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Femen and culture

August 18, 2013

FemenPostageMarkCulture has long claws. The western nations like to think themselves modern, and free of the false myths of the past. We’re not. As example, even today, Lost Cause rhetoric affects American politics. So I understand the complaint — aimed particularly at Femen — that feminism, as a movement born in the west, may in some ways seem irrelevant to the cultures in which many women live. And even make their own political efforts more difficult.

There is a rebuttal. Women and men cannot be equal under a religion or culture that demands their separation. The hijab is not just a matter of each individual woman choosing her preferred dress, but part of a larger set of customs, that includes separate doors to mosques, men only as religious leaders, segregation in many public aspects of life, law that particularly punishes women for sex outside marriage, and a whole host of other oppressive structures. It may be that a version of Islam will evolve that is not a tool of male domination. Until such becomes common, it makes no sense to say “take aim at male supremacy, not Islam.” Because Islam is so much about male supremacy.

That same conflict will make it difficult, likely impossible, to create a Mormon feminism. The notion of equality is not compatible with every religion and every tradition.

France has chosen a new Marianne based on Femen founder Inna Shevchenko. Needless to say, France’s right wing is pissed. But wouldn’t any righteous Marianne upset the right wing?

The North Carolina legislature, reacting to Femen-like protests in their state, have proposed a law that would jail topless protesters up to six months.

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