There is a strange cognitive dissonance that echoes between the western and eastern halls of practicing Muslims, and it surrounds the question of headwear.
In recent years the West has taken a number of stances on the various head scarves and bags Muslim women wrap themselves in. In France, an uncompromising approach has been taken in regard to the fuller covering, the burqa. While in the USA, there remain, as far as I know, no laws that prohibit shrouding oneself like an embalmed corpse. For the best I suppose.
Traditionally Muslim countries have been equally varied though tending conservatively, ranging from mere suggestions to indulge in sartorial chauvinism to unequivocally demanding the burqa at all times in public.
There is an interesting trend among Muslim American and European women who claim their head scarves and coverings are in fact acts of female empowerment. Indeed, they seriously and resolutely claim that by exercising their right to these various covers they are joining the West’s ranks of radical feminists by defiantly showcasing an emblem of their supposedly oppressed faith.
The trouble with this logic is that no matter how one describes, rationalizes, or founds the practice of shrouding women, be it just their hair or their entire body, the inescapable reality is that an extreme and covetously violent chauvinism underpins it. A paralyzing fear and contempt for female sexual liberty and personal independence was and remains the only driving force for this nonsense and it is a truism to say so. Any person in disagreement is either deluded or insidious.
If you doubt this then ask yourself for alternatives. Why does it behoove Catholicism to forbid women from access to its hierarchy, the people capable of making real and meaningful decisions? Was not Mother Mary the purest Christian to ever live? Good enough to give birth to God but apparently not enough to be pope or even a mere parish priest. Why should the Mormons have permitted polygamy for men but not for women? Are there so few male Mormons? And again, why in Islam should family and male honor depend so desperately on female purity and virtue? Strange indeed that women alone should be burdened with so much responsibility and yet so little actual power.
It goes without saying that the vast majority of countries that do not forcibly segregate their men and women lead happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives. Why anyone pretends otherwise seems bizarre and I can only assume that it is the overwhelming privilege of choice that convinces these women they are committing an act of bravery rather than surrender. Were they living in Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan I ponder if they would remain so resolute.
I of course believe people should wear what makes them comfortable and if that includes mummifying yourself every morning out of submission to your husband and religion then hey, knock yourself out. But when it comes to these Catholic, Muslim, Mormon, and other such ladies that claim their respective faiths support equality, and that their acts of submission are in fact acts of protest against an intolerant world, I can do little but scoff. It is a desperate, pathetic, and very sad delusion these people exist in, convincing themselves that they are loved instead of despised. It reminds me of a chained and starving dog that thanks its abusive master for remembering to throw it scraps.
It must be that the deeply religious, especially deeply religious women, have some of the lowest self-esteem in all humanity. To allow yourself to be so debased, degraded, found so unworthy, can only be testament to a yawning void of self-love and reflection. These western women are so different from their sisters in other states where, more often than not, the ultimatum is behave or burn.
I am going to talk about the shooting in Orlando, perpetrated by a Muslim man in a gay club.
It fascinates me that everyone seems deliberately intent on diverting as much attention as possible away from this asshole’s religion and redirecting it toward gun control, homophobia, and mental health. It is as though everyone save for far right conservatives have immersed themselves in the grand delusion that ideology had no part to play here. What a sad day it is when The Right sees more clearly than The Left.
Indeed, had a Christian or white supremacist perpetrated this crime I question whether there would be such a poverty of self-reflection and self-criticism regarding the ideology ruddering it. But alas, the man was Muslim and so due to the liberal-feminist teachings of America’s newly founded nydus of pro-vegan hipster bull-dike speech police, it has become anathema to even consider the role a barbaric belief system like Islam might have played in motivating this young man to murderously assault a gay club.
Gun control is an important issue. Some might even venture to call it a culturally complex one. It deserves to be considered and discussed. That homophobia or mental health, however, should be bandied about as though separate and distinct from, as opposed to part and parcel to, extreme Islam is not only bizarre but intellectually dishonest, cowardly, and just plain fucking stupid.
Of course someone who takes Islam or any religion this seriously is bat-shit fucking insane. Many people call themselves Muslim or Christian but the only ones taking those colossally bad ideas seriously are the ones wielding the automatics.
