Why Veena Malik’s Smackdown of an Egyptian Mullah was a Seminal Moment for Feminism

Two days ago, Allahpundit picked up the story of gorgeous Pakistani actress, Veena Malik, courageously going off on an Egyptian Mullah who accused her of “immorality” because he didn’t approve of her appearance, or the fact that that she appeared on an Indian equivalent of the television show Big Brother. Jonah Goldberg was the first major blogger to report on this story, and it has been all over the right-wing blogosphere ever since. So, what makes this a possible seminal moment for feminism instead of just another viral video? Well…several things.

First of all, the liberal mainstream media has hardly been chomping at the bit to report any story regarding Islamic violence towards women. For example, when Time magazine featured a cover with a picture of a woman whose face had been disfigured by the Taliban, The New York Times called it “war porn” (see the image below).

Furthermore, when an Iranian woman was sentenced to be stoned to death last summer, and when a fourteen year old Bangladeshi girl was recently lashed to death for being raped by her cousin, you could pretty much hear crickets from the MSM because those were pesky, politically incorrect stories that didn’t fit their multicultural narrative. (Not to mention, you probably won’t hear that much about the woman who was recently raped by Gaddafi’s thugs in Libya either.)

Second of all, liberals seem to have an overwhelming tendency to downplay Islamic abuses towards women (as well as towards gays) under the guise of multiculturalism. Don’t believe me? Well, then I suggest that you read the column by liberal Boston Globe columnist Susan Jacoby where she asks the question, “Why are liberals excusing religious abuses on grounds of cultural relativism?” To be specific, Jocoby makes some great points when she writes the following:

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The latest example of the Left’s blind spot on this issue is the antagonism of so many liberal reviewers toward Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s recent memoir, Nomad. The Somali-born Hirsi Ali immigrated to the United States in 2006 after her close friend, the Dutch film director Theo Van Gogh, was murdered by a radical Islamist. Hirsi Ali still needs bodyguards because of frequent death threats.

She was educated as a child in Muslim schools, subjected to genital mutilation, and broke with her family when she refused to consent to an arranged marriage. She first settled in Holland, where she worked as a Somali-Dutch interpreter, and her convictions about violence in many (though not, she emphasizes, all) Muslim families are rooted in her work with immigrants as well as her own upbringing. Yet Nicholas D. Kristof, reviewing Nomad for The New York Times Book Review, writes that “I couldn’t help thinking that perhaps Hirsi Ali’s family is dysfunctional simply because its members never learned to bite their tongues and just say to one another: ‘I love you.'”

I was startled by this patronizing comment, because I admire Kristof for being one of the few male columnists who writes frequently about violence against women. Somehow, “I love you” isn’t the first thing that would come to mind if I were being held down by female relatives while my clitoris was maimed or if my father told me I had to marry a stranger.

Moreover, Jacoby really finished off her column with a bang when she shared the following anecdote:

An 80-year-old friend of mine — a woman of forceful intellect who used to teach Renaissance history — now lives in a Florida retirement community where many of the part-time staff are teenaged children of recent Afghan immigrants. When my friend saw one of her favorite young Afghan-American women — a high school senior — weeping in the dining room, she asked what was wrong. “Oh, madam professor,” the girl replied, “my father has arranged for me to meet my future husband. He is 40 years old, and the wedding will take place in six months. I wanted so much to go to college, and this will not be permitted.

My friend replied gently, “You know, Yasmin, you don’t have to marry anyone in this country because your parents say so. There are organizations to help girls like you think these things through. There are college scholarships. I can give you the names of people to talk to.” Another resident of this community sharply reproved my friend, saying, “We have no right to interfere with her culture, her religion, her family,”

Wrong. This type of “interference” — telling a troubled young woman that she has choices other than an arranged marriage — is exactly what a true liberal ought to be doing. The idea that someone should ignore the tears of a 17-year-old who says she is being pushed to give up her education is utterly perverse.

Now, if you still aren’t satisfied, here is another example of liberal moral relativism with regard to radical Islam’s abuses towards women (as well as gays). Da Tech Guy wrote an excellent column titled, “You can tell a lot about a person by what they bold when quoting”. First, Da Tech guy demonstrated what liberal blogger, Matthew Yglesias, thought was important enough to put in bold type when he quoted Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s writings in her New York Times column about the Egyptian revolution:

I’ll tell you why: because Islam is the new fascism. Just like Nazism started with Hitler’s vision, the Islamic vision is a caliphate – a society ruled by Sharia law – in which women who have sex before marriage are stoned to death, homosexuals are beaten, and apostates like me are killed. Sharia law is as inimical to liberal democracy as Nazism. Young Muslims need to be persuaded that the vision of the Prophet Mohammed is a bad one, and you aren’t going to get that in Islamic faith schools.

