Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The uprising in Egypt: Not all about the menz


Leon Trotsky -- you know, THE Trotsky -- once said disdainfully of writer Dwight Macdonald, who'd had the temerity to actually question him about something-or-other, "everyone has the right to be stupid, but comrade Macdonald abuses the privilege."

Now, Trotsky was sort of a shit, and probably would have been a worse dictator than Stalin, and Dwight Macdonald was awesome, but I've always loved this little put-down, and I'd like to update it for the internet age.  So here goes:

Everyone has the right to pontificate about shit they know nothing about on the internet, but our comrades at The Spearhead abuse the privilege.

The latest example: A short piece about the Egyptian protests from Spearhead head cheese W.F. Price. Noting that footage of the protests show a lot of angry men out on the streets, Price opines:

Governments that consistently neglect or antagonize their male populations never last too long.

Yep, no matter what happens anywhere in the world at any time, on The Spearhead it's always all about the menz. Indeed, not only has the Egyptian government been insufficiently accommodating to men, Price suggests; it's also started flirting with feminism, having "recently taken the lead in the Arab world in empowering women." But such a transparent ploy to win over the wimmenz will invariably backfire, he argues (or, rather, asserts), further angering the angry men in the streets:

Female support matters little; women shift allegiance at the drop of a hat, so any government that counts on them to prop them up is making a mistake.

Those fickle, fickle women!

In the comments, someone called Antz took this absurdity a step or two further, asking his fellow Spearheaders to

note the alpha males in battle gear, ready at the drop of a hat to open fire on their freedom loving brothers with machine guns.

Alpha males have always been the wielders of the burning blade of feminist anti-male hatred.

Yes, that's right. The Egyptian security police have suddenly gone feminist on us.

This isn't the first time Price has attempted to cast an uprising in the Arab world as a manly reaction to the doings of evil women. He titled a recent piece on the Tunisian uprising "Arrogant Woman Slaps Young Man, Brings Down Her Regime." The "arrogant woman" in question was a corrupt local official who slapped and thereby humiliated a young Tunisian street vendor named Mohammad Bouazizi; his very public suicide -- he lit himself on fire in front of a government building as a form of protest --was what set off the Tunisian uprising. (I have no idea what Price means by referring to "her regime," as the woman in question was  merely a local functionary and the regime in question was of course headed by a man.) Price wrote:

Authoritarian regimes in Muslim-majority states tend to favor women’s empowerment, seeing women as natural allies in keeping fundamentalist Islam at bay and willing participants in corrupt patronage systems. However, favoring women can only go so far, as men need a certain degree of appeasement as well, and it seems that young Tunisian men have had enough of being – quite literally in this case – slapped around.

Never mind that Tunisia's historic adoption of women's rights legislation -- abolishing polygamy, and, horror of feminist horrors, requiring men to actually get consent from women before marrying them  -- happened more than half a century ago. Never mind that the repressive Ben Ali government was actually moving backwards on women's rights. A woman slapped a man, so the uprising was therefore all about the symbolic slapping of men by an evil regime that Price has bizarrely described as a "her."

Back to Egypt, which is even less of a feminist paradise than Tunisia. Indeed, a 2010 report from the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights concluded that the country was getting worse, not better, when it came to its already dismal record on women's rights. As thedailynewsegypt.com reports (link is to Google's cached copy of the story):

The report, which is based on the findings of international human rights organizations, stated that Egypt was ranked 125th out of 134 countries regarding women’s rights, and was ranked 13th among countries in the Middle East/North Africa region. ...

The state council’s refusal to appoint female judges in February was considered by the ECWR as a major setback to women’s rights in 2010. ...  Women still suffer from inequality in the workplace ... there’s been a rise in violence against women. ...  71.4 percent of violent crimes in 2010 were against women. ...

The ECWR also highlighted the increased use of two new alarming police practices against women: the practice of holding women hostage in order to force fugitives to surrender themselves to the police, as well as the sexual violation of women by police officers.

But that's not the only thing that Price has gotten very, very wrong: As many observers far more knowledgeable than Price have pointed out -- including, amazingly, one commenter on The Spearhead -- the footage of male-dominated protests we see on TV is in many ways wildly misleading: Egyptian women have been involved in the current protests in unprecedented numbers.

