12 Jun 2007, Comments Off on My Obstreperal Lobe is set to explode

My Obstreperal Lobe is set to explode

Author: Helen

The obstreperal lobe, of course, is the part of the brain discovered by the great Twisty Faster, gentleman farmer and spinster aunt. Mine sent me to the cupboard in search of panadol, as so often happens, following a look at a Fairfax thinkpiece.

Kim of LP has been pretty extensively insulted and misquoted lately in the ozblogosphere by right-wingers who have just gleefully discovered the disgusting practice of FGM (Most of you won’t need an explanation, but here’s one if you need it.) Because she refuses to take their simplistic “If you haven’t denounced X loudly in the last week, that means you’re too weak to oppose it!” statements seriously, and tries to explain some of the complexities of this rare but deeply embedded problem.

For her trouble, she’s been pilloried in the OpEd section of the AGE by Julie Szego.

Consider this little blogosphere spat inspired by [Ayaan Hirsi] Ali’s visit. During a discussion about female circumcision on left-leaning site Larvatus Prodeo, blogger Kim said: “It would also be useful to know more about what sorts of methods those working against the practice in Australia are using. It would seem to me counterproductive to have loud denunciations of it – the key thing should be to convince people it’s wrong.”

Which just goes to show, dear reader, that Kim and the rest of us feminists must support female genital mutilation; it’s logical isn’t it? Can’t quite see it? Well, Szego gets a quote from someone sensible on the other side to show what we should be thinking:

Conservative blogger Tim Blair pounced soon enough. “You’d think if there was one issue on which a Western feminist might be moved to loud denunciation, it’d be the genital mutilation of little girls. But no; this instead turns out to be an issue (one of the few) about which the likes of Kim are inclined to shut the hell up. In the rock-scissors-paper hierarchy of the modern left, sensitivity to Islam trumps clitoral scissors every time.”

This is the quote that Szego has chosen to single out for admiration. The sheer bad-faithness of the argument is bad enough – and there’s something perversely brilliant about someone who, in one short paragraph, can simultaneously accuse feminists of not being feminist enough while making it clear that it would be better if they shut up more. Then there’s the comments thread on the post she quoted:

Commenter “Blogagog” tries to lighten the thread up hurh, hurh:

Hey, this girl just ticked me off (she said ‘no’ when I asked her to dance in the club). Can I legally apply to get her genitals mutilated? I’ll become a muslim if it will help grease the wheels.

(Just a joke! I want no woman’s genitals mutilated. Wow, it really crushes the humor quotient when it’s attached to a disclaimer, huh.)

“MareeS” displays her touching concern for Muslim women thus:

re genital mutilation reducing odour, the women of islam wouldn’t smell if they washed each day (which many of them in Europe seem not to do with any regularity). Girls are taught from the outset that “down below” is a no-touchy zone for them. Slicing and dicing the offending spot removes the temptation but not the odour.

“Mojo” displays his:

An experiment: Let’s slice Kim’s clitoris off and see how she feels about it then.

While “Dave Surls” froths:

“FGM is an abhorrent practice, and I am very sorry that it was inflicted on Ali. But rather than preaching about allegedly universal values and some sort of right that “we” have to intervene…”–Lil Kimmie

Got news for you, twat. If I witness a little girl being tortured and mutilitated, not only do I have a right to intervene, I have a duty to do so.

Don’t tell me I have no right to intervene to put a stop to the torture and mutilation of little girls, you worthless piece of shit.

If this is the kind of company that Szego prefers to keep, good on ‘er, but it’s not going to do much for the AGE as an alternative to the tabloids.

Feminists have known about FGM (as well as many of the other atrocities taking place in “traditional” societies”) for many years, because other feminists have written about it, as well as other dreadful lefty organisations. The “conservatives” have paid scant attention to it until now, when it’s been discovered as a handy wedge. This is a truly disgusting attempt to use genuine suffering to try and score off your perceived enemies, and professional journalists should surely be alert to the faux “feminism” espoused by some people who really have no shame at all. Excuse me but I have to go and have a shower with steel wool now.

Comments (0)

  • This reminds me of the landmark Pamela Bone article that blamed Western feminist lefties for abandoning Iraqi women. Same ‘logic’, same simpleton stupidity.

  • Kim says:

    Thanks, Helen.

    I was going to reply to Szego, but it’s almost impossible because what she writes is just such emotional and illogical garbage, and frankly I’m weary of having my intentions and motives wilfully misunderstood.

  • Pavlov's Cat says:

    Kim, ‘wilfully’ is the key word. I’m sure you know already that truth and accuracy really are not what this disgraceful Blair-led beatup are about, but I just thought I’d mention it anyway. Personally I didn’t join in that stoush much (or even at all, from memory) because if the stats are correct I’ve only got about a third of my life left if I’m lucky, and I don’t intend to waste a nanosecond of it engaging with the likes of Blair and Szego. And neither should you. Use that brain on something worthy of it.


