6 Apr 2008, Comments Off on A silent, underground river of misogyny and racism

A silent, underground river of misogyny and racism

Author: Helen

My SO received an email the other day: “Fwd: Mu$lim pu$$y”.

Except, it wasn’t from a spambot, but from a friend of ours. (He’s married to one of my lifelong friends from olden times.) A middle-class, middle-aged, well educated (=should know better) inner-suburban professional dad.

The attachment was a powerpoint presentation, so I’ll just do a digest of it for you here, shall I?

(Slide 1) Text:
“In case you were wondering what a Muslim pu$$y looks like…”

(Slide 2): This.

Cat dressed as a suicide bomber

(Slide 3) Text only:
“Oh, come on! What were you thinking? Get your mind out of the gutter!”

Oh, how I laughed. You can imagine.

What was interesting was the list of email addresses in the forwarded email. Unless he was using “bcc” for some people and not for others, he was only forwarding it to certain members of the family – all male. His partner’s brothers, who work and study with indigenous and Timorese communities and are probably somewhat to the left of him, didn’t receive it. None of the female members of the family received it. What does that suggest to you? It suggests to me that he understood very well what the “jokey” powerpoint was saying.

Let’s just unpack a few of the hilarious concepts in this wonderfully witty artefact.

Muslims = suicide bombers.

We can humiliate people of another ethnicity by humiliating “their” women.

Because women are “owned” by the people (who are presumed to be dudes) of the other ethnicity.

We are at war with all Muslims. Humiliating (up to and including raping) “their” women is a legitimate war tactic. (Oh, and we also accuse them of having medieval thought processes!)

It’s OK to verbally bully an entire ethnic group in my society, which is already undergoing considerable hardship (suspicion, false imprisonment, hijabs ripped off in the street, rocks thrown) because of the actions of a criminal minority.

I’m sure you can add more to that. Of course, I’m used to seeing this stuff on the intertubes. But on a blog or forum you can see that the writer is a known wingnut, or if it’s an anonymous commenter I tend to set the poster’s age at 23 or less and picture the receding brow, pimples and cheezel dust (that’s Australian for cheeto dust). Guess what I’m doing? Yes, I’m falling victim to the urge to stereotype, just like the authors of that powerpoint. It’s still a jolt to be reminded of the underground river of misogyny and racism that still informs Western society to a far greater extent than the bum-fluff and Grand Theft Auto set. It’s your workmate, it’s that inoffensive suit over there, it’s the nice professional looking woman. It rears its head whenever we have a family barbeque. It’s everywhere.

So you know what I did? I did just what the originators of the email (sucks be to them) would have wanted me to do: I forwarded it on! To Twisty, Feministe, Shakesville, Hoyden and a few others. Thanks to Jill for mentioning it and for googling the above image, so I didn’t have to – as she said, not enjoyable.

Now for the less fun part: having a little talk with my friend’s husband next time we get together.

Comments (0)

  • Love it!

    Of course it’s given me a few ideas about what to do with the excess pussycat issue around here.

  • tigtog says:

    Very interesting, that tailored forwarding list of his. As you say, it means he knew exactly who was likely to be offended by it, and that means that at some level he also knew exactly what was offensive about it.

  • dysthymiac says:

    never mind bombs, let’s talk about cruelty to the family CAT

  • Tim says:

    Vile all over.

    “Cheezel dust” is going in the pool room.

  • blue milk says:

    Good on you. I read about it at Feministe first but it was nice to see over here the back-story.

  • Helen says:

    Cruelty to teh kitteh = yet another aspect of ick. Commenter at Feministe: That is not a happy cat. Another commenter: “Can you imagine the time it took to make that little outfit? What kind of mind spends HOURS just to create a truly offensive image?”

    Exactly.

    Tim, I can’t claim originality for Cheezel dust as it’s just an australianised version of a common US cliche. It’s shorthand for… some blog/forum commenters. You know which ones. 😉

  • Alison says:

    Promise me you’ll post about the beati- I mean conversation you have with that guy.

  • ChrisS says:

    A particularly revolting variety of anthropomorphism.

  • saint says:

    OK, a bit of bad taste but would be funny for some.

