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  • Technorati: graph / links

    The white man to the rescue of brown woman syndrome


    by Sunny on 9th June, 2008 at 8:45 pm    

    Rumbold’s recent post calling for the west’s moral obligation to the women of Iraq in danger from honour killings has attracted the ire of Sonia, Desi Italiana and Halima in the comments. Does the west not care for the men of Iraq, they ask, who have died by the hundreds of thousands since the “the west” came to “liberate them” from the deaths caused by Saddam Hussein. Fair point.

    The broader context is of course that historically white men have always been more easily moved by brown women in distress and been concerned about saving them rather than men. And there are not your usual male feminists, angered by the harassment and sexism white women in western countries face, so its only right to question their motivations.

    But a bit of context, if I may. This is not a blog where every day we talk about how we must attack other countries in other to liberate them. This has always been an anti-war (Iraq) blog. This is not where the only time women’s rights come up is when we’re talking about brown women in foreign countries or in Britain. This is not a place where we dismiss the rights of alleged terrorists because we’d rather they be locked up for 42 days in case something nasty might happen. We care about civil liberties, especially of minorities in Britain.

    The context is important because it is perfectly liberal, and to be a bleeding heart lefty, to suggest that the problems that women face in developing countries should be highlighted. After all, violence against women and institutional sexism is more prevalent in South Asia and the Middle East than in western Europe and the US. Its not all we should highlight. But cut a brother some slack when he does! This isn’t bloody FrontPage Magazine or the Spectator magazine website, or bloody Rod Liddle etc.

    Leon adds: I’d just like to add a small point in addition to the above; those who think we’re not doing a good enough job of covering every single topic out there have a very simple solution: guest write for us!

    Seriously, we always appreciate thoughtful, well written pieces by our regulars and encourage those who see a deficit [in subject matter or news stories] to fill it.



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    71 Comments below   |  

    1. Nav — on 9th June, 2008 at 9:38 pm  

      … historically white men have always been more easily moved by brown women in distress and been concerned about saving them rather than men.

      When and where exactly?

      institutional sexism is more prevalent in South Asia and the Middle East than in western Europe and the US.

      Is that why it took Britain so long to democratically elect its first female Prime Minister whilst the United States is yet to be led by a female President (rumours about FDR’s cross-dressing habit aside) but Soong Ching-ling was at the helm of China as early as the late 60s?

      You being Punjabi, I should hope you’ve experienced the outwardly patrichal culture we live in where the women, when all is said and done, really rule the roost!

    2. marvin — on 9th June, 2008 at 10:41 pm  

      Yes cut brother Rumbold some slack :D

      Why if the article was written by someone right-of-centre and white it would be lies and hypocrisy is not clear… But hey. Your entitled to your own prejudices on conservative thinkers I suppose.

      I still don’t see why the left literally “hate” anyone to the right of centre. I thought they were supposed to be the one’s who had the vision to see the world through the eyes of others and see something good and wholesome…

    3. marvin — on 9th June, 2008 at 10:48 pm  

      On a kind of related note, James Cleverly is pissed at Yasmin Alibhai-Brown for her “insulting, racist drivel”

      http://jamescleverly.blogspot.com/2008/06/insulting-racist-drivel.html

      I agree with the man.

    4. Sunny — on 9th June, 2008 at 10:48 pm  

      Marvin, as someone who says: Well one thing’s for sure, the death suicide of the British left is nearly complete. on his own blog, I’m not sure why you’re asking me why I have a prejudice against conservative thinkers.

      I have a lot annoyance with lefty thinkers too. But to paraphrase another saying, while I don’t dislike all conservative thinkers, most of the thinkers I dislike are conservative and on the right.

    5. marvin — on 9th June, 2008 at 10:59 pm  

      It’s not a prejudice, it’s based on the Conservatives getting more votes than Labour and the Lib Dems put together, in places like Crewe and Nantwich, and other anecdotal evidence that the British are giving up with Britain’s left wing parties.

      I don’t hate all lefties at all, and I do dislike many on the right too, it’s just like you said

      I have a lot annoyance with lefty thinkers too. But to paraphrase another saying, while I don’t dislike all conservative thinkers, most of the thinkers I dislike are conservative and on the right.

      but in reverse, if you get my meaning.

    6. Don — on 9th June, 2008 at 11:20 pm  

      historically white men have always been more easily moved by brown women in distress and been concerned about saving them rather than men.

      Well, take out ‘brown’ and ‘white’ and what’s the problem?

    7. marvin — on 9th June, 2008 at 11:35 pm  

      Good point Don.

    8. Dalbir — on 9th June, 2008 at 11:49 pm  

      Personally I think it stems from colonial times when the randy rulers would have their eyes on the pretty native girls and look for an opportunity to save them for pure altruistic reasons…… whilst fucking the men of their independence, sovereignty, wealth and self esteem.

      Plus the whole nauseating self congratulatory ethos of being “the saviours” of savage darky wogs from themselves comes into play. This was the myth projected to justify imperialism. We too stoopid to rule ourselves…duhh.

      Hee hee.

      ——
      Nav said:
      You being Punjabi, I should hope you’ve experienced the outwardly patrichal culture we live in where the women, when all is said and done, really rule the roost!
      ——

      You know I’m glad you said that because I’m really surprised at all the whiny feminism, when from what I see, the women really do rule the roost as suggested. Darn overbearing cows.

    9. Sunny — on 10th June, 2008 at 12:15 am  

      but in reverse, if you get my meaning.

      So we’re understood then. There’s no point complaining about my own biases, I know what they are and I’m always open about them. But please don’t associate Gordon Brown’s administration with the left. It is an abuse of the term.

      You being Punjabi, I should hope you’ve experienced the outwardly patrichal culture we live in where the women, when all is said and done, really rule the roost!

