Let’s not confuse standing up against sexism with standing up for racism


by guest
20th August, 2009 at 7:34 pm    

This is a guest post by Jobeda Ali

Last week, Jim Fitzpatrick was lambasted in the press for walking out of a segregated wedding. The interesting thing here is how the story has proliferated about a white man being rude to minorities, and somehow manages to avoid talking about the injustice he was protesting against.

Gender segregation is a tool for the institutional subjugation of women and the reduction of women to sexual distractions that society (the domain of men) must be protected from. Of course this is not a deliberate calculation when people decide to segregate an event, they would rather call it modesty or tradition, but that destructive perception of women as a threat to society is what is at the heart of segregating the genders. The practice directly and subliminally reinforces to both the women and men present that women must be kept away from men, and that reinforcement impacts on many other gender relations in society from the domestic to the political.

This is not about keeping men and women apart, but about keeping women away from men – a very important distinction because it maintains that society is the domain of men, and women are just visitors in it at the whim of men. This is clearly demonstrated by the fact that segregation inherently perpetuates hierarchy.

Historical racial segregation did not afford black and white people the same quality of venues and services. If proponents of gender segregation believe in different but equal as they purport, how come every segregated wedding or birthday I’ve been to ALWAYS puts women in the lesser room, often the basement room? Imagine this were applied at weddings with mainly white people rather than brown people. Imagine white women being told to sit in the basement room while the white men feast in the grand hall. I guarantee you would all be up in arms. So why is it acceptable for brown people to treat women like this? Why did the press not pick up on this rather than focus on the anger of the Bangladesh men? Why are we not challenging this apartheid instead of defending the people who perpetrate it?

I always challenge segregation where I see it. I am slowly but determinedly challenging this sudden institutionalising of segregation and I don’t care whether brown, white or purple people do it, because I believe no-one should do it. I believe all women should be treated equally, I do not have different rules for women from different races or faiths. I respect that Jim Fitzpatrick is one of the few public figures to have the courage to say the same.

No-one disagrees with respecting other cultures. But respecting an unjust practice just because some people claim it is their culture/religion is us cringing from the difficult task of social change, especially the advancing of women’s rights in resistant cultures; it is one of the hardest things to do. But we should not use culture and tradition as an excuse to not challenge injustices. We should not shy away from issues just because our own society does not practice them. I do not respect the butchery of the genitals of five year old girls just because some Somalis say it is their culture – I will not respect some Kurdish men saying they have a religious duty to murder their daughter – I will always combat these things. Why am I any less entitled to combat them than my Somali or Kurdish friends? And how belittled would my friend Amaal (who was mutilated as a little girl) feel, if I said FGM was just a cultural practice and so I respect it? Can Ammal and I not aspire to the same rights and standards and values? There are certain things that we have to stand up against, regardless of whether people claim it is their culture or not. There is, after all, such a thing as universal values and human rights.

This story is another clear example of the ‘Othering’ of Muslim women within British culture. They are the Other, their rules are different, they have lower expectations than us, they have a different sense of shame and dignity. Was it only right to condemn racial apartheid in South Africa just because white people were committing it? Are you just going to leave me to fight this segregation on my own because it’s not a problem you created? While men undermine me for my gender, will you turn your back on me because of my race? Are you really going to wash your hands of me and undermine my right to appear in society as I wish, just as the perpetrators of segregation are doing?

Screw you all. You make me want to start a fight at a segregated event just so I can be taken to court and start the necessary process to illegalise gender apartheid.

****

Jobeda Ali is a documentary filmmaker and founder of the Muslim Women’s Cineforum.


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  1. Carmen D'Cruz

    RT @pickledpolitics Pickled Politics » Let’s not confuse standing up against sexism with standing up for racism http://bit.ly/wu5eQ


  2. Samantha Kennedy

    RT @pickledpolitics: Let’s not confuse standing up against sexism with standing up for racism http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/5603


  3. DavidMWW

    RT @pickledpolitics: New blog post: Let’s not confuse standing up against sexism with standing up for racism http://bit.ly/5PB6k


  4. Christopher J Jones

    RT @tweetmeme Pickled Politics » Let’s not confuse standing up against sexism with standing up for racism http://bit.ly/wu5eQ


  5. Jobeda Ali

    RT @pickledpolitics Pickled Politics » Let’s not confuse standing up against sexism with standing up for racism http://bit.ly/wu5eQ


  6. Purdah « Cycads

    [...] to the media’s one-sided focus on Fitzpatrick’s ‘bad manners’, Jobeda Ali writes about the sexism in gender segregation that is ignored for the sake of preserving respect for [...]


  7. Jadah Bilal

    "Let’s not confuse standing up against sexism with standing up for racism" by Jobeda Ali http://is.gd/2SOmP


  8. Whitney Stark

    Pickled Politics » Let's not confuse standing up against sexism… http://tinyurl.com/yekqskf




  1. Shatterface — on 20th August, 2009 at 7:53 pm  

    I commented at the time that Fitzpatrick left at the request of his wife, but while posters here where happy to demonize a man as a ‘racist’ and a ‘bigot’ they didn’t quite have the guts to attack a woman for refusing to sit where she was told.

  2. Denim Justice — on 20th August, 2009 at 7:58 pm  

    Oh for God’s sake. If he wants to ban segregated weddings, he’s had many years as an MP to do so.

    I suppose he’ll be banning stag and hen nights too.

    Oh and I guess you want those attending mendhi (henna) nights attacked in the press too?

    He scored cheap political points off the marriage of someone he knew. He got invited to a wedding, then used it as a stunt. And it backfired.

    Perhaps when Qaradawi is laid to rest, we should invade his funeral with gay floats?

  3. DavidMWW — on 20th August, 2009 at 8:11 pm  

    God, that was great!

  4. Sofia — on 20th August, 2009 at 8:11 pm  

    “Gender segregation is a tool for the institutional subjugation of women and the reduction of women to sexual distractions that society (the domain of men) must be protected from” – so would you say that about female only gyms? swimming classes etc?

    “destructive perception of women” – I think you’re looking at this from a pretty one dimensional perspective and almost as bad as the people that believe that women are actually ‘destructive’

    “This is clearly demonstrated by the fact that segregation inherently perpetuates hierarchy” can you please explain how it ‘clearly’ demonstrates hierarchy?

    I think genital mutilation and murder are ridiculous comparisons to make in this context

    You appear to be fighting a one woman crusade on a non issue…

  5. Sofia — on 20th August, 2009 at 8:12 pm  

    oh yes and if you came to my swimming class and expected me to swim in front of men then you’d have another thing coming…what are you? the anti segregation self appointed fascist police?

  6. Dalbir — on 20th August, 2009 at 8:18 pm  

    Screw you all. You make me want to start a fight at a segregated event just so I can be taken to court and start the necessary process to illegalise gender apartheid.

    Go on then. I double dare you.

  7. Leon — on 20th August, 2009 at 8:26 pm  

    I didn’t call racist or bigotted as it’s clear this was nothing but cheap identity politics….

  8. Shatterface — on 20th August, 2009 at 8:32 pm  

    ‘Oh for God’s sake. If he wants to ban segregated weddings, he’s had many years as an MP to do so.

    I suppose he’ll be banning stag and hen nights too.’

    There’s a difference between banning something and refusing to take part but I guess that subtlety is lost on you.

  9. Shatterface — on 20th August, 2009 at 8:35 pm  

    ‘Screw you all. You make me want to start a fight at a segregated event just so I can be taken to court and start the necessary process to illegalise gender apartheid.’

    I’ll hold your coat for you.

    :-)

  10. Dalbir — on 20th August, 2009 at 8:43 pm  

    Shatterface@1

    I told you before she should’ve “grinned and beared it” for an hour or so.

    Then politely make her excuses and leave.

    She could’ve spent the time discussing periods or something.

    Hee hee…just messing! (with the period thing)

  11. sonia — on 20th August, 2009 at 8:55 pm  

    “This story is another clear example of the ‘Othering’ of Muslim women within British culture. They are the Other, their rules are different, they have lower expectations than us, they have a different sense of shame and dignity”.

    Yes well said. It is annoying when people who demand/claim that someone from ‘anOther culture’ couldn’t possibly understand “them” cos they are of a ‘different culture’ and have ‘different’ cultural requirements. Rubbish, we’re all humans and social creatures! we are all subject to conform to group/peer pressure, on a number of different things. i always find it annoying when so many girls say ‘ah but we have our OWN reasons for wearing the veil’. sure you do, we all have our own reasons for doing all sorts of things, pretending our social groups aren’t pressuring us is not only silly it is protecting the authority structures in groups. Plus if you are conforming to something/some requirement, for whatever good reason or not, bloody well admit it and be strong enough to say so! not as if the “rest” of us haven’t got to the same things. Pretending moral relativism is just trying to hoodwink people. who falls for it?

    when people say their “group” is “different”, i say screw you. that’s the basis of all racism, and race discrimination. we are “different” not better is just trying to go softly softly.

    individuals are “different” and unique {and the minority of which we should think of}, groups are all bloody exactly the same.

  12. sonia — on 20th August, 2009 at 9:04 pm  

    Sofia, i think the sentiments of the author are certainly not a one-woman issue. As far as I can see, she is talking about the institution of Purdah and that this social practice is deeply female-unfriendly.
    Which i think a lot of people do agree about.

    Clearly the thinking behind ‘segregating’ the sexes at a wedding which is part of the wider idea of Purdah, is different from offering women the choice of being able to swim without the presence of men. If you offered up a room at the wedding where those who chose to segregate themselves could sit by themselves, I’d say that is more in line with the thinking where gyms etc. offer up slots etc. which are women-focused.

    Having the option of a women-only session at a swimming pool (private or public) is hardly ‘gender segregation’ on a society wide basis!

  13. sonia — on 20th August, 2009 at 9:05 pm  

    And anyway, there is nothing wrong with a one-woman crusade, if it is that. One does not need the support of the whole of femininity in order to point out pertinent facts or opinions about gender expectations/gendered reality. that seems to be a myth connected to ‘representative’ thinking..oh you say that women are …x …well I don’t agree and i’m a woman so you must be wrong”! plus also the myth that some femin-isms have managed to spout about the ‘group’ of females having to think like each other and mirror each other and ‘agree’ about the state of ‘their’ group.

  14. Dalbir — on 20th August, 2009 at 9:06 pm  

    groups are all bloody exactly the same

    There is no way I could agree with this statement. Different groups have different dynamics based on their composition.

  15. Sofia — on 20th August, 2009 at 9:10 pm  

    I still don’t see the difference between the purdah a woman might want in a swimming pool or the purdah in a wedding hall.
    The weddings I’ve been to that are segregated dont’ put women in inferior environments..they are there so that women who wear hijab are more comfortable and are able to take their scarves off…now if you want to get into a conversation about hijab concept then that’s a separate issue.

  16. Sofia — on 20th August, 2009 at 9:11 pm  

    and this whole thing bloody annoys me because it reminds me of the semi fascist feminism that the french have…and i’ve come across it first hand.

  17. Dalbir — on 20th August, 2009 at 9:20 pm  

    plus also the myth that some femin-isms have managed to spout about the ‘group’ of females having to think like each other and mirror each other and ‘agree’ about the state of ‘their’ group.

    That is nothing to do with feminism but just being female. The dynamic between females in peer groups is very ‘close’. Disagreement can often be seen as lack of support and thus a betrayal. You know it’s true!

  18. Sofia — on 20th August, 2009 at 9:23 pm  

    i don’t particularly like segregated weddings but i’m not about to make it into social comment on female subjugation because it isn’t..the men are segregated too…and often there are weddings where there are separate rooms for women who don’t want to be in a mixed setting..so that leaves a hall for those who choose to be with their wives/gfs or whatever can do so happily…

    men and women sit separately in mosques too…and??

  19. douglas clark — on 20th August, 2009 at 10:00 pm  

    Jobeda Ali,

    That is the best bit of polemic I have ever seen having editorial sanction on here.

    And I agree with it, word for word.

    Anyway my friend Dalbir has said this:

    There is no way I could agree with this statement. Different groups have different dynamics based on their composition.

    Dalbir, a word to the wise, I think you are about to get marmalised…

    Just saying…

  20. douglas clark — on 20th August, 2009 at 10:12 pm  

    Sofia,

    men and women sit separately in mosques too…and??

    Well, are you happy about that? I suspect you are. I also suspect that Jobeda Ali and Sonia are not. So whose right and who has the wrong end of the stick?

  21. douglas clark — on 20th August, 2009 at 10:23 pm  

    It had occurred to me, correct me if I wrong, that absent Sofia, there are not a lot of Muslim women arguing that their lot is a happy one? There are not a lot of Muslim women arguing for the Hadiths and the like?

    It seems to me that we see the King for what he is, a man with no clothes.

    Least, that is how I see it.

  22. douglas clark — on 20th August, 2009 at 10:40 pm  

    You guys, mostly on here at least, and you know who you are, have really got to stop being the controlling bastards you actually are.

    And before you start on your usual pish about white men and dusky maidens, I’d like to say that I have always seen Sonia as a friend, for chronologically, that is what she really would have to be to me. And, strangely, you’d have to work very hard to see a difference between what she says and what I say.

    Very, very hard.

    So, as I see it, the battle lines are drawn. And, heh, you guys, you’ve lost already. Though you don’t know it yet.

    Memo for the future: try to keep both sexes onside and make sure none of the men are in marketing.

  23. sonia — on 20th August, 2009 at 10:40 pm  

    Well Sofia you are certainly a generous soul. I always thought so and you are! You should feel good about that. However some of us feel critical about social practices on a meta level. If you don’t feel the need to, fair enough for you.