    Let me play Devils’ advocate here:

    a) sounds as if he’s got the measure of who’s got what sense of humour in the family and chose not to impose/offend. He chose not to offend and here you are telling the world to take offense.

    b) Islam is not a race. Muslims are not a race.

    c) I am not aware of any Muslims in my neighbourhood (and there are quite a few, both residents and overseas students, both secular and traditional) being under seige by non-Muslims, much less having rocks thrown or hijabs torn off. What on earth is going on in your neighbourhood?

    d) Sure there are rednecks around, but stuffed if I am going to judge and live my life as if all Australians as rednecks and stuffed if I am going to judge or live my life as if all Muslims as Islamists. You however seem quite ready to put everyone into one box and behave accordingly and expect others to behave accordingly

    e) In any case, Islamic terrorism is a problem and a global problem at that. There is no country in the world, Islamic or otherwise, that doesn’t recognise that or doesn’t have to deal with it. From Malaysia to Saudi Arabia and from Thailand to Britain. Muslims themselves know that because they are usually the victims and they are also usually the ones helping authorities weed them out. To pretend there is no problem or that it is not related to Islamic ideology is not doing them any favours.

    f) hardly cruelty to a cat. “This is cruelty. It comes complete with a bunch of gutless pontificating wankers who just stood by and did nothing, because another wanker told them so.

  • Helen says:

    Yes, religious group rather than race or ethnicity.

    But the parallels with the icky cartoons with ugly jews in them that circulated in the 19th and early 20th centuries jumps out at me.

    I’ve made it clear that the pps is totally unfunny, so I can’t say your point in claiming he sent it to people “with a sense of humour”. You’re just recycling the old, “Oh, can’t you take a joke?” It’s all very well for us, with our bulging knapsack of white privilege, to think that it should be OK for us to make hate speech about other groups in society, but we tend to discount how it really feels for the attacked group.

    Yes, Muslims have been on the butt end of social hatred, as you well know. To try to invalidate my argument by asking if I’d actually personally witnessed such behaviour in my neighbourhood is sophism at its worst. Have you witnessed any terrorist jihadists setting bombs off in your neighbourhood?

    You completely and utterly ignore the misogynist element which is part and parcel of it. This is an indication of white western male attitudes, so we own it, not the attacked group. Is that why you gave that important element of it a free pass?

  • saint says:

    P.S. I guess this doesn’t count as an underground river of misogynism. Nor this as an underground river of racism. Or is that ethnicism and culturalism? Maybe this is underground enough.

    Maybe skip the lecture Helen. I think you are smarter than that.

  • Claude Balls says:

    Good on you Helen, there are examples of this by the truckload in our society. We are encouraged to let them slip under the radar in the interests of humour or free speech.

    I think American Imperial Terrorism is actually a bigger problem saint and frankly I’d prefer to live among sane, rational, Muslims than Christians ANY DAY.

    Oh and I hope the cat gets its revenge.

  • Sorry about the technical problems which resulted in us being off the air. We’re back http://www.tellthetruthcoalition.org.au.

    Your glory days are over girls and boys! The prolife movement is now gaining the power to do what it has not been able to do forever; i.e. tell the truth. And we all know that a picture is worth a thousand words don’t we?

    The misery that abortion has inflicted on women, children and society is coming to an end. We’ll be picking up the pieces for a long time yet but the tide is turning.

    Ron Van Wegen

    P.S. You ain’t seen NOTHIN’ yet!
    P.P.S. YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHIN’ YET!

  • David says:

    It was hilarious, your friend displayed shrewd judgement by sharing the humor only with those that would have appreciated it. FFS get over yourself.

  • Evil Pundit says:

    Wow, feminists really do lack a sense of humour.

  • Fred A. Gunter says:

    Feministas like you make me laugh!

    “Because women are “owned” by the people (who are presumed to be dudes) of the other ethnicity.”

    Why don’t you stop pussy-footing around the real issue. That is, that muslim men treat their women like cattle. We don’t do it -THEY do it (and quite barbarically too) -capiche?

    But, no -you don’t want to jump on that issue because that would upset your liberal (read -comfortable suburban left-of center) views. -So you (the feminist) are in a quandry -aren’t you.