As Jenna Krajeski noted on Slate's XXFactor blog,

An unprecedented number of Egyptian women participated in Tuesday’s anti-government protests. Ghada Shahbandar, an activist with the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, estimated the crowd downtown to be 20 percent female. Other estimates were as high as 50 percent. In past protests, the female presence would rarely rise to 10 percent. Protests have a reputation for being dangerous for Egyptian women, whose common struggle as objects of sexual harassment is exacerbated in the congested, male-dominated crowd.

Max Strasser, a former associate editor at Al-Masry Al-Youm English Edition in Cairo, explains the dynamic:

It is no secret that Egypt is a conservative country when it comes to gender relations. Men and women generally, though not exclusively, adhere to traditional gender roles where women stay at home. As a result, many public spaces are heavily male dominated. Moreover, sexual harassment is frustratingly common ... Big crowds, like soccer rallies, are usually the least hospitable for women.

Since this uprising began, the typical gender dynamic in Egypt’s public space seems to have been thrown out with the regime. Some have said that as many as half of the protesters are women. Moreover, as I have watched Al Jazeera it seems clear that women of all walks of life, from young girls in jeans to older women wearing niqab, are taking part.  All are chanting, pumping their fists and, at times, battling with the riot police.

As feminist human rights activist Nawal El Saadawi told Democracy Now!, "women and girls are beside boys in the streets."

Do I have any idea what's next in Egypt? Of course not. The crowds I've seen in the news coverage on CNN and elsewhere have been mostly men, and a lot of these men are fundamentalist fanatics. But I think the presence of women alongside the men in the protests is heartening, and gives us some reason for optimism.

--

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38 comments:

  1. Holy laser-sharks, that's some powerful delusional thinking going on there. It's incredible the way the MRAs manage to cast absolutely everything in the light of their bizarre worldview (the Egyptian security forces are pro-matriarchy alpha males? Really?).

    This is a problem that's actually endemic with regard to commentary about Egypt. American commentators, pundits, and politicians just can't seem to grasp that some things that happen in the world are NOT ABOUT US.

    Example: An article I read discussing what kind of post-Mubarak government would be most "pro-Western." I was like, holy shit dude. What they need is a government that will be most pro-Egyptian-people. They're under no obligation to give a shit how that government benefits the West or whether or not the West approves of it. (Yet look at all the anger that came from the punditosphere over Hamas' legitimate democratic victory in Palestine.)

    America's done enough harm to itself and, more importantly, to the people of the Middle East (and elsewhere) by trying to prop up pro-Western governments. Cut it out.

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  2. I don't think the next Egyptian government will be pro-Western or pro-Egyptian-people, I think it will be pro-Islam.

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  3. Example: An article I read discussing what kind of post-Mubarak government would be most "pro-Western." I was like, holy shit dude. What they need is a government that will be most pro-Egyptian-people. They're under no obligation to give a shit how that government benefits the West or whether or not the West approves of it. (Yet look at all the anger that came from the punditosphere over Hamas' legitimate democratic victory in Palestine.)

    The West, who fought long and hard to throw off the yoke of British Imperialism in favour of freedom, seem to have little reservation about wanting to place the yoke of Western Imperialism upon others. And it's those dang feminists that are driving them to do it!!

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  4. I read his article the other day and thought "Really? He's blaming this on women too?" He has no credibilty whatsoever putting out that kind of garbage.

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  5. And just the other day, I swear someone was commenting here about how he read The Spearhead not for the misogynistic comments but for the "compelling and well-written articles." Shame they're also completely incorrect on their facts, based in paranoid fantasies, and basically rubbish.

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  6. Futrelle:

    Back to Egypt, which is even less of a feminist paradise than Tunisia. Indeed, a 2010 report from the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights concluded that the country was getting worse, not better, when it came to its already dismal record on women's rights.

    Was this due to Mubarak or the Islamic framework molds Egyptian society?

    How ridiculous your post is. Here is just a quick pictoral and video of what is going on in Egypt:

    http://glpiggy.net/2011/02/01/feministing-overstates-female-participation-in-egyptian-protests/

    1 woman flanked by 16 men.

    The video I posted shows a group of thousands of agitated Egyptian men, and the only sign of a woman is the one that walks through the crowd with her camera phone out.

    And we're supposed to believe that this is anything less than men agitating for change and getting dirty in the trenches while women sit on the sidelines and watch?

    Please.

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  7. Chuck, yeah, no doubt the women of Egypt are all sitting at home eating bon-bons and watching their stories while the men do all the protesting.

