In this article, a sociology student (!) in Liberia is organizing to stop a common practices: young women pressured to exchange sex for grades. Yes, this happens in the United States as well, as we discussed in class this week. It appears that it has not been publicized as a problem in sub-Saharan Africa until now:
This Cuban Hip Hop group is interesting: Remember the critique that many black women in the US have of white feminists, and so they prefer the term “womanist” to “feminist”? Check out this group’s discussion of this issue and how they are framing themselves:
Also a reminder of our discussion of communist countries attempting gender equality (and equality between races, in the case of Cuba).
In the article below author, Lochana Sharma, describes the cultural practices of several villages in the Western Region of Nepal near the Tibetan border. The men literally steal or abduct their wives which brings the men a sense of honor and pride. This article brings up the notion of cultural relevance. When should you intervene on someone’s cultural traditions? When (if ever) should the line be drawn in regards to telling another culture what they can or cannot do?
Below is the link:
Maggie Frelang’s article YouTube Star’s Video Ignites ‘Slut-Shaming’ Reaction , discusses how Youtube star Jenna Marbles’ (aka Jenna Mourey) recent video, “Things I Don’t Understand About Girls Part 2: Slut Edition” has resulted in a backlash from viewers for slut-shaming other girls.
Frelang reports that in the video Jenna discusses how she feels that while it is ultimately up to the women, sex should be between two individuals who are in love and committed to one another. She even likens monogamy to being more highly evolved. This has resulted in a backlash from the viewers who accuse Mourey of slut-shaming girls and judging them based upon standards of the past. Viewers commented that sexual activities of an individuals are nobody’s business, and have nothing to do with how respectful or good of a person a girl is. Not all comments were against Mourey’s stances, as many viewers agreed with her, and some even commented that the backlash must be coming from “sluts” themselves.
Response to Mourey’s video has also come in the form of other Youtuber’s response videos. Youtubers Laci Green and Franchesca Ramsey both criticized Marble’s video and its attack on women’s sexual freedom. Ramsey’s video and many viewer’s comments also connected the issue of slut-shaming with that of victim blaming in cases of sexual abuse. Frelang explains that victim-blaming often occurs in cases of sexual abuse, in which defendants try and find some aspect of the victim which led to their attack such as what they drank, wore, or said. This has resulted in a movement called “SlutWalk”, an annual event in which both men and women protest victim blaming and slut-shaming.
Frelang discusses how the internet and social media had provided individuals with the organizational tools to join together and form tactics to fight slut-shaming and victim-blaming. Social media is both the tool for perpetuation of and backlash against these issues, as individuals are reaching a sort of fame from the videos and blogs they post on the internet which gives their voices power. She concludes her article by including the remarks of one blogger, Melissa Fabello, on how individuals with a following online must accept responsibility for the messages they are perpetuating to those followers.
With these new found followings, do you agree that those who have a voice on the internet must assume responsibility and caution for the opinions they are putting out to their viewers? What’s your opinion on the topics of slut-shaming and victim blaming?
An Egyptian court upheld the guilty ruling against actor Adel Imam of “offending Islam.” The actor did not appear in court, but his lawyers made the claim that government censors had approved his roles, therefore he did nothing wrong. The decision can be appealed: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2012/04/24/world/middleeast/ap-ml-egypt-comedian.html?_r=1
Somalia is a small country in East Africa where female genital mutilation is widespread and consists of the most severe form of female circumcision. This violent act of removing the clitoris, or parts of it, has grown to be a public health issue because the practice has severe physical and mental health consequences for women. The custom has an ancient origin but there are many different reasons and rationales for its practice. These range from religion, to a rite of passage for womanhood, to the preservation of female chastity and purity. Given its complexity, there are no easy solutions for ending the practice. However, raising awareness outside of Somalia and urging all women to join together to effect change, is an important first step closer to helping the girls of Somalia.
Female genital mutilation exists in three forms of cutting. The first is known as Type 1 in which the the precipice, surrounding the clitoris is removed. Type 2 involves removal of the clitoris as well as parts of labia minora. Type 3 is known as Pharaonic circumcision, the most severe form, in which all exterior parts are removed and then closed by rejoining the cut edges of the labia. The practice of Pharaonic circumcision or infibulations is the most widespread practice in Somalia, and it has severe physical and psychological effects on the girls who undergo the procedure.
Some of the physical short term effects are pain, severe hemorrhage from clitoral artery, shock due to hemorrhage, and urinary retention (Ford). Long-term effects include the development of inclusion cysts, dysmenorrhea (painful cramps during menstruation), infertility, and painful intercourse. Furthermore, the vaginal areas of women with infibulations have to be re-opened for the first experience of sexual intercourse and for each birth. Afterward, they have to be restitched, leading to the formation of painful scar tissues as well as to difficulties with urination and menstruation.