    The risk of appearing racist just makes it too difficult for you to “grab the muslim bull by the balls” -so to speak.

    But it’s easier to pick on brow-beaten middle class western white men isn’t it?

    Stop being a coward.

  • moonrage says:

    It seems to me that this is exactly in the same spirit as the Vagina monologues, except that this is the Pussy monologues. Your friend probably thought highly of you and was obviously very wrong. Go tell him!

  • Kathy Duncan says:

    What a humorless, po-faced, cultural-self-loathing dope you must be! Have you thought about getting a life? Or a sense of humor?

  • Railroad Stone says:

    Since I started watching the company emails go past, I can clearly see the underground network of racists in my workplace. They don’t discuss their cult openly, but they keep re-assuring each other on the down-low. It’s amazing how much time they’ll put into crap like this.

  • Doronski says:

    No doubt you are equally revolted when Leunig posts some of his antisemitic cartoons equating Jews with nazis.

    Just a small point, but as a feminist, how do you reconcile tolerance of different religious beliefs and the subjugation of women as required by Islam? I have always found it fascinating that a movement that has worked for decades to get equality will march side by side against free market advocates with Islamists who advocate stoning rape victims to death.

    But of course cats should not be mistreated and associated with this vile behaviour.

  • lauredhel says:

    I’m going to quote Kate Harding yet again.

    ‘Cause the thing is, you and the guys you hang out with may not really mean anything by it when you talk about crazy bitches and dumb sluts and heh-heh-I’d-hit-that and you just can’t reason with them and you can’t live with ‘em can’t shoot ‘em and she’s obviously only dressed like that because she wants to get laid and if they can’t stand the heat they should get out of the kitchen and if they can’t play by the rules they don’t belong here and if they can’t take a little teasing they should quit and heh heh they’re only good for fucking and cleaning and they’re not fit to be leaders and they’re too emotional to run a business and they just want to get their hands on our money and if they’d just stop overreacting and telling themselves they’re victims they’d realize they actually have all the power in this society and white men aren’t even allowed to do anything anymore and and and…

    I get that you don’t really mean that shit. I get that you’re just talking out your ass.

    But please listen, and please trust me on this one: you have probably, at some point in your life, engaged in that kind of talk with a man who really, truly hates women–to the extent of having beaten and/or raped at least one. And you probably didn’t know which one he was.

    And that guy? Thought you were on his side.

    And anti-Muslim hate is absolutely informed and inflamed by racism and xenophobia, even if the correspodence between being Muslim and being of Middle-Eastern-origin isn’t one-to-one in the real world. Do you think the builder of this joke was picturing a white Australian Muslim woman?

  • Harry Bergeron says:

    I for one am totally outraged at the foul stereotype of kitties as vicious homocidal bombers.

    Very, very few actually are.

  • Mopeela says:

    Yes, it is offensive. Genital mutilation is common, women are stoned to death for adultery, and can be raped if they leave the home without a male relative in Islam. But look at the bright side, women can now drive in Saudi Arabia.

  • Gordon says:

    So you’re a feminist who’s worried about mysogyny, but you have no problem with Islamic culture and society? Or is that you think only Western women are entitled to equal rights? If so, who’s being rascist now?

    Why don’t you stand up for your muslim sisters living under sharia, if you have any guts, and stop sledging some family friend of yours who’s making a harmless joke ! Your hypocrisy is scary, and brutal.

  • Chris says:

    But the parallels with the icky cartoons with ugly jews in them that circulated in the 19th and early 20th centuries jumps out at me.

    What about the ones with ugly Jews in them that circulate daily in Iran and Saudi Arabia?

    Also how can you even possible begin to accuse mainstream Western society of being inherently misogynist and therefore bad in the sentence as defending mainstream Muslim society? Next time you drive around in a car that you are allowed to drive or go outside without a male escort with your neck in full view just be thankful that you live in Australia.

  • x says:

    Helen Says: “But the parallels with the icky cartoons with ugly jews in them that circulated in the 19th and early 20th centuries jumps out at me.”