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  8. Futrelle:

    They aren't eating bon-bons and they aren't arm-to-arm with their Egyptian men either. You and your side feel a need to feminize the face of this rebellion for some reason. This is driven by the anger of all Egyptians, and it would naturally fall on men to do the muckraking and any fighting that may arise.

    Women may do their part, but it is on the sidelines. Yet they are propelled into the spotlight for the photo ops and such.

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  9. Chuck, you've missed the point of my post in about 9 different ways.

    This is driven by the anger of all Egyptians

    Well, yeah, that's sort of what I was saying; it's Welmer and Antz who have framed the issue as one of "men being ignored" in favor of women.

    Also, are you really surprised that in a conservative, male-dominated society like Egypt that men would dominate the protests?

    All I was pointing out is that in a country like Egypt, it's amazing and heartening that there are as many women out there as there have been.

    Essentially, by complaining that more women aren't out there, you're complaining that the women of Egypt aren't feminist enough.

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  10. Alright two points I'm going to quibble on...

    1) Regarding triplanetary's comment. Your comment is idealistic but not realistic. Whenever there's a regime change in a major country, every other country that has relations with them cares if it will help them or hurt them. I want what's best for the egyptian people too, but I don't want egypt to become a ground of terrorists that cause another 9/11. Or god forbid, another Afghanistan that has to be invaded. Or a place that starts harassing israel and other neighboring countries. The egyptian people deserve support, but as for what's best for them, well...that's their business. Our business is caring what's best for us, and our allies like Israel.

    2) I don't know if this was the poster's intent but I'm not sure I like the callous brushing of many of the men in the crowds as crazy fanatics, while saying that it's automatically a good thing that women are present. Aren't there lots of female suicide bombers? Women seem at least as vulnerable to succumbing to fundamentalism as men. You could just as easily say that a lot of the women in the crowds are fundamentalist fanatics.

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  11. Are women more or less involved in the revolution than they are involved in the government and public life?

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  12. Indomitable Thoughts-there are female suicide bombers but it is not a great amount of them.

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  13. Incoherent Thoughts:
    I want what's best for the egyptian people too, but I don't want egypt to become a ground of terrorists that cause another 9/11.

    History has shown that the best way for America to avoid attacks like 9/11 is to mind its own business. Our intervention in the Middle East, along with that of other Western powers, is what creates the kind of terrorists that cause 9/11 in the first place.

    Or god forbid, another Afghanistan that has to be invaded.

    Afghanistan didn't have to be invaded. It was invaded for the sake of US political expediency, which is not a good excuse to put civilians in harm's way.

    Or a place that starts harassing israel and other neighboring countries.

    Israel, like the US, tends to bring this on itself.

    Our business is caring what's best for us, and our allies like Israel.

    Mm-hmm, yes, and because America is just the bestest country in the world, that gives us the right to project our interests all over the globe and completely fuck over entire populations in the process.

    I don't know if this was the poster's intent but I'm not sure I like the callous brushing of many of the men in the crowds as crazy fanatics, while saying that it's automatically a good thing that women are present.

    Well, he's not saying that, so...

    Aren't there lots of female suicide bombers? Women seem at least as vulnerable to succumbing to fundamentalism as men.

    Sure there are female suicide bombers. What's your point? Because it's a crowd of angry brown people, they must be terrorists? I just don't even see what the relevance is.

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  14. @thoughts "Or god forbid, another Afghanistan that has to be invaded. " This is actually a perfect example of why not to be imperialist asses, unless, of course, you have forgotten that the US was instrumental in arming the taliban and bringing it to power. The US was more than happy to arm and fund Muslim fanatics in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, because the Soviet Union was the big boogey man then. The US spent billions of dollars arming and training anti-soviet groups in the middle east, including those led by Osama bin Laden, who was trained by the CIA. Reactionary fearmongering is not the proper way to respond to any foreign policy issue.

    "The egyptian people deserve support, but as for what's best for them, well...that's their business. Our business is caring what's best for us, and our allies like Israel." Er, you are aware that both the Tunisian and Egyptian governments were/are US allies? The regime at question in Egypt has recieved extensive funding from the US. Also, if you want to talk about brutal theocratic nations in the middle east, what about Saudi Arabia, which is also a US ally? What we need to do is stop allying ourselves with brutal regimes, including the Isreali government.