      This really is quite rubbish. South Indian families are less sexist and more equal than Punjabi families IMO. For a start, the male/female ratio is inversed the most in Punjabi dominated areas like Punjab and Haryana in the north.

      Secondly, Punjabi women might be assertive at home, but the point isn’t about running the household, it is abou t them having political power and economic power outside the house. Given that the Golden Temple administration only recently allowed women to clean the inner sanctum, only about 500 years after Guru Nanak said both sexes should be completely equal, I don’t think Punjabi men have quite caught up with the idea of equality yet.

    10. sonia — on 10th June, 2008 at 12:36 am  

      dunno what the world is coming to these days : perhaps i am stoned! (heh) Poor dear rumbold wrote a post and various people jumped up and down for various reasons. cant see what its got to do with ‘white man’ or ‘brown women’, well i can’t see the relevance of that. me i was making a point about how it is important to think about consequences! it was an important point! and at least rumbold had the honesty and ability to be self-critical. frankly what i was going on about has nothing to do with brown or white or women even - it had to do with humans being under attack - applies just as much to vulnerable men as women though of course raping women seems to be the no. 1 activity during wartime. this has nothing to do with ‘brown’ women this is civilisational. let’s not get colour into this. there is a problem with people thinking about ‘abstract’ solutions for people over there which doesn’t affect themselves. yes - that’s the problem, when you can recommend a bomb for someone else because you’re not sharing in the experience -its that disjuncture. making decisions which YOU will not reap the direct consequence of. that’s the point i vehemently wanted to make. Don’t see what the hell it has to do with ‘men’ or women or knights in shining armour. the knight in shining armour metaphor is relevant only in as much as beware of the traditional ‘charity’ mindset.

    11. sonia — on 10th June, 2008 at 12:37 am  

      which leads to people thinking they can do things from a distance..which leads to detachment.

    12. sonia — on 10th June, 2008 at 12:40 am  

      And my comments had nothing to do with suggesting i might think there is a problem when ‘white men’ write about problems ‘brown women’ have. frankly if anyone is going to say yes women in so-called thirld world countries, including Muslim ones have major issues, i have gone on till im blue in the face about bangladeshi women and citizenship, amongst other issues. Frankly if someone highlights any such issues, I am not bothered/interested if they are a man or a woman,black or white. If i were a white man i’d be downright pissed people keep insisting on discriminating against my individuality that way.

    13. sonia — on 10th June, 2008 at 12:44 am  

      oh yeah : just so that it’s clear:n my comments on the other post I don’t feel had anything to do with ‘feminism’ per se: none at all. that is my wider point perhaps - we should be thinking about the consequences of actions on humans - not just ‘minority groups’/certain categories we must be politically correct about!

    14. douglas clark — on 10th June, 2008 at 1:55 am  

      Sonia,

      Just so’s you know. I read your posts on the other thread and I agreed with them. Now there’s a surprise :-)

      Sunnys’ first para here ends with ‘Fair Point’.

      Rumbold is the fairest, most honest libertarian I’ve ever encountered in my life. I am quite annoyed that folk cannot take an honest post and simply disagree with it rather than attacking the individual. If you care to look back, Rumbold and I have hardly ever agreed on any issue, but I respect him because he has consistently treated me fairly, and hopefully, vice versa. And, on his threads he has replied to almost every comment passed on his original piece.

      That, to me anyway, is the mark of a great blogger. Shit, Sonia, you do it too, last time I looked at your blog. It is courteous of your audience, good netiquette and what this media is supposed to be about.

      Being a sentimental old twit, and having already fallen out with my best tag team pal Anas, I would be so cheesed off if this blog lost people like you and Desi and Halima, ’cause frankly your comments are “quite interesting”.

      Sunny has already turned Liberal Conspiracy from a male dominated testosterone zone into, err.. something else. I’d totally doubt that any of your voices would be suppressed here.

      Err.. What I am trying to say is that if PP is to go forward, we should expect to be challenged sometimes. Now who was that guy that used to write about anarchy when this site was younger?

      Anyway, good night, and good luck….

      The munchies are a bugger…

    15. halima — on 10th June, 2008 at 6:04 am  

      Well, take out ‘brown’ and ‘white’ and what’s the problem?

      I believe they call this a knight in shining armour…

    16. douglas clark — on 10th June, 2008 at 8:49 am  

      halima,

      I believe we do…

    17. Rumbold — on 10th June, 2008 at 8:57 am  

      Iz it cause I iz white?

      Sunny:

      “Rumbold’s recent post calling for the west’s moral obligation to the women of Iraq in danger from honour killings has attracted the ire of Sonia, Desi Italiana and Halima in the comments.”

      I don’t think that Sonia and Halima’s ire was directed at me. Sonia offered some valid criticisms, and Halima’s points were more to do with what topics Pickled Politics covers. And Don answers your question with a simple “take out the brown and white”.

      Marvin:

      “Yes cut brother Rumbold some slack.”

      Cheers.

      Sonia:

      “Poor dear rumbold wrote a post and various people jumped up and down for various reasons. cant see what its got to do with ‘white man’ or ‘brown women’, well i can’t see the relevance of that. me i was making a point about how it is important to think about consequences! it was an important point! and at least rumbold had the honesty and ability to be self-critical.”

      Very kind of you to say so. I didn’t feel under siege, as the point of a blog is to generate debate and discussion. While it is nice when the comments are just a list of people saying ‘good post’, it would get boring if that happened every time.

      “Frankly if someone highlights any such issues, I am not bothered/interested if they are a man or a woman,black or white. If i were a white man i’d be downright pissed people keep insisting on discriminating against my individuality that way.”

      Interesting point.

