Anne Applebaum has a column up today concerning Saudi Arabia and how they treat women and what we do about it and why/why not as it compares to South African apartheid.
She suggests a few things. 1-we’re too far removed from the problems here since women here have had rights for years. 2-women’s groups are too busy focusing on things like reproductive rights and 3-it’s such an ingrained cultural thing and we don’t like trampling on foreign cultures.
She is looking for a new model of feminism.
While I agree a new model of feminism might be good – I’d suggest we keep the old model and oust the folks who have given it such a bad name. (such as those who want to castrate a coat of arms for gender equality!)
I disagree with where Anne sees the problem. Our lack of focus on women’s issues in the world is because we treat women’s rights as women’s rights vs human rights. There is a cultural thing and there are gray areas but there is plenty of black and white humanity involved. Is owning property a human right? Because of the gray, we don’t focus on the black and white. Is not getting beaten a human right? Anne questions where the women’s rights organizations were in this country concerning that woman sentenced to 200 lashes in Saudi Arabia (and since pardoned) without questioning where basic rights organizations are. If she’s not doing it, why should they?
That woman got pardoned because human rights organizations, and women and men were outraged by the sentence.
Which brings us to the very existence of women’s organizations. Like all organizations, they are so busy trying to get support they have to make everything they support seem to be in peril in order to get folks to give up their money to them. If we’re in peril here that leaves no plane of consciousness able to deal with the rights of women in Saudi Arabia. It also leaves you with idiots like this commentator pointed out in Protein Wisdom suggesting that the lack of women’s rights here are on par with those in Saudi Arabia.
“The Saudi’s live in another world, where cruelty to women is accepted, and apparently encouraged”
I’m sorry – how is this different from “our world”?
Betty Boondoggle | 12.17.07 – 11:21 am | #
Betty is in her own world somewhere certainly not in “our world”. She is losing the respect of humans everywhere with this attitude.
Then there is the whole tricky part of men/women. Women in countries that don’t treat women well still want to be around men. They want families, they want children. If they must be treated like dogs to get those natural needs met, then they do. The more examples of men treating women well occur, the more women will speak up looking for their rights to be treated well. (Already there is a big movement in Saudi Arabia for women to drive)
Men in South Africa didn’t want anything the oppressors offered unless it was a job. And that is not an ingrained need of nature.
Women’s groups here should definitely be pointing out the ravages of female lives under certain regimes and Saudi Arabia is one of them. So should human rights groups. If the focus stays on human rights vs women’s rights I suspect the fight will be stronger.
UPDATE to clarify. I am by no means suggesting that women like to be treated badly. (even when culturally condoned) I am saying that most people (again – I’m going with that people vs women theme), most people don’t have any desire to take on the world. They want to live their lives in the manner that they want to live them. Mostly, with loved ones surrounding them in the form of families. With a little money coming in and their health. Women too – don’t usually want to take on the world. Many women in Saudi Arabia act as though they are ok with the status quo. Fewer blacks in South Africa did.
Then there are the women in Afghanistan who had no voice at all to take on anyone!
All praise to the US armed forces for changing that a little bit!
“Well, it is just very tricky to try to change another culture. We let down the victims of rape here. We haven’t got it right in our own courts. What good would it do for me to go over there and try to tell them what to do? I am just part of decadent Western culture and they think we’re all going to hell fast and maybe we are all going to hell fast.”
It IS very tricky to change another culture, but I don’t know a single culture that condones rape in Darfur by militias!!!! Good Lord. This is a completely different subject than rape by your spouse in a culture that treats men as controllers. What an idiot. Yet another “feminist” giving feminism a bad name.