We have already seen the pathetically convenient excuse, ‘that is not my faith’ or ‘that is not the true Islam’ but who the fuck are these people to make that claim? Where is their badge of authority on the subject? With books as poorly written as the Koran or Bible, who at all can claim any authority on them? I might add as well, only the literal interpretations have any grounding and guess which camp that favors?
As for the claims that this is truly about America’s problems with homophobia, what bosh! What utter nonsense! This country has made one of the fastest 180s in favor of LGBT people in the history of mankind, coming about from federally backed institutionalized hate to legal support of gay marriage, parenting, adoption, antidiscrimination, and even pioneering genderless bathrooms against the will of its own state governments!
And oh, in case anyone was stupid enough to not notice, Islam is categorically anti-homosexual, anti-sex, anti-equality. So, shocker, ladies and gentleman, but Islamic extremism and homophobia are not mutually exclusive, nor is mental health.
I want to continue this diatribe to lambast the gay Muslims who have with such squalid glee taken the opportunity to use this event to further their own sad agendas and talk about how they are the ‘real’ victims of Orlando.
A religion is an institution. We can join and leave institutions. In America you do not have to remain Muslim for fear of mortal reprisal. I am exhausted of religious people comparing their plights to gays, ethnic peoples, and women, who cannot change their identities. A Muslim can stop being Muslim. No one can stop being black, gay, or having a vagina!
Gay Muslims, get a fucking grip, have some self-respect, and abandon that barbaric institution that has done absolutely nothing but hold humanity back. I extend the same exhortation to LGBT people in all religious circles. Start taking yourselves seriously. Your religions do not support you and they never will and no twisting of their words will make it so. Be honest with yourselves!
It may well behoove us to exhort our religious citizens to speak out against the ghastly evils their comrades commit but it would benefit us even more greatly if we simply acknowledged religious beliefs for what they are; silly, primitive superstitions that conduce to profoundly sinister consequences.
This man might have been crazy and he might have been homophobic and his gun might have been gotten too easily, but at the end of the day the only certain thing is that a very bad idea looms over it all, and surprise, it had consequences, just as bad ideas often do.
There was a time, I’m told, when feminism was a realistic, meaningful movement in the United States. It had leaders, was focused, and possessed worthwhile goals it sought to fulfill. Moreover, it was also united and constructive.
Unfortunately, today feminism has devolved into what can only be described as an ideologically fascist, fear-mongering extremist movement with cult-like obedience to popular party lines and a culture of public humiliation. In this editorial I’d like to examine the many ways in which feminism has deteriorated into a self-destructive and toxic ideology, one that has borrowed and broken Marxist and progressive ideals, and transformed itself into one of the single most dangerous movements in the West today.
PART ONE: Free Speech is Hate Speech
When critics accuse feminism today of having much in common with ISIS they’re not being facetious. Both are remarkably contemptuous of free speech, the only difference being one has absolute power to prevent it while the other must work within a disagreeable legal framework. Personally, I consider it a truism to say that when it comes to social justice warriors, had they the opportunity to silence their opponents Stalinist style, they would.
Exhibit A : Poll showing discontent and confusion over the definition of free speech.
Exhibit B : British university bans controversial comedian from campus.
Exhibit C : President Obama criticizes the coddling university culture.
Exhibit D : Watch those pronouns you transphobic monster!
Exhibit E : US Department of Education asked to censor websites and punish racist speech.
Exhibit F : How trigger warnings are destroying the American university.
I could go on. This trend is largely within universities, which is not surprising when we consider their make-up. Liberal, naïve, largely middle-class and so on; types that have no grasp of how the world actually works, especially outside of America. Taught to make ubiquitous use of emotional assumptions and to replace critical thought for post-structuralism, young people today no longer need silly facts to make sense of reality, instead reality becomes a personal narrative in which everything is just a matter of perspective.
The ways in which social justice warriors and feminists obfuscate their absolute contempt for free speech are numerous. An entire lexicon has arisen to define the ways in which dissenting opinions are evil and is constructed in the most vague and self-righteous of terms so as to deflect as much scrutiny as possible. Here are a few.
Microaggression: any word, phrase, expression, or action that can be interpreted as bigoted, regardless of the number of alternative explanations.