      Douglas:

      “Rumbold is the fairest, most honest libertarian I’ve ever encountered in my life.

      I’m not sure whether that is damning me with faint praise, but I shall take it anyway.

      “I am quite annoyed that folk cannot take an honest post and simply disagree with it rather than attacking the individual.”

      I think the whole thing has just been blown out of proportion.

    18. douglas clark — on 10th June, 2008 at 9:19 am  

      Rumbold,

      Funny you should say that:

      damning me with faint praise

      I looked at what I’d written before I posted it, and put what I’d said to exactly the same, “am I damning him with faint praise?” test. I decided that you would not be offended before I put it up here. Now, I’m not sure whether it was the right call or not. I have genuine respect for you, and your comments on here. I am not quite in the Shuggy fan club, but what you say is always interesting.

      I think the whole thing has just been blown out of proportion.

      Agreed.

    19. Rumbold — on 10th June, 2008 at 9:25 am  

      Douglas:

      “I looked at what I’d written before I posted it, and put what I’d said to exactly the same, “am I damning him with faint praise?” test. I decided that you would not be offended before I put it up here. Now, I’m not sure whether it was the right call or not.”

      Of course I’m not offended, and I did appreciate it. I was joking in the last comment- I was thinking about your views on other libertarians, and so was wondering whether being chief among them was particularly impressive.

    20. MaidMarian — on 10th June, 2008 at 9:40 am  

      Leon – ‘I’d just like to add a small point in addition to the above; those who think we’re not doing a good enough job of covering every single topic out there’ [By ‘we’ I assume that you mean PP]

      Yes and no. PP does bring in a variety of views and covers a good range of topics. There is, no doubt, some skewing to the interests of the various writers, but that is hardly unexpected. There are some issues that I personally feel should get more coverage (in particular ‘Europe,’ generational robbery, science other than global warming and China beyond human rights) but overall there is a good range.

      The problem, to my mind, with PP and any number of other talk-thread sites is that they have become too samey, too obsessed and all with the same bee-in-the-bonnet issues. Cut to the chase, like too many sites have become fora where gripes are reinforced. How many ‘Gordon Brown is awful’ stories does it take before something descends to self-parody?

      I suppose that you could very easily say that that is the nature of the beast and that had these threads been around in decades gone by then the result would probably have been the same (I have a pet theory that Clem Attlee would have been an internet hate figure) but that doesn’t stop it being samey and just a bit dull.

      Healthy cynicism? Maybe – but too many of these websites have pandered to the cynicism. Say often enough that everything is awful and decaying and it becomes a tautology. Being positive, saying things are good and praising individuals are not the same thing as pro-government! Websites in general have just become fora for axe-grinding and vitriol – sort of shock-jock facilitation. This is what happened to CiF, shock-jocks have a shelf-life.

      PP is good, and one of the better talk-thread sites but ultimately, and through no fault of its own, it has followed the herd.

      The problem is not the range, it is that everything is just seen through a lens of stultifying, crushing cynicism and a need to have something to hate. Changing the range of articles and bringing in neglected subjects is good. But it will only partially help as many of the problems all sites face are beyond the control of any one website.

    21. douglas clark — on 10th June, 2008 at 9:53 am  

      Rumbold @ 19

      Thanks. It is a heartfelt view about you and what you do here.

      OTOH.

      My views on the libertarian movement, have been irretrievably warped by a certain climate change denialist, initialist.

      I’d offer counselling, or something equally wishy washy to your party leader.

      Err, is it possible for libertarians to have leaders? Anarchists found it a concept too far.

      ‘Cause in my dirty little heart, I am still an anarchist…

    22. Rumbold — on 10th June, 2008 at 9:55 am  

      Douglas:

      DK is not the leader of the party, he is director of communications. Are you tempted to join?

      “Err, is it possible for libertarians to have leaders?”

      Heh.

    23. douglas clark — on 10th June, 2008 at 10:12 am  

      Rumbold @ 22

      So who is the leader of the gang, I am?

      Are you tempted to join?

      No :-) Until they establish an atheist anarchist party with a clause that says you are allowed to vote SNP, and you have a right on a Saturday night to fight off evil right wing libertarians, then, well, fucks sake, even then I’d swither. I am not a party guy. That is what anarchist probably means.

      Anything other than complete anarchy is an evil beyond belief. :-)

    24. Nav — on 10th June, 2008 at 10:41 am  

      Secondly, Punjabi women might be assertive at home, but the point isn’t about running the household, it is abou t them having political power and economic power outside the house. Given that the Golden Temple administration only recently allowed women to clean the inner sanctum, only about 500 years after Guru Nanak said both sexes should be completely equal, I don’t think Punjabi men have quite caught up with the idea of equality yet.

      I suggest you read up on the role of women in Sikhism and the development of Punjabi culture.

      You dispute my observation that women are given- not yet equal, unfortunately- but a nonetheless significant role in Punjabi culture but seem to have ignored just how forward-thinking Sikhism is and has been since conception.

    25. Sunny — on 10th June, 2008 at 3:51 pm  

      but seem to have ignored just how forward-thinking Sikhism is and has been since conception.

      There’s a difference between Sikhi and punjabi culture. I’ve highlighted that above.

    26. Sunny — on 10th June, 2008 at 4:39 pm  

      frankly what i was going on about has nothing to do with brown or white or women even - it had to do with humans being under attack - applies just as much to vulnerable men as women though of course raping women seems to be the no. 1 activity during wartime.

      Sonia, I agree of course. But there was a fair bit of talk about how we were concentrating only on Iraqi women, not the men. Which led into whether this was typical of guys trying to save women but not caring about men.