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  15. Lets practice some reading comprehension and formal logic, which apparently seems to be lost here.

    The article on Egypt says:
    "Governments that consistently neglect or antagonize their male populations never last too long. Female support matters little; women shift allegiance at the drop of a hat, so any government that counts on them to prop them up is making a mistake.

    I find it ironic that Egypt has recently taken the lead in the Arab world in empowering women (had to use the cached version as Egypt has shut down the internet). Perhaps the government was aware of how deeply unpopular it was becoming among men, and looking for whatever support it could."

    The author's points are therefore:
    1) This is what happens when you neglect men.
    2) The government's popularity with men was so bad, that they ironically reached out to women.
    3) That did not work.

    You state that the author:
    - "attempted to cast an uprising in the Arab world as a manly reaction to the doings of evil women." Nowhere in the article on Egypt did he say that the neglect of men was the doing of evil women. The Tunisian article is irrelevant to the current article on Egypt. Even in the Tunisian article, the author did not characterize the uprising as a manly reaction to evil oppressive women, but that "The incident that sparked his fatal protest was an act of petty tyranny perpetrated by a local agent, who decided she wanted to give the man the third degree." Merely indicating that the agent's gender was female does not mean that the author believed the protest was caused by "a manly reaction to evil women."

    - is wrong because "Egyptian women have been involved in the current protests in unprecedented numbers", and "Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights concluded that the country was getting worse, not better, when it came to its already dismal record on women's rights."
    Even if your statements are true, that does not refute any of the three points made by the author. In fact, it tends to support the last two points the author made.

    Lets turn to the Tunisian article:
    "Authoritarian regimes in Muslim-majority states tend to favor women’s empowerment, seeing women as natural allies in keeping fundamentalist Islam at bay and willing participants in corrupt patronage systems. However, favoring women can only go so far, as men need a certain degree of appeasement as well, and it seems that young Tunisian men have had enough of being – quite literally in this case – slapped around."

    The author's points are therefore:
    1) Authoritarian regimes tend to favor women to curry them as allies.
    2) Women tend to be willing participants in corrupt patronage systems of the regimes
    2) Unfortunately men need appeasement as well.

    Your rebuttal:
    - "Never mind that the repressive Ben Ali government was actually moving backwards on women's rights." - Even if true, it does not refute the aforementioned points. If the regime is still favoring women over men (i.e. men are still being treated worse than women, even if women are being treated badly), then the point still stands. If women are still acting as willing participants in corrupt patronage for the regime, the point still stands.

    Furthermore, "her regime" can simply be read as she slapped the man and caused her government (who, as a government official, she represents) to collapse, without any particular sexist connotation. Reversing the genders, it could equally read "Arrogant Man Slaps Young Woman, Brings Down His Regime". Which, of course, you would have no problem with. Unless you think it's equally sexist?

    This is why your writing is horrible and betrays you as nothing more than the Iraqi Information Minister of Feminism.

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  16. Let's practice some "knowing a tiny bit about Egypt and Tunisia," which seems to be lacking in your post.

    What you seem to be overlooking in Welmer's post is a complete lack of evidence for any of his assertions, particularly his belief (which you share) that the governments in both countries favor women over men. There's not any evidence of this because, well, they don't. They really, really don't. Note the report on women's rights in Egypt I mentioned in the post. Look at the article I linked to on Tunisia.

    I will agree that my sentence about "manly reaction" isn't quite an accurate description of Welmer's Egypt article, though it is of his Tunisian article.

    Also, I would have as much of a problem with the headline "Arrogant Man Slaps Young Woman, Brings Down His Regime" as I did with Welmer's original headline. It's an incredibly stupid and misleading headline either way.

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  17. Chuck, Flickr, Facebook and Demotix are full of pictures of Egyptian women protesters. They've played a significant role in the uprising against Mubarak. That's verified by reports from the ground. I encourage you to visit the Global Voices directory, Muslimah Media Watch, and the reports coming out of Al Jazeera. You'd also do well to familiarize yourself with work of women journalists like Mona Eltahawy and Tawakkol Karman.

    The rallies in Egypt are very similar to the ones in Iran after the controversial 2009 presidential elections. Women played a significant role in each. Same for Tunisia and in Yemen. It's one of the reasons why I believe it's facetious to claim, as avpd0nmmng does, that the next government of Egypt will be pro-Islamic. This isn't a religious revolution. And it's quite Islamophobic to assume that a Muslim majority country is incapable of desiring or creating a democratic system.