Safe Space: an arbitrarily designated space in which only the most pro-intersectional feminist rhetoric and post-structuralist drivel can be discussed – essentially any location containing 2 or more feminists.
Mansplain: a term used to silence anyone, though especially men, who attempt to offer a legitimate or alternative point to a discussion on anything, including those topics in which they are experts.
Rape Culture: the entirely out of proportion conspiracy theory that America legally and socially sanctions rape despite an overwhelming lack of evidence, leading to the idea that women should always be believed at the expense of the accused and that rape is a crime more heinous than murder or genocide. To counter this claim only legitimizes it.
Patriarchy: the entirely out of proportion conspiracy theory that white men around the world collude to oppress women, especially women of color, despite both genders having exactly all the same rights.
Intersectionality Theory: a feminist theory resembling pokemon which states the more oppressed identities you’ve collected, the wiser and more knowledgeable you are about the ‘true nature of reality’.
Narrative: any of a number of competing perspectives with no bearing on facts or reality, the importance of which is gauged by how oppressed the narrator is.
Privilege: any form of success.
Oppression: any form of failure.
Problematic: an adjective used to draw attention away from the fact that its user misunderstands the situation at hand.
Shitlord: anyone with a critique of feminist pedagogy, especially a legitimate one.
Trigger Warning: a warning tag for people seeking to be pathologically offended.
Cultural Appropriation: the heinous act of a white person eating sushi.
Anyone who has spent any amount of time on the internet or Huffington Post would find it difficult to deny the notion that feminists and social justice warriors want to remake the definition of free speech. Anything they dislike or don’t understand is a glaring example of misogyny or racism. Anyone who disagrees and even those who simply choose not to participate, is automatically labeled part of the white heteropatriarchal matrix of oppression. In short, disagreement is harassment, criticism is violence, and silence is hateful.
Feminism seems fundamentally incapable of hearing any story or stance that does not confirm its world view and will go to great lengths to silence detractors. Take the examples of such atheist ex-Muslim speakers as Maryam Namazie and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, both of whom have been picketed and censored by feminist groups despite having personal on-the-ground experience with the real oppression of Sharia Law in their home countries of Iran and Somalia. These are women that have had death threats made against them for their very real activism, unlike the feminism of Tumblr which is done over tea and biscuits.
Until now, feminist supporters have tried to claim that these are extremists and that they are few and far between. But the growing body of evidence suggests that at universities across America, free speech, discourse, and the nature of reality is under attack. But instead of countering these offensives, people are cowering and apologizing for exercising their first amendment rights. Be assured, however, that these kinds of people are ideologically and intellectually opposed to the free exchange of ideas, not unlike the theocratic fascists of Syria’s ISIS.
To be continued in PART TWO: The Additive Property of Victimhood
Counter Arguments to Anti-Refugee Rhetoric
We need to focus on our own people, we have too many problems to solve here.
Oh, I guess America’s leaders can only deal with one problem at a time.
This is an obvious strawman and it is used whenever someone is too lazy or cowardly to resolve the emergent situation at hand.
But some of them might be terrorists!
And the overwhelming majority of them won’t be. Do I need to mention what happened in Colorado Springs the other day? It should go without saying that home-grown gun violence presents a much greater danger to the American people than terrorist refugees do.
Again, how cowardly must our leadership be to deny refuge to dozens of thousands because 2 or 3 may be saboteurs? If that’s the case, ISIS has already succeeded in using fear to kill our compassion.
On another note, when was taking in the huddled masses supposed to be convenient?
This is a problem of the Middle East, they need to work this out on their own for once!
May I remind you that the United States is an interloper in the affairs of the M.E. We were never asked to engage in their affairs and even if we had been, we have always had the option to do otherwise.
Our government is responsible for the regime change in Iraq and the famously weak and incompetent government we established there. As a direct result, Iraq was unable to deal with the political and military turmoil of ISIS, leading to the vanished border between Iraq and Syria, greatly strengthening the terrorist organization.
In our bumbling attempts at resolution, we unintentionally gave weapons and money to ISIS, and contributed to the vitiation of Assad’s forces, again aiding ISIS, and all due to our infantile stance on the nature of good and evil.