The harmful physical effects are obvious but there are also negative psychological effects that these girls in Somalia face because of genital mutilation. Many may experience posttraumatic stress disorder or anxiety along with nightmares to haunt them for the rest of their lives. These girls are victims to a culture that labels women inferior and unworthy if not physically mutilated. Feelings of insecurity, helplessness, loneliness, and fear are just a few that girls will go through throughout their lifetime after being a victim to female genital mutilation.
Girls in Somalia may not accept that their worth is solely in their reproductive system, yet, they have no voice in their own country. Outsiders can help but first they must raise awareness, which can cause issues among the community itself for fear of devaluation in their customs. My Voice is a feminist organization at East Carolina University that focuses on equal rights for all women. They raise awareness on campus and reach out to the community with a goal to raise money for particular issues affecting women and minorities. By joining the club and speaking of the issues facing Somalia, the group can create awareness on campus and get members to fundraise money for the cause as well as getting more students involved.
Waris Dirie is a supermodel in the U.S. but is from Somalia. She has created a video to bring awareness to the horrors of Female Genital Mutilation. In her video, she addresses her personal experience with genital mutilation and explains how it changed her life forever. Dirie was a victim to this cruel act and she advocates stopping Female Genital Mutilation worldwide with her foundation called Desert Flower. By showing this video, we can create awareness and then the next step we need to take is to take action.
An active role we can play as ECU students after watching the film is to raise money for the Desert Flower foundation through My Voice organization. By raising money, we can help these girls in Somalia so that they can live a life free of fear from genital mutilation. ECU students, like many, say they are too busy to help because of homework, exams, and work. My response to these students: there will always be work and things one must do, but if we do not help give a voice to these girls, we have already failed as human beings. We need to push our negative thoughts to the side and fight for equality for these girls so that they may one day have a positive future like Waris Dirie.
Dalia Sofer recreates her heartbreaking childhood story illustrating the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution in her novel, The Septembers of Shiraz. Sofer’s story is inspired by her own childhood story and takes place in the 1980’s in the United States, after her family emigrated from Iran. The Sofer’s story portrays the emotional torment and distress that the Iranian Revolution caused families during this time to undergo, as well as the consequences such distress had on relationships between family and friends. Isaac Amin, the father in the book that is inspired by Sofer’s father, is arrested and imprisoned after being falsely accused of being a spy. As a result of the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution and Amin being incorrectly incarcerated, Amin’s family encounters emotional torment and distress as they search for Isaac in an attempt to restore his status. The Iranian Revolution and the events that took place allowed the Sofer’s to show their true loyalty for each other.
Farnaz is the first family member that illustrates her loyalty to her family. Isaac Amin is a Jewish rare-gem dealer in Tehran. After the fall of the Shah of Iran, many people are wrongly accused of pursuing activity that the government does not allow people to partake in. Although the armed workers of the prison beat Amin and his fellow inmates in order to get them to confess such activity, few inmates became willing to reveal anything. Unfortunately, Amin is caught between a rock and a hard place because he has nothing to confess. As Amin undergoes his own personal struggle while in prison, his wife, Farnaz, struggles with shielding the harsh truth from their children, showing the love and loyalty she has for them by keeping such sad news about their father from them.
Secondly, other family members also show the loyalty they have for their family. Being as The Septembers of Shiraz tells of the author’s own story, many things are revealed about Dalia Sofer throughout the text. Some of these aspects about Sofer include her exploration of loss and loyalty throughout the harsh situations that she and her family encounter on their journey. Although Farnaz attempts to keep the truth about Isaac Amin private from Shirin, the character who represents Sofer, she also has another son that lives away from home who struggles with what his father is experiencing. Each member of the family struggles with issues of loyalty because all they had throughout their struggle was each other. Much of the community stood their distance from them because of the accusations held against Amin, so they each had to stay loyal to one another and understand that Isaac did nothing wrong.
Specific situations that reveal characteristics of loyalty about Sofer and her family include when Farnaz goes to the prison in search of Isaac, and when Sharin attempts to save people who have been falsely accused by making their files “disappear”. As Farnaz and Habibeh enter the prison together to search for Isaac, they are nastily greeted by guards who are not very willing to release any information to her, including a guard with a “black beard so thick that it darkens the entire southern hemisphere of his face” and a “rifle hanging from his shoulder” (72). Despite the terrifying sight, Farnaz continues to ask questions in order to find out where Isaac really is, no matter the consequences. Typically, anyone that came to the prison searching for answers was immediately turned away, or imprisoned themselves. Farnaz was not imprisoned, and some of her questions were answered. The courage it took for Farnaz to enter such a terrifying place, knowing full well that she may not ever leave, shows the loyalty the Amin family had for each other during this hard time.
A belief spoken of in the novel is that “if you withhold information in order to protect someone, God won’t punish you” (94). Sharin seems to constantly be thinking about this, especially when she goes into the armoire to make some of the files disappear. Sharin is aware that the men who are listed in the files are “destined to disappear” and her loyalty towards her father is reflected in her act of attempting to save as many people as she can (95). Sharin knows that even if she could only “make one file disappear; she could be saving one man’s life” (95).