    Anyhow, there is nothing wrong in self-segregation, at dawats (dinner parties etc. for the non-desis!) where there is no enforcement policy you often still get all the aunties in the kitchen or wherever and the uncles somewhere congregating. this happens the world over. girls have their ‘girly’ nights and ‘lads’ may do the same.

    There is something highly dubious though about a society which thinks its adult population is not fit to mingle with each other socially in social, family situations!. Of course in the end it is ironically amusing as it means a more sexually charged atmosphere than otherwise considered ‘normal’ BUT there you go! it means BOth sexes see each other in a primarily sexual light. Personally I have always thought it silly that people think this is only oppressive towards women -it is highly insulting to men as I have said so on many occasions, and a few smart Muslim men say the same thing too.

    Anyhow, with the mosque thing..again, what a thing it is for to imagine that men cannot control themselves in a house of prayer, or be so distracted by heavily covered up women that they cannot pray- frankly is insulting to men, implies they are feeble, but what can you say, if people want others to think that they are such barbarians, well fair enough for them then! Of course what is interesting is that just allowing women into mosques appears to be a conciliatory gesture so no one is going to complain about women being segregated..after all many mosques in Bangladesh (and I am sure in Pakistan too!) will not even allow women to enter. So segregation is one step up better than that, sure.

    Perhaps the impact of segregation does not seem apparent to Muslims growing up here but female students in places like Saudi Arabia understand that to mean that in the university this means they sit behind a screen and can only hear the lecturers voice. Frankly that is a problem…and its not challenging the underlying reasons and attitudes towards segregation, that allows such stuff to continue.

  24. sonia — on 20th August, 2009 at 10:47 pm  

    If you ask me, I feel sorry for Muslim men! they’re the ones who should be offended by the need for formal segregation.

  25. anobody — on 20th August, 2009 at 10:54 pm  

    Jobeda Ali,

    If proponents of gender segregation believe in different but equal as they purport, how come every segregated wedding or birthday I’ve been to ALWAYS puts women in the lesser room, often the basement room?

    Obviously as you come from a poor Bangladeshi immigrant family, with illiterate parents, where life was teenage marriage and motherhood – as it was for your mothers and sisters – the nature of your gatherings will be orchestrated by illiterate simple minded people.

    Your family life has obviously had a profound impact on your world-view. Just because your mother and sister were subjugated does not mean other women (and men) feel the same. Maybe they segregate for their own comfort, modesty and decency, and for the sake of their Allah. Do you hear any men complaining when they can’t attend a Mehndi? Are you complaining when there aren’t enough men at a Mehndi?

    (It would be interesting to know if your mother feels she was subjugated?)

    You clearly are one of those extreme fundamental feminist, who needs to be put on a leash (figuratively speaking), as you wildly go from talking about segregation to making a link to genital mutilation.

    How you are part of Muslim organisation I don’t know, as hijab/purdah isn’t up for debate unfortunately. I guess you’re one of those new age liberal Muslims, who is embarrassed of having to explain themselves to non-Muslim colleagues/friends. Maybe you should surround yourself with practising Muslim women, and ask them how they feel about your crusade to take away segregation and their hijab.

    You make me want to start a fight at a segregated event just so I can be taken to court and start the necessary process to illegalise gender apartheid.

    You’ve obviously got the balls, so why don’t you? Maybe like Bangladeshi men you cling onto medieval values of your parent’s native village in rural Bangladesh.

  26. anobody — on 20th August, 2009 at 11:00 pm  

    Jobeda Ali,

    “If proponents of gender segregation believe in different but equal as they purport, how come every segregated wedding or birthday I’ve been to ALWAYS puts women in the lesser room, often the basement room?”

    Obviously as you come from a poor Bangladeshi immigrant family, with illiterate parents, where life was teenage marriage and motherhood – as it was for your mothers and sisters – the nature of your gatherings will be orchestrated by illiterate simple minded people.

    Your family life has obviously had a profound impact on your world-view. Just because your mother and sister were subjugated does not mean other women (and men) feel the same. Maybe they segregate for their own comfort, modesty and decency, and for the sake of their Allah. Do you hear any men complaining when they can’t attend a Mehndi? Are you complaining when there aren’t enough men at a Mehndi?

    (It would be interesting to know if your mother feels she was subjugated?)

    You clearly are one of those extreme fundamental feminist, who needs to be put on a leash (figuratively speaking), as you wildly go from talking about segregation to making a link to genital mutilation.

    How you are part of Muslim organisation I don’t know, as hijab/purdah isn’t up for debate unfortunately. I guess you’re one of those new age liberal Muslims, who is embarrassed of having to explain themselves to non-Muslim colleagues/friends. Maybe you should surround yourself with practising Muslim women, and ask them how they feel about your crusade to take away segregation and their hijab.

    “You make me want to start a fight at a segregated event just so I can be taken to court and start the necessary process to illegalise gender apartheid.”

    You’ve obviously got the balls, so why don’t you? Maybe like Bangladeshi men you cling onto medieval values of your parent’s native village in rural Bangladesh

  27. Kulvinder — on 20th August, 2009 at 11:33 pm  

    Although im sympathetic to the sentiment of the article im not quite sure what the specific argument is.

    Obviously i and i suspect most posters here (the usual nutters aside) would disagree with coerced segregation and patriarchy, but as far as ive read that wasn’t the situation. If the women in that ceremony were there by force or being put in a situation which they didn’t want to be in; id hope any member of the public let alone an MP would call the police, not simply walk away.

    My impression – from what ive read – is that there was a segregated environment at the wedding which those from a ‘desi’ background – men and women – were content with, and obviously used to.

    Someone who wasn’t from that cultural background would find any difference intimidating, and would understandably feel uncomfortable if they were attending with their spouse and weren’t familiar with the people present.

    I can empathise with the wife of the MP wanting to leave because she felt isolated, and i can empathise with the rest of the wedding guests feeling comfortable carrying on.

    I suppose in a sense you could call it a form of apartheid (though its closer to the american idea of segregation – ‘seperate but equal’), but i think the word is too weighty for a situation where people choose that seperation.

    After all it could be argued that toilets ‘enforce’ a type of segregation and the unisex bathrooms that are more prevalent on the continent (or in france anyway) are preferable.

    I think female empowerment in communities from the sub-continent should focus on issues like them being allowed to marry whom they wish rather than the issue that comes after that – who sits where at the wedding.

  28. Amrit — on 20th August, 2009 at 11:43 pm  

    I sort of agree with parts of this, but I do think it’s a little one-sided at times. For Muslim women in particular, the lack of consensus is a real problem. Some women want certain practices, others don’t… and the debate begins over which practices are necessary and which aren’t…

    I think the writer of this article needs to send it to those in the public sector lacking in ‘cultural awareness training’ (there are many, sadly). Here, I guess it’s just stating the obvious.

    I think female empowerment in communities from the sub-continent should focus on issues like them being allowed to marry whom they wish rather than the issue that comes after that – who sits where at the wedding.

    Totally agree.

  29. Shatterface — on 21st August, 2009 at 12:56 am  

    ‘You clearly are one of those extreme fundamental feminist, who needs to be put on a leash (figuratively speaking), as you wildly go from talking about segregation to making a link to genital mutilation.’

    I think your reference to putting the author ‘on a leash’, figuratively or otherwise, says more about your attitude to women than I ever could.

  30. douglas clark — on 21st August, 2009 at 8:31 am  

    anobody @ 25, 26.

    You clearly are one of those extreme fundamental feminist, who needs to be put on a leash (figuratively speaking), as you wildly go from talking about segregation to making a link to genital mutilation.

    Well, that’s you out of the closet then ain’t it?

    With an alacrity that would delight the Saudi Religious Police you go on the offensive. No discussion, no debate, just insult.

    You have no idea what a complete, pathetic wimp you sound. Why don’t you start your own web site “Misogyny R Us” or summat.

    It is about time that attitudes like yours were dragged out from under a stone, and seen in the clear light of day.

  31. bananabrain — on 21st August, 2009 at 9:06 am  

    i think this comment:

    Gender segregation is a tool for the institutional subjugation of women

    is possibly one of the most sweeping generalisations i have ever come across. personally, i won’t be arguing for unisex loos or changing rooms any time soon, nor, i suspect, will i be arguing for the abolition of women’s groups or henna parties. and that is before i get onto sports teams and the army.

    you do yourself a disservice when you have a good point about gender segregation being *used* to subjugate women and then fail to see the difference between its use as a tool and its intrinsic nature. bringing in FGM, to which i am vehemently and fundamentally opposed, is a reductio ad absurdum which cheapens your argument.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  32. Denim Justice — on 21st August, 2009 at 9:59 am  

    I never thought I’d agree with anything Bananabrain said on here, but right on, brother.

    This article is the most ridiculous hateful polemic I’ve read on this.

    If you really had any courage, you’d run naked through the men’s section of every segregated wedding. Don’t worry, they’ll be too polite to get rid of you, and too chaste to try it on.

    I wonder why Jim Fuckpatrick would even step foot inside a Muslim mosque: they all have separate prayer spaces for men and women. Oh that’s right, when it suits his purpose to get votes off Muslims, he’s more than happy to sit in a men-only gathering in a mosque. But as soon as he needs to appeal to the racists in the East End, because he thinks he has the Muslim vote tied down, he suddenly becomes a feminist crusader.

    You might have had a backward, illiterate family to grow up in, Jobeda Ali, but that gives you no right to start taking it out on the world. Like I said, if you had any courage, you’d be out there making a difference rather than writing stupid articles on blogs that the poor oppressed Bangladeshi women of East London will never read anyway (presumably because their men keep them chained inside their houses and forbid them from going to school).

  33. Denim Justice — on 21st August, 2009 at 10:00 am  

    Why not just cut off my penis, while you’re at it Jobeda, if you think gender segregation is such an oppressive tool?

  34. Sofia — on 21st August, 2009 at 10:08 am  

    Douglas, I’m not saying that there are a very many grave injustices against women in the name of religion…however, I do not think gender segregation, based on choice is one of them. If you are forced to do so then that is completely another matter..now you can argue what is ‘forced’ and what isn’t but I don’t think this is the point in this context, it is more to do with the actual social practice and its underlying reasons that are being questioned.

    I lived in France for a while and could not understand the feminists who called for womens right to choose and then denied muslim women this choice because according to them, they were being brainwashed…I find some of the tone used by Jobeda highly offensive and extremely patronising.

  35. Sofia — on 21st August, 2009 at 10:09 am  

    and i’m not saying people are not allowed their view, but I find that this issue is taking on more significance than it should/is..

  36. douglas clark — on 21st August, 2009 at 10:18 am  

    bananabrain,

    For goodness sake at least quote the sentence in full, why don’t you:

    Gender segregation is a tool for the institutional subjugation of women and the reduction of women to sexual distractions that society (the domain of men) must be protected from.

    That is known as a proposition. And the proposition is that men see women as a sexual distraction. It is entirely right, within that context, to raise issues around FGM.

    The mind set that allows FGM as a so-called cultural practice has a weaker sibling in sexual segregation.

  37. Cauldron — on 21st August, 2009 at 10:23 am  

    Seems to me that this is really a discussion about which cultures we find acceptable, not about segregation per se. Whether segregation is acceptable or not depends on the cultural context in which it happens and the cultural context of the person making the judgment.

    If women have equal access to education and employment opportunities and yet still choose some form of segregation (weddings, hen nights, loos, whatever), without any form of coercion whatsoever (aside from nagging by elderly relatives) then I’m not really that fussed.

    However, there are undoubtedly a number of rural cultures around the world whose attitudes to women are totally unacceptable to educated societies. This is usually symptomatic of that particular culture’s wider unsuitability for the modern world. I don’t see any need any need for politeness or deference toward such communities.

    For example, there is no earthly reason why the UK should want to admit male Somalis. They’re too illiterate to hold jobs, they have disproportionate rates of incarceration, they hold disgusting attitudes to women and they give other immigrant communities a bad name. Somali culture adds zero value.

    Previous immigrants to the UK from rural backgrounds were equally useless, but now they are settled and slowly adapting. But its not too late to stop the Somalis.

  38. sidney — on 21st August, 2009 at 10:25 am  

    “destructive perception of women as a threat to society is what is at the heart of segregating the genders.”

    I know jobeda ali is a film-maker but even this statement is over dramatic. Segregated weddings works for both genders its does not give preference to one over the other. Jim Fitzpatrick used this issue for poltical purposes, and jobeda ali is using this article to promote feminist claptrap.

  39. Rafah Crossing — on 21st August, 2009 at 10:25 am  

    Tariq Ramadan has spelled it out:

    “We tell the kuffar that we respect their laws. As Muslims, there is only one law for us and that is the Shariah.”

    Fitzpatrick may has committed political hara-kiri by throwing away a sound voting bloc for one which has a short attention-span.

  40. douglas clark — on 21st August, 2009 at 10:29 am  

    Sofia,

    If you would like to sweep it under the carpet, which is where I think you are coming from, then fine. But it is not me that you are arguing against. If the king has no clothes, why not just say it? Which is what the author of this article did, imho.

    As a metaphor, you are circling your religious wagons around a cultural black hole. Of course you have to respect men such as anobody who says:

    You clearly are one of those extreme fundamental feminist, who needs to be put on a leash (figuratively speaking), as you wildly go from talking about segregation to making a link to genital mutilation.

    Of course you do.

