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Femen's Neocolonial Feminism: When Nudity Becomes a Uniform

Femen's Neocolonial Feminism: When Nudity Becomes a Uniform
In November 2011, Egyptian blogger Alia al-Mahdi sent shockwaves through the online Middle Eastern community after she uploaded a naked picture of herself. Al-Mahdi claimed that she was challenging Egyptian patriarchal structures in general, and the negative views of women as simple sex objects in particular. Interestingly, Egyptian self-identified liberals and secular activists were the first to disown Alia and her photo, denouncing it even before more conservative factions such as the Muslim Brotherhood did. They claimed that it was pointless, and did immense harm to the liberal/secular cause in Egypt, especially with parliamentary elections coming up. Much of the debate also centered on the issue of feminism and women’s rights. After receiving death threats, al-Mahdi and her partner Kareem Amer had to leave Egypt. In collaborating with Femen, al-Mahdi is essentially normalizing certain problematic discourses about Egyptian women. According to their website:

International Boulevard - The Fast-Food Feminism of the Topless Femen Blond young women stripping off their shirts to protest for...women's rights. Le Monde Diplomatique's Mona Chollet reviews the purportedly feminist protest group called the Femen, finding little evidence of feminism and a budding affinity with France's anti-Muslim right. Amina Tyler, Alia el Mahdi and other young Femen of the Arab Spring would do well to have a second look at their Ukrainian mentors, she suggests. "Covering women's bodies seems to give Muslims a sense of virility, while Westerners derive their own from uncovering them", writes Moroccan essayist Fatema Mernissi in Scheherazade Goes West. So much for the thousands of women who have the poor taste to fight for their rights while fully clothed, or to put on a show that does not conform with the dominant standards of youth, slimness, beauty and bodily firmness. If you show your boobs, I'll come back with the photographer Women: do you want to make yourselves heard? The Femen on the other hand were more pragmatic. Pop feminism

Protecting White Kids From History By Guest Contributor T.F. Charlton; originally published at Are Women Human? Content Notes: racist violence, slavery, infanticide, Japanese internment. So, this is a thing: a white parent has spent 6 months trying to get the Fairfax County,Virginia school system to ban Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved from its schools. Laura Murphy, the book-banning mom in question, has apparently also tried to get Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Joy Kogawa’s Obasan, a novel about the Canadian government’s internment of Japanese-Canadians during World War II, removed from the county curriculum. There’s so much one could say about this. Firstly: Yes, Beloved is a deeply disturbing book, no doubt about that. Kimberly Elise, Oprah Winfrey, and Thandie Newton inBeloved. I’ve read a good portion of Beloved, but have never finished it, because I was strongly advised that it wasn’t a book I wanted to read while I was pregnant (I believe my friend’s exact words were “STOP READING IT RIGHT NOW”). As Prof.

On the Nature of Gaffes | Roopika Risam Gaffe, n. an unintentional act or remark causing embarrassment to its originator; a blunder (Google) For the past 24 hours, members of the Emory community and academics on Twitter have been lighting up social media with outrage and critical conversations about remarks made by Emory University’s president in a column called “As American as … Compromise.” Writing about the cuts to Emory’s academic programs last fall, President James Wagner invokes the 3/5ths compromise as a decision necessary to “form a more perfect union.” Analogously, it seems, the Emory cuts were an imperfect compromise made to form a more perfect university. My colleague Tressie McMillan Cottom has provided thoroughgoing analysis of the problematic assumptions in Wagner’s essay. A number of other responses are worth a read as well. In political discourse, gaffes are common forms of utterance. The implications of Wagner’s column and response are sobering.

