Wednesday, April 30, 2008
It's an interesting idea that you can import these higher-ed "brands" in order to establish your own system. Is the intent to actually replace them eventually with Emirati names? You have to wonder who ends up getting the credit for things like this ... I can be fairly certain that NYU will take full credit for the success of its satellite campus.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Here is the editor's response, also encouraging.
Of course, they are both men ... hopefully, if their optimism is warranted, they will find themselves reading articles like these by their female colleagues in not too long.
Update: the National posted a response from an Emirati woman to the abovementioned pieces.
Though the government essentially owns the paper, it is not "government run". I would say that's a distinction without much difference.
So many things are interesting about this - why is the paper in English? Why are so many of the reporters lured in from American and British papers? Why is the editor's name Martin Newland? Calling it "the National" when so little of the staff are nationals of the UAE seems ironic. The target audience is, apparently, expatriates. Who, I am guessing, don't care too much about the government as long as their business is not negatively affected.
Is this a triumph for freedom of the press, as the Times seems to insinuate it is? Who knows. But if it is it is certainly in the "trickle-down" model of freedoms. First for the rich, then maybe later on for everyone else.
Monday, April 28, 2008
There is continued upset at the fact that the law, forbidding ultrasound technicians from telling parents the sex of their babies, is not being enforced. The Prime Minister actually came under some criticism for saying that attitudes, and not law enforcement practices need to change to prevent female infanticide.
Does no one wonder what happens to women whose parents carried female fetuses to term only because it was against the law to abort them? Clearly this is not an isolated problem that disappears if you can get the girls out of the womb!
Almontaser was to be the founding principal for a New York City public school that taught classes in both Arabic and English. (There are 67 other schools in New York that offer bilingual programs in various other languages - but none in Arabic). She was, essentially, attacked for being Muslim and Arab. The school opened with little success this fall and has already had three principals (including Almontaser).
I think it's a little appalling that "the other side", namely those that call Almontaser a jihadist because she .... I don't know why. Because she wears a veil? ... is given such evenhanded treatment. Of course it isn't the job of journalists to critique viewpoints but at the same time it seems very clear that this school was attacked because it wanted to promote a view of Islam and of Arabs as something other than pure terrorist ideology/ethnicity.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Honey Sayed, one of the show's hosts, is pretty exotified in this article - despite the fact that she's doing exactly what female radio DJs in America do every morning. Is it more ethnocentric to judge her according to "traditional Syrian standards", by which she may be considered exotic, or to treat her like any other female radio DJ?
I guess I think that the story could have been just as good without the emphasis on how "sexy" and "racy" she is. For example, on her signature bubbly laugh:
Her unrestrained laugh is even used for promos. "A guy called me up and said he wished he could make my laugh his ring tone," Honey says, before rushing back into the studio.
because who doesn't love this guy.
The Times has one of those "Journal" features on an Iranian island in the Persian gulf (Kish) which is designed to look like Persepolis, the ancient Iranian city. Typically, the American feature focused alternately on the significance that the resort has for historical and cultural preservation reasons and on the fact that there are dolphin shows. Normally this kind of thing would irritate me, but who can hate on dolphin shows? Precious.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
“We see thousands of foreign women working in health care and other sectors while Saudi women await in long queues for jobs,” said Dr. Rafeeqa Al-Dakhil, a delegate attending the forum.
The fact that it's ok for foreign women to work in these sectors but it's so difficult for Saudi women to do so underlines the idea that it isn't about inherent gender differences but about the proprietary way that "our women" are viewed by so many men the world over. It seems like an outgrowth of the virgin/whore dichotomy, or the "girls you sleep with vs. girls you marry" idea. (Though American women do not suffer from the same obstacles to entering the workforce, we certainly do face the challenge of walking the line between "marriageable" and "sexy", or the consequences of rejecting that dichotomy completely).
Several specialists here and abroad pointed to a surprising explanation for the high incarceration rate in the United States: democracy.
Most state court judges and prosecutors in the United States are elected and are therefore sensitive to a public that is, according to opinion polls, generally in favor of tough crime policies. In the rest of the world, criminal justice professionals tend to be civil servants who are insulated from popular demands for tough sentencing.
Mr. Whitman, who has studied Tocqueville’s work on American penitentiaries, was asked what accounted for America’s booming prison population.
“Unfortunately, a lot of the answer is democracy — just what Tocqueville was talking about,” he said. “We have a highly politicized criminal justice system.”
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Apparently they received the sentences (lashes and jail time) but will not have to serve them unless they commit other crimes in the next two years.
Some of the quotes address the colonial symbolism of GMT - it quite literally puts Britain at the center of the world. Others say that Mecca is literally at the center of the earth and modern science thus validates "the greatness of the qibla".
Monday, April 21, 2008
I haven't yet read the report but I am inclined to think that titling it something like "Perpetual Minors" is more insulting to the women than it is to anyone else. I am sure it makes good copy in New York, but ... ouch.
Anyway, in her interview (or article - this is more of a Reporter-at-Large bit) Lessing sounds, frankly, bad ass. She doesn't seem to care that she won the Nobel and actually denounces the committee as self aggrandizing! Apparently the YouTube clip of her hearing the news that she won is famous. (I had never seen it but really did enjoy it this time).
