Politics

Kaberi Gayen's picture

Exploitation wins in Fatwa and Neo-Liberalism

This is the fourth installment of a six-part series, orignally posted at e-BangladeshThe next episode will be posted tomorrow.

Episode - Four    

Another basic difference that the women under Islamic doctrine have to suffer from is though other religious fundamentalisms are rising worldwide, women may get the shelter of secular laws of respective countries, but the lives of Muslim women are guided primarily by religious laws. Islamic legal system regulating women-related issues, the family law (al-akhwal al-syakhsyiyyah), has remained static and immutable since its codification a thousand years ago. This same law has been used as a reference on issues like gender relations, polygamy, divorce, inheritance, women’s leadership role, etc. which, unsurprisingly, reaffirms the already patriarchal attitudes of these societies. 

However the most significant feature that has distinguished Muslim fundamentalism from others is as pointed out by Helie-Lucas (2005): “It is also a transnational political movement. This makes it different from most other religious rights that also use religion for political purposes but are more geographically located. ‘Religious’ demands made in Europe and North America to give visibility and specificity to ‘Muslims’ have all been done under the control of fundamentalists with an exclusive focus on the control of women. For an example, in France, Muslim fundamentalists demanded the end of co-educational schools, a different curriculum for girls in state schools that includes a banning of sports, music, graphic arts, biology (like Christian fundamentalists in the US, they refuse Darwinism and want creationism to be taught—at least to girls!), the ‘right to veil’ for girls under age.”

 Thus Islamic fundamentalism has a global character and imposes all Muslim women of the world to be conformed to that character. So if anybody even tries to leave her/his country to enjoy the privilege of secular law in the adopted country, the fear of death in names of ‘fatwa’ runs after them. Fatwa of persecution after Salman Rushdi, Taslima Nasrin, and Nawal el-Saadawi are only a few examples.

Kaberi Gayen's picture

Women under Jewish and Islamic Fundamentalism

This is the third installment of a six-part series, orignally posted at e-BangladeshThe next episode will be posted tomorrow.

Episode - Three

There is a growing gap between secular and religious Jews in Israel, and there is a high degree of overlapping between positions on religion and the nation, observes Yuval-Davis (2004). In a very recent article O’Loughlin (2008) mentions that the Haredi sect has launched an aggressive campaign against the secular lifestyle of women in Jerusalem. Self-appointed moral guardians, dubbed the ’modesty police’ through Israel’s modern secular media, roaming through Jerusalem’s ultra-religious neighbourhoods, enforcing the voluminous and ever growing list of rabbinical laws such as the recent decree banning the sale of MP4 players.

Inside the Haredi neighbourhoods separation between the sexes is becoming increasingly strict. Husbands and wives socialise separately and during Jewish holidays men and women walk on opposite sides of the street. With the demographics skewed in their favour, government authorities are acquiescing to the growing demands of the ultra-orthodox. The transport ministry, has allowed operators to provide ’kosher’ or ’pure’ routes, where women are required to sit at the back and cannot board unless ‘appropriately’ dressed.

According to Menachem Friedman, a sociology professor at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv (quoted in O’Loughlin (2008)), “They’ve built an imaginary idealistic world where everyone is pious.” Increasingly, Jewish women in Jerusalem are required to conform to that vision. Length of the skirt is increasingly being the test for the level and type of religiosity.

Kaberi Gayen's picture

Women under Religious Fundamentalisms

This is the second installment of a six-part series, orignally posted at e-BangladeshThe next episode will be posted tomorrow.

Episode - Two

Fundamentalism has for long been associated with greater or lesser degrees of oppression of women. WAF felt that women were the main targets of fundamentalism. Its founding statement claimed that, “At the heart of the fundamentalists’ agenda is the control of women’s minds and bodies. [All] support the patriarchal family as a central agent of such control. They view women as embodying the morals and traditional values of the family and the whole community.” (WAF, 1990). Similar views were being developed in other places. For example, Hammami and Jad (1992:17-21), two Palestinian feminists, wrote, “The commonality between movements profoundly lies in their obsessive focus on the rights, rules and behaviour of women as pivotal to both their strategy of rule and as an aim in itself.”

The attempt of contemporary fundamentalist movements to control women can be seen not just as an idiosyncrasy but rather as a typical characteristic of authoritarian regimes and political movements, which have placed the regulation of women’s reproductive capacities and sexuality at the forefront of their agendas. The 18th century Enlightenment in Europe, with its emphasis on civil liberty, individual rights and political democracy, contributed the first great challenge to women’s subjugation. Throughout the 20th century, social change and ‘modernisation’ have had a significant impact on sex roles and gender relations, often giving rise to actual or perceived threats to traditional male supremacy. (Feldman and Clark, 1996). Industrialisation and the spread of capitalism have in many places opened new economic opportunities for women. Though women’s opportunities are still limited, population growth, land shortage and unemployment have weakened kinship solidarities, and men’s power in the family. Hence, the relative position of men and women may have changed, at least as much through the weakening of controls which men had, as because of real gains by women.