Next, Da Tech re-pastes the exact same quote from the exact same column, but puts in bold type what he finds to be important in Ms. Ali’s column:

I’ll tell you why: because Islam is the new fascism. Just like Nazism started with Hitler’s vision, the Islamic vision is a caliphate – a society ruled by Sharia law – in which women who have sex before marriage are stoned to death, homosexuals are beaten, and apostates like me are killed. Sharia law is as inimical to liberal democracy as Nazism. Young Muslims need to be persuaded that the vision of the Prophet Mohammed is a bad one, and you aren’t going to get that in Islamic faith schools.

Nifty little trick ain’t it? Furthermore, it’s pretty telling that Mr. Yglesias found Ms. Ali’s supposed “intolerance” to be the most bothersome part of that passage, whereas the rest of us find the whole stoning of women and beating of gays to the most troublesome part. (Oh, but best not to mention that politically incorrect line, because then you have just officially sinned on the liberal alter of multiculturalism.)

And finally, the ultimate examples of liberals downplaying the Islamic abuses of women are Naomi Wolf writing a column about how sexy the burka is, and Amanda Marcotte (she of “Godbag Christofascist” fame) writing that the traditional Western wedding is comparable in misogynist tradition to female genital mutilation. (I’m not kidding.)

Now, the third and final reason why Veena Malik’s smackdown of an Egyptian cleric is a seminal moment for feminism is because the liberal MSM tends not to air the voices of Muslim women who don’t parrot their talking points. For instance, during the Ground Zero Mosque brouhaha, moderate Mulsim, Neda Bolourchi (whose mother was killed in 9/11), wrote a column in The Washington Post titled, “Build Your Mosque Somewhere Else”–needless to say, she was never invited on any MSM outlets/talk-shows. Not to mention, the liberal MSM has hardly rolled out the welcome wagon for Ayaan Hirsi Ali either. Furthermore, when moderate Muslim, Raheel Raza, was speaking out against the Ground Zero Mosque and calling it “a slap in the face to all Americans”, only conservative talk show hosts, like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, would have her on as a guest.

So, when a Muslim woman from a Muslim country feels free to, you know, actually speak her mind without the threat of stoning when attacked by a real misogynist for her appearance, does she talk about how awful the “Godbag Christofascists” are…or how much better FGM is to endure than a wedding ceremony…or how sexy the burka is…or how racist America is for not wanting the Ground Zero Mosque? Well, not exactly. When Veena Malik gets really fired up at around 3:00 into the embed below, she let’s loose about how people are “killing in the name of Islam”, how the politicians in Pakistan are “committing murder, bribery and theft”, and how clerics are “raping children in the mosques in Pakistan”. Then, Ms. Malik really handed that cleric his arse when she told him that “Pakistan is infamous for many reasons other than Veena Malik”. In other words, she looked like she had absolutely no interest in donning a burka, but a lot of interest in her country not being overrun by true misogyny, corruption and violence.

In conclusion, I think that David Frum hit it out of the park in his excellent column titled, “Feminists need to admit that Western men are not the enemy”, when he wrote the following:

A generation ago, feminists could romanticize non-Western misogyny from a safe distance. In 1984, the Australian feminist Germaine Greer published a book, Sex and Destiny, denouncing birth control as a Western plot against Third World women. But since the 1980s, a great movement of populations has erased the distinction between the First World and the Third. Europe now receives more immigrants than does the United States. European cities are now crowded with hijabs and burkas. European police investigate honour killings. European hospitals confront female genital mutilations.

And these things all happen in North America, too, albeit to a lesser degree.

On this 100th International Women’s Day, the challenge for feminists has become both imperative and anguishing: Will they argue forever against American television sitcoms of the 1950s — or are they morally and intellectually capable of recognizing the dangers to women’s aspirations in the 21st century? Can they transcend their inherited ideology, and recognize that the best and only guarantee of women’s equality is Western liberal democratic capitalism? Will they accept critics of Third World misogyny — such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Irshad Manji — into the pantheon of feminism along with Mary Wollstonecraft, Susan B. Anthony and Simone de Beauvoir? Can they perceive that the people who would destroy Israel hate women even more than they hate Jews?

In short, can they accept that the irony of history has reoriented feminism into a fundamentally conservative movement? Or will their inherited ideological prejudices entrap them forever in a vanished world — dooming feminism to obsolescence and subjecting the dwindling rights of women to the aggressions of “multiculturalism”?

In other words, those nasty “Godbag Christofascists” aren’t the ones trying to suppress the rights of women all over the world; however, radical and fundamentalist Muslim clerics, like the one yelling at Veena Malik, are. Someone needed to finally get angry and say–nay, shout–what everyone (except the liberal MSM) has known to be true for a long time.

Thank you Veena Malik for having the courage and forbearance–even in the face of death threats–to shout out the truth.

Cross-posted from Parcbench, The Minority Report and The Green Room.

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