Her thoughts on her book the Golden Notebook are particularly interesting - she calls it "the albatross" and says its messages beyond the one regarding women's presentations of their lives was drowned out by feminists claiming ownership over it as a novel about the female experience.
Honestly, I don't know what this says about me, but when I read the Golden Notebook it took me until about page 500 (it's about a 650 pg book) to even hear the feminist message. And I am constantly looking for feminist messages!
By this I mean to say that literature really takes on a life of its own after the author releases it into the world - now, Doris Lessing obviously hears the critics and the establishment talking about her book but she doesn't hear from all the lowly quasi-ignorant bookworms like me who read her book and see all sort of things in it, including but not limited to feminism.
The statistics tell this story starkly: In 1981, when ultrasound technology was rare here, India had 962 girls for every 1,000 boys. That's about what nature dictates. But by 1991, as ultrasound technology began spreading, 962 had tumbled to 945. Ten years later, it was 927. In some parts of the country, particularly parts of north India where the preference for boys can be traced back centuries, the ratio plummeted.
Activists say the laws of supply and demand don't apply in the face of such powerful cultural norms -- and the shortage of potential brides has done nothing to make girls seem more valuable. "The girl is like someone else's property -- she's going to leave one day," said Hema Singhal, an OB-GYN who runs a small medical center in Morena with her husband.
There's mention in the article of laws against sex-selective abortions, which are almost impossible to enforce and have done little to change the trend. It's tempting to see this as a problem with abortion - what kind of a procedure enables parents to reject women wholesale? But to me it just underlines the global problem that women are not valued as highly as men. Change that attitude, and sex-selective abortion goes away. If it continues, women will suffer in other ways. It's so disturbing, though, that the trend of thinking of women as a minority is being translated into numerical reality. If something like this continues, women will be an actual minority.
“Thinking about race is a serious issue, whereas sexism is just something for dumb feminists to think about.”
Of course, talking about how "women" feel more or less spits in the face of third wave feminism in this case - the author continues to refer in her piece to so-called "water cooler conversations", clearly envisioning a professional woman when she talks about a feminist reawakening. I just hope that any feminist revival that comes in the wake of a Hillary candidacy or a Hillary presidency doesn't push out those groups of women for whom PowerPoint isn't a daily requirement.
Friday, April 18, 2008
For a discussion of the text of Quran and hadith on the question of FGM, see Kecia Ali's Sexual Ethics and Islam. Ali really parses the text that Muslims have to contend with on this topic, and discounts both the arguments that it has nothing to do with Islam and that it is a requirement.
The Times did a photo-montage of a circumcision ceremony in Indonesia this winter. (Mild trigger alert; it's all above-the-belt shots but the photos are evocative).
Col. Yusuf Al-Qahtani, spokesman for police in the Eastern Province, said that women are not supposed to ride in cars without male guardians.
“They should in the least be accompanied by another woman. If the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice sees a woman in a private car with an unrelated driver, they would arrest her for being in a state of seclusion (khalwa),” he said.
So, the understanding is that women are responsible for keeping themselves in safe situations; if they do anything that might compromise their safety they deserve what they get.
Sounds like a Saudi version of "she was asking for it".
It's interesting to me because you see the same kind of debate going on in Muslim countries about Islamic law - does being a Muslim state mean you have to follow sharia? Is living under sharia enough to make you a good Muslim?
Worth a read for sure.
The message - that hippies, in addition to helping the environment, think they are cool - isn't anything groundbreaking. Just because some people think that conservation is cool doesn't negate the positive impact of treating the environment with a little respect; finding hippies obnoxious will not slow the depletion of the ozone layer.
However, I lived with a hippy. When I was in Jordan I lived with two other girls, one of whom would not use water to wash the dishes. The other girl and I finally asked her not to wash the dishes at all because it was useless. And I had a broken thumb at the time and could only wash with one hand. So, since my friend (the other dish-washer) sent it on to me, I had to post it.
Good luck starting your own compost heap.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
A Yemeni court annulled her marriage and she can now return to school.
This brave little girl actually filed for divorce on her own - when I was eight I don't even think I could ride my bike to the bus stop without my mom. Nojoud, you are an inspiration.
“It is a symbol of civilization,” said a taxi driver, Ahmed Wahayid, whose 1993 Hyundai Elantra was stuck in a long line of cars waiting to clear a checkpoint. “Western people in Europe and America have it, so we are like them.” Mr. Wahayid said he could not find words to describe the traffic in Baghdad. “It’s a very, very bad feeling, and if I didn’t need to drive in order to eat and live I wouldn’t,” he said. ...
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Just a thought, but why is it that 'religious extremists' is always used gender-neutrally? I would love to know to what extent women even participate in different types of religious extremism.
Via the State Dept. website.
Apparently in France they pay closer attention to these issues than I, because they are trying to make these sites illegal.
The article raises some good points about whether getting the law on the side of health really helps. If women are "told" via media outlets, societal expectations, catalogues, etc. to be very thin, then not having chatrooms to talk about anorexia doesn't seem like it will solve the problem.
Though of course I am not going to come out against any law designed to save women's lives (or men's, I guess - I can't imagine male models don't experience pressure to diet), this seems like a classic band-aid remedy to a larger culture of thin-worship worldwide. (Duh.)
Update: Courtney at Feministing doesn't like this idea much.
... Rebecca, thank you for taking on the new problem that has no name.