  41. bananabrain — on 21st August, 2009 at 10:59 am  

    douglas,

    i see what you’re saying, but it is indicative of leftie discourse that people fail to understand the bathos inherent in using this kind of “thin end of the wedge” argument. clearly segregated loos are OK. clearly FGM isn’t. i would argue that they’re not part of the same continuum. you and jobeda ali would clearly argue that they are. putting myself in your shoes for a moment, i think the issue here is that if they can be said to be part of the same continuum, you don’t have a clear method of drawing the line, given that you don’t trust the community to do it, or the civil law, or anyone else, so you’ll end up either allowing everything or nothing just to avoid accusations of hypocrisy or double standards. that to me is an utterly strange way of thinking; obviously people have judgement and there are times when judgement should be respected and times when not and the decision between them is itself a matter of judgement.

    however, the logical consequence of this thinking is what allows people in the SWP to support the taliban merely to keep their anti-americanism consistent.

    there has to be a better way to draw the line rather than to simply argue that the line doesn’t exist.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  42. Joe Otten — on 21st August, 2009 at 11:13 am  

    Two observations on the one segregated wedding I have been to.

    1. My wife – as a “Westerner” – was invited to sit on the men’s side of the screen. Naturally she refused. (I don’t think the phrase ‘honorary man’ was used.) Younger children were running between the two a little. I forget who got to eat first.

    2. The marriage was contracted on the men’s side between the groom and the bride’s uncle. The bride – who I never saw, but I understand was a professional of about 40 – had nothing to say in the matter.

  43. douglas clark — on 21st August, 2009 at 11:17 am  

    nas @ 40, 41,

    You have some really horrible ideas of what constitutes debate, haven’t you?

    You quote Jobeda Ali’s own biography against her as though it were a weapon that ensures your own superiority when it clearly does exactly the opposite. She has clearly transcended that background whilst you stand on the terracing and mock. What a big guy you are!

    FGM is pretty well known in a number of Islamic nations, Egypt for example, where apparently 97% of women are mutilated before their weddings. There is a big issue with the cultural / religious divide that you’d like to imply when it is not stamped out by the very states which have a huge muslim majority. If your culture is religiously predicated then where, exactly, does the blame for this barbaric practice lie?

    I could have mentioned Indonesia, Yemen and Malaysia as well, but who’d have thought anyone could use Google!

  44. alana — on 21st August, 2009 at 11:24 am  

    I think many people in this debate are missing the point which is not about the rights and wrongs of gender segregation by Muslims but about the generalised scapegoating by politicians in the current climate of Muslims qua Muslims despite the many differences among and between them (as the above debate reveals).

    It seems clear to me that no white politician walking out of a segregated Muslim wedding is going to make religious Muslims suddenly change their practices. One must appreciate that practices such as these take years to change and that change, when it comes, will come from within.

    The Jewish community is a perfect example: some of the most archaic and discriminatory practices of the Orthodox strand of Judaism have been challenged and transformed by liberal and reform Jews. Such communities now sit together (men and women) in synagogues, no longer observe kashrut (kosher food), drive etc. on Sabbath etc. They recognise that these practices were brought in during times when it was sensible to observe them (e.g. because there was no refrigeration) and that they are now superfluous. The orthodox, on the other hand, continue to observe them because it is tradition.

    The point is that no one tells the Orthodox Jews today that it is not ok to continue to segregate synagogues or, much worse, refuse to allow women to instigate divorce for example. This is because the relationship the West has to Jews is differently constituted (for historical reasons) to the one with Muslims. Indeed, Muslims are today’s Jews – vilified for everything they do whether or not – and this is the important point – everyone, or even the majority among them actually do it.

    It was in this way that Nazis could blame the Jews for both communism and capitalism. Likewise, it wouldn’t matter if Muslims started to desegregate all weddings, etc. etc.: in the current climate they can do nothing right. In other words, there are no OBJECTIVE reasons for the hatred of Muslims qua Muslim (and please do not bring up suicide bombers because it is is obvious to all that this is the extreme minority of Muslims, just like the extreme minority of Jews in the 19th and 20th centuries WERE responsible for exploitative capitalism but the the majority were not). Muslims are hated because they are the ultimate different other of the day.

    It is wrong that there are some practices of Muslims that cause suffering for women, gay and transgender people among others (just as it is wrong that such discrimination continues in society at large). However, it is not up to Jim Fitzpatrick or anyone else to fight their cause for them. Many feminists and queer of colour activists are doing this already – fighting for change from within. We should support them, according to their wishes, but not do it for them. Not only is this patronising it is impossible.

    The fight against identity politics and segregation is an important one, but it can only be made reality once racism, sexism and homophobia are also overcome. Until such a time, people will want to be ‘among themselves’ – indeed, the example has been set for them by western nationalism and racism which are of course the exclusionary doctrines par excellence that have largely been responsible for the destruction of the interculturalism that defined the pre-colonial era.

  45. falcao — on 21st August, 2009 at 11:31 am  

    douglas clark do you have one single evidence the religion of islam permits female mutilation? No i didn’t think so.

    So instead of pretending to be a man save your feminist bs and islam bashing because its getting boring.

  46. douglas clark — on 21st August, 2009 at 11:35 am  

    falcao,

    Egypt.

    And thank you for your enormously erudite contribution.

  47. Cauldron — on 21st August, 2009 at 11:41 am  

    Nas @43 where have I mentioned the word ‘genetics’ or the word ‘race’? My problem is with Somali culture not Somali genes.

    Clearly there are some bright Somalis, like Rageh Omaar. Or Ayaan Hirsi Ali. But statistically, they are the exception not the rule. Somali culture doesn’t equip people for life in the modern world. That’s why people of Somali culture tend to fail miserably when taken out of their native surroundings – just look at the ONS or Runnymede Trust stats on education, employment and incarceration.

    The issue is culture and receptivity to education, not race. The immigrants who came from East Africa in the early 1970s were from many religions, but they were by and large all from urban, educated backgrounds. And jolly well they’ve done in the UK too. The UK is better off with their presence. And they don’t mutilate their women either.

    I don’t consider myself a racist. You could legitimately accuse me of being an urbanist and an educational elitist though. I suspect that what you really object to are my assertions that not all cultures are equal and that a few backward rural cultures have been a particular source of grief in the context of the wider race/multicuti/immigration debate. Not to mention the fact that these few, utterly useless, rural cultures have tarnished the good name of immigrants in general.

    What cultural value do chavs add? None. Which is why a properly thought out immigration policy would end up raising the cognitive bar by importing smart middle class foreigners with good educational backgrounds and fluency in English. Conversely, an open-doors policy of supplementing white trash with brown trash doesn’t really benefit the country as a whole.

  48. Dalbir — on 21st August, 2009 at 12:02 pm  

    Cauldron – I see you’re firing on all cylinders.

    So it is the rural idiots who are the problem, with their backward culture?

    lol

  49. Cauldron — on 21st August, 2009 at 12:06 pm  

    Afternoon, Dalbir.

    I think it’s fair to say that backward, rural traditions feature prominently in many tales of gender oppression.

  50. Dalbir — on 21st August, 2009 at 12:36 pm  

    Look let’s be frank here. There are times when one just wants to get on and do stupid blokey things (usually involving alcohol and eating) with the lads. It is harmless and just blowing off steam. You can see this happening in pubs all over the country.

    Next someone will be saying that this, in someway, is oppressing women.

  51. bananabrain — on 21st August, 2009 at 1:30 pm  

    dalbir:

    There are times when one just wants to get on and do stupid blokey things (usually involving alcohol and eating) with the lads. It is harmless and just blowing off steam. You can see this happening in pubs all over the country. Next someone will be saying that this, in someway, is oppressing women.

    isn’t that the discussion we’ve been having up till now? and the point i just made?

    alana:

    where the hell did you learn anything about judaism?

    some of the most archaic and discriminatory practices of the Orthodox strand of Judaism have been challenged and transformed by liberal and reform Jews.

    this is a view of judaism right out of the 19th century. they haven’t been “challenged and transformed” in the least. they’ve just been dropped. at no point has this shown anyone who agrees with the traditional religious practice why any of it is supposed to be “archaic” or “discriminatory”.

    Such communities now sit together (men and women) in synagogues

    and most of them now have a big problem with people finding the services too cold, simplistic and churchy. synagogue is not a family activity; communal prayer is a religious obligation of males, but then you don’t know anything about that, do you?

    [they] no longer observe kashrut (kosher food), drive etc. on Sabbath etc.

    in what way are these observances supposed to be “archaic” and “discriminatory”, then? presumably you think concern for animals and the food preparation process and reducing the amount of human impact on the environment are not things we need to worry about in this day and age?

    They recognise that these practices were brought in during times when it was sensible to observe them (e.g. because there was no refrigeration) and that they are now superfluous.

    firstly, there are many other reasons than these, which are basically from simplistic-euro-chauvinist anthropology 101. secondly, most non-orthodox jews honour kashrut and Shabbat in their own way, even if not for precisely the same reasons and in precisely the same way. you clearly know about as much about liberal and reform as you do about traditional judaism.

    The orthodox, on the other hand, continue to observe them because it is tradition.

    nonsense. traditionally observant jews abide by these rules because it is our pleasure to carry out the Divine Will. you are peddling a version of “orthodoxy” that went out in the outdated polemics of a hundred years ago.

    The point is that no one tells the Orthodox Jews today that it is not ok to continue to segregate synagogues

    firstly, this debate is ongoing and it’s about much more than communal prayer. i suggest you actually learn something about judaism.

    or, much worse, refuse to allow women to instigate divorce for example.

    bollocks. all that refers to is the formal exchange of documents in a religious court, not the right of a woman to start the process off. now, the problem of “chained women” is a serious one, but it is a very specific issue and one which exercises the entire jewish world, including orthodoxy.

    This is because the relationship the West has to Jews is differently constituted (for historical reasons) to the one with Muslims. Indeed, Muslims are today’s Jews – vilified for everything they do whether or not

    oh, for feck’s sake. the second of these sentences contradicts the first. either you’re “today’s jews” or you “have a differently constituted relationship”, but you can’t have both. besides, *we* are still “today’s jews” and if you think that the second sentence doesn’t still apply to jews as much as it may do to muslims you are even more ignorant than i thought.

    It was in this way that Nazis could blame the Jews for both communism and capitalism.

    what rubbish. nazism didn’t rely on logic.

    like the extreme minority of Jews in the 19th and 20th centuries WERE responsible for exploitative capitalism
    WHAT? name ONE. what a fecking bigoted statement. were any of the US “robber barons” jewish? was henry ford? i think they were jumping on the jew-hating bandwagon themselves.

    the example has been set for them by western nationalism and racism which are of course the exclusionary doctrines par excellence that have largely been responsible for the destruction of the interculturalism that defined the pre-colonial era.

    you are really quite deluded. what “interculturalism”? you mean, fighting wars against each other and taking each other as slaves? burning each other at the stake? that sort of thing? what a steaming pile of ill-digested cod-socialist crap.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  52. Sofia — on 21st August, 2009 at 1:54 pm  

    “The mind set that allows FGM as a so-called cultural practice has a weaker sibling in sexual segregation” Douglas..really?? and no i’m not sweeping this under the carpet, I’m saying it’s a non issue..how on earth is genital mutilation in anyway related in mindset to segregation?? so the logical course is, I believe in segregation so by default further down that line I also believe in cutting a woman’s genitals so she cannot experience sexual pleasure????

    Joe otten -The marriage was contracted on the men’s side between the groom and the bride’s uncle. The bride – who I never saw, but I understand was a professional of about 40 – had nothing to say in the matter.- you probably didn’t see her being asked about her consent because you didn’t see her. Without a woman’s consent, the marriage is void!

    Sonia -”Perhaps the impact of segregation does not seem apparent to Muslims growing up here but female students in places like Saudi Arabia understand that to mean that in the university this means they sit behind a screen and can only hear the lecturers voice” – I do not agree with the Saudi’s interpretation of segregation of the sexes. I find it oppressive as the state does not give ppl choice…and it is a complete extreme…and yes I would hate to live somewhere like that.

  53. Soso — on 21st August, 2009 at 2:15 pm  

    Egypt isnt an Islamic nation Egypt is almpst 90% Muslim, and so IS an Islamic nation.

    Culture and religion are two seperate things Yes, except when they aren’t. “Islam is a whole way of life”, and Islam’s core texts DO mention FGM…in a positive light.

    I think this author is brilliant and I agree with nearly every word of her piece.

    The usual deflections from those who think Islam should never be critised, and that any imperfections that happen to arise are due to external ‘cultural’ influences.

    I hear a rising chorus of Jobeda Alis in the future. Why have we differnt sets of rules for people with a different skin colour? I enthusiastically endorse the concept of universal human rights, and if that concept contradicts Islam’s version of rights, then it is the former, seeings how Islam is so flawed, that should always prevail.

  54. Soso — on 21st August, 2009 at 2:21 pm  

    Except, as anobody pointed out, she hasnt. She’s unable to see beyond her own expreiences that other peoples perspectives and expereinces may be diferent on this issue.
    That is the hallmark of the illiteraty and ignorance of a rural village worldview.

    Oh how you wish!

    I’d posit quite the opposite; that both FGM and gender segregation ARE the hallmarks of illiteracy and an ignorant, rural village mentality.

    And to judge by your spelling mistakes and the haste with which you’ve written your message, you fear this women and the ideas she vehicles, don’t you?

    Yes, drawing Islam’s wagons in a circle around a cultural blackhole.

  55. Dalbir — on 21st August, 2009 at 2:28 pm  

    Isn’t that the discussion we’ve been having up till now? and the point i just made?

    Yes it was. I was just rehashing and re-presenting on the chance it may get through to some of the people that missed it the first time round.

