Feminism but…

7 12 2007

The following verbal exchange occurred between Melbourne writer Pamela Bone and the prominent feminist Germaine Greer after Bone asked Greer why Western feminists seemed so reluctant to speak out against things such as honour killings in Islamic societies:

Greer: “It’s very tricky. I am constantly being asked to go to Darfur to interview rape victims. I can talk to rape victims here. Why should I go to Darfur to talk to rapevictims?”

Bone: “Because it’s so much worse there.”

Greer: “Who says it is?”

Bone: “I do, because I’ve been there.”

Greer: “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.

“But we do care. We do oppose these things. We are all wearing white ribbons this week, aren’t we? A lot of good that will do.”

Greer exhibits the common latte-sipper traits: self-loathing, hypocrisy and cultural relativism. To be fair, most Western citizens are brought up to be multicultural namby-pambys. Nobody wants to be a meanie to foreigners. But what happens when foreigners are not being nice themselves?

To get around this moral dilemma, we had to invent Multiculturalism that declares all cultures to be equal, and if you dare to think otherwise you must be a racist or George Bush. Well… the multicultural “all cultures are equal” construct is kinda nice, in that fuzzy non-judgemental feel good way, but it’s bullshit. Objectively cultures are not equal. There are huge differences in the ways different cultures treat women, children, gays, minorities and even animals. The attitudes towards human rights, corruption and free exchange of ideas are also markedly different. That’s why there are millions of Muslims living in the West now but only a few Westerners in the Middle East generally attracted by the big fat tax-free pay check from some cashed up Sheik sugar-daddy.

I must say that I agree with Greer in her reluctance to tell other countries how to behave. However, unlike Greer my reasons are less to do with cultural relativism and self-loathing, and are purely pragmatic. On the other hand, I believe we have a huge role to play in bringing a new Western Islam to the world. But this new culture in which Muslim women could enjoy the rights and freedoms Western women often take for granted, will come about a lot quicker if prominent feminists like Greer stood up to bigotry and misogyny, rather than churning out ever more creative excuses for it.

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