    I do work for a Muslim women's rights organization and wrote my undergrad thesis on the role new media played in Iran's 2009 unrest.

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  18. Futrelle:

    What is the point of bifurcating the genders to point out that women are taking part in these protests? It's all a part of this gynocentric Joan-of-Arc-as-heroine meme, writ large. This allows feminists to play both sides of the fence: at once by saying that women are empowered and again by saying that they are held under thumb. Which is it?

    You said: Essentially, by complaining that more women aren't out there, you're complaining that the women of Egypt aren't feminist enough.

    No, I'm saying that there is a direct relationship between the level of expressed anger, protesting, rebellion, and necessary violence and maleness. And I only point the maleness part out because you and your feminist friends decided to bifurcate the issue and make it about the "face of women in Egypt's rebellion". So if we must discuss the rebellion on those terms, allow me to point out that the closer to the epicenter to violence or threats of it, the ratio of men to women will increase even further. So you may see some women out there, and surely pictures of them will be cherry-picked to lend a sympathetic female face to the cause, but that won't change the fact that it will be men who do the heavy lifting.

    So it really has nothing to do with whether those women are feminist enough, the structure of rebellions - where those rebellions or protests aren't directly benefiting feminist causes - always follow the same pattern: a group of angry men agitating for change.



    This is the Joan-of-Arc-as-feminine-hero meme played all over again, writ large.

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  19. "Let's practice some "knowing a tiny bit about Egypt and Tunisia," which seems to be lacking in your post."
    "What you seem to be overlooking in Welmer's post is a complete lack of evidence for any of his assertions, particularly his belief (which you share) that the governments in both countries favor women over men. There's not any evidence of this because, well, they don't. They really, really don't. Note the report on women's rights in Egypt I mentioned in the post. Look at the article I linked to on Tunisia."

    My knowledge of Egypt and Tunisia is irrelevant. I'm not attacking the substantive facts that you presented, I'm responding to your logical counterpoints to Welmer's assertions, however factually unfounded or supported Welmer's assertions may be.

    Even if all of your facts as presented are true, they don't address the author's points at all. Exclusively showing only evidence that women have it bad in such societies does not refute his assertions. Simply saying "They really, really don't", while only pointing out how bad women have it does not indicate how much better or worse men have it in such societies, or refute the point that "this is what happens when men are neglected". Which is why your writing makes you look like a straw feminist instead of an honest critic.

    Note that nowhere did I indicate if I shared Welmer's beliefs or not. "Assumptions make an ass out of you and me", isn't that something you posted somewhere?

    "Also, I would have as much of a problem with the headline "Arrogant Man Slaps Young Woman, Brings Down His Regime" as I did with Welmer's original headline. It's an incredibly stupid and misleading headline either way. "

    I don't read it that way, but fair enough.

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  20. Susan B. Anthony:

    I get confused by your use of words like "significant" to describe the role of women in the uprising.

    The only way I can say it is this: this uprising wouldn't exist without men, whereas we can't say the same if women weren't involved.

    But it does seem to be true that there *are* more women involved in this uprising, and that is certainly worth noting. But what's with the headlines like "Women show courage" or Feministing's whopper "Egyptian women central to Revolution". I mean, is that really true?

    Personally, I'm alright with news accounts of women participating; they are and that's one part of the saga, but let's not overstate the case just to pander to women.

    As far as your statement that it is improper to assume that Egypt will fall to Islamists. First, I just want to point out to you that you are implying that an Islamic regime is a bad thing. If so, I would agree with you. Islamic regimes are horrendous things that should be wiped off the face of the Earth. But if Egypt doesn't capitulate to Islamists in the aftermath of their power vacuum, that would be a near first. At this point, whoever takes power isn't really dependent on what the people want per se; they will only be able to choose from among a group of people that are powerful enough to fill a presidential ticket. In a largely Muslim country with strict Islamic laws guiding day-to-day life, they will naturally capitulate to an Islamic dictator.

    This is the thing: Islam and democracy are not compatible. The salient feature of Christianity - one that helps it pair well with democracy - is the concept of free will and self-determination. And those concepts are severely lacking in Islam.

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  21. It's Anthony B. Susan, actually, for reasons I explain on my site.

    Chuck, your statement makes no sense. Women have participated in equal measure here. The uprising wouldn't exist with either the men or women risking their lives on Egypt's streets. And yes, I agree that Egyptian women are central to the revolution. They're dying right along with the men.