  56. alana — on 21st August, 2009 at 2:33 pm  

    Bananabrain – I am Jewish and went to an Orthodox Jewish school. You may disagree with me but you can’t accuse me of not knowing anything about Judaism. You don’t like the fact that aspects of Orthodox Jewry are archaic and discriminatory in exactly the same way that Muslims don’t like being accused of the same. However, all religions have aspects to them which are discriminatory, especially because they are de facto exclusionary.
    However, I do not deny anyone the right to be religious, practice traditions, etc. I respect their right.

    Nazism was all based on logic – just not a logic we agree with. It was precisely the rationalism behind Nazism that made it ‘successful’. Please read Hannah Arendt and Zygmunt Bauman on this. You might also find the 3rd chapter of my recent book on racism which deals with antisemitism instructive. More details at http://www.alanalentin.net

  57. falcao — on 21st August, 2009 at 2:41 pm  

    douglas clarke

    i asked you to give me evidence that islam permits female genital mutilation.

    your response was:
    “Egypt.

    And thank you for your enormously erudite contribution.”

    hmmm thanks for making me laugh and fall out of my chair. Egypt is the most secular countries you can find. Your answer is so ridiculous and off the mark it is like saying Britain’s laws are from king james version of the bible!

  58. The Common Humanist — on 21st August, 2009 at 2:49 pm  

    Soso

    “I enthusiastically endorse the concept of universal human rights, and if that concept contradicts Islam’s version of rights, then it is the former, seeings how Islam is so flawed, that should always prevail”

    Spot on. Human rights are universal.

    “that both FGM and gender segregation ARE the hallmarks of illiteracy and an ignorant, rural village mentality”

    Exactly.

  59. alana — on 21st August, 2009 at 2:56 pm  

    Dear bananabrain,
    I shall try and be a bit more courteous in my reply to you than you were to me!

    I am Jewish and went to an Orthodox Jewish school. I am hence not speaking ‘anthropologically’ or from a 19th C. outlook.

    Please do not take from my comments that I believe that people do not have the right to practice tradition. I respect everyone’s rights to do so. But as a Jew, I also find a lot of aspects of my religion discriminatory, as are all monotheistic religions. The fact that they are exclusive makes this inevitable. However, I respect the efforts made by liberal and reform, feminist and gay Jews to make the religion less so because it means that they can continue to practice their religion without buying into the elements which are discriminate and exclude. I permit myself to comment on this because I am Jewish.

    You say that Nazism was illogical, but that is historically incorrect. We may not agree with the logic of nazism but the reason for its ‘success’ is precisely because it was highly rationalised and, hence logical within the context of the European nation-state. Please read Hannah Arendt and Zygmunt Bauman on this.

    As for my own views, you may find the 3rd chapter of my latest book, racism, which deals with antisemitism. More details from http://www.alanalentin.net.

    Best wishes,

    alana lentin

  60. douglas clark — on 21st August, 2009 at 3:07 pm  

    falcao,

    Perhaps from your perspective and nas’s. Not from mine. The point is that Egyptian society allegedly has a 93% incidence of FGM. It also has a substantial Muslim majority – around 80 to 90% of its population. Indeed it passed a law against FGM. And still nothing changes.

    Given that Islam claims to rule over every aspect of life it seems an astounding failure that this particular barbarity is still being practiced there. Despite there being strong Muslim arguements that it is actually against the teachings of the Prophet. See here:

    http://mwlusa.org/topics/violence&harrassment/fgm.html

    And your idea of a secular society and mine are, I suspect, radically different.

  61. douglas clark — on 21st August, 2009 at 3:24 pm  

    Sofia @ 56,

    I see a continuum with segregation at, or near, one end and FGM at t’other. I’d have thought treating women badly was the common theme, but there you go.

  62. Sofia — on 21st August, 2009 at 3:35 pm  

    i’m still not getting why this is only something to do with women..what about the poor deprived men?

  63. Sofia — on 21st August, 2009 at 3:35 pm  

    and is segregating men from women on one side and circumcision on the other?

  64. Sofia — on 21st August, 2009 at 3:36 pm  

    post 61-gosh i never thought I was a village bumpkin, and the fact I can write is a figment of my imagination

  65. Soso — on 21st August, 2009 at 3:36 pm  

    hmmm thanks for making me laugh and fall out of my chair. Egypt is the most secular countries you can find

    Why of course it is!

    And the Pope is a Buddhist.

    Up is down and black is white when Islam’s more unpleasant aspects, such as its penchant for gender-segregation, are exposed.

    There is a small neighbourhood msoque not far from where I work. The men’s entrance is at street level at the front and consists of two large oak doors adorned with gleaming brass handles.

    The women’s entrance is at the back and in the basement. It was the door through which coal was shovelled years ago.

    The entire neighbourhood sees the injustice and the double standard, but Falcao and kind cannot!

  66. Sofia — on 21st August, 2009 at 3:42 pm  

    penchant for gender-segregation, are exposed- hahahahha…

  67. Sofia — on 21st August, 2009 at 3:43 pm  

    sorry, but it’s hardly a conspiracy hidden behind closed doors..seriously!!

  68. Sofia — on 21st August, 2009 at 3:44 pm  

    and there are plenty of mosques in London where the entrances are bad for both men and women…

  69. falcao — on 21st August, 2009 at 3:48 pm  

    douglas clarke

    your argument has now descended into clutching at straws. Egypt is a secular country which does not use islam in any aspect of its constitution or law.

    Britian is over 70% christian can we now say abuse of children or battering women is from christianty because over 70% of the population is christian? Try thinking before you post false generalised stereotypes of people as well as slandering entire nations and beliefs.

  70. douglas clark — on 21st August, 2009 at 4:08 pm  

    Sofia @ 65,66,

    The author of this piece feels a need to challenge what she perceives as, I think she’d confirm, male chauvinism. It is that inequality that she addresses. It is that that I have responded to.

  71. Sofia — on 21st August, 2009 at 4:19 pm  

    Douglas, yes, but you cannot ignore that she has also mentioned:
    institutional subjugation
    destructive perception
    apartheid

    all the above goes far beyond male chauvanism and in my opinion, which is much of an opinions as Jobeda’s, is completely making an issue of out a localised practice. I’m sure there are many white muslims who practice segregation, and it’s obvious she hasn’t been to any..which is why she has localised it to her own (however) limited experience.

  72. douglas clark — on 21st August, 2009 at 4:20 pm  

    Falcao,

    Wikipedia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Egypt

    Islam has been the state religion in Egypt since the amendment of the second article of the Egyptian constitution in the year 1980, before which Egypt was recognized as a secular country.

    So you are wrong.

    Here is a more nuanced bit:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian_constitution

    The tradition of Egyptian constitutions have been secular in nature since the first modern constitution was founded in 1923. However, an amendment that differs from this tradition was passed in 1980. According to the 1980 amendment of the Constitution, Islamic Law (Sharia) became the principal source of legislative rules. Such wording simply implies that any new law that is being enacted or considered for enactment should not be in contravention of any prevailing principles of Islamic Law (Sharia). It is worth noting that laws regulating personal status issues (Marriage, Divorce, Inheritance,..etc) are derived from Islamic norms, penal law rules as codified in the Penal Code are entirely western non-religious oriented rules, whether they were ratified before or after the 1980 amendment. Egypt has also enacted a number of new statutes to respond to contemporary standards of global economic and business reform including: Investment Law, Anti-Money Laundering Law, Intellectual Property Rights Law, Competition Law, Consumer Protection Law, Electronic Signatures Law, Banking Law, Taxation Law,… etc.[1]

    With the apparent growing popularity of the Muslim Brotherhood after the 2005 parliamentary elections, the debate arose again discussing whether the state is secular or religious. The legitimacy of a religious political party is also in debate among intellectuals and politicians.

    So who exactly is it that is clutching at straws?

    And I think Church attendance would be an easier measure of the religiousness or not of the British people.

  73. Sofia — on 21st August, 2009 at 4:21 pm  

    and again douglas, should a man look at this issue and say it is a form of male repression? that the men are forced to stay separated from the women??

  74. Sofia — on 21st August, 2009 at 4:22 pm  

    there’s a bit of a difference between being an Islamic state and being one where the majority of the population is muslim

  75. douglas clark — on 21st August, 2009 at 4:26 pm  

    Sofia @ 78, 79,

    78 – Well, yes, obviously.

    79 – I don’t actually understand that point if you are referring to Egypt.

  76. bananabrain — on 21st August, 2009 at 4:27 pm  

    alana:

    I shall try and be a bit more courteous in my reply to you than you were to me!

    oh, fair enough. you will understand, however, that blog comments tend to be a bit on the adversarial side, albeit PP is relatively civilised in this respect. however, you appeared to be making categorical assertions about judaism which, from my point of view, lack appreciation for the actual systemic complexity of the jewish community; you appeared to be presenting an extremely simplistic, monolithic point of view and, frankly, we can do better than that.

    I am Jewish and went to an Orthodox Jewish school. I am hence not speaking ‘anthropologically’ or from a 19th C. outlook.

    it still doesn’t mean you actually know anything about traditional judaism if some of the alumni of orthodox schools (both observant and non-observant) are anything to go by. it means far more if you are actually an active member of the community in whatever capacity and of whatever stream.

    Please do not take from my comments that I believe that people do not have the right to practice tradition. I respect everyone’s rights to do so.

    that’s still pretty patronising – you respect my right to be a backwards obscurantist peasant who discriminates against women, i dare say. well, i am traditionally observant but am more familiar than most with the entire spectrum of the community, from secular to haredi. i work extensively *across* community boundaries in the name of klal yisrael and religious biodiversity – all types of judaism arose for good reason and have an ongoing role to play, but if i have anything to do with it they will do so without badmouthing, blackguarding and misrepresenting each other, that is sinat hinam (causeless hatred).

    But as a Jew, I also find a lot of aspects of my religion discriminatory, as are all monotheistic religions.

    so do i. as someone who has been a member of nearly every stream at some point or another, you appear to be under the misapprehension that non-orthodox streams are never discriminatory or prejudiced and i can tell you that nothing can be further from the truth. sweeping statements like the ones you have made do nothing to help this situation and only help to polarise the debate.

    The fact that they are exclusive makes this inevitable.

    judaism is not exclusive. anyone can join it if they want. we do not invite it precisely *because* jews should in no way be considered superior to non-jews. a religion is only exclusive if it believes everyone else is going to hell and we believe no such thing. the only exclusive thing about judaism is that it is *difficult*.

    However, I respect the efforts made by liberal and reform, feminist and gay Jews to make the religion less so because it means that they can continue to practice their religion without buying into the elements which are discriminate and exclude. I permit myself to comment on this because I am Jewish.

    as do i, but i think you are extremely misinformed or rather behind the times if you think that liberal (with a small “l”), open-minded or indeed feminist and gay jews cannot remain within traditional frameworks.

    You say that Nazism was illogical, but that is historically incorrect. We may not agree with the logic of nazism but the reason for its ’success’ is precisely because it was highly rationalised and, hence logical within the context of the European nation-state.

    oh, all right, it was logical if you accepted certain other illogical assumptions and rested on the circular reasoning derived from this, but that is kind of my point, that the assumptions underpinning its logic were themselves unreasonable and illogical.

    Please read Hannah Arendt and Zygmunt Bauman on this.

    oh, deary me, the “please read a book to understand my argument” gambit. that assumes i accept the argmentum ad auctoritas arendtum et baumanis. i could tell you to “please read menachem kellner, jeremy rosen, yitz greenberg, blu greenberg and steve greenberg (no relation) on this”.

    As for my own views, you may find the 3rd chapter of my latest book, racism, which deals with antisemitism.

    well, you may find my own posts and comments, which deal with various aspects of judaism and interfaith dialogue to be just as enlightening, but i have to admire your hutzpah in immediately trying to sell me your book!

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  77. Sofia — on 21st August, 2009 at 4:38 pm  

    sorry douglas…if the majority of people say they are christian in this country, does it necessarily mean they follow it to the law? In Egypt as with many other ‘islamic’ countries, laws are arbritrary…Egypt is a republic not an ‘Islamic republic’ ..

  78. Sofia — on 21st August, 2009 at 4:40 pm  

    should not be in contravention of any prevailing principles of Islamic Law (Sharia). – last time I went to Egypt there was plenty contravening islamic law.

  79. douglas clark — on 21st August, 2009 at 4:41 pm  

    nas,

    You are deliberately misreading what is written in Wikipedia!

    Egypt moved from being a secular state to an Islamic State in 1980.

    Their Constitution says that their laws must not contravene sharia law. How hair-splitting are you going to be about that?

    As I very much doubt that the Koran had anything whatsoever to say about stem cell research then the legislature is – in all probability – able to do what the heck it likes about that.

    And, nas, did you think I wasn’t aware of the contradiction? I can cut and paste with the best of them, y’know? Did you not notice that I said ‘for a more nuanced view’?

    Just out of curiosity, what’s your favourite Islamic State, the one that you are happiest with?

  80. The Common Humanist — on 21st August, 2009 at 4:58 pm  

    “”should not be in contravention of any prevailing principles of Islamic Law (Sharia). – last time I went to Egypt there was plenty contravening islamic law”"

    Those pesky women, moving freely, no adult male relatives in sight…

    Better make the most of it, if the Islamists take over Egypt it will turn into a nightmare for women pretty quickly. I have a friend who is a belly dancer and singer and the local MB activists have made it quite clear what will happen to her when they take over. Hint – it doesn’t end well for her.

    Sharia -Its just a thought but a series of laws developed by jurists during a period of fairly brutal military expansion during the early medieval period might, just might, be a really bad basis for a modern system of governance and citizenship.

    TCH

    p.s. my favourite muslim country is Morocco. Fairly laid back. Far enough away from the insanity of the Middle East that the Wahhhabists and other assorted fascist arseholes are a minimal voice and it has avoided the craziness of Algeria.