    There are also those icky cartoons with ugly jews circulating in today’s Arab press. But I’m sure that was merely a completely innocent oversight on your part.

  • Andy Cunningham says:

    I can see her face does that mean I have to marry her.

  • David says:

    Best photo I have seen for a while. Get a sense of humour lady.

  • morbo says:

    “We are at war with all Muslims. Humiliating (up to and including raping) “their” women is a legitimate war tactic.”

    I marvel at how your Feminist Logic (TM) allows you to go straight from a picture of a cat in a funny costume directly into accusations of rape.

    You make that huge mental leap with such practiced ease! Have you been associated with the feminist movement for some time?

  • Helen says:

    Oh Lauredhel, I should have thought of that quotation.

    It’s attained classic status now, I think.

  • pudenda says:

    that American imperialism will get you every time.
    it’s ‘rascism’, not ‘racism’.
    time for a bex, a cuppa and a good lie down.
    that’s a good little lady.

  • atomu says:

    I think the points about having no problems with the governments of Saudi and Iran’s treatment of women and then becoming hysterical about this, have been well made.

    Tastless powerpoint. Probably.Your comments? Rubbish. I’ve never seen someone as self important.

    My point then is that this male ex friend of yours has achieved something very valuable.

    He’s rid of you.

  • Summers says:

    Some of the people in this comments thread seem to think that a feminist has no right to comment on anything anti-Muslim until they are also prepared to attack Muslims over human rights abuses on women. Some people here even seem to think that outright racism mixed with a mockery of women is also fine when it comes to Muslims because some Muslims are racist and treat their women like dirt.

    Get over it. This type of racism is not OK and nobody mentioned what other cultures get up to. This blog post was clearly about racism and anti-female rhetoric from OUR CULTURE. And the author has every right, even an obligation to comment on it as a member of that culture.

    Those of you arguing that it was just a little joke and don’t know that such images are a symptom of thinking that leads to genuine abuses are ill-advised. I’ve also received racist and often misogynistic forwarded on emails and every time have wondered how on earth people find this sort of nonsense amusing.

    I’m sure that in some infantile way it is funny, but I wonder if it is only funny to misogynist, racists who think that in some sick way it validates their own deformed view of the world.

    Perhaps you would be happy if every single blog post ever published on any blog in the future that argues against racism or misogyny has to also put in a disclaimer stating that Muslims are also racist and misogynistic. Would that help you sleep at night?

  • Helen says:

    Summers, you’re spot on, as is Lauredhel with Kate H’s quote. But it wouldn’t do much to help them sleep at night – I think the drugs are doing that already!

    Saint, where do you get off coming the “don’t you have a sense of HUMOUR” card re. an invitation which appears to be for viewing someone’s vagina, while going the complete prune-faced hissy fit on this quite funny ad – and throwing in a gratuitous rant on how Ford ads are PANDERING TO TEH GAY??! Breathtaking hypocrisy. Where’s your sense of humour, mate? or does it only apply to religious-slash-ethnic groups you’d like to bully.

    You don’t really get a pass on the “Muslim bashing not racist”, either. Besides the fact that racism, antisemitism and other religious persecution come from that same poisoned underground river, we all know that it’s people of “middle eastern appearance” who suffer the most odium at the moment.

    A note to others, I am a patient moderator but some people are going close to the edge of batshit abuse. I do reserve the right to disemvowel where necessary, so do make sure that your priceless pearls of wisdom and logic (not) are actually civil enough to make it here in a readable format, otherwise you’re wasting your (doubtless!) valuable time.

  • Helen says:

    (However, I do reserve the right for a little judicious mockery myself, as the owner of the blog):

    Ronald van W, ya bloody dickhead, you’ve posted to the wrong thread!

    Get your trousers off your head!

  • lissa odongo says:

    the damage your lack of perspective is doing to the lives of your poor children is truly sad.

  • Caroline says:

    Hey. Eee pee is back! As for the others, WTF?

  • Troll says:

    Cmn t’s fnny. Mch fnnr thn lkng t rl bg stnky hry mslm pssy – whch, ncdntlly, wld prbbly b mch lk lkng t yrs,ll bt!

