Canadian feminist delivers good third world rant.
October 3, 2001 7:27 PM   Subscribe

Canadian feminist delivers good third world rant. Problem being that, the last time anyone checked, Canada was part of the First World. How far did she have to reach to find solidarity with the Taliban?
posted by MAYORBOB (20 comments total)
Monday she said women will never be emancipated until the U.S. and the West stop dominating the world.

Yes, because an "Eastern-led" world would surely level the playing field for women.
posted by glenwood at 7:38 PM on October 3, 2001

FYI, Professor Thobani isn't Canadian. And she and Hedy Fry have a long history of butting heads, re: feminist issues, which I think is why she is being castigated in the media for her remarks.
posted by kristin at 7:43 PM on October 3, 2001

I suppose she has every right to say what she wants, this is the nature of free speech. She should note though that it is western society which has given her the podium.

I also find it funny that the secretary of state in Canada is getting i hot water for NOT saying anything, i.e.:

Her comments caused a political uproar, with opposition MPs condemning Secretary of State Hedy Fry for sitting silently as Thobani spoke. MPs called on the government to fire Fry, charging that she should have immediately condemned Thobani's statements.

Condemned for "sitting silently"? and

"She should apologize to Canadians and our American cousins for not condemning these comments and walking out on this insulting and inflammatory speech"

Freedom of speech means not having to speak as well. More often politicians can't shut up.
posted by phatboy at 7:45 PM on October 3, 2001

> FYI, Professor Thobani isn't Canadian

How long does she have to live here before she counts as Canadian?
posted by sylloge at 8:49 PM on October 3, 2001

sylloge - presumably as long as all of us Canadians living in the US have to wait before we count as Americans...

However, whether she's Canadian or not hardly matters. I wonder what she has to say about the majority of the still-missing being non-Americans. Following Ms. Thobani's logic, they deserved it for being in the US!

However, we can chalk all this brouhaha down to a career politician who is trying to cash in on the surprisingly strong anti-americanism of the Canadian Left. Evidently Ms. Thobani has chosen to gloss over the real reasons behind the terrorist attacks and then gone right back to her pet cause. Who says that a person's misfortune (or around 7000 people's) can't be another's blessing? The NAC fundraising drive is evidently back on track.

Sadly, making patently offensive speeches has become one sure-fire way of garnering publicity these days, a fact not lost by a good number of people on both the extremes of the political spectrum. As for the secretary of state, she is but another Liberal pawn in the commons -- a pale stand-in for the machine politicians in the proverbial "smoke-filled back rooms" of the Liberal party.
posted by clevershark at 9:13 PM on October 3, 2001

"How long does she have to live here before she counts as Canadian?"

I guess my point is, or was, that she is someone who has experienced life both within, and outside of western industrialized society (western society being loosely defined as Canada, the US, and the UK, which are the countries she attended school in), which to me, makes her perspective interesting to hear.

In my experience, people with backgrounds like hers, who come to North America from less privileged countries, are often expected to just shut up and be grateful - there is the assumption that they have no 'right' to point out the inherent flaws of western culture and are expected only to extol its virtues, even though, as immigrants, their perspective may offer a more truthful viewpoint of this society than those that have been immersed in it their whole lives.
posted by kristin at 9:58 PM on October 3, 2001

kristin: There are people who have had that kind of mixed background who are interesting to hear, and there are people who are delusional and who might be interesting if they were sane. Anyone who thinks that women in the Western world don't have it better than any women in any non-matriarchal society in history is clearly in the latter category.

I'm not claiming that the situation here is perfect by any stretch. But one can easily point to any number of metrics (income, education, sexual freedom, employment freedom, simple human rights like the ability to walk around without a veil and chose their own husbands) where Western women have it all over any women in modern history with the exception of a small number of matriarchal Native American societies, all of which are extinct. So... sure, if she wants to go back to forced marriage (which most Asian and African women must endure) and lack of the rights to vote and work (like many Arabic women) then she's welcome to. But that still doesn't make her interesting. Just delusional.
posted by louie at 10:18 PM on October 3, 2001

Dumb question: The article keeps referring to "opposition MPs". What is an MP?
posted by Potsy at 10:51 PM on October 3, 2001

