Sunday, July 20, 2008

dance break

Nellie McKay on feminists and their absence of a sense of humor. Too much.

archive trolling at abu aardvark

This past April Marc Lynch aka Abu Aardvark gave a talk at GWU on jazz diplomacy ... at an event that honored Dave Brubeck's contributions. Here is the text of his talk. His talk is an argument for hip-hop diplomacy in the same vein, and recounts some of the successes that have already been realized using that model. Amazing!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

for all of us

it's possible that "smear campaigns" keep women from running for public office

Hasina Khan, a Muslim councillor (in American: city council member) for her community in Britain, has been the target of a "smear campaign" by some of the Muslim men in her district.

Monday, July 7, 2008

of COURSE Islam's original feminist was a man

A little blurb on Qasim Amin, an Egyptian intellectual of the late 19th/early 20th century who advocated for the integration of women into public life and for women's education, from the Canadian National Post.

Historically it's not 100% accurate - at the time that his books on women were published, girls' schools run both by the state and Muslim benevolence societies were open and operating. (Leila Ahmed contests the characterization of Amin as a feminist in her book "Women and Gender in Islam".) So, the journalist's assertion that he rocked society by advocating an education for girls gives Amin more credit than he deserves. It also takes the work out of the context in which it was meant, namely, as part of Amin's desire to initiate broader social transformation through changing the role(s) that women play. He felt that women's education, as well as the removal of their hijab, would help propel Egypt toward a more progressive, Western future.

I don't think most feminists would contest the idea that altering the role of women has the potential to fundamentally change society. And I don't think many neocons would contest the idea that encouraging women in Arab societies to more exactly mimic the behaviors of women in Western societies has the potential to make a society more "advanced". Women - putty in the hands of reformers.

on marriage to a non-Saudi in Saudi

Maha Akeel follows the story of a friend of hers, who has encountered some difficulties in trying to marry her non-Saudi fiance in Saudi Arabia. Here's a preview:

At the women’s section of the principality, the official told her that they receive around seven applications a day from Saudi women seeking to marry non-Saudi men, but that there are restrictions. The authorities would reject an application if the woman is under 25 years; it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for a never-before-married Saudi girl under 25-years to be permitted to marry a non-Saudi. If the woman is divorced, a doctor, or handicapped, then it is much easier to get the permit. A Saudi man does not fancy a woman in this category to be his wife. Such women can go for “the second best choice”. So basically, the restrictions are not meant to protect Saudi women but for guaranteeing that Saudi men have the first chance to marry a Saudi woman.

I couldn't help but laugh at the bit about "divorced, a doctor, or handicapped". It has a ring, doesn't it? We could use it as a little catch phrase on the things a woman has to be to get married: sexually pure, constantly available, and physically attractive. The specific parameters change depending on the society you are in, but the existence of ridiculous standards certainly doesn't.

The Nemo picture is from Heba Farahat's blog,

wisdom from my boss

I work for a woman who is, without a doubt, hilarious. Last week, before the 4th of July holiday, she said this:

"Boys believe in vigilante justice. Girls believe in cosmic retribution. The problem is, cosmic retribution sometimes takes thousands of years. That's why you need both."

I almost fell off my chair laughing.

Islamic museum opens in Sharjah.


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Breaking News: a Saudi Sheikh makes a proclamation about sharia that has more to do with politics than religion

Mosque? or State?

Sheikh Obaikan, a member of Saudi Arabia's Higher Religious Committee, answered a question about mixed-gender workplaces by saying that it was appropriate if the woman (or women) were wearing hijab; sharia only forbids khalwa, wherein a man and a woman are together in a state of seclusion.

Hadi Fakeeh, journalist at al Hayat and asker of the question, published the answer and is now being sued by Sheikh Obaikan. (He recorded the conversation). The sheikh has issued new statements on the mixing of men and women that are a little ... less liberal.

on women in Yemeni literature, or, Sexual Politics: Yemen Edition

In a word, women in Yemeni literature are sexualized in a way that distracts from the other possible attributes of female characters.

Sounds familiar.

on Queen Rania

Newsweek profiles Queen Rania of Jordan. A teaser:

Rania is glamorous, brainy and not afraid of a little controversy.
So, um ... it's a pretty flattering piece.

on population control in Egypt

How do you control population growth if most women in your country don't work, abortion is illegal, vasectomy is "barely heard of" and punitive measures like restricting maternity benefits for large families are off the table?

Egypt is facing this challenge now.

I do not have an aggressive "small government" attitude, but when it comes to reproductive health, it seems obvious that families would be just as concerned about the rising price of food and limited employment opportunities as Mubarak is. Why not simply educate women about their options with respect to birth control?

a different take on Iraq

Numan al Faddagh, an Iraqi writer living in Cairo, surveys the cafe where Iraqi ex-pats spend their time in the Egyptian capital and offers a more favorable assessment of the American presence.