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At 11:59 24-01-02 -0500, Francesca wrote:
>>Take a look at http://www.unn.ac.uk/societies/islamic/, which challenges
>>some of these myths that are frequently trotted out.
>And in the section about women it says "The status of woman in Islam
>constitutes no problem." I must admit it lost some credibility with me
>after that. :)
Myself, I have serious problems with the credibility of the Western sources
upon which most Westerners base their perceptions. On what basis do you, as
a Westerner, believe that the status of woman in Islam does constitute a
>It also contained quite an attack on secular humanism, and states that
>"....the clergy. These were the Trojan horse, because instead of leaving
>the religious camp to the libertarian camp, they started working on
>religion itself by new re-interpretations and new exegesis of the texts to
>render lawful and permissible what has been unlawful and reprehensive
>along the whole history of those religions. Many of those clergy
>themselves fell prey to the germs they were supposed to fend
>off." Memetics, it's everywhere.
So? This is merely an expression of a point that I made earlier, that
liberalism is an expression of conservatism, and that anything that
transpires in a culture will, by and large, be logically consistent with
all else that occurs in it. Much of the history of Christianity has been
characterized by beliefs of convenience - that is, justifications for
pretty much anything that one "needed" to do. Thus, for example, the beasts
of nature were created for the benefit of God's supreme creation, being
man, and today we have the insane practice of battery farming - a logically
consistent expression of an ancient text. Similarly, we need to ask "Are
animals conscious?" Do we really need to ask such a question? I'm inclined
to ask "Are biologists conscious?" or "Are Christians conscious?" ;-)
Of course there is much wrong with secular humanism. With all its
hypocrisies, its feel-good charity, its political correctness and its bland
admonitions that we be "nice" to each other, for the sake of a utilitarian
morality so that we may all live in peace and harmony. Little has changed
since Christianity first became an established cultural force, having lost
sight of its more profound teachings.
>However as Lawrence pointed out, it is wrong to talk about the kinds of
>abuses which may occur in some areas as if it applies to all of
>Islam. Perhaps we should stick to your experience since I think you are
>trying to make a point here, and I am just muddying the issue at this
>point with what I am trying to say. I do think that if you were open to
>seeing these things from the women's point of view,
We've been ear-bashed with the Woman's point of view for the past 40 years ;-)
>and appreciating their dilemma you might be one step closer to helping
>change things. Let's see if we can salvage some sort of productive
>discussion from all of this.
>> >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.
>This makes me think of both Malcolm X and Stephen Biko, who said that in
>order for African Americans (in Malcolm's case) or Africans (in Biko's
>case) to change they must look to themselves. It is a necessary first
>step to recognize your power and to recognize the ways in which you
>surrender it before you can reclaim it. I think there is something of
>value in what you say, although I also sense a little bit of hostility?
Is it wrong to feel disgust or anger at injustices that are being committed
in the name of the liberalist agenda?
>> 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 them.
>Again I see a parallel between what you say and the civil rights movement
>here in the US. MLK began to expand his movement to address poverty
>issues, which he saw as inextricably entwined with these other issues. I
>think the parallels exist because we are still talking about the dynamics
>of power and oppression. Or to be more memetically correct. We are
>looking at the ways in which memes enable their hosts to exploit other
>members of their species - or cause their hosts to be exploited by other
>members of their species.
Actually Francesca, just to clarify where I'm coming from. I usually
associate memetics with genetic reductionism. My own thoughts are based in
semiotics. The emphasis here is not so much that memes (or genes) "cause"
people to do things, but that people make choices - people choose signs
(memes?) that they habituate. More importantly, people (and all living
organisms) choose from their ecologies (the human ecology being culture).
People choose to cause - they are not caused to choose.
>>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?
>There is nothing that says that our memes or our culture necessarily
>represent our best interests. The dilemma you describe is eternally
>human. Do you have any suggestions of how these women you describe could
>do the equivalent of refusing to buy a car and shunning their culture?
Thankyou Francesca for asking this most important of questions. I've given
a lot of thought to this, ever since I first began to think of gender roles
from a semiotic perspective. First and foremost, we need to re-evaluate the
dominant, secular-humanist position that assumes our view to be the correct
one, and all other views to be inferior to it. In other words, were other
cultures from other times really as ignorant and stupid, living in darkness
and ignorance, as our modern "enlightened" would seem to suppose? What I am
talking about is rummaging through the beliefs of the past to understand
WHY gender roles emerged as they had - and to steer clear of judging these
views "right" or "wrong". In answer to your question, women need to do
their own soul-searching, and ask themselves why they make the choices they
do. And if their answer is based in materialism or "security", or if it is
based in attention-seeking or a secret "longing to be violated", then I
think the answer should become clear. And if, as a commonly expressed
sentiment, it is believed that there are no "decent" men available, that
all the "best" men are either married or gay, then other questions might
The secular humanist position assumes that humans have drives that "need"
to be met. This is nothing less than genetic determinism in a liberal
politics. Accordingly, every man "needs" sex and excitement, and every
woman "needs" "love" and to be provided for. But my semiotic position
regards these notions as nonsense. These things are chosen, and we need to
evaluate our priorities and to redirect our choices.
Newton's Laws of Emotion:
There can be no complexity without simplicity.
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