December 24, 2011

PHYLLIS CHESLER: Naked Breasts vs. Fundamentialist Islam. “In the last year, three Muslim women have posed nude or nearly nude in the media.” Shockingly they’re all still alive.

Chesler, however, falls into the lame bikini-burka equivalence trap that has snared many Western feminists. When writing “I am wondering whether she has escaped one noose only to find herself about to be hung in another way,” it is important to remember that one noose is literal, and the other is only figurative.

In that regard, I refer back to these comments from Jim Henley: “1) This would be a shade closer to true if western women who ever tried to wear something other than bikinis – like, say, a business suit – GOT THE SHIT KICKED OUT OF THEM FOR DOING SO. But there’s more: 2) We may feel very ambivalent about it, but women’s sexual power is real. In a REAL patriarchy, as opposed to a half-assed one, it’s practically the only power women have available. Afghanistan is a real patriarchy for sure, and the burkha robs women of their sexual power by design. That is its function. But we’re still not done. 3) A bikini-clad woman has a face. Men can see when she is happy, when she is sad, when she is cogitating, when she is pissed off and, especially, when she suffers. There are some sick bastards who get off on visible evidence of female suffering. But even most squishy sexists are as squeamish as the rest of us about seeing torment play across the face of another human being. This too is what the burkha takes away by design. There is simply no comparison that is not invidious.”

More on that here. Note this from Megan McArdle: “What Aziz is arguing for is, in my opinion, a well meaning but futile attempt to take sex out of male-female relations.” This seems to be Chesler’s problem, too.