    27. sonia — on 10th June, 2008 at 4:51 pm  

      dear douglas, good points in no. 14.

      rumbold 10 - is it cos i is white? heh. and also -because you are male? can’t say anything about those/to those wimmin! ;-) you know what rumbold i have to say that i have been accused of saying things about “brown/muslim women” from the point of ‘not being able to empathise and the highly powerful and privileged position a white male automatically holds (on the internet of course, where no one can see me) so there you go, what chance have you got mate! ;-) it did make my blood boil though because i thought, i shouldn’t have to advertise ,in a textual environment with no physical cues, that i am female and ‘brown’ and actually born muslim, to “justify” my comments.

      and yes, im glad you realised my ‘ire’ was not directed at you, not at all, in fact i thought i said sth along the lines of the fact self-critical and admit it is something i applaud. its brave too about such a contentious issue when you knew so many people could crow about it. I hope what i said you did not take in that way, it just frustrates me that we have to learn this lesson every time, but then i have been familiar with the consequences of war as a 12 year old so I daresay it is an issue i am very passionate about, it matters to me because i know this very minute it is happening somewhere in this world.

      And all i ever want is for us bods to be critical! of our leaders, of society, of ourselves. to think. :-) and to be able to admit that life is more than a ‘debate’ and a who won/who lost/who had the right answer/wrong answer. We don’t really have any answers, we need to recognise that before making up an answer cos we needed one hey pronto! Doesn’t mean we don’t stick with rigour..oh no.

      so I’m glad you didn’t feel ‘encumbered’ i think it was very brave of you to be honest and talk about what you did. most of us people aren’t able to admit they were conflicted about ideas/beliefs they have/had.

      but again i really have to say i think its sadly ridiculous that individual are so often accused of taking a perceived stance when they speak about an issue because of their skin colour and gender. that’s discrimination, pure and simple, and obsession with externals. its a bit like the stuff that used to happen on our threads a lot, with ahem! people saying/’oh you argue this because you’re Gujarati/bengali/sylheti/Brown/black/white/jewish/whatever. And so on and so forth till the cows came home.

      moving beyond all that, i’d say if there is an issue really (race gender are red herrings) it is with ending up with a problematic concept of ‘helper’ and ‘helpee’. which of course is problematic as many people know, when things become set, people lose agency through seeing themselves as a “helpee” etc. it is an identification of oneself as a victim that is problematic, psychologically, and socially. which is always a challenge that is present in counselling, because it is help someone to help themselves! you cannot help someone without them wanting to help themselves.

      this prob. has just as much resonance with the welfare state as it does with anything else. It’s a difficult one this, when there are issues to flag up, which there always are. I would again, focus on issues,that individuals face and have to deal with, rather than ‘typify a group‘ in some way which hides a source of the problem, or makes it seem external to this tight group. after all, the issues “brown women” in many countries (if we want to be so coarse as to refer to them in that way but let us do so) face have very much to do with their equally brown mothers and matriarchs have done to them, and the choices/constraints the chains of authority and hierarchy themselves as individuals faced.

      So let us not be facile please. there are many issues and problems in the world today, most of them arise from interaction of individuals with other individuals and in group settings, and power play dynamics, with an interplay between different groupings. so let us not be facile.

      maid marian, good post.

    28. sonia — on 10th June, 2008 at 4:56 pm  

      ok that doesn’t read very easily with words/letters missing here and there ive just noticed but i guess you lot got the gist of what i was getting at!

    29. halima — on 10th June, 2008 at 5:34 pm  

      I don’t think that Sonia and Halima’s ire was directed at me. Sonia offered some valid criticisms, and Halima’s points were more to do with what topics Pickled Politics covers. And Don answers your question with a simple “take out the brown and white”.

      Rumbold - it’s unfortunate the discussin took that turn, it wasn’t meant to sound critical towards a fellow blogger - and yes, it’s the issues and the depth in PP - and not your particular views.

      Though Though - yes, I have strange feelings about rescuing anyone anywhere - except when they are vulnerable - and the principle of vulnerability can be applied in humanitarian context. It doesn’t matter if the saviour in question is a white knight in shining armour (for saving white women’s honour as they did back in the days) or a US soldier in Iraq ( saving Afghan women’s honour) - for me it’s much better that people ‘rescue’ themselves - in other words are empowered to take their fortunes in their own hands.

    30. halima — on 10th June, 2008 at 5:56 pm  

      also, the white man’s presence in ‘brown’ countries has been frought with difficulties and complexities - and so it makes sense that white men’s attempts to rescue ‘brown’ women might be problematic , too - especially when you introduce ‘race’, ‘power’ and ’sexuality’ together…

      There’s some interesting writings by African American writers ( bell hooks, Toni Morisson) on colonial desire, sexual fantasies and territorial annexations but probably doesn’t lend itself to discussions like ours here. However, the figure of the Pocahontas says a lot I guess - seen as female America “who is virginal, seductive, open and receptive to English settlement” but ultimately she becomes a bit of a pygmalion - neither Native American or English but mostly submissive to English values and subservient. Is this what we want with the women in Iraq and Afghanistan.. Hope not. I am not sure where I am going with this - but just thought I’d put it out there.

    31. sonia — on 10th June, 2008 at 6:19 pm  

      yes halima i can see what you’re getting at. its been talked about a lot and tends to be what postcolonialism focuses on overmuch. frankly its not just ‘white man’s presence that is the problem here - that is a separate problem, which in my opinion it wasnt about whether they were white or male, it should have been about the imperialism and control and power. which was clearly not restricted to ‘white man’ from somewhere else. But that is my problem: too often people only seem to criticise imperialism and power dynamics if it comes from elsewhere and its presence on “our soil” is problematic. Well my problem is not the who should be imperialistic where, in their ‘proper’ place, my problem is with the fundamental issues of imperialism: control of people’s destiny by others. And people can say what they like but “white man” in India is the most recent form of imperialism in the subcontinent, landed families and anyone in the upper echelons of caste structure have been at it for centuries. My problem is not linking the similar problematic dynamics present in all these situations. Women have been encouraged to be submissive in the indian subcontinent and boy people didn’t like it when change was suggested - of course it was referred to as “ooh look the feranghis are coming and taking our women away! they are making them subservient to their desires”/. I mean please, why can we not criticise societal dynamics/problems without having this ‘authenticity’ problem? that’s what it seems to come down to.