In 1930s Europe, economic depression and declining birth rates were frequently perceived in terms of ‘degenerate’ moral codes and cultural trends which justified the reassertion of strict regulation of the family and of sexuality, in order to promote fertility (Feldman and Clark, 1996).  In terms of effective state control this view found its most notorious expression in Nazi Germany but the subordination of women as a form of pressure to produce children has also occurred in the Soviet Union as well as in democratic states such as Britain and France.

Kaberi Gayen's picture

Feminist Responses towards Fundamentalisms and Neo-liberal Economy

This is the first installment of a six-part series, orignally posted at e-BangladeshThe next episode will be posted tomorrow.

Episode - One

This is the time of globalisation – globalisation of capital, thought processes through information technology and fundamentalisms. Women are the first victims of the globalisation of the ‘triumph of invested capital’ and they are the worst victims of religious fundamentalisms. But women issues are almost missing in the contemporary mainstream socio-economic, political and communicative discourses; the woman’s voice is scant in the ‘public sphere’. This paper presents a comparative analysis of eastern and western forms of fundamentalisms with an especial emphasis on the inbuilt male-centric components of hegemonic constructions of both the fundamentalisms and how the eastern and western feminisms are addressing these issues. The paper casts light on how in the era of overwhelming information revolution, the all-controlling, and patriarchal nature of fundamentalisms and capital wash away the marginal voices and widens the gap between hegemonic discourses and the participation of women as ‘others’ in that process. Unless the social control on the means of production as well as information can be established, this only being possible in a participatory democratic process, this marginalisation cannot be reduced. Therefore, this paper suggests that despite significant differences between various streams of feminisms in the eastern and western perspectives, women movements throughout the world demands a three-sided fight: against religious fundamentalisms, all powerful capital and for democracy .

Key words: fundamentalisms, feminisms, neo-liberal capital, communicative discourses, public sphere, participatory democracy

Introduction

Today’s world is passing through “The Clash of Fundamentalisms” (Ali, 2002). Jensen (2006) argues that there are four fundamentalisms that interplay the threat to a sustainable democracy – religious, national, economic and technological. He mentioned these four types of fundamentalisms in the context of ‘threatened’ democracy of the USA. There might be differences of opinions regarding the taxonomy of fundamentalism, but there is hardly any confusion about two vigorous forces that are controlling the whole world right now (perhaps, they always did in different names): religious fundamentalisms and corporate capitalism or neo-liberalism, which is to some scholars “synonymous these days with economic fundamentalism, or market fundamentalism” (Jensen, 2006). While the threat of religious fundamentalisms is well discussed in public spheres and well documented and conveyed, a thought especially established in the readymade example of 9/11 and women’s position in the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, the threat of corporate capital still seem like a concern issue only among leftists and at the best within academia.

arvan's picture

Jay Smooth: Why I'm Scared of Christine O'Donnell

Why you should never trust a politician who says they're "just like you." To see more episodes, visit The GIANT Word on GIANTLife.com.

Jay Smooth is a contributing blogger for GIANTLife.com.

@jsmooth99

EvilSlutClique's picture

Witch Quickie: Senator Dick Durbin's Email Fail

I recently wrote about the Wiccan community's response to Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell's ignorant comments about witchcraft. Well, apparently it's a trend, and now it's Senator Dick Durbin's turn. Veronica from Viva La Feminista caught this line in a recent email sent out by Senator Durbin's office:

Across Illinois and across America, millions of voters are ready to hear a call to gather and fight the witches and wingnuts who worship Sarah Palin, stand in awe of Glenn Beck, and arrogantly profess to speak for our future.

Wingnuts may "worship" Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck, but witches most definitely do not. Selena Fox of the Circle Sanctuary has described the pagan community as "multi-partisan", but considering that witches revere nature and believe in the divine feminine, I don't think that there are tons of hardcore Palin/Beck supporters in the group. As Veronica put it:

I'm sure that there must be Republican witches (I think the Wicked Witch was one) out there, but for the most part, the witches/pagans/wiccans I have met are all open-minded liberals if not radically lefty. We might not be the biggest religious group out there, but we do take offense to being liken to something to be defeated, especially, for me, to radical right wingers who don't believe in women's rights, evolution or caring for their fellow human being.

Go read the rest of her post: Senator Durbin I'm betting that most witches are Democrats.

