So, having not posted in a bit, I have decided to post on several small events that have caught my eye in the past few days. Below I ask serious questions of modern leftist politics in relations to feminism and the world, highlight police racial profiling, and examine the recent global activism started by the Occupy Wall Street protestors.
WESTERN FEMINISM AND THE MIDDLE EAST
Most of you are probably somewhat aware of the state of women’s rights in many countries in the Middle East. I am only peripherally knowledgeable about the subject, but I am not so much looking to engage with specifics. Instead, I am more concerned with the general trend and the stance of Western leftists towards women’s rights generally. It seems to me—a seeming post-structuralist that I tend to be—that Western leftists have backed away from condemning really any misogynistic acts that do not occur in one’s immediate community. For instance, the modern feminist in the US (if one even dares call oneself by such a name) will be quick to condemn discriminatory wage levels between men and women in the US (that depressingly obstinate statistic of roughly 70 cents to the dollar of women’s vs. men’s earnings). Western feminists may also raise alarm over the obvious power relations at play over the rape allegations case involving former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn and a female maid.
We have (and I might as well start using the “we” as I identify as a feminist and am from a Western background) tended to back-off from condemning non-Western women’s rights violations. Some trepidation in proposing some sort of “universal values” is dangerous, especially in terms of translating ideas into material practice (is force or coercion OK?). historically, forcing another group of people, one that is not “your own,” has always ended very, very badly (colonialism anyone? Imperialism?). However, Western leftists have backed off too much for fear of repeating past failures. And—I want to emphasize this point—this is not to argue that “the West” has all the answers. But, we can certainly help. For example, when a woman in Saudi Arabia is sentenced to 10 lashes (yea, lashes) for driving, we should be pissed. I haven’t heard too much outrage except from the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart (a great clip here). And, while there is concern with Afghanistan generally, I just sense we’re a bit cowardly in not condemning some actions there more urgently. Speech, after all, is not proper “force,” so maybe we ought to speak up a bit more. For an interesting piece, check out this from the Independent. It’s a good example because it brings attention to the issue and lets the women themselves voice their concerns.
In the end, I’ve been wondering what a little Voltaire/Enlightenment-inspired no-apologies social criticism might look like in relation to all of this.
OSU POLICE ISSUE WORTHLESS REPORT
So, first thing in my inbox this morning was this:
Timely Warning – Crime Alert
Message from University Police
Oct. 15, 2011
Male student reports being robbed on High St. between Woodruff and W.12th Avenue between midnight and 1am. Victim stated he was tackled from behind, struck several times and the suspects took property from his pockets. Suspects described as 3 African-American males, 2 wearing black t-shirts, one wearing a red OSU “hoodie”, all had blue jeans. Victim could not determine if the robbery took place on the east or west side of High St. and was not able to determine the exact location.
Anyone with information concerning this crime should contact either the University Police…
Thanks for that OSU Police. You’ve just reified racial stereotypes based on an essentially useless crime report by broadcasting it OSU-wide. So, the individual who “reported” this event was able to spot that the accused assailants had on blue jeans, one wore a distinctive OSU sweatshirt, the other two wore black t-shirts, and all three were “African American” when it was the middle of the night. Alright. This is thrown into serious doubt when he cannot even recall which side of the street he was on, remember his “exact location,” or provide a more accurate timeframe than an hour window. Yet, this was deemed important enough to alert the whole campus community. Maybe we should be a little more careful about throwing about such sketchy accusations that highlight the criminality of black men.
Apparently the Occupy Wall Street protests have exploded. Events took place around the world today (well, sort of) that claimed to be inspired by the US activism that began (I believe) in New York. The website, though, is very vague about its goals which won’t help it out any with the lousy American news media. But, in any case, the protestors seem to be united in calling for greater democracy (this though, is mere inference). But, how, where, in relation to what, is not terribly clear. They would be progressive if they called for great democratic initiations in economic relations, but I haven’t really seen that message articulated. It would also have to ask some serious questions of liberalism.
Finally, I’m curious if anyone will connect the energy and anger of these protests to the events of the England riots back in August (I supposed I just implicitly did that, didn’t I?). I already posted once on that subject here (questioning if they were “riots” or “uprisings”). Maybe someone has seen a blog or news article on that somewhere?