      YOU ARE NOT AUTHENTIC! THEREFORE YOU CANNOT CRITICISE!

      we need to be able to honestly recognise points of view which make valid criticisms, and stop this ‘oh you’re with us or you’re with them type dichotomy’. Yes there are always issues of who wants us to be which way, but if people listen to women who speak out, who have grown up in the thirld world, you won’t find they are too worried - now - if some ‘white man’ is promoting their cause oh no. No -why- because they have more urgent things to worry about - like their security! like the rights their OWN men and women will not give them. Stuff like that. this business of not wanting some bloke to feel condescending towards you because that’s what you see it as, is higher up the maslow hierarchy of needs, the way i see it, to be totally honest. If you’ve got the time to worry about that, well you’re not probably worried about something else more fundamental to your security and needs.

    32. sonia — on 10th June, 2008 at 6:25 pm  

      and basically, the whole thing too often comes down to an attitude of ” we dont like “other” men showing our women interest & concernt its not “right”, they are not ‘theirs’ to be concerned over. too much proprietary control. if a human being cares about another, god damn what colour race or gender they are.

    33. Don — on 10th June, 2008 at 6:37 pm  

      I was composing a comment, but sonia has covered the main points.

      I don’t doubt that the colonial desire/ save the ‘other’ from their otherness narratives described do exist. We have probably all encountered them. But to go from that to concluding that one part of a person’s identity (race, gender, privilege, whatever) excludes them from making a legitimate contribution to any debate is problematic in the extreme.

    34. Desi Italiana — on 10th June, 2008 at 7:04 pm  

      Sunny:

      “Rumbold’s recent post calling for the west’s moral obligation to the women of Iraq in danger from honour killings has attracted the ire of Sonia, DESI ITALIANA and Halima in the comments. Does the west not care for the men of Iraq, they ask, who have died by the hundreds of thousands since the “the west” came to “liberate them” from the deaths caused by Saddam Hussein. Fair point.”

      “But cut a brother some slack when he does! This isn’t bloody FrontPage Magazine or the Spectator magazine website, or bloody Rod Liddle etc.”

      Yo, it wasn’t me who said, “PP should cover these stories”. What I said that I thought using the plight of Iraqi women to completely brush aside the connected violence that has been occurring in Iraq due to occupation made me puke. And you don’t need to write a whole entire other post. In fact, saying a line or two in the post would have sufficed. So it’s not so much the time factor or choice of topic, it’s about the logic and thinking.

    35. Desi Italiana — on 10th June, 2008 at 7:13 pm  

      “The broader context is of course that historically white men have always been more easily moved by brown women in distress and been concerned about saving them rather than men.”

      It is not only about the white, male, orientalist and racist who wants to rescue the brown woman in distress. It’s about marketing justifications for war. It also says a lot about the underlying racism and sexism in this war in Iraq and Afghanistan: that men and boys can be popped off because, of course, naturally, those guys HAD TO be ‘insurgents’, ‘Al Qaeda’, meaning rogue elements. We seem to assume that killing males is ok, while killing women is not. IMO, it’s not ok to kill innocent males and women.

      Many women have been forced into prostitution because when their men were killed, their livelihoods went with that too.

      Women who have been raped by the US and UK ‘liberators’ whom Rumbold seems to think went to Afghanistan and Iraq to bring a fucking democracy smoothie shake for all Iraqis and Afghans to drink bear violence as well.

      There are men, both young and old, and boys who have been killed. And I take with a grain of truth when the news media (which takes all of its sources from official sources regarding war coverage in Iraq- trust me, I know this from personal working experience) says or quotes someone saying that the 140 killed were ‘insurgents’- all nameless people for us who are sitting and blogging about this situation.

    36. Desi Italiana — on 10th June, 2008 at 7:21 pm  

      Rumbold:

      “I don’t think that Sonia and Halima’s ire was directed at me. Sonia offered some valid criticisms, and Halima’s points were more to do with what topics Pickled Politics covers.”

      What, my point wasn’t valid? That picking up a pet cause like honour killings because it’s sexy, attractive, and the ‘liberal’ thing to do but not mentioning a line or two about the senseless deaths of Iraqi males in a “war you supported”?

      I know I have written very strong comments to Rumbold, Sunny, and Shariq over on the other thread on his post on racism and the US, but at the same time, I can’t help but comment on the things I’m seeing here under the guise of self-proclaimed ‘liberalism’ and ‘progressivism’. If you don’t want to be cornered into championing a certain ideology- ie “We don’t do this and that, we are inclusive of blah blah, etc- then why espouse a certain ideology in the first place? If anything comes and goes (barring really badly written pieces, which Sunny says that he has turned down), you might has well try to pass yourselves off as a platform which gives voice to a multitude of voices, given that they are truly racist, sexist, etc (but you guys seem to have a tender spot for I/P, because as always, Israel is the exception to things we would denounce elsewhere, but whatever, we’ve got a few commentators here who shall remain unnamed who come in here and make the most eloquent and liberal sounding apologies for Israel).