    [(Sigh) I knew that the disemvowelling threat would be an irresistible challenge for some. It does wear off after you hit sixteen, dude. CIBalcony]

  • Tim says:

    Lighten up a bit. You’ll live longer.

    If that is the most offensive thing you see all day, count yourself lucky.

  • JJM says:

    Let me get this right.

    You run – by your own admission – an “opinionated” blog on the Internet and you’re upset about receiving a silly email.

    I see.

  • atomu says:

    “Now for the less fun part: having a little talk with my friend’s husband next time we get together.”

    I think the fun part would be if someone sent your male ex friend a link to this web post and let him read the comments

    why dont you do it? you sent it on to all your mates anyway

    really lighten up

  • Troll says:

    “Now for the less fun part: having a little talk with my friend’s husband next time we get together.”

    f h fst-fcks yr fc nd psts t n ytb ll by a rnd f brs fr vryn.

    [“Gloria”, if you think that this sort of thing guarantees your popularity with the Boyz, unfortunately – like most others on this thread – you are delusional. -CIBalcony]

  • saint says:

    “But the parallels with the icky cartoons with ugly jews in them that circulated in the 19th and early 20th centuries jumps out at me.”

    Um no, I don’t see those parallels.

    “I’ve made it clear that the pps is totally unfunny, so I can’t say your point in claiming he sent it to people “with a sense of humour”. You’re just recycling the old, “Oh, can’t you take a joke?” It’s all very well for us, with our bulging knapsack of white privilege, to think that it should be OK for us to make hate speech about other groups in society, but we tend to discount how it really feels for the attacked group.”

    Again, no problem if your sense of humour is different (although you discount the possibility your friend has a different sense of humour). You see this as hate speech. I don’t. Yes perhaps in bad taste and aspects of it are certainly do not appeal to my sense of humour.

    But ultimately it mocks people’s prurient imagination and mocks Muslim suicide bombers and the Islamic ideology which informs it, both of which deserve mockery in my view.

    If Helen you think your emailer is a “misogynist” and “racist” (what? on the basis of one email? do you have any further evidence of this?) then perhaps you are better off asking your friend why she is still married to him.

  • Another troll says:

    Sstr y nd t gt sm cck.

    Jane

    “Jane”, your parents must be so proud. CIBalcony

  • su says:

    Hey look how easily that river came gushing to the surface. Gah.

  • Darrell says:

    A guy walks into a bookstore, and approaches the woman behind the counter. “Excuse me,” he says, “Could you tell me where the humour section is?”

    “This is a feminist bookstore,” she shouts. “There is no humour section.”

  • Diggs says:

    I can’t seem to find your post of outrage when al Queda used two retarded women as human bombs in Iraq.
    Can you please point that one out; I’d like to compare your level of outrage at real human depravity that killed nearly 50 people, as compared to your outrage at this minor powerpoint presentation that hurt no one.
    Thought so.

    Thanks for your post. Should I need to point out to anyone why feminists are not to be taken seriously anymore, I’ll point them to this site.

  • TRO(LL) says:

    Thanks for the photo – I can’t wait to send it to my friends, including some of my women friends, who, unlike you, have a sense of humor.

    Thank God most women are not womyn.

  • Abby says:

    The pu$$y. Is it circumcised?

  • Jonathan says:

    Q: How many feminists does it take to screw in a light bulb?

    A: THAT’S NOT FUNNY!

  • Col. Milquetoast says:

    Muslims = suicide bombers.
    – Some muslims are suicide bombers; some other muslims celebrate the first group and name streets after the first group; and a third group thinks the first 2 groups are insane.

    We can humiliate people of another ethnicity by humiliating “their” women.
    – Are you assuming the cat is female? The costume looks less like a female arabic costume than a recycled Lawrence of Arabia costume. I can’t identify the sex of the cat from this angle.

    We are at war with all Muslims. Humiliating (up to and including raping) “their” women is a legitimate war tactic.
    – I think that far, far, far fewer people than you think see rape as a legitimate war tactic. And an even smaller group supports cat rape under any circumstances.