  81. douglas clark — on 21st August, 2009 at 5:01 pm  

    Sofia,

    Sorry Sofia, we’ll have to agree to disagree on the question of Egypt. If it walks like a duck quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.

    ——————————————

    If memory serves, the 70% figure comes from the last Census. My admittedly limited experience tells me that the vast majority of people that answered that question were actually looking for a category that said ‘not bothered’, and when they couldn’t find that, they ticked Christian instead. Christian Church attendance continues a downward spiral with huge numbers of folk never seeing the insides of a Church apart from the odd wedding or funeral.

    The claim that this country is Christian is probably best supported by the constitutional arrangement that makes the Queen the Defender of the Faith, the Faith being the Church of England. However she appears powerless against the widespread apathy.

  82. alana — on 21st August, 2009 at 5:04 pm  

    Dear Bananabrain,

    It is true that I have not been involved in the Jewish community for some time. However, I was for many years actively involved in Jewish community and student movements. Perhaps I utilised a ‘simplistic’ account of Judaism to make a wider point in the post which was not about Judaism per se. I am quite happy to concede that there are aspects of reform/liberal Judaism that are equally problematic. I just didn’t want to get into a whole debate about them. My point was that religions and practices evolve. And I was hoping that, by using Judaism as an example, people in the debate would realise that the same is happening/will happen within Islam. It will then be up to Muslims to decide for themselves (along the lines you are doing regarding various strands of Judaism, because it is important to you) whether or not this has been successful.

    As for what to read etc., I am was not attempting to be patronising. Merely to situate myself intellectually. Also, I am not trying to sell you my book. I would be genuinely interested in your comments and would be happy to send you a PDF of Chapter 3 by email for free ;-)

    If you go on my website you will see that I publish all comments including one from someone who read my book and disagrees with my take on antisemtisim, or at least with the part on antizionism.

    Lastly, I am sorry if you think any of my comments were patronising towards practicing Jews. It appears you like a fight, but I really don’t. I am always happy to pologise if my comments upset or hurt someone, so please accept my apologies for that. My own journey away fro community involvement was based on a realisation that, for myself, it is insufficient to take a stand against racism from within the worldview of one group alone. But everyone makes their own choices in life.

    BTW, I am also Israeli and speak fluent Hebrew, so I don’t need the translations ;-)

    alana

  83. Galloise Blonde — on 21st August, 2009 at 6:36 pm  

    It’s my understanding that FGM is required under the Shafi’i fiqh and that this is supposedly why FGM predominant in Egypt and also practised by Kurds in Iraq and Iran, but less so in Turkey.

    Here’s a link on the subject.

  84. Galloise Blonde — on 21st August, 2009 at 6:50 pm  

    I didn’t check the link before posting! I certainly didn’t get my original info from there, but from conversations with Kurdish women’s rights activists.

  85. Soso — on 21st August, 2009 at 6:51 pm  

    sorry, but it’s hardly a conspiracy hidden behind closed doors..seriously!!

    No, it’s out in the open and the spectacle of it quite disgusting. The dingy backdoor ‘reserved’ for women at this particular mosque SHOULD be an embarrassement, but isn’t. Its presence demonstrates to the entire neighbourhood that Islam is allowed to treat women as inferior beings. The fact the women attending this mosque would enter through a gender-apartheid doorway and REMAIN in the dingy basement throughout prayers is an elegant testamony to just how brow-beaten they are.

    Reminiscent of American Blacks in the 30s and 40s, these women shuck and jive their way through the door reserved for “coloureds” while thanking their “massahs” (upstairs) for even allowing them in.

    But then, you still claim Egypt is secular even though its officially declared religion is Islam.

    You are aware that Orthodox Jewish synangogues and weddings are also segregated arent you? Why arent you exposing Judaism’s “more unpleasant aspects”?

    1) Orthodox Jewish men and women enter the synagogue through the same entrance

    2)Because this is a article written by a muslim women, Jobeda Ali, about the state of Muslim women, and I wish to remain on topic.

    Understand?

    You’re all over the place in a desperate effort to deflect from Islam’s atrocious gender-apartheid, even going so far as to invoke Christianity. I’m surprised you haven’t brought up gold futures!

    Religiously inspired gender-apartheid is an abomination, an artifact from The Bronze Age, and a subject that Jobeda Ali ( among other reformist Muslimahs) has wisely chosen to expose and denounce.

  86. falcao — on 22nd August, 2009 at 12:05 am  

    douglas clarke

    ahh i see even 10 hours later you still claiming egypt is islamic state and all its laws based on islam anyone from egypt reading this please stop laughing:) so lets look at your attempts to save your dead in the water argument.

    In 1980 egypt made islam the state religion it did not make egypt an islamic state. Anyone who has education of gcse and above will know this only an idiot can claim egypt is an islamic state.

  87. douglas clark — on 22nd August, 2009 at 2:17 am  

    falcao,

    Just ’cause you keep repeating the same bullshit doesn’t make it so. You lose.

    Anyway, what’s your favourite Islamic State?

    Nas seems to be still away thinking about it.

  88. anobody — on 22nd August, 2009 at 1:01 pm  

    My comment has been blocked by the spam filter – I think – please can it be released.

    Thanks you.

  89. anobody — on 22nd August, 2009 at 1:10 pm  

    douglas clark,

    “Well, that’s you out of the closet then ain’t it?”

    Oh rly?

    I knew my reference to a leash would get some of you excited.

    Let’s not forget, douglas clark, it is you who thinks 1 billion muslims should apologise and is responsible, everytime a crime is committed by some p4ki on the streets of Burnley. You accuse me of mysogynism, but I’m sure there is an ‘ism’ to describe your feelings.

    +1 for that douglas clarke

    “With an alacrity that would delight the Saudi Religious Police you go on the offensive. No discussion, no debate, just insult.”

    Jobeda Ali, has some clearly warped ideas on segregation. As a person in the media, she has more opportunity than most to channel and sell her views. I was hoping – maybe – she recheck her thoughts on the matter, shaped by experiences gained under the influence of her own illiterate family (her words not mine).

    On reflection, I probably should have been a bit more careful in my choice of words.

    However, if I ever made the suggestion that free mixing provides a conducive environment for lecherous and lubricious thoughts and by extension, sexual license and fornication, and adultery, and rape – I’d be damned if I wasn’t asked to recheck my thoughts.

    Jobeda Ali, is doing exactly the same by linking segregation right through to abhorent acts of female genital mutilations.

    You seem to agree with this douglas clark.

    So tell me, douglas clark, do you think those scantly clad women out on the lash on a Friday night, are just working up to a bit of rape? As you seem to think those covered up segregated women are just wating for a bit of genital mutilation.

  90. anobody — on 22nd August, 2009 at 1:18 pm  

    douglas clark,

    oh great scholar, please find me references to the Quran or Hadith, which permits FGM.

    many thanks in advance.

  91. miguel — on 22nd August, 2009 at 1:33 pm  

    douglas

    you seem to be a bigoted person who doesn’t like to speak about facts.

    you have been found out on 3 points already.

    1. there is no evidence in any islamic books that permits fgm.

    2. there is no link between segregated weddings and fgm unless you are a bigot who like to attack certain religions for your own agenda.

    3. you cannot even tell if a country like egypt is secular or islamic. If you actually study the state of egypt for many decades it has been secular and it has constant battles between the secular elite who rule and the islamists who are not in power but who want to implement islamic law.

  92. douglas clark — on 22nd August, 2009 at 2:40 pm  

    miguel,

    Have you actually read this frigging thread? Or are you just another of the ‘lets get the wagons in a circle’ brigade.

    You are aware of this, I take it?

    Those who advocate for FGM from an Islamic perspective commonly quote the following hadith to argue that it is required as part of the Sunnah or Tradition of the Prophet:

    Um Atiyyat al-Ansariyyah said: A woman used to perform circumcision in Medina. The Prophet (pbuh) said to her: Do not cut too severely as that is better for a woman and more desirable for a husband.

    This is known to be a “weak” hadith in that it does not meet the strict criteria to be considered unquestionable (classified as mursal, i.e. missing a link in the chain of transmitters in that none was among the original Companions of the Prophet.) In addtion, it is found in only one of the six undisputed, authentic hadith collections, that is in the Sunan of Abu Dawud (Chapter 1888). According to Sayyid Sabiq, renowned scholar and author of Fiqh-us-Sunnah, all hadiths concerning female circumcision are non-authentic.

    So, there is evidence that fgm can be allowed. It is extremely weak evidence. I would assume most Muslims would reject it out of hand. (And, before you too point to the latter part of that extract with the glee of the other commentators that think I am stupid, that is exactly why I have included it there. It is weak, but it is a hadith nevertheless.

    What I am saying is that as far as I can discern, the practice of fgm still continues in certain muslim lands, Egypt being the most egregious case. Given that Islam worries itself about the least little thing it seems astonishing to me that – as a religion – it appears completely incapable of actually shouting from the top of a minaret that this is barbaric and has to stop.

    It is against that background, and the quite clear chauvinism that has been shown on this thread and elsewhere by certain commentators that I feel justified in seeing a continuum between segregation and fgm. Opposite ends of a spectrum, as I’ve already said, but certainly on a spectrum.

    Before I take the Egypt story any further, and I suspect there is a very deliberate misrepresentation going on amongst y’all, I want you to play my little game.

    What’s your favourite Islamic country?

    Nas and Falcao are both having trouble answering that.

  93. CuriousObserver — on 22nd August, 2009 at 2:40 pm  

    Why is it necessary to separate men and women in any public places other than restrooms?

    Sorry, but as someone who lives in a culture where everyone pretty much goes where they want and does what they want this kind of social control over people seems pretty silly.

    Cultures and religions that feel the need to separate women from men for fear of I don’t know what are backward, plain and simple. That means that Muslims, Orthodox Jews, Arabs, Bangladeshis and every other culture that still engages in these kinds of male/female separation strategies and female segregation are living in the very far past. It’s time to live in the 21st century people. Lots of people in the Muslim, Middle Eastern, and Asian worlds really need to let go of their backward ways. In case no one told you the Stone Age ended a long time ago. Get with the program folks.

    I know many readers will be “offended” that I’ve called their beloved cultures backwards, however the truth is the truth. In Spanish there is a saying, “La verdad no peca, pero se incomoda.” (The truth does not sin, but it is uncomfortable.) If you people in these backward thinking cultures and religions would spend less time thinking about stupid things like how to keep women segregated from men and controlled by men, you might be able to spend more time thinking of ways to improve the general standard of living of all of your people instead of just the rich elites.

    Oh and by the way, for those of you who are “offended”, grow up already. Get over yourselves. And while you’re maturing individually, maybe you’ll bring along your backward cultures too.

  94. douglas clark — on 22nd August, 2009 at 3:04 pm  

    anobody @ 89,

    So tell me, douglas clark, do you think those scantly clad women out on the lash on a Friday night, are just working up to a bit of rape? As you seem to think those covered up segregated women are just wating for a bit of genital mutilation.

    These are your thoughts anobody, not mine.

    It is as clear as the nose on your face that the fact that muslim societies cannot erradicate fgm ought to tell you something, but it doesn’t..

    It is also pretty obvious that you are an inveterate chauvinist who wraps religion around himself in defence a fairly uptight, male centric worldview.

    Just remember that quite a lot of people read these threads.

    Anyway, what’s your favourite Islamic state?

  95. Rumbold — on 22nd August, 2009 at 3:27 pm  

    FGM is a cultural rather than a religious practice (hence its popularity in many different communities in Egypt), but a few Islamic scholars have endorsed the practice (most notably Ken Livingstone’s friend).

  96. falcao — on 22nd August, 2009 at 5:07 pm  

    douglas clarke

    still spouting nonsense about egypt being the front line of islamic law, wow what a saddo even when clearly wrong cannot bring himself to admit he’s wrong.

    As for your claim of finally having evidence of fgm being permitted in islam if a hadith is weak its rejected because their is doubt on its authenticity. So again you have 0 evidence.

    have a good day its been fun exposing your agenda and making fun of your stupidty.

  97. douglas clark — on 22nd August, 2009 at 5:50 pm  

    falcao,

    I’ve explained myself. All you have done is muddy the waters, snipe and act like the wee boy I suspect you are….

    It is also quite amusing that not one of the three or four critics of what I have said here is willing to tell me which is their favourite Islamic state.

  98. anobody — on 23rd August, 2009 at 12:42 pm  

    douglas clark,

    “It is also pretty obvious that you are an inveterate chauvinist who wraps religion around himself in defence a fairly uptight, male centric worldview.”

    Based on what evidence exactly? You have not an ounce of evidence to prove this, yet you reduce yourself to name calling. Let’s not forget you’re the bigot in this piece. You yourself have apologised for your bigotted views, which still manifest from time to time.

    Jobeda Ali hasn’t thought through what she has said, and you have blindly followed. Tell me douglas clark, do you think we should ban all girl schools?

    “Just remember that quite a lot of people read these threads.”

    No shit? What is the purpose of this reminder douglas clark?

    “Anyway, what’s your favourite Islamic state?”

    You give me a list of Islamic states and your definition of what an Islamic state is, and after laughing, I’ll give it a go.

  99. douglas clark — on 23rd August, 2009 at 4:54 pm  

    anobody,

    Let’s not forget you’re the bigot in this piece.

    Eh! What is this then?

    On reflection, I probably should have been a bit more careful in my choice of words.

    I do believe you wrote that at post 89?

    There are variously forms of bigotry, and you know fine, if your half hearted apology above is anything to go by, that you have shown more of your true colours than you are really happy about. As it’s Sunday, I’ll give you this to ponder:

    ‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone’

    Yes, I misread a post, misunderstood a post, reacted too quickly, whetever. It won’t be the first time and it probably won’t be the last.