    ‘Excuse me but I have to go and have a shower with steel wool now.’

    And White King. You forgot the White King.

  • Kim says:

    Thanks to you too, Dr Cat.

    One thing that did strike me about this “debate” (if a lot of shouting and calling for “loud denunciations” can be characterised accurately that way) was that in the MSM, no actual feminist was heard in it. Perhaps that’s why I got to be the straw feminist. It’s more than usually apparent that the “progressive left” or whatever whose views that the wingnut columnists and bloggers want to caricature is a figment of their imaginations – because they can’t name any of them. I don’t at all quibble with the space given to people from the Islamic community to respond to Hirsi Ali, but it does seem odd (if structurally necessary for the consitution of their “argument”) that the massed hordes of feminists weren’t part of it.

    We did contact The Age, but were informed that the debate was “closed”, though invited to submit a letter.

    I also wanted, in the context of Helen’s point about wanting us to shut up more, to quote this from Tim Blair:

    She’ll remain quiet about it from now because it’s predominantly an Islamic issue. I’d be surprised if she ever wrote about it again.

  • Helen says:

    It’s more than usually apparent that the “progressive left” or whatever whose views that the wingnut columnists and bloggers want to caricature is a figment of their imaginations – because they can’t name any of them.

    My fave feminist writer, Katha Pollitt, is right across these issues.

  • suzoz says:

    It’s disgraceful (if illumnating) that the Age has allowed comments like those to remain on their site.

  • suzoz says:

    Ah, I see that I misread it and those comments are on Blair’s site. Par for the course.

  • Damian Doyle says:

    I missed this kerfuffle when it was underway, so I am glad you have rounded it up like this. Blair’s commenters are a disgrace; and as Suz says, par for the course.

  • Kim says:

    On the latest Blair thread, they’re not even keeping up the pretence that the point is about FGM. Just lining up to call me a “twat”. Etc.

  • Helen says:

    With any luck, Kim, that’ll rebound on him something shocking, as Mr and Mrs AB-Fairfax-reader go a-blog-readin’ for the first time because they’ve heard about this T. Blair in the AGE. I can imagine their reaction to some of the comments they’ll see there.

  • Helen says:

    Thanks to Tim Sterne for the missing link to the original article. I think of myself as a pretty good googler- it’s not often my google mojo fails. I bow to your superior google-fu.

    Although I will never forgive you for closing your blog.

  • Kim says:

    I wonder if Ms Szego dipped her toes into the murk?

  • Tim Sterne says:

    If you mean me, I’m actually back in business.

    Great posting on this issue, Helen and Kim.

  • Helen says:

    I assume she did, quoting TB approvingly as she did.
    I’m so sorry, Kim. It must be very depressing to be under personal attack from the typing monkeys.

  • Cristy says:

    Moments like these remind me of why I am shying away from jumping back into political blogging. But then I get mad and realise that that is exactly what those monkeys want – to shut us up. So, I really must get back into political blogging.

    Thanks for doing such a concise round-up Helen, and I am so sorry that this is happening Kim. I hope that you are able to rise above thus morons.

  • Kim says:

    Thanks, folks. Once I got over the immediate impact of it, I find it tiring more than anything. I don’t so much care about the wingnuts at Blair’s, but constantly having to explain yourself again and again… But I think it’s important that we don’t shut up!

  • Michael says:

    I dont really see why Blair was quoted (the guy is a crass idealogue), but I must say I agree with parts of Szego’s piece.

    I dont think she was implying that Kim from LP supports FGM (or doesnt strongly oppose it)…only Blair’s frothing idiot readers would take it that way. I think her point was that the vulnerable young woman of this country might not have time for a softly-softly approach. What this sort of abhorrent practice requires is wholesale, strong denunciation.

    That seems to be a valid point worth discussing – unfortunately, as you said, this has become about politics and we’ll probably never end up exploring the best way to deal with and stamp out the practice.

  • Kim says:

    tigtog has written another great post on all this stuff:


  • Helen says:

    The attack of the wingnuts has started. A moderation queue’s a lovely thing isn’t it?
    Their comments are entirely predictable and unnecessary and are being more than sufficiently aired elsewhere.

    If I find any bits that are actually worth replying to and/or I get the time…

  • Yes, excellent post, Helen.

    I’ve had my say on the “debate” at On Line Opinion:


  • Helen says:

    Thanks Mark, and thanks also for your comments on Kim’s post. They were, along with Kim’s comments, pretty damn clear. However, as I learned on the old discussion forums – before I discovered blogging – certain people will never listen. You can do all the work you like spoonfeeding them with information and they will simply reiterate what they said before.

  • Gianna says:

    shocked to hear this. how disgusting. sympathies to Kim.

    i think the main reason the Right is getting so vicious towards the Left is that their worldview is increasingly being shown to be flawed on so many levels and they’re lashing out in a panic.

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