    It’s OK to verbally bully an entire ethnic group in my society, which is already undergoing considerable hardship…

    – Verbally bully with an image? Could you explain how a cat in a costume based on a costume worn by a member of a group bullies the group? And you think (group x) undergoes hardship so therefore (group x) is off limits? So, you would find a cat in a Darth Vader costume offensive/ bullying to prosthetic wearers.

    Finally, I’m disappointed that you didn’t recognize the oppression and humiliation cats face on a daily basis from living in a speciesist power structure and that those root causes could drive any cat to such desperate action. It’s probably the lack of education and the grinding poverty that has led it to such extreme measures.

  • mugwump says:

    Puhlease. Get over yourself. I thought it was pretty funny.

    he was only forwarding it to certain members of the family – all male

    Well duh. I hate to break it to you: most guys talk about women amongst themselves in ways that would probably horrify their wives. It’s what we do. Secret Men’s Business. Not sexist; just a blokey thing.

  • oldirishpig says:

    Wow, am I happy that I don’t know you!

    [Hey – mutual, piggsy. Quelle coincidence! -CIBalcony.]

  • Lyn says:

    What a sad take on an email. Some people love to play the role of the victim. They complain about racism, chauvinism, whatever.

    Believe it or not lady, the whole world is not out to get you. Neither are most men including your girlfriend’s guy. By the way what’s up with SO. Significant other? Wow, way to dehumanize your MALE spouse. At least I assume it’s a male.

    Anyway I hate to end on a negative note. So I won’t GREAT photo of that kitty kitty.

  • Tyga says:

    I think the “Muslim Pussy” is male. Slow news day?

  • wronwright says:

    I agree with the others here. It was funny. I laughed out loud.

    You might want to work on obtaining that funny bone. Comes in handy sometimes.

  • Helen says:

    most guys talk about women amongst themselves in ways that would probably horrify their wives. It’s what we do. Secret Men’s Business. Not sexist; just a blokey thing.

    *Whistling sound as the entire point goes over Mugwump’s head* – but that’s just what I’d expect.

    What do you think sexism is?

  • Steve says:

    Absolutely hilarious. Not the cat so much as the twittering and prissy hand-waving offended-ness. Develop a humor gland.

  • Evil Pundit says:

    Sexism is what feminists do.

    It’s systematic misandry turned into an ideology.

    Thus for example, Helen characterises “guys talking about women among themselves” as evil, while she probably thinks that women talking about guys among themselves is liberating.

    This, of course, is discrimination based on sex — or sexism.

  • Helen says:

    Dudes, dudettes, you’re forgetting that a joke has to actually be funny.

    If you are holding this lame effort and your own mediocre efforts to be the height of teh funny, you need to get out to the comedy festival and find out what funny means. However, you are providing me with much entertainment with your unintentional gaffes. (Su, you’re right – they’re proving my point with every comment aren’t they.)

    I’m off to make more popcorn.

  • saint says:

    Helen, as to “my breath-taking hypocrisy”, I make no apology for holding humans in higher regard than a car and mother Gaia.

    If you and your dog fell into a lake and began to drown I would make no apology for attempting to save you first. I couldn’t care less if you or your dog were wearing a burkha. It would’t matter if you responded with a hissy fit and called me every name under the sun or screamed at me to get the dog.

    If that’s your idea of hypocrisy then deal with it.

  • moonrage says:

    Another boring, predictable platitude off the shelf of feminist theory mills that, sadly, only continues to condemn the modern Western feminist in fragile Victiorian sensibilities and absolute lack of imagination. It takes a peculiar perspective, and only with the greatest and most careful effort, to be so unoriginal. Specifically, it takes a white, European, feminist perspective to imagine that a single, very specific Western feminist speaks for all feminsts in the world. Some even say such cultural imperialist tendencies, is genetically encoded in Caucasian blood, and that its attempt to impose its sexual hangups onto non-Western cultures that have a totally different relationship with the human body is only natural.

  • mugwump says:

    What do you think sexism is?

    wiki does a good enough job:

    Sexism is commonly considered to be discrimination and/or hatred towards people based on their sex rather than their individual merits

    By this definition blokey banter is not sexist.