    But, on this thread it is I that am right and you and your cohort, that are deeply wrong.

    Tell us anobody, where do you stand on fgm? As I have now determined for you, by the amazing ability to google, that whilst it is a hadith, it has a broken lineage back to the Prophet. And thus cannot be considered binding.

    Which I do believe is what I said at 92, y’know:

    So, there is evidence that fgm can be allowed. It is extremely weak evidence. I would assume most Muslims would reject it out of hand.

    That lets you off the hook, doesn’t it, from a religious perspective? There is, according to you and your fan club, no religious guidance on the subject.

    That doesn’t make it a non-issue however. I know it will be hard for you, but could you please engage the grey matter and tell us what you actually think for once?

    Are you for or against fgm, and given it has no religious credibility whatsoever is it not about time ordinary muslims stopped doing it? Given that it is barbaric?

    Go on. It can’t be hard.

    You could have tried answering my question without asking for clues. However, the following countries all identify themselves with the prefix “The Islamic Republic of”:

    Pakistan

    Iran

    Afghanistan

    Mauretania.

    Pick one, anyone at all.

  100. douglas clark — on 23rd August, 2009 at 5:09 pm  

    If anyone else is still reading this I’d point out I also see a continuum between refusing Jews admission to golf clubs and gas chambers, refusing to allow black people to ride anywhere they like on a bus and lynchings, etc, etc. All of these things are, for sure, the extreme ends of a spectrum, but as long as the weaker end of these attitudes exist there is the potential for a slippery slope.

  101. falcao — on 23rd August, 2009 at 7:35 pm  

    douglas clarke

    even the aussies gave up the ashes when they lost today. Time to take the hint.

    you have lost the argument listing another 4 secualr states your embarrassing yourself with every statement. You are clearly out of your dept on this discussion.

    Now you comparing jews in a gas chamber to this discussion you have very wild imagination, pity no one can take you seriously.

  102. anobody — on 23rd August, 2009 at 8:07 pm  

    douglas clark,

    You’re a very funny guy.

    “Tell us anobody, where do you stand on fgm?”

    Where do I stand on FGM? I’ve already said it is abhorrent (post 89). Now a normal person would know my point of view, just by reading that. However, you’re a special case. Is it because I’m Muslim I have to categorically spell it out for you? Very strange.

    “You could have tried answering my question without asking for clues. However, the following countries all identify themselves with the prefix “The Islamic Republic of”:

    Pakistan

    Iran

    Afghanistan

    Mauretania.

    Pick one, anyone at all.”

    I feel embarrassed for you douglas clark. We can quietly forget you mentioned this.

    However we cannot forget this:

    “If anyone else is still reading this I’d point out I also see a continuum between refusing Jews admission to golf clubs and gas chambers, refusing to allow black people to ride anywhere they like on a bus and lynchings, etc, etc. All of these things are, for sure, the extreme ends of a spectrum, but as long as the weaker end of these attitudes exist there is the potential for a slippery slope.”

    So do you see a continuum between mini skirts and rape?

  103. anobody — on 23rd August, 2009 at 8:12 pm  

    ^as you seem to see a continuum between women who chose to segregate and female genital mutilation

  104. douglas clark — on 23rd August, 2009 at 9:51 pm  

    Falcao,

    Why should I take your word for it that I am embarrassing myself?

    Wikipedia.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_countries#Islamic_states

    Oh! It’s a bit down the page and as you haven’t bothered your arse to look at one reference that has been given to you so far, this is what it says:

    Islamic states

    Islamic State have adopted Islam as the ideological foundation for their political institution.

    * Afghanistan[71]
    * Bahrain[72]
    * Brunei
    * Iran[73]
    * Mauritania[74]
    * Oman[75]
    * Pakistan[76]
    * Yemen[77]
    * Saudi Arabia[78]

    If you think that that is wrong away you go and edit Wikipedia.

    So far, I’ve backed up everything I’ve had to say and your little clique has made fools of themselves at every turn.

    Well done.

  105. douglas clark — on 23rd August, 2009 at 10:10 pm  

    anobody @ 102,

    Yes, you did say that in 89.

    So now we’ve established that it’s abhorrent what do you think your faith should do about it, if anything?

    BTW, we will not quietly forget I mentioned it. These states claim to be Islamic. I refer you to my previous answer (104). If you have a different definition that actually exists on planet Earth and not in your imagination, please, feel free to name it and we’ll take it from there….

    Your last question:

    So do you see a continuum between mini skirts and rape?

    No, not really.

    If you’d asked me whether there are pathetic men around that think like that then I’d probably have agreed.

    But blaming the victim?

    No chance.

  106. bananabrain — on 24th August, 2009 at 11:38 am  

    alana,

    Perhaps I utilised a ’simplistic’ account of Judaism to make a wider point in the post which was not about Judaism per se.

    yes, you did. and this is not a place where simplistic accounts of judaism tend to help discussion, particularly if they are misleading. the trouble is, from a first post it is sometimes hard to tell why someone is being simplistic or misleading and i am afraid that based on long experience here i tend to assume the worst. i do appreciate your effort to clarify matters.

    I am quite happy to concede that there are aspects of reform/liberal Judaism that are equally problematic. I just didn’t want to get into a whole debate about them. My point was that religions and practices evolve.

    i agree – and traditional forms of judaism also evolve, however much they maintain that they don’t. unfortunately, people outside that system tend also to buy into that mythology and then proceed to use it to construct false dichotomies, rather like the islamist mythology around the “ummah” feeds the misconceptions non-muslims have about islam being a monolithic, uniform, integrated system, which it decidedly isn’t. themes, platforms, stresses and trends do not, either in islam or judaism, fit neatly into denominational boxes; that is a procrustean approach to the systemic complexity of both systems which is, nonetheless, unfortunately adopted by “sectoral barons” (those who have gained power via the current system) of to benefit their immediate agenda rather than the good of the whole system.

    As for what to read etc., I am was not attempting to be patronising.

    put it this way, if you can’t sum up your argument succinctly, then it tends to look like avoiding a debate in a blog environment. the “if you only knew the stuff i knew and saw it my way, you’d see it my way” argument works in many different ways and it is commonly deployed by the kiruv (“outreach”) movements as a red herring – “go and study in yeshiva for 20 years and then you’ll see we’re right” – academics are not immune from this and your suggestion that i would need to be familiar with bauman and arendt in order to get where you’re coming from is more suited to the academic arena of debate, which this ain’t. i do appreciate the sentiment, however.

    Also, I am not trying to sell you my book. I would be genuinely interested in your comments and would be happy to send you a PDF of Chapter 3 by email for free

    ach, i’m only joshing – and, besides, i wouldn’t blame you if you did want to sell me your book, that’s what a written book is for! actually, that’s very kind of you. you can forward that to me via the spittoon blog, where i sometimes write:

    http://www.spittoon.org/contact

    Lastly, I am sorry if you think any of my comments were patronising towards practicing Jews.

    thank you, that’s very polite.

    It appears you like a fight, but I really don’t.

    it’s not that i like a fight, but there are certain things that really get up my nose, one of which is the idea that in order to be religious, you have to be a closed-minded, intellectually dishonest bigot. another of these is the idea that scientific materialism and modernist movements are somehow more “progressive” and “advanced” than traditional religious sensibilities.

    My own journey away fro community involvement was based on a realisation that, for myself, it is insufficient to take a stand against racism from within the worldview of one group alone.

    ah, but that assumes first that universalising a problem is the key to solving it when, in fact, it’s only half the way there. “progressives” rarely get why particularism is important and often do so for the wrong (morally relativistic) reasons. the other assumption here is that racism is the real problem that you are facing, whereas it is merely a symptom of a larger, systemic problem. “taking a stand” against things, beloved as it is of the leftie community, is a lot easier than really using your position in a community to bring about positive change.

    BTW, I am also Israeli and speak fluent Hebrew, so I don’t need the translations

    you’re not the only person reading this.

    curious observer:

    that is the typical response of someone who doesn’t understand systems. i’m not offended, i just find it as laughable as someone who says that because i’m not a born-again christian, i’m going to hell and should get with their program, instead. i’m afraid that whole “you’re in the C21st now” argument just won’t wash, because it is as valid as it was in the C2nd, C6th and the middle ages, let alone in the C18th. yet we are still here, precisely because we know how to recognise an argument as bogus as this one is.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  107. Jobeda — on 24th August, 2009 at 5:20 pm  

    David MWW, Douglas Clark and Soso, thanks for your kinds words about my writing. Shatterface, it’s a date. Sonia, thanks for your lucid observations when everyone else seems to be going quite mad on here. I agree that systems are complex and pluralistic whether feminism, Islam or anything else. You’re also right to see that I am challenging the underlying reasons for certain practices; whether it’s hijab, segregation or FGM; this article was meant to challenge the destructive mores that create them (including misogyny) and which are common to all of them.

    Amrit, I agree my article can be called one-sided. That’s why I’m not a journalist, I like to take sides :-) When I write or blog occasionally it’s because I feel strongly about something and want to try and persuade people. In this particular case, I was writing about how the British press reported on this story and that it was a missed opportunity to explore and challenge the practice at the core of the story. There are of course many other issues that are important, but we each have to choose a fight and it’s good that different people fight for different things. It’s not that I think women not being able to marry who they wish is less important. I think combating segregation addresses many related issues. Early in the article I talk about how segregation reinforces certain other attitudes and I’d include forced marriage in that. Both practices are based on women’s status, choices and aspirations being worth less than mens’. So let’s hope that we can challenge many injustices through picking one.

    I also just want to add a quick observation about mendhi/hen nights and toilets which seem to come up everywhere as well as this thread. These are not constructive comparisons to draw. Men and women have different behaviours and we have an affinity to our gender that is meaningful in terms of culture, lifestyle and friendship. Women- and men-only activities, especially those that celebrate mixed gender marriages, are simply not the same thing as segregation. Segregation is a political concept and a system that is politically imposed, in some societies, even Politically imposed. It is disingenuous to imply that people who oppose segregation oppose single gender activities, or services that are designed to make people feel more comfortable. It doesn’t help move the debate forward at all and I’d go as far as to say it’s a lazy comparison. As for toilets, do I really have to spell out that both men and women prefer to undertake intimate toilet activities apart from the other gender? This is a question of privacy, not segregation.

    I won’t write any more on here. I‘m pretty disgusted by the aggressive and insulting tone of some of the posts here. I don’t agree that online posts are inherently adversarial, I will talk to you here with the same respect I’d show if I were having a cup of tea with you in my sitting room. I abhor flame wars and I’m surprised at the standard of netiquette here, I had higher expectations of PP readers. For those of you who don’t think I’m fascist-rural-psycho-whore, you can find me on Facebook where I am often debating. Rationally.

  108. Khan — on 24th August, 2009 at 6:36 pm  

    Jobeda, thank you for writing what few other muslim women would have had the courage to write. I think it was Sonia who in an earlier post suggested that it is muslim men who ought to be offended by this segregation. As a south/central asian man, with a distinct triba heritage, I still find segregated weddings highly offensive. I have resolved not to go to segregated weddings even in my own cultural milieu and I will definitely not go to one in London, Paris, Vancouver or New York. It is a patriarchal misogynistic socio-political norm that has no place in pluralistic free societies. I was shocked that even women were offended by your post. If muslim women refuse to stand against certain norms, then it is a travesty. I laud Fitzpatrick for what he did. This is not about respecting another culture. It is about passing off tribal misogyny as part of a faith system and culture where it truly doesnt belong.

  109. douglas clark — on 24th August, 2009 at 8:10 pm  

    Jobeda,

    Hello and goodbye :-(

    Thanks for the article. I, for one, thought it was a breath of fresh air.

    At least it lets you see what you’re up against.

  110. Don — on 24th August, 2009 at 8:25 pm  

    Sorry I missed this debate, not had a lot of computer time lately. I still doubt Fitzpatrick’s motives, but I can’t see why it is so unreasonable to see segregation of the sexes as being on a spectrum with other forms of male dominance, with FGM and other brutalities at the far end.

    No such thing as ‘separate but equal’, however many platitudes are spouted about how wonderful it is for women to nurture and maintain the home while the men decide how the world will be run, and how roles are ‘complementary’.

    An optimist might see segregated weddings as a hang-over from a worse time in the past, a pessimist might see them as a harbinger of worse times to come, but they still involve somebody telling somebody else that their sex makes certain places and roles out of bounds. Personally, I wouldn’t make a fuss at the time, but I would probably later ask people I knew well enough how they actually felt about it.

  111. falcao — on 24th August, 2009 at 10:54 pm  

    douglas clarke

    Maybe you believe you are an expert and scholar on islam, is it because of your ability to use the search facility on wikipedia?
    Well just to give you a clue after the mess you made of claiming egypt and others are at the front line of implementing islamic law try searching the words “islamic republic” on your favourite website and they seem to be more confused than you as to what it means.

  112. falcao — on 24th August, 2009 at 11:01 pm  

    Jobeda

    your article is not challenging in the slightest except in my opinion it increases stereotypes of islam. Your article is not a scientific study its based on what you say are your experiences where you say women get the poorer quality of room at a wedding hmmm. Well the segregated weddings i have been to the women get equal size or in some cases the better deal so does that debunk your argument? Do we have serious cultural problems with sections of society which should be tackled yes but segregated muslim weddings is not one of them. I will leave the last words to the groom whose wedding jim fitzpatricks mp ruined and used for a political stunt.

    ‘My wife and I chose the London Muslim Centre as a wedding venue as it catered for our families religious and cultural requirements.