The next time some patriotic asshole tells you Assad must go because he is a dictator, mention our allies, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. And if they bring up barrel bombs, mention our use of the chemical weapon ‘agent orange’ in Vietnam. Oops.
Anyway, that should do it.
I want to readdress some of the logical fallacies and emotional assumptions embedded in 3rd wave feminism’s assessment of both sexual objectification and cultural appropriation.
Remember that sexual objectification has been labeled ‘bad’ because it necessarily reduces a human being to the status of sex-object, whether as commodity, property, or mere eye candy. This, however, is ‘problematic’ as the feminists say, since there is nothing either absolutely harmful about this behavior or even unnatural – in other words there is nothing socially constructed about it.
It is probably time to remind everyone here that much of third wave feminist philosophy is founded on the amorphous threat of patriarchy, a social construction itself and one that perpetuates by way of socially constructed ways of acting out gender. Sexual objectification is supposedly key to this, save for that it is not in fact a social construct.
Sexual objectification can scientifically be reduced to physical attraction and thus the primary motive behind human reproduction. This is a ‘problematic’ explanation for many third wave feminists, even if it is the most obvious one, because it leaves us with absolutely nobody, and I literally mean no body, to blame for its cause or consequences. Our source perforce becomes biology which is a difficult personage to indict.
I want to clarify here that I do believe sexual objectification can be bad, in the same way a hammer can be bad. But sexual objectification, again like a hammer, has its uses – some of which are quite productive. It goes without saying that the commodification of bodies, absolutely sexual or not, can be taken too far and create unrealistic standards of beauty or in more severe cases such as pornography, nurture exaggerated expectations of sexual behavior and gratification.
This, however, scarcely damns sexual attraction, what feminists are actually referring to when they use the term sexual objectification. Nor, might I add, are these dangers so pernicious as to warrant their prohibition or even regulation in so far as consenting adults go.
We do not have to consider the entirety of a person’s persona and being in order to harmlessly and genuinely admire a part of their body. I can look at a man from afar and I find his biceps, face, or back sexy and desirous without considering his hopes and dreams. Not only is it ridiculous to expect as much it is simply impossible, otherwise every time you found a person attractive for any reason you would be obliged to either immediately look away or approach them and engage in an inappropriately intrusive conversation.
This concept of accepting the whole or rejecting all of it has its roots in third wave feminism, I suspect. I cannot like the man’s biceps without knowing about and thus liking all of him, for example. You cannot admire the girl’s breasts or face without understanding she wishes to be a doctor one day, another example.
This strikes me as similar to when feminists reject a man’s great and indelible accomplishments because, as it turns out, he was racist or sexist. Thomas Jefferson’s contributions to the constitution are to be entirely disregarded because, well, like most people in his day, he owned slaves. Benjamin Franklin whored about, was a womanizer, and thus any intellectual fruit he bore was of the poisoned tree.
It seems today that historical figures, celebrities, and politicians, no matter their life’s work, in the face of this new liberal fascism, can always be reduced to nothing if but one contemptible thing about them can be exposed. This is not unlike the notion that, if one cannot like the entirety of the person, body and soul alike, you cannot like any of it. Bosh.
Having sufficiently obliterated that ridiculous conceit, I want to move on to cultural appropriation, the feminist corruption of cultural diffusion and what they define as when one culture, usually a socio-politically dominant one, ‘steals’ aspects of another culture for its own uses, whether commercial or otherwise, and essentially places it out of ‘context’.
I want to give one obvious example of this so defined term which will also illustrate the racist hypocrisy of third wave feminists. This example will show how members of a dominant culture, in this case African Americans, have appropriated and corrupted aspects of another’s culture, in this case Native Americans.
In case you doubt the dominant status of African Americans over Native Americans, remember that one of these groups has in recent years been at least moderately represented in both our executive (Obama, Rice, Powell, Holder, Johnson, Weaver) and Judicial (Marshall and Thomas) branches of government while the other has had essentially none and has been nearly driven to extinction.
In New Orleans during Mardi Gras there is a specifically and exclusively black practice of dressing in exaggerated Native American tribal attire, feather headdresses and all, and dancing about while making much ado. Now while some of the participants have claimed Native American ancestry, the fact remains that some do not or in the least, cannot prove it, leaving me to question why this practice is not hailed by feminists as being comparably racist to black-face. I might add that this practice hardly takes into consideration the uniqueness of tribes and in ignoring that fact, makes a monolith of Native American peoples – stereotyping them all as feather wearing buffoons who enjoy brightly colored feathers and dancing.
