RANGER AGAINST WAR: Tinny Weasel Words Verboten <

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tinny Weasel Words Verboten

Women hold up half the sky

--Mao Zedong

If she won't be a slave,
we say that she don't love us

If she's real, we say she's

trying to be a man

--Woman is the Nigger of the World
Yoko Ono

When you're chewing on life's gristle

Don't grumble, give a whistle

--Always Look on the Bright Side of Life
Monty Python (Life of Brian)


Perspective is all. The Wall Street Journal proclaimed what a victory the Beijing Olympics had been for women, showing the determined grimace of Bahrain's 200-meter runner Roqaya Al-Gassra, "dressed head-to-toe in a Muslim hijab. . . [i]n stifling heat." Note the freedom and placid expression of the woman running next to her (A Woman's Place is Here.)

From the
Journal's perspective, things are peachy. "Of the 10,500 Olympians competing this month in Beijing, 42% are female." But in addition to those women constrained by head-to-toe garments there is the small matter of countries like our friends in oil the Saudi Arabians, who fronted precisely zero females to participate in this Olympiad, the same as every year.

With typical restraint, they say Saudi Arabia is "opposed" to female athletes. Opposed sounds like George H.W. Bush's view on broccoli -- he was opposed to eating it, but others surely could. In S.A., there are no sports programs for women or girls, so their attitude toward women in sports would be better served by a woody word like "prohibit." Saudi Arabia prohibits female athletes. That is a true statement.

There is something hypocritical about dealing economically with a nation which oppresses its women, while claiming to fight wars elsewhere to liberate them. Early on in the Afghanistan invasion, one of the main justifications was to liberate women from those medieval Taliban who kept them under abayas. In their impotence, women can be exploited or ignored, as befits those in positions of power.

But the good news is, hijab-compatible sportswear is a growth industry. "Nike, Adidas AG and other sporting good companies are aggressively targeting [these] women athletes."

Always look on the bright side.

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Anonymous Labrys said...

Saudi Arabia is basically a feudal theocracy--feudal because of the tribal monarchy set up and theocratic because of the Wahabi fundamentalism. And we happily do business with them and defend them with our own blood if needed. Tibet WAS a feudal theocracy, but peaceful and out of the way until the start of the long-term rape by China. And we happily withdrew CIA funds for their resistance when Nixon made China our new best business buddy. We happily ignore the continued holocaust in Tibet.
Why are these two things related? Well, because the linkage is what one has that the other doesn't: OIL. We slap whitewash and rhetoric around, but really, all we care about is that Exxon Mobil and others get THEIRS.
Weasel is a insufficient word, my weasels have more moral imperative than the usual crop of words for this crap.

Thursday, August 28, 2008 at 11:36:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


No offence to your weasels. Weasel are as weasels do, but humans are supposed to transcend their inner weasels.

We commodify everything. A woman doesn't stack up favorably against glistening barrels of crude (or a few head of oxen, or an old yeller dog, for that matter.) Oh, but they sure can trot out the old girl's rights isues when they look to pick up a few votes from the other 50%.

Thursday, August 28, 2008 at 11:54:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Labrys the Slightly Larcenous said...

You notice that 'trotting out' thing, too? Holy cats...and here I thought it was a visual malfunction. Transcend my inner weasel? Damn...spoil ALL my fun, and just when I was going to find something fun to uh...borrow?

Thursday, August 28, 2008 at 1:09:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Oh, by all means, labrys -- playing a furtive weasel could be fun.

Just as long as you have your weasel coat on, and not your sheep's clothes.

Thursday, August 28, 2008 at 1:43:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

I've always suspected that places like Saudi are just willing to write into law what many of us Y-chromosome types believe but just won't say out loud. Or, in the words of SP4 Varney, U.S. Army medic and misogynist philosopher, circa 1987; "If women didn't have a pussy there'd be a bounty on 'em, like coyotes." Sometimes I think that we here in the relatively more gender-equal mainstream West forget the many, many other places that LOTS of the rulers (Kuwait, Salt Lake City) feel just like ol "Rockhead" Varney did.

There are things I am proud of as a man: my gender's treatment of women, in general, is not one of them.

And as labrys points out: commercial self-interest trumps "doing the right thing" nearly every time.

Thursday, August 28, 2008 at 2:54:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Labrys the Wolfish said...

No worries, Lisa...I am positively allergic to wool. No sheep's clothing for me! I do however EAT lamb and mutton!

Thursday, August 28, 2008 at 11:52:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


I feel this may be true: "places like Saudi are just willing to write into law what many of us Y-chromosome types believe but just won't say out loud"

I am quite sure the men around these parts would enjoy for their women to be hidden under an abaya, while they had full access to pornography or leering at those women who would bare some flesh.

I'm not a hardcore feminist, but it seems men's motivations are born of insecurity (keeping her ignorant and under lock-and-key) and anger. If a religious system, he feels guilt for slavering over the temptress, so he externalizes his guilt by giving a good stoning or worse.

In Christianity, women certainly fare no better. Woman is chattel, here to serve her mate. The insubordinate temptress Eve is to blame for the fall of man. Don't even consider Lilith.

Friday, August 29, 2008 at 4:41:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous fnord said...

lisa: Be very careful of equaling a hijab (basicaly a headscarf) with female opression. Theres a lot of 3.d generation educated strong muslim women over here who get really really pissed off when that position is taken. The shador and burkha are different issues.

Monday, September 1, 2008 at 8:08:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Thanks for the distinction.

As I said in the piece, the hijab + total body coverage looks restrictive to free movement in a sporting event, esp. in very hot weather. But the abaya, and as you say, the chador and burkha, are the symbols of female repression under Islamic fundamentalism.

In those cultures which are more forgiving, many women have the choice of wearing the hijab or not. It is not a compulsion, but a choice, and that seems the correct stance.

Monday, September 1, 2008 at 12:14:00 PM GMT-5  

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