    My family and I are upset and disappointed that he has taken his grievances to the national press rather than contacting myself or members of my family to clear any issues that he has with my wedding arrangements.

  113. douglas clark — on 25th August, 2009 at 12:12 am  

    falcao,

    I am an atheist. Capiché?

    I am no expert on Islam. But neither are you.

    Lets take you apart a few words at a time, shall we?

    I put to you what I put to the other member of your political party in a garden shed down the back of mummys’ back garden;

    BTW, we will not quietly forget I mentioned it. These states claim to be Islamic. I refer you to my previous answer (104). If you have a different definition that actually exists on planet Earth and not in your imagination, please, feel free to name it and we’ll take it from there…

    .

    Feel free to answer. The silence from the garden shed in deafening.

    You say:

    Well just to give you a clue after the mess you made of claiming egypt and others are at the front line of implementing islamic law try searching the words “islamic republic” on your favourite website and they seem to be more confused than you as to what it means.

    You spell out what the hell you think it means, and if it is not some intellectual exercise on Heaven on Earth and the Ummah and stuff like that then perhaps, just perhaps, I’ll give you the time of day. The history of the human race is littered with Utopias. (I have already invited you to go away and edit the Wikipedia definitions. You have singularily failed to do that.)

    Largely because you can’t.

    There is a difference between the reality based community and your down the garden shed based fantasies.

    I would be astonished if sensible muslims give idiots like you the time of day.

  114. douglas clark — on 25th August, 2009 at 12:23 am  

    falcao,

    The only ones on here who

    increases stereotypes of islam

    are you and your rabble.

    You are the stereotype.

  115. douglas clark — on 25th August, 2009 at 12:32 am  

    falcao, who can’t string a thought together, now want’s scientific studies to back something up?

    You couldn’t make it up.

  116. bananabrain — on 25th August, 2009 at 11:47 am  

    jobeda,

    You’re also right to see that I am challenging the underlying reasons for certain practices; whether it’s hijab, segregation or FGM; this article was meant to challenge the destructive mores that create them (including misogyny) and which are common to all of them.

    but you are presuming that there is a one-to-one relationship, that all segregation is based on one thing:

    women’s status, choices and aspirations being worth less than mens

    now, i am 100% with you in terms of combating this and the attitudes it supports, but i think you’re mistaken to assume that *all* segregation supports it. and it strikes me that with your comments on mendhis and toilets, you can see the implications of your earlier remarks, as you state here:

    Women- and men-only activities, especially those that celebrate mixed gender marriages, are simply not the same thing as segregation. Segregation is a political concept and a system that is politically imposed, in some societies, even Politically imposed.

    in which case, how do you propose that we identify a politically-imposed consideration to differentiate it from an acceptable single-sex activity?

    It is disingenuous to imply that people who oppose segregation oppose single gender activities, or services that are designed to make people feel more comfortable.

    but it is equally disingenuous to imply that people who support certain single-sex activities, or segregation at *some* mixed activities, support things like FGM.

    As for toilets, do I really have to spell out that both men and women prefer to undertake intimate toilet activities apart from the other gender? This is a question of privacy, not segregation.

    the question of tzniut or “modesty” in halakhah (jewish law) is also a question of privacy, namely the right of individuals to keep certain of their own domains and activities private, as in restricted as to who can see them. i agree that where it is imposed by others (“you have to cover your hair up so i don’t get aroused”) this can easily subjugation. however, privacy operates on a number of different levels. if you take the case of [traditionally segregated] communal prayer, this is obligatory only for men, not for women. for a prayer-friendly environment to be maintained, i am sure you would agree that talking loudly on the phone or farting would be an aural disturbance to this environment and that this would hardly be considered controversial – the solution would simply be “take it outside”. i cannot see how visual and olfactory disturbances would be considered differently and therefore you can see how introducing a woman into such an environment could constitute a disturbance with the same solution. however, i would agree it would constitute subjugation IF women were therefore unable to construct and enforce control FOR THEMSELVES of an environment suitable for prayer however they wished it to be defined. the point really is that it is extremely difficult to maintain a suitable environment for communal prayer – this is *really* hard to get right – without some form of environmental control and a reduction in distractions and disturbances.

    I‘m pretty disgusted by the aggressive and insulting tone of some of the posts here. I don’t agree that online posts are inherently adversarial, I will talk to you here with the same respect I’d show if I were having a cup of tea with you in my sitting room.

    look, you raise some pretty controversial topics in a way that is actually pretty aggressive in itself. i don’t think you have much call to complain if you raise strong emotions while you’re at it. i personally have called for more civility many times but unfortunately a few people exchanging insults tend to drive out more polite levels of discourse. i do think, however, as a sort of crusading journalist, you need to be prepared to provoke a reaction – personally, i would think that was better than getting nothing at all but “yeah, me too”.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  117. Katy Newton — on 25th August, 2009 at 12:09 pm  

    I won’t write any more on here. I‘m pretty disgusted by the aggressive and insulting tone of some of the posts here. I don’t agree that online posts are inherently adversarial, I will talk to you here with the same respect I’d show if I were having a cup of tea with you in my sitting room.

    Jobeda, I really sympathise, but PP is pretty mild compared to other sites that I have written for. I think the problem is a tendency to forget that the names on the screen correspond to real people with real feelings which are as hurt by insults that are typed as by insults shouted across the street. It’s one of the reasons that I no longer write much on the internet generally.

  118. grapesoda — on 25th August, 2009 at 12:17 pm  

    douglas

    your posts are incorrect on several issues, you cannot claim to link fgm to the islamic religion without textual proof, the evidence in post#92 is not recognized by anybody and is most likely fake.

    Also the the term islamic republic means nothing except the state has islam as the state religion. If you visit these places as i have morocco and egypt you will find the governments are in war against its own people who in the majority want the application of islamic shariah laws.

  119. douglas clark — on 25th August, 2009 at 12:51 pm  

    grapedosa,

    your posts are incorrect on several issues, you cannot claim to link fgm to the islamic religion without textual proof, the evidence in post#92 is not recognized by anybody and is most likely fake.

    I never made that link. What was this I said? Ah, yes:

    So, there is evidence that fgm can be allowed. It is extremely weak evidence. I would assume most Muslims would reject it out of hand.

    Which is what I think you are doing. Jolly good. So we see eye to eye on that do we? Though the question about what to do about fgm in muslim countries is still a valid one. Where do you think your faith should stand on the subject, if anywhere? (I’m assuming you are a muslim here).

    An Islamic state is supposed to also adopt Sharia as it’s guiding light for legislation. That is in Egypts’ Constitution. The practical implementation is a different question altogether.

    BTW, Morocco doesn’t even claim to be an Islamic Republic, according to that definition. Although Islam is the state religion, I think from a cursory glance at it’s constitution, it sees itself as a kingdom.

    I assume you don’t want to play the game either. Name your favourite islamic state? So far no-one has. Or, at the very least give me your definition, in full.

  120. alana — on 25th August, 2009 at 2:41 pm  

    Dear Bananabrain,

    This is the last time I will post on an online debate becasue it is amazing how much one’s personal views can be taken to be so distant from what they actually are. I guess that at least for me, by summarising as is necessary in order not to bore everyone to tears, any substance goes out of the argument.

    I have never before been taken from a universalist, and anyone who knows my work, for example on the association between racism and universalism, knows this. Neither do I think it is impossible to change things from within communities. In fact, I have been arguing the opposite in this very post (the first one) or so I thought. It seems you really read what you want to read, or maybe you are using my post to make a point you wanted to make anyway.

    In all events, it was a useful lesson for me to stay out of online debates in future.

    Best wishes,

    alana

    Ps. This paragraph was completely unclear to me but no need to respond:
    that is the typical response of someone who doesn’t understand systems. i’m not offended, i just find it as laughable as someone who says that because i’m not a born-again christian, i’m going to hell and should get with their program, instead. i’m afraid that whole “you’re in the C21st now” argument just won’t wash, because it is as valid as it was in the C2nd, C6th and the middle ages, let alone in the C18th. yet we are still here, precisely because we know how to recognise an argument as bogus as this one is.

  121. grapesoda — on 25th August, 2009 at 2:44 pm  

    douglas

    You haven’t given a convincing argument on anything you have said. To ask to play games or divert the topic is pointless.

    To question any religion is not a problem. However when you made accusations linking fgm and islam using fake evidences then this is the behaviour of tabloid journalists.

  122. douglas clark — on 25th August, 2009 at 3:16 pm  

    grapesoda,

    Sorry about getting that wrong last time.

    How do you get from my post @ 119 to your post @121? From my point of view there is a huge disconnect between your reply and what I have actually said. So, I take it you don’t actually read my posts before you reply to them.

    Your entire clique haven’t actually even tried to construct an arguement, so please don’t try to talk down to me.

    If you can’t understand what I have just told you in the first half of my previous post then we are talking at complete cross purposes and you are wasting my time. And the time of anyone else reading this.

  123. bananabrain — on 25th August, 2009 at 4:46 pm  

    alana:

    This is the last time I will post on an online debate becasue it is amazing how much one’s personal views can be taken to be so distant from what they actually are.

    this slightly surprises me. i do try and take people as i find them and it is unusual (i hope) for me to misconstrue people’s personal positions once they have clarified them. until that takes place, of course, a certain amount of assumption will be necessary.

    I guess that at least for me, by summarising as is necessary in order not to bore everyone to tears, any substance goes out of the argument.

    i think that depends what you mean by substance. if you want to convince people of something, you have to actually convince them. saying “read this book” isn’t an argument – it is a dismissal of the need to make an argument because of its putative self-evidence. summarising an argument serves, for me at least, as investment in the social capital of an online conversation. i would say that, where you have clarified what you are saying (the “logic of nazism” comments, for example) i have done my best to appreciate the clarification. what i have tried to do, perhaps brusquely (you may not appreciate the amount of anti-jewish rhetoric and insinuation that we have been subject to here in the last year at the hands of the hard-left-islamist axis) is to find out how you were going to engage. the background information has helped.

    I have never before been taken from a universalist, and anyone who knows my work, for example on the association between racism and universalism, knows this.

    but why on earth should you assume that anyone here knows your work? i was addressing the argument you appeared to be making, namely that universalising the problem of racism was the key to solving it. if i misunderstood your argument, you have only to say how.

    Neither do I think it is impossible to change things from within communities. In fact, I have been arguing the opposite in this very post (the first one) or so I thought. It seems you really read what you want to read, or maybe you are using my post to make a point you wanted to make anyway.

    no. i am not stampeding around here looking to be offended. i addressed the argument i thought you were making. it is, of course, entirely possible i misunderstood it, which could be because i am less good at comprehension than i think, or it could be that your argument wasn’t all that clear. if i misunderstood it, then i will of course address that.

    In all events, it was a useful lesson for me to stay out of online debates in future.

    i have made many mistakes in online debates and, i am sure, will make many more. perhaps your mistake is to assume that sentences like this:

    the example has been set for them by western nationalism and racism which are of course the exclusionary doctrines par excellence that have largely been responsible for the destruction of the interculturalism that defined the pre-colonial era.

    whilst no doubt uncontroversial in sociological circles, will pass unchallenged in an environment like a political blog. to a simple soul like myself, it comes across as a grab-bag of politically correct academic clichés, phrased, moreover, as assertions which, to my mind at least, are quite debatable. perhaps you are right about summarisation leading to a lack of substance!

    oh well, it’s a shame, actually, you seem quite nice – i was starting to like you. i am sorry if i have been overly fierce.

    Ps. This paragraph was completely unclear to me but no need to respond

    it was addressed to the poster called “curious observer”, not you.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  124. falcao — on 25th August, 2009 at 9:34 pm  

    douglas clarke

    still harping on about having invisible evidence linking islam and fgm are we oh well keep trying.

    At least its comical watching you post your gcse level research on islamic governance.

  125. douglas clark — on 25th August, 2009 at 11:01 pm  

    falcao,

    Still attempting to goad me?

    Very good.

    The only thing risible on this thread is you.

    Go on tell us all. It would be a first for any of your little clique from the garden shed to actually tell us what they believed in.

    Y’know what?

    I don’t think you can.

    ’cause, if you did you’d reveal something of yourself. And that would be dangerous

    Being a nobody or whatever allows attack without the merit of defence.

    I think I know more about governance than you ever will.

    Take up the challenge, write something sensible.

  126. douglas clark — on 25th August, 2009 at 11:34 pm  

    And honestly falcao,

    Stop twisting what I have said. I have made it as clear as can be that I welcome the somewhat unexpected enlightenment of your chum grapesoda, even though grapesoda is unable to acknowledge it.

    For anyone interested, the exchange of views is at 118, 119 and 122.

    There is a finite amount of time that reaching out for common ground, or at least any sort of reasoned debate at all becomes futile.

    You have reached it.

    And from now on the gloves are off.

    So, falcao, how often did you fuck up your GCSE in dress design? You must have got full marks in the camouflage section, failed on the feminity aspects, I expect.

    Did you help braindeadsoda in his or her understanding of constitutional law? Ah, yes, I do believe you did. It must be such a shame for his/her parents that he/she failed the subject.

    Did you hand out special lessons in avoiding the fucking question?

    Yes, I think you did. And whilst there is no GCSE to be gained, your graduates from the school of avoiding the fucking question have now advanced to this thread:

    http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/5648#comments

    Where braindeadgrapesoda has already had his/her arse in a sling.

    I quite like most Muslims I meet. I quite liked the author of this thread. But, you?

    No.

  127. douglas clark — on 26th August, 2009 at 12:16 am  

    Seriously.

    I think you are a chump.

  128. falcao — on 26th August, 2009 at 4:38 pm  

    douglas clarke

    oh dear what can we say now about your demented rant keep going funniest thing i have read in ages.