Personally, I do not care about this practice. However, by the feminist definition this is cultural appropriation, though not the kind they like to highlight because it doesn’t include a group of white people to demonize.
Or at least, that is one way to look at it. You could also say that it is simply the result of cultural diffusion, what happens when many cultures/peoples over many centuries have either been forced or chosen to intermix and interact. This is ultimately how all societies have been formed since the beginning of time. Most ceremonies, celebrations, clothes, and yes, even languages, are little more than combinations, hybrids, or derivatives of others before them. This is just how human populations work and form.
Again, can people be exploited? Of course. Can cultures be diminished, annihilated, or coopted by others? Indeed. But can they also be enriched? Obviously. Dominant or not, it factors very little into the equation.
I might add here that nobody owns language, clothing, or even culture. The French do not own the French language, they only delude themselves when they try to control and manage it. An Amazonian Tribe does not own its particular set of practices. Not only were they likely learned or borrowed from others before them but they will likely vanish or continue on those same terms.
It is worth adding here that if something is out of context, then it is out of context regardless of the identity of the person who misplaces it. So even were we to take seriously that part of the equation, how could we when feminists place so much weight on something as superficial as skin color or gender? How is an ushanka being worn in Florida by a black man any less ‘bizarre’ than when it is being worn by a white or Asian woman? If a statement or act is absolutely racist, then it remains so regardless of who says or does it.
If we take feminist cultural appropriation theory seriously, then we have to stop learning other languages, eating new cuisines, trying different fashions, and worst of all, stop experimenting and even improving upon them. It seems as though what they really want by this concept is to justify segregating peoples and preventing the dissemination of ideas new and old alike. This stifles communication, exchange, exposure, and education. Not everything need be cast in the sinister light of good and evil, and not every cultural exchange need be reduced to the legacy of racist colonialism.
Let’s start exploring these new, fancy, and often empty terms feminism throws at us to intimidate and silence, and start really exploring what they would mean if we took them seriously.
Rose McGowan from the vapid and adolescent TV series ‘Charmed’ stated for the record that, “Gay men are as misogynistic as straight men, if not more so…I have an indictment of the gay community right now, I’m actually really upset with them.”
I’ve been reading more and more of these ‘indictments’ against gay men and their supposed obligation to support third wave feminism so I am going to use some of McGowan’s statements to address these absurd claims. Here we go…
“You wanna talk about the fact that I have heard nobody in the gay community, no gay males, standing up for women on any level?”
Your personal experiences, especially as an affluent celebrity, have absolutely no bearing on and are in no way representative of the typical American experience. Nor are they an effective barometer of the socio-political relationship between gay men and women activists. In other words, just because you haven’t heard anything doesn’t mean it isn’t happening, the world does not revolve around you. Granted, this is really difficult for American and European feminists to understand, especially due to their fixation on identity politics.
“There is Sharia law active in Saudi Arabia, there’s a woman who’s about to be stoned – I have not heard [AIDS activist] Cleve Jones discuss her, and nor will he.”
First, the people most responsible for the rights of Saudi women are Saudis. Also, I don’t know who Cleve Jones is but he is not obligated to speak out for anyone, nor is any gay man. Gay men, just like everyone else, may identify or not identify with any group they choose.
Personally, I do not ‘identify’ with the gay community in any sociopolitical way. My persona is much deeper than that and I do not feel a rush of camaraderie with another man simply because they too love men.
In addition, why are gay men being targeted here? How is it gay men are more obliged to support the rights of Saudi women (or any women) than straight men? Or black men? Or bisexual or trans men? How exactly does this hierarchy of concern work? As usual, these feminist concerns are as arbitrary as they are without merit.
“I think it’s what happens to you as a group when you are starting to get most of what you fought for? What do you do now?”
Again, why is it the job of gay men to ‘fight’ for anything? Where does this very arbitrary and entitled assertion stem from? This conclusion remains tethered to the notion that if you’re a minority you must identify with and fight for all other minorities – in essence, it enslaves every individual to the will and ends of the group.