    Your post is full of erroneous assumptions, and you haven't even attempted to back them up. You're not even educated about the sort of society that exists in Egypt. Islamist organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood have been banned. The leading opposition to Mubarak is a former UN weapons inspector, and I believe the tens of thousands of Egyptians filling the streets would be quite surprised to hear they're not there to support the creation of a democratic government. Your Islamophobia--and your sexism--is showing. Educate yourself, you're in sore need of it.

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  22. Anthony:

    This is a quote from a piece at the Huffington Post titled "Egyptian Women Show Courage Participating in Egyptian Protests":

    The majority of women have been avoiding the more dangerous events. "In the evenings, I didn't see as many women out at nighttime," Day added. "At nighttime, it just does set a different mood. People get a little angrier, a little crazier, so I haven't seen women in the nighttime at the same rates as I've seen men."

    So, no, Egyptian women are not participating in the same capacity as men. This coming from someone who is more than sympathetic to women's role in the protests.

    It seems to be you who are in need of education if you actually think that women have participated in equal measure here. It hasn't been true in history, and it isn't true now. I don't fault women for this; that's just how the sexes are biologically structured. Times like these call for strength, aggression, and a sort of cavalier attitude. Men have a competitive advantage in that regard.

    Then you say:

    Islamist organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood have been banned. The leading opposition to Mubarak is a former UN weapons inspector, and I believe the tens of thousands of Egyptians filling the streets would be quite surprised to hear they're not there to support the creation of a democratic government.

    What does the banning of MB have to do with it? They may be banned, but they still exist in the undercurrent of society there. If so, they have the ability to form a government and offer up candidates for office. The people on the street seem very much to be supporting democratic reform, but that's not the point you initially argued. You said that it is presumptuous to assume that the next government will be pro-Islamic. If these democratic revolutionaries elect an Islamic regime to office, then it doesn't matter what their intentions are on the streets of Cairo today.

    And yes I'm Islamophobic. You'd be stupid not to be.

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  23. And I only point the maleness part out because you and your feminist friends decided to bifurcate the issue and make it about the "face of women in Egypt's rebellion".

    Well no. The Spearhead articles that David is responding to are the ones that made it about gender divisions. David's the one pointing out how ridiculous it is to claim that either gender has a greater stake in Egypt's future.

    And yes I'm Islamophobic. You'd be stupid not to be.

    No I wouldn't. Bigotry is the sign of stupidity here.

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  24. anthonybsusan, in Afghanistan, when the Taliban regime was overthrown and there was an election, people voted for religious parties. In Iraq, when Saddam Hussein was overthrown and there was an election, people voted for religious parties. Palestine has two governments, one religious (Hamas) and the other secular (Fatah). In Algeria at the end of the 1980s there was massive protests by feminists and Left-wing people against corruption in the government. When there was an election, the Islamists won and it lead to a civil war. Why it should be different in Egypt ? And what happened in Iran in 2009 is not the same thinh, Iran is a hard-core Islamist state therefore it's obvious the opposition there is mainly secular.

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  25. "Bigotry is the sign of stupidity here."

    Tell that to the bigots that are going to invade your silly pacifist utopia and cut your naive head off.

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  26. Why is the focus to attack women? So for one the people saying they aren't there are wrong, secondly, it really is neither here nor there. Middle Eastern culture can def be implicated, and gender cultural norms like those aren't unique to the Middle East. These guys criticizing women in this way are just trolling.

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  27. I don't think people are criticizing women, they're criticizing the portrayal of a phenomenon as more significant than it really is, which is just propaganda narrative. It's a disservice to the men (and the women) who are fighting so hard for their freedom. I don't think they'd like what's really happening distorted by outsiders.

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  28. re: triplanetary. All kinds of power structures are propped up all the time by foreign powers. I don't agree with all of them, but in many cases the local despot is the best choice for regional stability. That's the way these countries tend to work. Now I'm not gonna say Egypt or Tunisia will devolve into fundamentalism, but it's a bit premature to say that these places will become enlightened liberal tea sipping democracies. Democracy in Gaza led to...drumroll...Hamas. You, I, and everyone here has every reason help make sure the upcoming regime is aligned with US interests. Assuming that it will become a great PC wunderland is liberal tunnel vision.