I don't know why this should be offensive to anybody. This woman is not an idiot, she has seen astrocities (sp!) first-hand, she can speak. In Canada freedom of speech, any speech, is held very dear to hear. She did not attack the american people, and empathized with the victims of these events, she attacked US Foreign Policy. She is not cashing in on the attacks, she is speaking as she always has. The premise has changed, not the words. Let her speak.
posted by Robin at 10:52 PM on October 3, 2001

MP is like a "congressman"... I can't remember what it stands for, elected official of an area.
posted by Robin at 10:53 PM on October 3, 2001

MP = Member of Parliament. An MP is similar to a congressman.
posted by phatboy at 11:05 PM on October 3, 2001


Insofar as her remarks critical of the U.S. goes they are, as I said in my intro, a fairly standard third world rant. From her perspective, yes, the source of all evil things in the world is the U.S. She is entitled to that opinion and she is entitled to spout that opinion in whatever forum will offer her the opportunity.

The part of her remarks which just made me shake my head and wonder what Solar System she inhabited was her unwillingness, as a feminist, to recognize that perhaps having the Taliban go away might not be a bad idea. But, I guess even a misogynistic regime like the Taliban deserves the right to go on oppressing, beating, and murdering women by virtue of their being opposed to the U.S. Makes cuckoo logic to me.
posted by MAYORBOB at 3:28 AM on October 4, 2001

Mayorbob, I'm a bit confused, where did show 'solidarity with the Taliban'?

It sounds more like she believes an ousting of the Taliban by a western military force will just lead to another group oppressing Afghani women, as well as the typical continued poverty that follows western colonization.
posted by alan at 4:58 AM on October 4, 2001

Mayorbob, I'm a bit confused, where did show 'solidarity with the Taliban'?

I read the article thrice and I'm with alan on this -- where'd she say that, or anything remotely like it? Mayorbob and louie, did you even read the article twice before getting huffed up? What I got out of it was that she points out that the West isn't going to be the salvation of Afghani women.
posted by lia at 7:08 AM on October 4, 2001

mayorbob, i think she is going on the idea that one atrocity doesn't equal another. sure, afghan's fubard up right now, big time, but do you really think it'll be better once they stick in a different government and blow the crap out of the country? the government would be composed of children who grew up with the taliban, why would they think any differently? how could they? unless the US decided to appoint a foreign government, which would mean the US is stepping over their borders quite a bit, and I'm sure would not impress the islamic people.
posted by Robin at 7:55 AM on October 4, 2001

Ok, nitpicking time:

mayorbob:"Canada was part of the First World."
there's no such thing as the "first" world, there's old (europe) new (US and Canada) and "third".

louie: "Western women have it all over any women in modern history"
That's her point, western women have it better, white western women, not all women. read the article.

mayorbob: I guess even a misogynistic regime like the Taliban deserves the right to go on oppressing, beating, and murdering women by virtue of their being opposed to the U.S.
That's not what she's saying, she's saying that she doesn't trust the western powers to go in and make everything better through the use of force, which isn't so unreasonable in light of the entire history of western colonization of the rest of the world. Please don't quote some isolated incident of good-doing by th US, the general history is far from beneficient.

clevershark: wonder what she has to say about the majority of the still-missing being non-Americans. Following Ms. Thobani's logic, they deserved it for being in the US!
this is particularly dumb (disclaimer: the argument, i don;t know clevershark personally)
She never says that anybody "deserved" anything, all she's saying is that the western powers have murdered orders of magnitude more innocent people than the taliban. this is undisputable.

alright, let's start the name-calling!
posted by signal at 11:39 AM on October 4, 2001

Nitpicking the nitpicking... the First World is the developed world (US, Canada, Japan, western Europe, Australia, etc.), the Second World referred to USSR and communist bloc (so no more Second World), and the Third World is the underdeveloped world.
posted by Mrmuhnrmuh at 1:38 PM on October 4, 2001

first off, signal, good job. now to nitpick some more, since there isn't any reasonable arugments left. the second world, or 'developing world', consists of developing countries, like south africa, brazil, chile, etc. is china in this group?
posted by Robin at 2:35 PM on October 4, 2001

Mrmuhnrmuh & Robin:

THIRD WORLD: definitions and descriptions
posted by signal at 2:48 PM on October 4, 2001

Those of us who have been colonized...

What the hell does that mean? Was she personally colonized? By whom or by what? Are there little colonists living on her or in her?

There are millions of people from a places that were colonies of someplace else, at one time or another. I don't think anyone else is taking it quite so personally.
posted by groundhog at 10:51 AM on October 5, 2001

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