  129. Oscar Lima — on 27th August, 2009 at 10:10 am  

    “I always challenge segregation where I see it.”

    Next time you go to many an American (and sometime UK) spa, keep this in mind.

    I notice that in Anglo-Saxon countries, it is the people that jump at women bathing in so-called burkini that will accuse nudists or naked bike riders for being perverts.

    The conclusion nowadays too many people tend to hate, sneer at, or maybe just make a fuss about, those that don’t behave just like they wish them to. Including Jim Fitzpatrick.

  130. douglas clark — on 27th August, 2009 at 2:08 pm  

    falcao,

    Rubbish.

  131. fugstar — on 27th August, 2009 at 2:19 pm  

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/muslim-leader-tells-of-abduction-at-knifepoint-1777945.html

    heres another one. blocking worship claiming some gender thing. classy.


    Councillor Pat Richardson, leader of the BNP group on the local council, confirmed leaflets had been distributed in the area warning of the Islamification of the area.

    She claimed Mr Ramjanally was breaking the terms of the hire agreement at the hall and the leaflets also highlighted this.

    She added: “The main concern is that everybody else adheres to the terms of the hire agreement.

    “There are issues with equality, yet the prayer group is men only. Christian groups use the hall but they are mixed. There are no exclusions.”

  132. sonia — on 27th August, 2009 at 2:40 pm  

    You know if some women want to self-segregate themselves that is entirely their business, their problem if they think the God that created them wants them to hide-away. Fair enough to that! Its about societal choice of course, and context. some of you don’t seem to have gotten this.

    And Sofia, let me spell it out for you seeing as you seem somewhat confused. if someone wants to promote or object to a specific instance of segregation, whether they are a man or woman, that is up to them, to make their argument, based on the context, and to link it to wider societal norms in place within that society. the presumption is that specific instances of segregation reflect a wider, high-level societal view of gender segregation which is linked to a problematic understanding of gender roles. So there’s a bigger problem at stake..see? That’s what gets people about gender segregation in general.

    No one expects everyone to have the same opinion, or every instance of a ‘gender-grouped’ situation to be the same thing as a high-level societal view on gender interaction which is deeply enforced through many situations and institutions Surely you can see that. (i understand your emotional response..but surely you can see what i am saying?)

    one article pointing out the problems of high-level societal view on gender politics which uses one example of gender-segregation is one thing. You may not think there is a problem with the wider practice of gender-segregation, well fair enough for you. That is not just about your religion or culture – lots of people here don’t see the problem with same-sex schools. I do – i think it has a big impact of young people’s normal sexual and personal development. But many people do not agree. fair enough! we can argue the point but in the end, there is choice..you can send your kids to one or the other.

    A society may not have a high-level view on gender segregation, but be able to implement a variety of choice (like same-sex loos!! providing options for more prudish people when it comes to swimming)- this is HARDLY the same thing! If a man could NEVER go to the pool with his wife because of gender segregation -well then, it might be comparable.

    Would anyone really think that protesting against high-level societal view on gender-segregation (which -will follow on whatever gender politics and views on gender roles that society has) would then have to involve protesting against same-sex loos..??

    I think most people realise having male and female toilets – is not that big a deal, possibly outmoded, possibly not- but they wouldn’t choose that example – in this society anyway -to talk about gender inequalities. There are gender inequalities in every society, even when segregation is outmoded.

  133. sonia — on 27th August, 2009 at 2:49 pm  

    And Sofia: how can you even challenge gender inequality – when and if gender segregation is practised widely in a society? YOu can’t – that’s the point.

    And maybe you don’t find gender inequality a problem in South Asian societies, but many women do. Its why Asian families here, don’t mind letting the girls and women go and do their shopping, but because of gender inequalities in our “HOme” countries, it isn’t considered Safe, or seemly, for a woman to go out on her own and do her shopping. I am sure I do not need to give you any more examples. You might be fine and well off sitting here, but there are plenty of women around (and men, who are tired of chauffering their women around or doing things for them) who are working hard to break down the barriers.

    Whether it comes to religion, or culture, or an unholy nexus (as far as i am concerned the two are inextricable, religion only WORKS because of culture/when it becomes ‘culture!) imagining that gender segregation in traditional societies does not breed gender inequality, is NAIVE In the extreme.

  134. sonia — on 27th August, 2009 at 2:54 pm  

    Really some people are not very smart on this thread.

    Kulvinder says:

    “think female empowerment in communities from the sub-continent should focus on issues like them being allowed to marry whom they wish rather than the issue that comes after that – who sits where at the wedding.”

    Well obviously my friend! But do you think a woman brought up in a society, which encourages gender segregation – is really going to be able to easily make up her own choices? NO! first of all, they will say – where did you meet this boy?? the point about segregation is CONTROL. Surely you can see this!! Control your female population, control your male population. Of course it doesn’t really work – more unsuitable people hitch up together because they’ve never really had any ‘non-sexualised’ interaction with a person of the opposite sex. Gawd. HOw are they going to make sensible decisions? they can’t! its a girl! its a boy! oh my god!

    goodness me. whether you start a fight at the bloody wedding or walk out or don’t – stay and ask everyone what the hell they are thinking carrying out such control-freakery in this age..someone needs to join the dots. If your life is so bloody controlled someone has to tell you where you can sit, how empowered a life are you going to have? You won’t – male or female – because you are not considered ADULT or RESPONSIBLE enough to control yourself in the presence of the opposite sex!

  135. sonia — on 27th August, 2009 at 2:59 pm  

    Thanks for your comments Jobeda – and I look forward to finding out more about your work, sorry you will not be back here commenting.

    Its not surprising most people can’t see through silly instances to wider societal constructs but i suppose if that happened more easily, it wouldn’t be such a shitty world out there. Sad.

  136. sonia — on 27th August, 2009 at 3:09 pm  

    thanks for that info Galloise, and Bananabrain – well written posts with good points. As with anything, absolutes are hard to ‘defend’ and your reasoning is clear and sensible.

    For me personally, its when there is a high-level view of gender segregation which encourages self-hate in women, which is harmful, as that is a psychological construct the person will carry with them, for a long time, even if they never actually have to be ‘segregated’. the instances are not the big problem, its the overall view which affects a woman’s self-worth. and that affects kids – and the whole of society -= its not just a ‘woman’ thing – again, that is also a short-sighted view.

    you also tend to find- i-n these societies men who cannot control themselves -when suddenly in the presence of a woman. And vice versa: women think a MAN MUST be interested in her sexually BECAUSE she is a woman. Just makes it so animalistic, any man and any woman! rather than attraction between a specific man and woman.

    anyhow, on that note, i shall resign from this thread.

  137. The Common Humanist — on 27th August, 2009 at 3:17 pm  

    Sonia
    That was all very well said.
    TCH 8-)

  138. sonia — on 27th August, 2009 at 3:50 pm  

    thanks TCH!

  139. anobody — on 27th August, 2009 at 7:19 pm  

    sonia,

    You contradict yourself. You say segregation, results in men and women not being able to interact, as they have no ‘non-sexualised’ contact with one another.

    Then you say segregation, shouldn’t be condoned as men and women are not “ADULT or RESPONSIBLE” enough to control themselves with the opposite sex.

    Make your mind up love.

    Can you tell me the number of broken marriages and broken families (and resulting social ills) that come about in cultures which practise segregation? As you seem to think having segregation equals to no choice, which equals to a “unsuitable people getting hitched.”

  140. douglas clark — on 27th August, 2009 at 8:37 pm  

    anobody,

    Is that your best shot at it?

    I doubt Sonia thinks for one moment that men and women are not adult and responsible enough to control themselves with the opposite sex. After all, most human beings manage to do it every day and for a lifetime. I am becoming quite blazé at the vacuous attempts around here to turn others arguements back on them. When not making one of your own.

    Have you now given up on your ridiculous mini skirts and rape conflation?

    I certainly hope so.

  141. anobody — on 27th August, 2009 at 11:24 pm  

    douglas clark,

    I don’t know what sonia thinks, neither do you. She is contradicting herself. Firstly she claims men and women cannot interact unless there is sexualised contact, so that’s why segregation is bad.

    Then she says men and women can control themselves in a non segregated environment. How then would sexualised contact be enabled to allow man woman to interact, if men and women do not have lecherous thoughts and intentions?

    I’m a 25 year old virgin and I’ve never had problems interacting with female colleagues at work. I’ve never rogered any of them to allow me to interact with them.

    Have you now given up on your ridiculous mini skirts and rape conflation?

    Don’t put that on me douglas clark. I haven’t said that once. I love how you twist things. You’re only here to point score, nothing else. I’m actually trying to understand. If I wasn’t learning anything from being here I would have left a long time ago. I find myself agreeing with a lot of people – both on the left and on the right – who are more eloquent than I in putting across their views.

    Going back to this:

    Have you now given up on your ridiculous mini skirts and rape conflation?

    You can’t put that on me.
    What I did was ask you you specifically, if female genital mutilation is a continuum of women who cover up and segregate themselves (which is what you have said), then using your own logic, on the flip do you agree that rape is a continuum of women who do not segregate and cover themselves up?

    I do not think not rape is a continuum of not covering up, and neither do I think fgm is continuum of segregation. That is why I am opposed to Jobeda Ali’s silly assertions, based purely on her own experience.

    Anyway, I think we’re going around in circles.

  142. Don — on 27th August, 2009 at 11:47 pm  

    Then she says men and women can control themselves in a non segregated environment.

    Ironic voice. In context that is obvious.

  143. douglas clark — on 28th August, 2009 at 12:30 am  

    anobody,

    Anyway, I think we’re going around in circles.

    Yes, since about post 25 or so….

    Anyway.

    I said this:

    Have you now given up on your ridiculous mini skirts and rape conflation?

    To which you replied:

    You can’t put that on me.

    Will so put that on you anobody. Here is what you asked me:

    So do you see a continuum between mini skirts and rape?

    Your post at 102.

    The implication was, well, what?

    You tell me mate.

    ————————————

    No, I do not know exactly what Sonia thinks. But I’ve got a damn good idea for we have talked back and forth here and there for quite a while now. And if you were to do the same with an open mind you’d probably come to realise that she is a very humane and intelligent person. And, for the purposes of this I’d be astonished if I was misrepresenting her.

    ————————————-

    Look, lecherous is one of those words. It usually applies to old guys fancying young women. It is really not the same as the hormonal urge that young guys have for young women. For the former is probably predicated on some sort of sugar daddy idea and the latter on lust, or hopefully, love.

    But despite their urges men generally do not act on them. And most men who are in relationships with the aforesaid women do not require their women to walk around in tents, lest others are aroused. You had noticed? And neither are they attacked by anyone you or I would want to know.

    So, where it is the womans freely made choice, so be it. But I do not think I am alone in thinking it is a patriarchal imposition. There seems to me to be a theme of fear about sexuality generally and womens sexuality in particular that is central to your cultural / religious beliefs.

    I am sorry about that.

    ————————————————–

    My point, for the umpteenth time on fgm, is that it is not supported by reliable hadiths. So you are free to tell us all whether you think it is barbaric or not. You have already said you do. So, the outstanding question is what do you think your faith should be doing about it, if anything?

    At least you have the courtesy to debate stuff. And be open.

    Which has not been my experience with some other commentators here, it has to be said.

  144. sonia — on 2nd September, 2009 at 2:44 am  

    “Then you say segregation, shouldn’t be condoned as men and women are not “ADULT or RESPONSIBLE” enough to control themselves with the opposite sex.”

    eh? i thought it pretty obvious my point was that societies which think segregation is a good thing are silly for thinking men and women are not “ADULT or RESPONSIBLE” enough to control themselves with the opposite sex.

  145. sonia — on 2nd September, 2009 at 2:56 am  

    im slightly confused as to how anobody interpreted my comments to mean that “Firstly she claims men and women cannot interact unless there is sexualised contact, so that’s why segregation is bad.”

    eh? ” men and women cannot interact unless there is sexualised contact” is what the muslim mullahs think hence they segregate. my point was when you segregate, you’re de-normalising interaction between the sexes and self-fulfilling prophecies being what they are..

    Duh. You are a bit thick if you interpreted my comments to what you seem to think they are!

  146. sonia — on 2nd September, 2009 at 2:56 am  

    im slightly confused as to how anobody interpreted my comments to mean that “Firstly she claims men and women cannot interact unless there is sexualised contact, so that’s why segregation is bad.”

    eh? ” men and women cannot interact unless there is sexualised contact” is what the muslim mullahs think hence they segregate. my point was when you segregate, you’re de-normalising interaction between the sexes and self-fulfilling prophecies being what they are..

    Duh. You are a bit thick if you interpreted my comments to what you seem to think they are!

    I’m a 25 year old virgin and I’ve never had problems interacting with female colleagues at work. I’ve never rogered any of them to allow me to interact with them.

    quite -and so it should be! you’re proving my point thanks. :-) as do million of men around the world, proving the mullahs’ and the segregationists fears = all to be hysterical nonsense.

    the simple point is men and women choose when to be sexual and when not to be. Or- they should be – able to- as grown adults with agency – make those decisions freely for themselves, and be prepared to take responsibility for those decisions.

  147. sonia — on 2nd September, 2009 at 3:03 am  

    144, good points Douglas.

  148. douglas clark — on 2nd September, 2009 at 7:48 am  

    Sonia,

    Thanks.

    From my POV this has been a very difficult thread and I am frankly relieved that you don’t seem to think I’d misrepresented you here.

    I really do not like making claims about what other people think. But, when somebody I consider a chum is being reverse engineered, perhaps that is the lesser crime.

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