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  29. My, that's a lot of words you're putting in my mouth. I never said Egypt is likely to transform into some liberal wonderland or an "enlightened liberal tea sipping democracy." What I said was that their government is theirs to create, in whatever image they see fit.

    Democracy in Gaza did indeed lead to Hamas. So? Democracy in America led to George Bush, which turned out rather badly for large swaths of the world. Morally, there's no distinction whatsoever between American adventurism in the Middle East and the actions of any given terrorist. The fact that our terrorism is conducted by an expensive-ass military doesn't change the fact that innocent people are dying.

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  30. Actually the really sickening thing about all the consternation over Hamas' victory in Palestine is that the basic idea the concern-trolling pundits are expressing is that people only deserve democracy if they're going to vote a certain way. Sort of defeats the purpose of democracy.

    But oh dear, the people of Palestine voted for a violent, religious conservative government. We Americans would never do something like that! ^_^

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  31. Normally, I'd not get involved in a political thread here. But I must say that pretending that Hamas and George Bush Junior are morally equivalent is rather disgusting.

    Yes, Hamas are more honest than Georgie was. Score one for them. But they are also 2000 times more brutal and , as a "progressive" would say, "regressive".

    As for the middle east in general I've done tons of reading over the past 3 years on peak oil, critiques of the theory, and etc. I know how much oil is produced, where it is produced, how it is produced, and I can say this: any regime in the middle east which interferes with the flow of oil (since we haven't been smart enough to work hard at getting off this drug)will be destroyed as it not only threatens the US economy and even our peoples ability to feed themselves, but it would also throw pretty much the entire rest of the world into turmoil and risk World War 3.
    Thus, unfortunately it's necessary to have someone guarantee the flow of oil over there, no matter how it has to be done. Right now, it's the US's job.

    I hope a nice democratic peaceful non-fundamentalist government takes over in Iran, raises the price of oil a bit, and puts its people first. I'd support that. But if an islamic regime comes to power and interferes with the oil, I'm all for using our aircraft carriers as much as is needed. We'd have nothing to lose at that point anyway.

    We do live in interesting times.

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  32. ACK! I meant Egypt. I was thinking of the Shah as the last time something like this happened, and my thoughts became stuck.

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  33. Bush's wars (which Obama is perpetuating; I'm not letting him off the hook) have killed far more civilians than Hamas has. And America does it for political expediency and corporate profiteering. Is greed really a better reason than religion to kill a bunch of people?

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  34. Well, as a MRA who grew up in Egypt and Has lived there let me tell you you DO NOT KNOW SHIT about what is going on.

    If you think Egypt or the middle east in general is 'patriarchal' then you do not know what you are talking about.

    For ex/ The word Harem in the west is thought to mean one man with multiple wives but it actually doesn't. It is derived from Haram which means forbidden. If a woman says Haram to a man in Egypt, like most women who do so when a man comes to the door to say fix something when her husband isn't home, he will look down and be embarassed and follow what ever orders she give. Is that really patriarchy? It is one of many aspects of Islam and Haram dates back to many much earlier cultures where no one except children and the husband were allowed to enter a residence. In most of these cultures the boys were kicked out once they became a man and joined the male space. The male space existed to follow the wishes of the female space or Haram. Just goes to show how even patrilineal patriarchies are largely run by the matriarchal elements.

    One thing that really blew my mind after 9/11 is how women went from almost never veiling to doing so in mass. I don't know how many women told me they did so as a political symbol of protest. The women would tell me how they don't hate Americans or American men or our government but just our president and how they controlled the middle east which I always thought funny cause the women over there are the primary beneficiaries of USAID. Many in the west think women have no rights in Egypt but if you walk around the streets of cairo you will see girls going to school and homeless boys begging on the street. You will see women going to work and college while men dick ditches for more plumbing and washing cars.

    There are many factors driving this rebellion that came together in a perfect storm of sorts and one is women. Women, just like in the west, are the primary supporters of religion. Go to any church on a wens night and count the women and men. In egypt men may be more religious than in the west but that is due to culture, government and status. Men of high status or alphas will build mosque after mosque to show their piety and the women love it. Then the government has issued the state religion to be Islam so unless you're a coptic christian you are shit out of luck job and relationship wise if you don't adhere to Islam.

