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Sep 8, 2009

Clive James gets it wrong on feminists, Muslims, Australians, you name it

Clive James has joined the chorus of voices railing against both Islam and Western feminists, in an article that champions two Australian “dissidents” -- Pamela Bone and Helen Garner, writes Shakira Hussein.

Clive James has joined the chorus of voices railing against both Islam and Western feminists, in an article that champions two Australian “dissidents” — Pamela Bone and Helen Garner. In the case of the late Pamela Bone, my personal experience gives me a very different take to his. And in the case of Helen Garner, he seems to have been living in an entirely different universe.

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2 thoughts on “Clive James gets it wrong on feminists, Muslims, Australians, you name it

  1. acannon

    Genital mutilation, flogging, honour killings are not just feminist issues – they’re human rights offences. As such, it is not only the responsibility of feminists to speak out on these issues. Organisations such as Amnesty do run relevant campaigns.

    James seems to be of the opinion that it is only womens’ job to speak up and act against these things: “I never wanted to publish this essay, or even to make much more than a start on writing it. I wanted women to do the job”. I think it’s even more critical that feminist MEN act on their beliefs, given that honour killings are largely carried out by men who are more likely to value the opinions of another man.

    I confess my eyes glazed over as I was attempting to read James’ article, so I’m not really doing his (or your) argument justice. But I do think there is some truth in the idea that many consider “the West …the only criminal”. I find people often use the excuse “oh, it’s cultural” when discussing practices in other cultures – i.e. what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’ depends on where you are from. Not so much for issues such as genital mutilation, but in general we’re hesitant to criticise someone else’s culture – maybe because as Westerners we have such a bad history of stomping in and crushing everyone elses’ ways of doing things.

    There are many religious/cultural practices that I view as unfeminist – in short, any that have different rules for men and women. For example, I don’t think Muslim women should have to wear a scarf or hijab. In the present political climate, however, I think many Muslim women would wear one simply as a symbol of pride for their culture, regardless of any religious requirements. So I don’t want to just lob in and start saying “this isn’t fair”. How do you start such dialogues without just getting everyone on the defensive?

  2. Irfan Yusuf

    So Clive James thinks only women should talk about violence against women? He obviously doesn’t understand why so many blokes wear White Ribbons in November each year.

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