[Cross-posted from Evil Slutopia]

lilith land's picture

The Female Horndog

Popular opinion has it that being a "horndog" is the exclusive providence of the male of the species, while the female of the species is way too refined to consider such shenanigans as casual hoo

arvan's picture

Call for Abstracts and Presentations on Body Image and Body Politics

Breaking Boundaries:
Body Politics and the Dynamics of Difference


a Women's History Conference at Sarah Lawrence College
Bronxville, New York
March 4-5, 2011
Free and Open to the Public

Keynote Speaker:

Marilyn Wann
Fat Activist and Author of Fat!So?

When it comes to “the body,” the definition of normal is fluid and changes across cultures and time. In each context, there are those who have been exploited and oppressed because they do not fit prevailing notions of beauty. This conference will explore the body politics around those with “deviant” bodies.

This conference will address these and other questions:

What are the dominant narratives and perceptions about beauty and bodies?

How do these perceptions affect public policy around issues of health, civil rights, education, and accessibility?

How do those whose bodies do not fit into the “proper” cultural norms challenge attitudes, laws and perceptions? 

How have they negotiated for and found power in unwelcoming environments, both now and in the past?

How do the categories of race, class, gender, sexuality, age and disability complicate prevailing ideas about embodiment? 

Are there and have there been communities and cultures that have welcomed those whose bodies are currently perceived as deviant in dominant popular discourse?

And, what is the relationship between promoting and continuing the dominant discourse and capitalist consumer culture?

We invite activists, scholars and artists in all fields to propose papers, panels, workshops, performances, and exhibits. Proposals for panels are especially welcomed, but individual papers will also be considered.

Specific topics may include, but are not limited to:

Representations of deviant bodies in popular culture
Social justice and fat and disability activism
Intersectionality:  race, gender, class, sexuality and the body
HAES: Health at Every Size
Stigma
Feminism and the body
Social construction of disability
Objectification and commodification of the deviant body
Fiction and the deviant body
Language and the body
Deviant bodies across cultures and time

Please email a brief abstract and c.v./resume to:

Tara James
Women’s History Graduate Program
Sarah Lawrence College
Bronxville, NY 10708
Email: tjames@sarahlawrence.edu
Phone: 914-395-2405

Deadline December, 3 2010

Christina Engela's picture

Blah, Blah, Click, Click

I don't think laws in South Africa are formulated by the SA people anymore - these days laws just break the news when they are about to be passed by parliament - like the POI and Media Tribunal - and as they clearly demonstrate, these are one-sided and extremely partisan, working against democracy. This is not transparency, this is not "due process". We need more "Glasnost" in South Africa!

Everywhere, I hear people complaining about politicians and politics, people whining that "The elected should remember how they got elected - and every decision they take should be given the litmus test "Is this good for the people?". When they remember that being elected is an expression of trust by the people and not a ticket to entitlement we might get somewhere."

Of course, as this person (a good friend of mine from High School days) says - "If anyone looks up the dictionary definition of democracy they might be in for a shock."

Chambers dictionary defines democracy as - "a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people collectively, and is administered by them or by officers appointed by them; the common people; a state of society characterized by recognition of equality of rights and privileges for all people; political, social or legal equality."

And as he pointed out: "Now, where exactly does it say "majority rule"? Democracy means that every person has an equal voice - and equal responsibility."

Thank you Morne' - *applause* - If everyone thought like that (in particular the last sentence), I would have no problem getting volunteers to help in canvassing or advocacy. Clearly, not everyone thinks the same way, or even thinks at all. We live in a culture of placing blame, passing the buck and scapegoating. But my friend's observations did not end there, however.
arvan's picture

The Gender Roots of Labour Inequality

By Sebastián Lacunza

BUENOS AIRES, Aug 5, 2010 (IPS) - Inequality and poverty in Argentina are explained to a large extent by a job market that discriminates against women, coupled with insufficient equal opportunity regulations and failure to enforce existing labour laws, experts on the issue told IPS.

According to Andrea Balzano, head of the gender division at the United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) country office in Argentina, "entering the labour market is the only demographic and social event that enables households to escape poverty."

But "women are much less likely to join the labour market, and even when they are able to find work, their opportunities are more limited because their insertion occurs through jobs in informal and low productivity sectors," she explained.

Almost 14 percent of Argentina's 40 million people, and 9.4 percent of its households, are classified as poor, according to data from the government's National Statistics and Census Institute (INDEC) for the first semester of 2010. But private organisations place poverty at 31 percent and abject poverty at 11 percent.

Natalia Gherardi, executive director of the non-governmental organisation Equipo Latinoamericano de Justicia y Género (ELA - Latin American Team on Justice and Gender), says that "participation in the workforce and insertion in the job market are key factors in overcoming gender inequalities through economic autonomy."

One of the most telling examples of how Argentina's lack of regulations, large informal sector and gender discrimination shape the situation of women in the job market is the plight of paid domestic workers, a sector that accounts for 18 percent of all female employment.

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