    Some of the factors really are how men are being left out while women are propped up through US imperialism and AID. Who do you think allows Mubarek to have all those nice tanks and guns? Who do you think pays for it? America that is who. Then there are all the economic factors like how the Euro destabalized the Egyptian pound. Then there is Americas role in the middle east and how that has driven radicalized Islam. But women are playing a large role there. They are the driving force behind the brotherhood. The men join the brotherhood because they have no other options and one little clue that Egypt is feminist is that they even have a Council on women. They also had a womens lib in the 1920s.

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  35. Now I think welmer has gone a little far to say this is all about women. There are so many factors that I don't have time to go into them all but some are immigration from sudan and ghana and how it means lower class men lose out jobs, along with women, and there is also some racist problems there. The simple fact about Egypt is that they have women in the mens sphere while the men have not gained from it but women have. If you walk into almost any office over there, especially ones subsisting one USAID, you will find female workers. My mom, a feminist who worked with USAID, has shown me how to get aid they have to show certain numbers of women get it too. So for ex/ If you walk into the library of alexandria you will see almost every book and computer stamped with a USAID sticker and you will see more women than men. The men see women getting ahead with the hands of US imperialism and they see their roles eroding and they find a answer with radical islam. I always thought it was weird how the women were the ones pushing the social customs while the men simply went along. Whether devotion or other customs men simply went along. Two exs/ would be how most of the guys were muslim in name only and wanted westernism while the women didn't because they thought western women were slutty. On that message when I was living there as a teen I would walk out my house and every day I would see the same poor woman holding a baby that looked dead. She was a beggar and had cheated on her husband and been divorced after creating a child with another man. The men would take pity and give her some money while the women would chastise her. I remember giving her some money one day only to have three women yank it out of her hand and scold me. The Egyptian women know they have power at home and they fear losing it if they become too western and take over the male sphere. They also fear men becoming wise to their power and influence and rejecting them or becoming too westernized and rejecting them. The only difference I saw in Egypt v. The south is that when the wife chases her husband out in the street yelling about how he isn't a good enough christian or muslim that in the south the guy sleeps on the sofa and in Egypt he claps his hands once and say I divorce and then threatens to do it again and then sleeps in his own bed. The Sharia laws regarding child custody is the only real power egyptian men have. This is why they want more Islamic Sharia law to prevent the erosion of their rights and one thing that blew my mind is how women really just drool over patriarchal men. Whether it was the average Egyptian girl I dated or the western women who went to school over there. Women don't like feminized men and why women would do such a thing to their sons blows my mind but it just creates a nation of nice guy whiners that all the other women despise.

    Get your facts straigt manboobz. Oh and another reason the women are supporting such a thing is because Egypt has a huge population of working women who are over 30 and still living with their parents worry about never being able to marry because the men are too poor. But yeah, ok, surely there isn't feminism there. there is just a huge number of Egyptian women who call themselves feminist and have all sorts of womens groups and orgs and go on crusades against sexual harassment and have a history of feminism going back more than 90 years. Fucking feminst idiots.

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  36. Actually, avpd0nmmng, Iran's Green Movement was composed of both secular and Muslim activists. Mir Hossein Mousavi may call himself a moderate but he's also one of the architects of the Islamic Republic. And the elections in Iraq and Afghanistan aren't really applicable. Those elections were held after the coalition invaded, removed the previous governments and informed everyone they were now going to have a democracy. They didn't occur due to popular demand. So the situation in Egypt (and Tunisia, for that matter) are very different.

    As for Chuck, I'm not going to waste my time with someone who freely admits to being a bigot.

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  37. Well, as a MRA who grew up in Egypt and Has lived there let me tell you you DO NOT KNOW SHIT about what is going on.

    If you think Egypt or the middle east in general is 'patriarchal' then you do not know what you are talking about.


    There comes a certain point of ridiculousness beyond which "yeah well I lived in x country" just doesn't cut it.

    I'll grant that I've never lived in Egypt. But I've also never lived in Japan but I feel fairly certain that they don't have giant, city-destroying robots there. If someone tells me they do, I'm not going to defer to them just because they've lived in Japan and I haven't.

    Your claim that Egyptian society isn't patriarchal is basically on the same level of plausibility as giant robots. It's not like Egypt is unique in this sense. America is patriarchal, too, along with pretty much every country in the world.

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  38. Troll King.

    That was a really deep disturbing post you wrote about how you grew up and how it has traumatized you. It’s a shame you had to witness such human brutality.

    Have you ever tried seeking mental help?

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