Book Review | Wild Girls Wicked Words Updated: Sat, Mar 16 2013. 01 31 PM IST Wild Girls Wicked Words | Edited and translated by Lakshmi Holmström Verse on fire Every year around 8 March, the world sketches a tribute to women. A whole decade ago in Tamil Nadu, there was widespread outrage in literary circles at the publication of Kutti Revathi’s book of poems, Mulaigal (Breasts). Ah, that trusty debating strategy used by men in times of social upheaval: kerosene (see also: acid). That these women continued to write undeterred by threats says much more for their individual courage and perseverance than it does for society as a whole. Wild Girls Wicked Words, translated and edited by Holmström, ironically references the indignation of the literary establishment in Tamil Nadu. The poems are about the things you might expect—the bodies of women, the relationship of women with their lovers, their children; and about landscape, so intimately tied to the idea of poetry in Tamil literature since the earliest Sangam poetry.

Put Your Shirts Back On, Ladies - By Naheed Mustafa The other day, I was sitting around thinking about all the women who are trying to bring real change to the world. They wade into politics; they try to change attitudes; many fight hard to change laws and customs despite the real threat of violence -- maybe even death. These are women plainly not accepted as being equal partners in the enterprise of nation-building. Yet they persevere and insist on doing the tough work. But, it occurs to me that maybe if those women had simply taken a page from Femen's how-to manual, they might have met their goals much sooner. What's that? And come on, Shirin Ebadi. Femen -- a Ukrainian group that "empowers" women through breast-focused action (Femen/feminist -- get it?) Look how well it has worked out for the young Tunisian woman who decided a topless protest was the best way to go. Let's say, for the sake of argument, Femen's point is precisely about attracting attention -- using women's bodies as a way to sell an idea (how novel). Look, I get it.

Susan Faludi: How Shulamith Firestone Shaped Feminism When Shulamith Firestone’s body was found late last August, in her studio apartment on the fifth floor of a tenement walkup on East Tenth Street, she had been dead for some days. She was sixty-seven, and she had battled schizophrenia for decades, surviving on public assistance. There was no food in the apartment, and one theory is that Firestone starved, though no autopsy was conducted, by preference of her Orthodox Jewish family. Such a solitary demise would have been unimaginable to anyone who knew Firestone in the late nineteen-sixties, when she was at the epicenter of the radical-feminist movement, surrounded by some of the same women who, a month after her death, gathered in St. The memorial service verged on radical-feminist revival. She could not read. Clearly, something terrible had happened to Firestone, but it was not her despair alone that led Millett to choose this passage. Few were as radical, or as audacious, as Shulamith Firestone. The chairman skipped over it.

Saudi Arabia Domestic Violence Ad The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will reportedly see its first-ever anti-domestic violence advertisement, which is intended to encourage women to report abuse. The ad is part of the No More Abuse campaign, begun by the country’s King Khalid Foundation. According to the No More Abuse site, “The phenomenon of battered women in Saudi Arabia is much greater than is apparent on the surface,” it says. “It is a phenomenon found in the dark. We want to achieve justice for all women and children exposed to abuse in all parts of the Kingdom.” It’s a watershed moment for the nation, which is known for its gender inequalities. In fact, Saudi authorities use SMS to keep tabs on female citizens and report their whereabouts to their guardians. Rates of abuse are difficult to determine in the country, because much like the U.S. or other countries, domestic violence often goes unreported. What effect these ads will have on Saudi women is yet to be determined.

Border choreography, bare bodies, and penal states May 3, 2013 by stuartelden A commentary from Sutapa Chattopadhyay, Assistant Professor at Maastricht University, School of Governance, and a visiting scholar at United Nations University (UNU-Merit). […] no matter how high the wall there is no wall high enough to block off migration (Houtum, 2010:973) Historically, colonial settlers followed ‘divide and rule’ strategies to carve up the world based on resources, ignoring native socio-economic and cultural linkages to their lands. Continue reading here. Like this: Like Loading... Seema Jilani: My Racist Encounter at the White House Correspondents' Dinner The faux red carpet had been laid out for the famous and the wannabe-famous. Politicians and journalists arrived at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, bedazzled in the hopes of basking in a few fleeting moments of fame, even if only by osmosis from proximity to celebrities. New to the Washington scene, I was to experience the spectacle with my husband, a journalist, and enjoy an evening out. As I left the hotel and my husband went to the ballroom for the dinner, I realized he still had my keys. Then something remarkable happened. When I asked "Why did you lie to me, sir?" Like a malignancy, it had crept in when I least expected it -- this repugnant, infectious bigotry we have become so accustomed to. When I asked why the security representatives offered to personally escort white women without tickets downstairs while they watched me flounder, why they threatened to call the Secret Service on me, I was told, "We have to be extra careful with you all after the Boston bombings."