These instances portray the testament of loyalty that the Amin family exudes for each other in the story. I predict that by the end of the book, the family becomes closer from going through these struggles and is able to overcome even the most difficult of obstacles.
On Monday, April 18, 2011 the Ethnic Studies Program hosted a film showing of the film Amreeka. Amreeka is the story of an immigrant family’s journey to the US and their introduction to American culture. It also a continuation of their lesson in raw prejudice. Amreeka first deals with problems that many immigrants to US struggle with upon coming to America. Firstly, the audience sees the family, a mother and son, Muna and Fadi dealing with immigrating to America in a post-9/11 world. It is most important to understand that because living in and trying to get into a post 9/11 America is very difficult for most Americans and people of other countries, particularly those who were from the Middle East, were of the Muslim faith or were of Middle Eastern descent. However, the scene where they and their goods are being examined should be regarded with caution. It is easy to say that they are being questioned and searched because they are not only foreigners but also Middle Eastern. However, the counterargument to that is that they being searched because they are foreigners entering the US and that their particular race and presumed religious ideologies have nothing to do with their examination. In fact, as we later learn, the family is actually Christian. Not Muslim. In the beginning of the film, when the mother and son are finally settled into the home of their family, they must immediately deal with money problems. Unbeknownst to him, Fadi allowed the airport security to take away a tin of cookies containing $2,500 dollars, all the money his mother had. Fortunately, her brother, had given Fadi $200 dollars, so they at least had some money with them. Also, Fadi and Muna deal with American culture. Another family member takes stock of Fadi’s clothes and notes that he wears particular clothing, he will be considered “F.O.B.” or “Fresh Off the Boat”, meaning it will become immediately obvious that he is an immigrant because of his older attire. Quickly, Muna and Fadi attempt to ameliorate their attire. Also, Muna experiences feelings of discomfort with her body type. Fadi deals with being a new school and the education system of the US. Also, Fadi is bullied by members of his class, who are not accepting of him because of his Middle Eastern heritage. Also, it is noted that these boys have family members in the military who are in Iraq. During the setting of this movie, the U.S. invasion of Iraq has just begun. The family also deals with discrimination in finding jobs because Muna’s ethnicity, even though she is not Muslim. She is well educated with 10 years of work experience in a bank but she is forced to take a job at a White Castle restaurant. This is a point of humiliation for her, being both a proud immigrant and an educated woman. Also, Muna and Fadi deal with language barriers as they navigate American culture. Colloquialisms are difficult for them to understand. Also, Fadi tries smoking “Mary Jane” and gets into a fight with a classmate over causing his mother’s slip and fall at work and is later arrested, briefly detained and unrealistically released after some bargaining with a Jewish principal who befriends them despite the “serious allegations” against him. Muna also gets suckered into trying raise money for herself with one of America’s many weight loss scam products, “HerbalLose”. Not only is Muna dealing with being an immigrant, she is also dealing with being a divorcee. At the end of the novel, it is clear that Muna and the Jewish principal may have chemistry between the two of them. As Muna notes “We are a minority there (Christians) and a minority here (Middle Easterners).”
This movie is far from being the best movie to handle such an intense and thick debate but it works because it’s easy to follow and sends to message to audience. It does however reinforce and create new stereotypes as it crushes others. For instance, the whites in the film are racist. Members of the military (or at least their family members) have problems with Muslims, Middle Easterners and others not like them and they are so ignorant they cannot even spell names of terrorist organizations correctly. Also, the black boy who is in a relationship with Fadi’s outspoken female cousin, dresses in “ghetto” or “gangsta” clothing, smokes weed, listens to rap, and skips school and seems generally disinterested in school. This movie also has a nice, clean and “happy” ending with a Jewish man and a Middle Eastern family coming together and having dinner together. While not entirely unrealistic, it was certainly corny. The same is true with the husband’s medical practice failing because of uncomfortable patients changing to practices without Middle Eastern doctors. Also, Muna decides that she does not need to diet and is happy with her body. Again, while not unrealistic, that conclusion is much to neat and sudden for film, where even the pre-America scenes showed Muna unhappy with her body type and yet suddenly, in the last minutes of the film she expresses a love of her body.
This article from the BBC details a the Malaysian Women’s Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil’s response to a camp that claims to “un-gay” young Muslim boys. She maintains that characterizing these supposedly effeminate teenage boys as gay or transsexual, and then attempting to “correct” their behavior will be detrimental to their mental and emotional health.
Though this is the first time I’ve heard about any Muslim attempts at “curing” perceived homosexuality, it is definitely not the first of its kind, as we have such camps and programs here in the United States, and unfortunately they also exist in Europe (and I’m sure the rest of the world as well).
This link gives a detailed description about the rhetoric surrounding the banning of the veil in France from the perspective of a female protester and a French Imam. The female protester believes that women should have the right to express their personal identity in what they wear; whereas, the Imam protests that the veil is not a part of Islam and that individuals should not wear a veil since it is not written in the Quran. The Imam views the veil as being oppressive to women and as representing Al-Qaeda.