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At 02:33 24-01-02 -0500, Francesca wrote:
>>But who is it that arranges the marriages? Is it not both parents? And
>>from what I've seen of Arabic cultures, women are the principle enforcers
>>of such traditions. It seems to me that their men are too busy providing
>>for their families, to devote much attention to this aspect of life.
>I am not an expert on Muslim culture, but I have read some accounts of
>women's lives, and the sense I get is that women are used as pawns to
>cement political and economic ties (as in Bin Laden's case). That more
>powerful men (read taliban) can demand to marry a woman, forcing her
>family to surrender her or flee the country (this has happened
>alot.) Rape is not uncommon, and if the men are powerful there is no
>recourse for the women or their families. In many ways the burqa serves
>the same role that stripes on zebras do - it allows women to merge safely
>into the herd and not draw unwanted attention to themselves.
Women often willingly submit themselves to power, to be used and abused in
whatever way will ensure their stake in said power-base. Refer to my
following reply to Joe Dees.
I've raised the question that the Taliban might be an example of an
out-of-balance culture responding to western globalization and western
feminist imperialism. So let's cast our net wider, to embrace Muslim
cultures, instead of confining ourselves solely to the Taliban.
Take a look at http://www.unn.ac.uk/societies/islamic/, which challenges
some of these myths that are frequently trotted out.
I will not challenge your "sense" that women are used as pawns in the way
you describe, for the simple reason that the meanings you glean from books
written by westerners and the meanings you derive from your necessarily
culture-colored glasses I expect to be genuine. However, I have been struck
recently as to how very wrong, biased and even deliberately misleading,
western interpretations are about such issues - eg., the recent article by
Time magazine (December 3, special report "lifting the veil").
Perhaps I might know a little more about Muslim cultures than yourself, as
not only do I have cousins who are half Lebanese, but I also work with
refugees from Muslim cultures. Not trying to pull rank, but I get a rather
different "sense" as to what the power distribution is. Moreover, in one
recent incident regarding my work, my colleagues responded to the screams
of an Iraqi woman, rushing to her defence to protect her from the man they
thought was attacking her, only to find later that it was HE that was being
attacked by her! Unbelievable how gullible us westerners are. While these
examples are but mere anecdotes, they do color my very different slant on
>>Secondly... if it were even remotely possible for a culture to approach a
>>condition so extraordinarily out of balance that men not only provided
>>for their families but also manipulated the family relationships and the
>>behavioral trajectories of their sons and daughters, what might we make
>>of the women of such an out-of-whack culture?
>That they are powerless.
Or stupid? How dumb must a woman be to willingly throw away a power that is
so intrinsically Woman's and Woman's alone? Yes, many women do throw away
their power. And for what? Money. Prestige. Such power can never be excised
by force. It is willingly given... nay, thrown away.
>Again, the little I have read suggests that the man is the head of the
>household, and all give way before him. He sets the laws, enforces them,
>settles conflicts, controls the money, chooses favorites etc. The
>political maneuvering in the household usually centers around competing
>for the husband's ear. Coalitions form to advance the causes of favored
>children against other wives, mothers-in-law etc. Your life and the life
>of your children depends quite literally on securing your husband's favor.
This is dead-on correct - for wealthy men, particularly in those cultures
where such men are expected to have more than one wife. For men of more
humble means, generally, forget it. Your analysis does not even come close.
Several women competing for favors from the one wealthy provider will, by
necessity, require the formation of coalitions, etc. Such is the nature of
women's manipulation. And it applies also to westerners. They are willing
to pay the price for the choices they make.
Who's to blame if a gaggle of women fawn over the one provider? What about
all those other invisible drones littering battle-fields or shovelling dirt
in coal mines? I don't see much of this fabulous patriarchal prestige among
>>Is it conceivable that any mother-as-primary-nurturer could willingly
>>surrender Woman's Power at so wholesale a level as what such a scenario
>>might seem to imply? At issue here is the fact that there is no aspect of
>>a culture that acts independently of any other aspect... that is, if men
>>are "powerful", then it is because women have permitted it, and because
>>women have exercised their own power, for example, over their sons in
>>training them to become the sorts of adolescents that finally get
>>initiated into the culture's manhood.
>Most cultures do not smile on a "mama's boy".
Who said anything about a "mama's boy"? Everything, from demanding that a
boy not cry when he is hurt and barracking at his ball games to organizing
which school to send him to, which company he should keep, etc, has its
direct bearing on the character that he grows into.
>Often the very definition of manhood turns on the rejection of women and
>women's values. How can you suggest that women have "permitted" the men
>to be powerful? This is like saying that African Americans permitted
>slavery. Permission implies choice and there is no choice.
The first shipment of resisting, restless African Americans did not permit
slavery. It required effort to resist, and effort to impose. Subsequent
generations of the better treated ones who acquiesced with rewards provided
to them by more humane owners, did permit slavery. They made their trade
with the devil. This is analogous to the part each of us plays within the
culture we live. The choices we make are votes cast in favor of what we
think the culture should be. My purchase of a car is a vote in favor of
destroying the environment, even though I don't like doing this. For this
reason, my only credible choice that proves my love for the environment is
to get rid of the car, and even, to shun my culture. Anything less is just
an excuse.... unless, perhaps, the effort in sustaining the silent war we
wage exceeds the benefits we obtain from our culture. How many of us
contribute more than we get?
>>Incidentally, such imbalances (if one accepts that Taliban culture does
>>indeed approach such a condition - for example, Taliban fundamentalism as
>>a reaction to Western globalization) are not sustainable and will
>>invariably result in corrections, whether from within or from without.
>>For this reason, we cannot look to them to provide generalizations about
>>"all" men or "all" women.
>Muslim culture has been patriarchal for a l-o-n-g time.
A Muslim patriarchy is quite different to what the Taliban had in mind.
Newton's Laws of Emotion:
There can be no complexity without simplicity.
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