Can watching a couple of Rihanna videos really turn a girl into a knicker-dropping strumpet? Teen sex is catching. According to politicians, we are suffering from an epidemic of promiscuity which is turning our young women into knicker-dropping teen strumpets before our very eyes. "Sexualisation" is the favourite term of reference for this process - and it’s a curious, toxic word. The language of ‘sexualisation’ as employed by professional pearl-clutchers like Claire Perry MP implicitly assumes that sex is only, and always, something done to women and girls rather than something we do ourselves - a logic by which we can only ever be sex objects. "The teenage girl," as Naomi Wolf observed in her book Promiscuities, "is understood more clearly as a victim of culture and sexuality than as a sexual and cultural creator." According to the ‘sexualisation’ logic, a young girl merely has to leaf through a contraband copy of Cosmopolitan or stumble on a Rhianna video on Youtube and wham, that’s it, sexualised. An incredible thing has happened.

'Racism' of early colour photography explored in art exhibition | Art and design Can the camera be racist? The question is explored in an exhibition that reflects on how Polaroid built an efficient tool for South Africa's apartheid regime to photograph and police black people. The London-based artists Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin spent a month in South Africa taking pictures on decades-old film that had been engineered with only white faces in mind. They used Polaroid's vintage ID-2 camera, which had a "boost" button to increase the flash – enabling it to be used to photograph black people for the notorious passbooks, or "dompas", that allowed the state to control their movements. The result was raw snaps of some of the country's most beautiful flora and fauna from regions such as the Garden Route and the Karoo, an attempt by the artists to subvert what they say was the camera's original, sinister intent. The artists feel certain that the ID-2 camera and its boost button were Polaroid's answer to South Africa's very specific need.

Tiqqun #2, “Sonogram of a Potential” « caring labor: an archive “Sonogram of a Potential” [echographie d'une puissance] Tiqqun #2 [PDF] What hinges on something defends it. Italian Proverb. When I was born, my mother still didn’t know what gender her child was. A nurse came into the room she was lying in, half asleep after a long labor, and said to her: “Madam, you have suffered a disgrace. That’s how she was told of my birth. F., born in Naples, 1975 I would have liked not to have to write this text. But I didn’t, since I no longer believe what’s been said about me; I needed a text written in many voices, a shared kind of writing that would bring to life a sexualization with no prudishness, one that would tell it like it is, denature it, open it up like a sealed box, bringing it out of the cloister of the “private” and “intimate” to subject it to the intensity of politics. I wanted a text that wouldn’t cry, that wouldn’t vomit sentences, that wouldn’t give premature answers just to make itself look unquestionable. A sonogram is an abusive operation. I see.

Women in Paris finally allowed to wear trousers On January 31, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, France's minister of women's rights, made it officially impossible to arrest a woman for wearing trousers in the French capital. The law was kept in place until now, despite repeated attempts to repeal it, in part because officials said the unenforced rule was not a priority, and part of French "legal archaeology." In July however, in a public request directed at Ms Vallaud-Belkacem, Alain Houpert, a senator and member of the conservative UMP party, said the "symbolic importance" of the law "could injure our modern sensibilities," and he asked the minister to repeal it. Ms Vallaud-Belkacem agreed, and in a published statement on Jan. 31st wrote: "This ordinance is incompatible with the principles of equality between women and men, which are listed in the Constitution, and in France's European commitments. "From that incompatibility follows the implicit abrogation of the ordinance."