Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dawkins vs. the dworkins

Dear Muslima,
Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and … yawn … don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car, and you can’t leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you’ll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with.
Only this week I heard of one, she calls herself Skep "chick", and do you know what happened to her? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee. I am not exaggerating. He really did. He invited her back to his room for coffee. Of course she said no, and of course he didn’t lay a finger on her, but even so …
And you, Muslima, think you have misogyny to complain about! For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin.
This was the comment Richard Dawkins left on Pharyngula on the "Always name names!" post. The comment that was met with an orgy of screaming and ranting about misogyny, racism, Islamophobia and what not, sneers about Dawkins being a privileged rich white heterosexual male, and a two-minute hate led by Rebecca Watson, complete with a "Dear Dick" harassment and boycott campaign. (That's funny, I thought gendered insults were bad?)

Now, Dawkins is of course an Englishman, and he has a very English sense of humor. He understands advanced concepts like "irony", "sarcasm" etc. that are lost on most Merkins (who think irony is a black fly in your Chardonnay). But once you see his point, you realize that he is brilliantly skewering the vapidity and narcissism of the Watsonistas, who are creating such a deafening and never-ending shitstorm over a relatively trivial incident.

One very common and telling reaction was that Dawkins was trying to "silence" women. First of all, it isn't possible to silence anyone as long as they have access to the internet. Even if you ban someone from one forum, they can just pop up on another. But Dawkins wasn't even doing that - he was simply making one comment in a 10,000-comment thread. (If anything, the radfems were the ones trying to silence dissenting opinion by their massive piling-on, with some commenters writing hundreds of comments on the same thread.)

Why is it that when a man has a difference of opinion with a radfem, he is automatically accused of trying to silence her? What does that say about her level of security? Look, sis, if you are going to state your opinion in a public forum, you have to be prepared for other people disagreeing with it. If you can't handle that, then stay out of the kitchen. And if you suggest that "persons of gender" need special protection against having to hear dissenting opinions, then you are infantilizing and insulting women. True equality would mean that women can get in the thick of it and share their opinion with men on an equal footing - wouldn't it?

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