    37. halima — on 10th June, 2008 at 7:24 pm  

      Don, Sonia

      Must admit postcolonialism goes over my head bit but I was loosely playing with Kipling’s phrase white man’s burden - also part and parcel of British imperialism.

      though though anyone has the right to comment on anything whatever their identities but i can only comment in context of research ethics. Feminist researchers would argue all knowledge contribution is legitimate but all knowledge encounters are a product between a and b - and not ‘objective’ in any way, and so we should probably be aware that our identities as women, black, posh, not posh etc does matter and interacts to produce any body of knowledge and what we say on any given topic - but doesn’t mean our contributions aren’t valid - only that such knowledge is subjective and that we acknowledge our biases - bias here doesn’t have negative meaning. That’s the way I think anthropologists explain their engagement in the ‘field’ these days.

      Authenticity and claims to it, I agree shut up rather than open up debate - but still the feminist arguments above have some merit.

    38. Desi Italiana — on 10th June, 2008 at 7:24 pm  

      Typo:

      “given that they are truly racist, sexist, etc”

      I meant to say, given that they are NOT truly racist, sexist, etc.

    39. Desi Italiana — on 10th June, 2008 at 7:26 pm  

      Anyway, I would like to apologize to Sunny, Rumbold, and Shariq for my manner of voicing my opinions. I am sorry about my sharp tone (I don’t do diplomacy well), but I am certainly not sorry about my opinions and I am not apologizing for my thoughts. I hope you guys don’t think I am disrespecting you or anything.

    40. halima — on 10th June, 2008 at 7:28 pm  

      Desi

      You are a star - go go go.

    41. Desi Italiana — on 10th June, 2008 at 7:32 pm  

      Q: Why are there so few permanent female bloggers on PP?

      Since we are on the topic of PP’s editorial directions, how come PP doesn’t have female bloggers that post as much as the PP permanent bloggers? There are 3 permanent female contributors out of 10 bloggers (including Rumbold, who is not on the contributor’s page). Why is this? I don’t think it’s hard to find another female contributor who posts more often than once every two years or anything like that. I mean, Sonia’s comments could be a post unto themselves.

      Why is blogosphere, especially blogosphere pertaining to Desis, so male dominated with a few female bloggers? Why?

    42. Desi Italiana — on 10th June, 2008 at 7:37 pm  

      What would having an equal number of bright,intelligent, and strong female bloggers having direct access to PP to post regularly and more often do to PP? Asking for contributions is all fine, but why don’t the other PP bloggers besides Sunny (who’s the ‘editor’) just ‘contribute’ like everyone else that you invite to do so?

    43. Desi Italiana — on 10th June, 2008 at 7:40 pm  

      Not saying by any means that you lot are a bunch of sexist pigs or anything like that, obviously, but since this post brought up discussing editorial content and seems to give us readers SOME power over changing the direction by ‘contributing’, I’m just asking questions, that’s all.

    44. Desi Italiana — on 10th June, 2008 at 7:41 pm  

      Oops, left out a crucial word.

      “how come PP doesn’t have female bloggers that post as much as the MALE PP permanent bloggers? “

    45. Desi Italiana — on 10th June, 2008 at 7:44 pm  

      Dammit Halima, I would have had a clean sweep of the comments column if not for your comment! :)

    46. halima — on 10th June, 2008 at 8:17 pm  

      sorry!

      On a more serious note, you might find the following piece interesting by Derek Gregory - in his previous work he’s linked the colonial past to what’s happening in different parts of the world today to bring back the focus on what he calls the Colonial Present in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine - though this lecture is more about global war prisons - very interesting. Nite, nite!

      http://depts.washington.edu/uwch/katz/20062007/derek_gregory.html

    47. Rumbold — on 10th June, 2008 at 8:37 pm  

      Sonia:

      ” you know what rumbold i have to say that i have been accused of saying things about “brown/muslim women” from the point of ‘not being able to empathise and the highly powerful and privileged position a white male automatically holds (on the internet of course, where no one can see me) so there you go, what chance have you got mate!”

      Heh. I have trouble imagining you as a white male, but I suppose that if you don’t tow the party line on certain things then you must be an imperialist white male.

      ” its brave too about such a contentious issue when you knew so many people could crow about it.”

      I appreciated your words beforehand, and when I said ‘valid criticisms’, that was not meant as an attack, as I don’t think that criticism per se is bad.

      ” so I’m glad you didn’t feel ‘encumbered’ i think it was very brave of you to be honest and talk about what you did. most of us people aren’t able to admit they were conflicted about ideas/beliefs they have/had.”

      Thanks. Douglas still refuses to admit that he wants to join the Libertarian Party (to give an example of not admitting conflicted beliefs).

      ”But again i really have to say i think its sadly ridiculous that individual are so often accused of taking a perceived stance when they speak about an issue because of their skin colour and gender.”

      It’s a mentality that is as old as time itself, and will continue long after we are dust.

      ” ok that doesn’t read very easily with words/letters missing here and there ive just noticed but i guess you lot got the gist of what i was getting at!”

      Of course. And thank you once again for all your kind words. If I used yellow faces, I would put one in right now.

    48. Rumbold — on 10th June, 2008 at 8:43 pm  

      Halima:

      ” Rumbold - it’s unfortunate the discussin took that turn, it wasn’t meant to sound critical towards a fellow blogger - and yes, it’s the issues and the depth in PP - and not your particular views.”

      Please, be critical all you want Halima.

      ” Though Though - yes, I have strange feelings about rescuing anyone anywhere - except when they are vulnerable - and the principle of vulnerability can be applied in humanitarian context.”

      But who determines who is vulnerable?

      ”For me it’s much better that people ‘rescue’ themselves - in other words are empowered to take their fortunes in their own hands.”

      In an ideal world, yes. But how do you empower a girl in a rural Kurdish village to stand up to her extended family who are going to kill her for talking to a boy?

