told her that Europe began to wake up after the PC camp has been telling Islam critics bigots and racists for a long time and cost them a lot of societal problems.

  271. siti aminah
    siti aminah November 1, 2007 at 12:22 pm |

    This is what Vanessa said:

    And this is my point. Only fundamentalists practice something to the letter. It is (empirically, as there are practitioners of Islam that are not fundamentalists) not essential to be a fundamentalist to be a Muslim.

    So. If most Muslims practice Islam in a non-authoritarian manner, then why is authoritarianism inherent in the practice of Islam, again?

    Actually, don’t bother to answer. I have better things to do than waste my time on the internet with crazy-talkers. It just saddens me that neo-con (because, yes, that’s just who you sound like) positions such as this have informed US foreign policy to such a degree.

    to littleflower’s assertion:

    Most Muslims don’t follow the religion to the letter, they are pragmatic. There are degrees of commitment and religiosity among them, just as in any religion.

    Then La Lubu censured littleflower’s response to Vanessa who call those who don’t agree with her CRAZY TALKERS/NEO-CONS (believe me I’m FAR from a conservative, that’s why I speak out) and the next thing we know she calls her a bigot. From the discourse above, it’s obvious littleflower KNOWS for a fact that NOT ALL Muslims are fundamentalists to be fought against! I am sick and tired of apologists twisting our words and selectively edit/read our arguments to make us look bad. No, that actually makes me angry. It’s expected when I discuss this with Muslims as it always happens, but with you here who are supposedly informed liberals? And feminists at that? I think you have a lot to answer for to our women whose sufferings you are so readily trivialised.

  272. siti aminah
    siti aminah November 3, 2007 at 1:02 pm |

    This one might makes you understand better what we are facing in Malaysia and all countries that proclaim Islam as the state religion:

    http://www.faithfreedom.org/Testimonials/Ex-Malaysian_Moslem.htm

  273. siti aminah
    siti aminah November 3, 2007 at 1:04 pm |

    And you think our lives as apostates here are easy! We are not even allowed to convert out. That’s not legally possible.

    http://religion.info/english/articles/article_110.shtml

    http://www.jihadwatch.org/dhimmiwatch/archives/008191.php

  274. siti aminah
    siti aminah November 3, 2007 at 1:11 pm |

    And this is what we are up againts in our country. The so called average Muslims who are opposed to freedom of thought and religion are aplenty in our society.

    http://www.menj.org/religion-philosophy/no-more-joy-for-murtads/

  275. bambi
    bambi November 27, 2007 at 7:43 pm |

    Wow, the denial! It’s one thing to think Christianity is prone to fanaticism as all forms of monotheism is but to think that Islam is just another benign monoheism is refusing to see reality. Just fresh from the oven:
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/theblasphemousteddybear;_ylt=AqqV8rImyBTZPMdaTzSiNQPq188F

    This is but one of the thousands such incidents reported day in day out in the news. Muslims might be benign but Islam never was! Never is. And never will be.

  276. The Personal is Political « Mind the Gap

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  277. MyFriendMsPoet
    MyFriendMsPoet July 30, 2008 at 11:09 pm |

    I believe in the idea of the movement. I think feminism is not really about women being superior of men rather the movement is on gender sensitivity. So, going back to the question if I am a feminist?>>My answer would be yes.

  278. Carole Hanisch: The Personal is Political « Nerves Strengthened with Tea

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