This is identity politics at its core, the reduction of individuals to a physical characteristic or non-physical attribute and subsuming their rights, desires, and aspirations under those of a collective. Why do this? I supposed it is one way to psychologically manipulate people into supporting a cause, in other words, what McGowan does with these lines.
I might add that globally, gay men remain one among the single most targeted minorities. Further, am I to infer that women in America have not gotten ‘most of what they fought for’? Women can vote, work, go to school, divorce, get abortions, run for political office, travel unchaperoned, own property or a business, drive, and inherit wealth.
“What I would hope they would do is extend a hand to women.”
So tired of repeating this, no one owes anyone anything in this regard. Gay men as a group do not owe women anything as a group and vice versa.
“Women, by-and-large, have very much helped the gay community get to where they are today.”
Actually gay men and gay women have definitively and demonstrably done the bulk of the footwork on gay rights, with meaningful and substantial contributions by straight folk. That being said, regardless of women’s contributions to the cause, nothing would entitle them to the aid of gay men in their own, especially if it was only for the sake of reciprocity. It’s worth mentioning here that gay rights benefit everyone, including women, straight or otherwise, so I’m not sure what you’re so upset about.
“And I have seen not a single peep from these people, who supposedly represent lesbians as well… when the equal pay act was shut down by Republicans in the Senate, not a single man mentioned that.”
Evidence of absolutely nothing. Done.
Lastly, I want to address something not mentioned by McGowan but by others, namely this recent trend of attacking gay men for impersonating the personas of ‘strong black women’. People can impersonate and act like anyone they choose, get the fuck over it. I haven’t heard any of these people complain about the impersonation of poor rednecks or valley girls.
On September 6th of this year in California, Fay Wells locked herself out of her apartment. She would later do what anyone would, call a locksmith and then move on with her life. Shortly after doing so, however, Fay found 19 police outside her apartment, calling for her to come out and aiming their guns at her.
No one would answer this flabbergasted and unarmed woman’s questions until much later, only then did she find out that a neighbor had summoned the police, believing the black Ms. Wells to be a burglar of her own home.
In this instance of police hysteria, the unarmed black person wasn’t shot. But Fay very well could have been and all due to the racist assumption by a complete nobody that she was a vicious little negro criminal attempting to terrorize a nice white neighborhood.
When I heard this story, though I was in no way surprised, it did bring me to excogitate on the issue of priority. Between the citizenry and the constabulary, whose life is the priority? Let us consider firemen for a moment. When these noble creatures approach a burning building and find it poorly evacuated with people still inside, do they tremble with overwhelming trepidation or do they act, knowing fully that their lives have been made second to those they take risk to save?
Firemen do not merely ‘secure’ an immolating building, protecting only themselves and those already conveniently out of danger. Indeed, they prioritize the life of the endangered citizenry, putting their own lives at risk to rescue them. They have chosen this heroic profession, along with the concomitant dangers that saddle it.
Police, however, seem to take a different attitude to their job. They appear to believe that as agents of the state monopoly on force and life and death, their lives are the priority while the citizenry, most especially the black citizenry, takes second chair.
Maybe the police of America have forgotten that ancient maxim, ‘with great power comes great responsibility’. Maybe they have deluded themselves into believing they were forced into their jobs, as opposed to having actively chosen them. Or maybe their lot simply attracts craven individuals who, in the face of even the mildest threat, react with nuclear proportions. In a word, cowards.
The likeliest explanation pertains to training. The American constabulary is systemically and procedurally taught that their lives come first and that when a member of the citizenry does not cooperate with absolute obedience, they have vacated their right to life. The police are state actors. They are agents of the government which is paid for and elected by the citizenry. This means that the constabulary should be accountable to the citizenry, in other words, subordinate to us, the people.
When one chooses to become an officer they are given immense power but they should also understand that their life becomes secondary to mine when on the job. This is because the job of an officer is to protect the citizenry, including the accused, not gun them down when he or she is too incompetent or fearful to professionally resolve the situation.
If this compromise makes any member of the police feel unsafe then stop, turn in your gun, and become a florist. You should not have become a member of the police because you liked the idea of playing a cartoon’s version of a hero, waving a gun about, and shooting down every shadow that gives you goosebumps. You should have become an officer wanting to protect and defend people, even those accused by some idiot of having committed a crime – if this wasn’t your motive then the only thing you represent is a danger to us, the people.