      ”Also, the white man’s presence in ‘brown’ countries has been frought with difficulties and complexities - and so it makes sense that white men’s attempts to rescue ‘brown’ women might be problematic , too - especially when you introduce ‘race’, ‘power’ and ’sexuality’ together…”

      I don’t think that it is perfect either. But nor is the status quo in Iraq. People often over-intellectualise these issues (what does it tell us about x, and so on), which can be dangerous.

    49. douglas clark — on 10th June, 2008 at 8:49 pm  

      Desi,

      It’s not for me to say, but I’d be surprised if they, the PP team I mean, wouldn’t give you a permanent gig on here. This has always been a site that welconed women. And their viewpoints. Try doing what Rumbold does. I’d doubt you’d find it easy. It is a doddle for folk to take a back seat. Personally, I’d be fascinated to know how you are getting on in Nepal. i think that could be very interesting.

    50. douglas clark — on 10th June, 2008 at 8:52 pm  

      Desi,

      Of course that would mean that you and I would fight all the more!

    51. Rumbold — on 10th June, 2008 at 8:53 pm  

      Desi Italiana:

      ” What, my point wasn’t valid? That picking up a pet cause like honour killings because it’s sexy, attractive, and the ‘liberal’ thing to do but not mentioning a line or two about the senseless deaths of Iraqi males in a “war you supported”?”

      I was querying Sunny’s assertion that Halima and Sonia had turned their ire on me. As you said that I was a deluded white imperialist whose post made you puke, I felt confident that Sunny was right in saying that your ire was turned against me, so I made no comment about it. ‘Honour’ killings are sexy now are they? Perhaps you should tell that to all the women who have narrowly escaped death- I bet they love to be associated with such a glamorous cause.

      ” Q: Why are there so few permanent female bloggers on PP?”

      We have a number of registered female bloggers on Pickled Politics; Clairwil, Sonia, Fe’reeha, and others. I suppose it is the fault of the males that they don’t write as much as Sunny and the rest of the male bloggers. Perhaps we should go round and chain them to their computers.

    52. douglas clark — on 10th June, 2008 at 9:27 pm  

      Perhaps we should go round and chain them to their computers.

      Hah hah. Ask Desi or Halima whether they are tied to their computers or not. Personally I think they might both add a bit more to this site. But there you go….

    53. Inders — on 10th June, 2008 at 9:31 pm  

      Never heard of this syndrome before. Not even during Empire.

    54. soru — on 10th June, 2008 at 9:39 pm  

      Obviously never read a Flashman book then…

    55. Ravi Naik — on 10th June, 2008 at 11:09 pm  

      “As you said that I was a deluded white imperialist whose post made you puke”

      If all deluded white imperialists were like you Rumbold, we would live in a better world. :) I totally agree with you on the subject of honour killings and I am glad you brought it up.

      People should not be belittled because of their gender or race. Men should voice their concerns about women issues (and not being told to shut up as I have here in PP) , and white people here should be encouraged to voice their opinion on Asian matters.

    56. Ravi Naik — on 10th June, 2008 at 11:30 pm  

      On that subject, does it really matter if there are fewer women writing here than men? More atheists than hindus? More older people than young? More academics than bankers? I don’t know what categories Soru or Inders belong to, and honestly, nobody should care. You really don’t need to know this information to address the core of the argument, which is what everybody should do, rather than engaging in ad hominem attacks.

    57. halima — on 11th June, 2008 at 2:57 am  

      In an ideal world, yes. But how do you empower a girl in a rural Kurdish village to stand up to her extended family who are going to kill her for talking to a boy?

      You would work with civil society organisations and human rights organisations in a Kurdish village - we don’t need outsiders to do this, the best defence of human rights is actually within the country itself. I meant national minorities working within their own structures - and there are plenty of them that exist. If we spent a little time bolstering those, we might have less trouble mopping up afterwards - i.e. change would be sustainable.

      Douglas..

      Personally I do love my computer, and don’t get enough time with it !

      vulnerability is relative bt there are some good principles around vulnerablity - the UN whas some, so does Save the Children.

    58. Cover Drive — on 11th June, 2008 at 6:24 am  

      #55 & 56

      Well said Ravi. So I’m not the only who gets the feeling that PP is often quite tribalistic where the voices of certain types of posters tend to trump over others. A bit of self-criticism and self-mockery is often needed.

      Ever seen Goodness Gracious Me? Absolutely fantastic and very funny. I think that was a watershed in British comedy and much needed because before that Asians were all regarded quite mysteriously by white people. Suddenly this show came along and got people to laugh at Asian stereotypes. If you get people to see your funny side they are more likely to see you in a less hostile way.

    59. sonia — on 11th June, 2008 at 12:22 pm  

      Heh heh chained to our computers :-)

      “Heh. I have trouble imagining you as a white male, but I suppose that if you don’t tow the party line on certain things then you must be an imperialist white male”

      yep that appears to be the spirit, if all else fails, just accuse someone of being a white male.

    60. Ala — on 11th June, 2008 at 12:37 pm  

      the simple solution to all this is to get a non-White woman to rant about it. But if I, an Iraqi woman, were to highlight the plight of Iraqi women, I would be accused of being a westernised traitor. Sometimes there’s just no pleasing Iraqi men.

    61. Sunny — on 11th June, 2008 at 2:32 pm  

      There are 3 permanent female contributors out of 10 bloggers (including Rumbold, who is not on the contributor’s page). Why is this? I don’t think it’s hard to find another female contributor who posts more often than once every two years or anything like that. I mean, Sonia’s comments could be a post unto themselves.

      Yes, well, I have identified this as an issue.

      In fact I have more women guest contributors than men because I can’t get women to write frequently enough! Don’t think I haven’t asked Sonia to blog regularly! She’s on our internal email list already.

      Ala, who has posted above, is also getting used to the system and will hopefully start blogging soon.

      Then there’s Zeenat, who has been sending me lots of ideas and will more regularly blog for us. I just need them to get used to blogging (Ala already is) and then just hope they post regularly.

    62. Sid — on 11th June, 2008 at 2:54 pm  

      woohoo!

    63. sonia — on 11th June, 2008 at 4:27 pm  

      “I mean, Sonia’s comments could be a post unto themselves.”

      why Desi..thank you! im touched. i think the same about your comments :-) we could have the Desi and Sonia show - with excerpts from our most feistiest sessions here on PP :-)

      yes credit to Sunny, he has definitely made an effort to get me to write, and other women, absolutely.

    64. sonia — on 11th June, 2008 at 4:37 pm  

      he got Zohra to write a guest post..

    65. Nav — on 11th June, 2008 at 10:17 pm  

      There’s a difference between Sikhi and punjabi culture. I’ve highlighted that above.

      I didn’t say they were the same thing but to not acknowledge that the two aren’t mutually exclusive is just plain naive.

      The impact of Sikhism on Punjabi culture would be quite clear to any Punjabis- be they Sikh, Muslim or Hindu.

      Punjabi women are strong-mind if not often plainly stubborn (!); independent- witness Punjabi folk songs like ‘Jugni’ and their comment on the free spirit of Punjabi women; and obviously very intelligent so to portray them as vulnerable and timid strikes me as somewhat patronising.

    66. Dalbir — on 11th June, 2008 at 10:58 pm  

      ——
      Punjabi women are strong-mind if not often plainly stubborn (!); independent- witness Punjabi folk songs like ‘Jugni’ and their comment on the free spirit of Punjabi women; and obviously very intelligent so to portray them as vulnerable and timid strikes me as somewhat patronising.
      ——

      I have to agree with this wholeheartedly. From my experience many Panjabi Sikh women are very independent minded and definitely not timid.

    67. Rumbold — on 13th June, 2008 at 11:42 am  

      Ravi:

      “If all deluded white imperialists were like you Rumbold, we would live in a better world. I totally agree with you on the subject of honour killings and I am glad you brought it up.”

      Thanks Ravi. Sorry, I missed this comment earlier.

    68. Desi Italiana — on 13th June, 2008 at 11:57 am  

      Wait one minute:

      Rumbold:

      “As you said that I was a deluded white imperialist whose post made you puke”

      Why are you putting words in my mouth, which has sparked off comments by Ravi et al about using race as a criteria?

      This is what I had said:

      In the comments section here:

      “Yo, it wasn’t me who said, “PP should cover these stories”. What I said that I thought using the plight of Iraqi women to completely brush aside the connected violence that has been occurring in Iraq due to occupation made me puke.”

      And over on the other thread:

      “Like I said, this kind of namby-pamby, almost pompous Western “concern” about women (because the West, we know, is SOOOO much more progressive than the rest of the brown planet, which is why we go and invade and occupy them!) if fucking stupid and a piece of propaganda. Didn’t you write a post earlier on how it’s up to us to do this shit and that in Iraq because we went there to ‘liberate’ and ‘bring freedom’? That is the kind of imperialist mindset I am talking about, and why this post pisses me off.”

      Who the hell is talking about your race here? Race is not a criteria, you could be a brown guy living in the UK and think that the UK has some la mission civilatrice in the rest of the backward brown world.

      Please don’t make up comments that I never said. I’m really careful about the concepts I write in my comments.

      Ravi:

      And you should make sure that someone actually said, “white imperialist” before you thump someone’s back and write comments on something someone never said.

    69. Desi Italiana — on 13th June, 2008 at 12:09 pm  

      Ravi:

      “People should not be belittled because of their gender or race. Men should voice their concerns about women issues (and not being told to shut up as I have here in PP) , and white people here should be encouraged to voice their opinion on Asian matters.”

      Who the hell was talking about race is what I want to know, apart from Sunny in his post and Rumbold, who put ‘white’ in my mouth.

      See Ravi, don’t engage in Chinese whispers.

    70. Desi Italiana — on 13th June, 2008 at 12:16 pm  

      Ravi:

      “On that subject, does it really matter if there are fewer women writing here than men? More atheists than hindus? More older people than young? More academics than bankers? I don’t know what categories Soru or Inders belong to, and honestly, nobody should care. You really don’t need to know this information to address the core of the argument, which is what everybody should do, rather than engaging in ad hominem attacks.”

      Fewer women writing, yes. Have you ever heard of a little thing called ‘experiences’? I know that I have had certain experiences simply because I am a woman. I bet you $500 I can write a better post than anyone with a penis out there about women facing harassment by men on a daily basis. I’m not saying that a point of view by a male writer is not ‘credible’- absolutely not. And in fact, if said male writes a post on women harassment from an interesting perspective, than by all means, welcome welcome. But personal experiences count a lot.

    71. Desi Italiana — on 13th June, 2008 at 12:20 pm  

      Rumbold:

      “Rumbold’s recent post calling for the west’s moral obligation to the women of Iraq in danger from honour killings has attracted the ire of Sonia, Desi Italiana and Halima in the comments. Does the west not care for the men of Iraq, they ask, who have died by the hundreds of thousands since the “the west” came to “liberate them” from the deaths caused by Saddam Hussein. Fair point.

      The broader context is of course that historically white men have always been more easily moved by brown women in distress and been concerned about saving them rather than men. And there are not your usual male feminists, angered by the harassment and sexism white women in western countries face, so its only right to question their motivations.”

      Separate the two grafs. The first one is Sunny’s summary about what I, Halima, and Sonia said.

      The second is Sunny’s own thoughts, and it is here that the word ‘white’ and the concept of race show up.

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