Gloria Steinem, venerated feminist, recently claimed on NPR that domestic abuse, patriarchy, and other such perceived and so-called ‘Western ills’ were imported to the Americas after European colonization, substantiating this claim with the generalization that Native Americans exhibited matrilineal societies.
She knowingly, in my strict opinion, used this term in conflation with matriarchy, purposefully leading a misinformed audience to believe that Native Americans were more egalitarian than European societies. This is, of course, demonstrably not the case – especially when speaking generally of the tribes of North America.
I won’t be citing any sources in this article for the simple fact that it is all so readily available with even the most cursory google search. In the same way that European societies are and were diverse, so were Native Americans’. Making a monolith of this vast and multifaceted group of people, even if in a perceived positive tone, is about as racist as Jim Crow.
This is a typical example of how fundamentalist feminists like Steinem reframe history and reality in order to justify their world view and ideologies. In truth, Steinem probably suffers from a crippling case of white guilt and thus pays undue homage to cultures she only cursorily knows about – not unlike every fundamentalist feminist I have ever met and heard speak.
But even if her claim about Native American tribes were true, we know from history and writers like Nigerian Chinua Achebe that pre-colonial African cultures like the Igbo exhibited patriarchy on levels that made France of the day appear radically egalitarian. Without any European influence, the Igbo practiced polygamy, sanctioned beating their wives, bought women with crops like cattle, and clearly preferred sons over daughters. The often implied notion that Europe invented this horrid ‘woman-as-chattel’ behavior is demonstrably false and was and remains a generally human trait.
Fascinating, is it not, how quick western feminists are to point out the faults of Western societies and how quick they are to infantilize everyone else’s to the point of voiding any and all of their accountability.
Let’s play a game shall we? Let’s use the same litmus test feminists use to determine if a society is patriarchal. If we look at Native American leaders, what gender are they by and large? Who are the so called big players? We’ll start by naming a few celebrated leaders like Red Cloud, Geronimo, Sitting Bull, Tecumseh, and Crazy Horse. None of them are female. In fact, the only female Native Americans known to the American populace are Pocahontas and Sacajawea, neither of whom were leaders and both of whom are only famous by incident.
My bottom line here is that the vast majority of Native American chiefs and leaders, especially prior to World War II, were male. Just like the vast majority of warriors in these societies. We can acknowledge that gender was defined differently in these societies without jumping to the erroneous conclusion that it didn’t matter in them.
It is easy to pick through Native American history and prop up a female leader here and there or highlight some of the few female warriors that occasionally appeared and make it seem routine, just as I could name Anne, Jane Grey, Mary and Elizabeth I, Victoria, and the current Elizabeth II, making old merry England appear to be one of the single most female friendly nations ever to exist. After all, they had all those regnant queens right?
I am not stating that Native American peoples were all the same (that would be Steinem), nor am I stating that they were all gender fascists. Many tribes actually exhibited rather relaxed gender roles relative to Europeans of the day while others, like the Sioux, were known to be highly gender divided. The point is that these cultures were as numerous as they were varied and they exhibited many different ways of being. Europe did not ‘import’ patriarchy or male-on-female violence, it existed among these societies long before white folk ever made an appearance, just as it had everywhere else.
Like Steinem, I don’t know much about the indigenous cultures of America, but I do know they were far from perfect and had about as many social failings as any other group on the planet because they were human beings, and no human society has ever succeeded in creating a world free of violence and devoid of gender roles, except Norway.
Matrilineal, by the way, only refers to how one traces ancestry or inheritance. It is not actually an indicator of egalitarianism or patriachy’s absence. Jewish lineage is typically determined matrilineally but that scarcely makes Jewish societies matriarchal, see Israel and its government for more on that.
Lastly, feminists and other guilt-ridden westerners often desperately attempt to apologize for the genocide of indigenous cultures by propping up the murdered peoples as superior, instead of acknowledging them for the imperfect society that they actually were. This is demeaning to that group. It turns them into children unaccountable for their wrongdoing and imperfections. It also disregards the way in which they contributed to humanity’s long history of violence and hatred.