    You feminists need to understand something: blokes talk about your tits not because we think thats all you’re good for, it’s because we find it difficult to think about anything else.

  • Laura says:

    What Su said.

  • PSGInfinity says:

    I agree with the sane commenters upthread. The kitty’s cute, the costumes’ a hoot, but the real comedy is the tut-tutting, moral preening, anti-male bigotry, and self-indulgent snobbery by the womyns on this here thread.

    You, and your comments, are hysterical. Come to think of it “hysterical” is derived from a Greek word meaning womb. Something about this behavior being associated with womyn. In this case, they were right…

  • Jack Robertson says:

    I see you got blessed by the Blairelzebub stick, Helen – ain’t it fun when the anonymous flying monkies descend on cue! Obedient little chaps and chappettes, aren’t they.

    Righteo, go back to your corner cubicles and your sad little desks, back to those disappointing little jobs you got stuck in, my pretties. TB’ll set you on another url soon enough, and you shall leap fearlessly once again into cyberspace behind your masks and capes…

    Well-trained muppets, ain’t they, H?!

    Nice post, dude. Now go and take a long hot shower…

    Jack Robertson
    [Address courageously supplied in contrast with cowardly troll army, but identifying details deleted due to fears the cheezel-dusted ones may prank him or otherwise make nuisances of themselves. Sorry Jack, I appreciate it but my blog etc…CIBalcony]
    Suburb, NSW
    02 xxxx xxxx

    PS: Band jammed again yesterday (finally), that Tele I was working on sounds awesome (if I do say so myself). Next time you’re in Sydney bring your sticks, chicky-babe. Our drummer’s a nice bloke but sometimes I think he thinks the snare’s made of fookin’ crystal, iykwim…

  • Niall says:

    tasteless certainly, but I do believe Saint has a point. The world is just chock-a-block with this kind of crapola. I’m amazed that anybody would bother taking the time & effort to dress the cat up, let alone take it’s photo and start a viral email. Frankly, it’s a mark of the intellect if that’s all the originator has to do with their time. The real indictment falls on those who (a) think it’s funny enough to propagate, and (b) those who wish to make excuses for them. Evidence Blair & his troop of trained aerial simians.

    I support your stand, and don’t believe for a nano-second you’re at all feminist in your criticism. You’ve narked an idiot or idiots, and for that, you deserve plaudits.

  • James B says:

    Very well, observed, Jack. Yes, some of us found this link via Tim Blair.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that: it seems to me that if someone posts something in a public forum, they’re inviting comment from people who disagree with them.

    If they didn’t want such comment, then they would probably say it in a private email and not send it to people unlikely to appreciate it.

    Of course, there’s always the risk of someone making private email public, but then we all understand how rude that is, don’t we?

    James

  • wilful says:

    (hi helen, here to haunt you, promise I won’t talk about timber).

    But oh my goodness, what a fun mess of a thread. Aren’t tim blair’s drones a nice bunch? What is it with conservatives and shrill hateful invective?

    Mugwump: most guys talk about women amongst themselves in ways that would probably horrify their wives. It’s what we do. Secret Men’s Business. Not sexist; just a blokey thing.

    As helen’s already said, you’re really just justifying sexism. But I would like to defend the honour of the enormous number of men that just don’t talk like sexist pigs, because they’re mature enough to understand that words have meaning, and can offend.

    I wouldn’t get my knickers in a knot over the email, but I would think that the person who sent it to me was a bit of a tool. Not necessarily racist/anti-islamic or sexist, but more likely than not, and if not, then pretty unthinking.

    Fortunately, no one sends me that kinda shit.

  • Sabina says:

    Reading this post and the ensuing comments is slightly painful. Helen, you are a champion, honestly.

    Do please let us know how your conversation goes, and good luck!

  • tigtog says:

    You feminists need to understand something: blokes talk about your tits not because we think thats all you’re good for, it’s because we find it difficult to think about anything else.

    Wow. I’ve never seen someone attempt a Klein bottle argument before.

  • Caroline says:

    Jeezus Jack I used to live at xxx xxxxxx St!

  • Helen says:

    There’s a special place in hell for antifeminists, of whom there are a few further back in the thread, who have never done anything whatever for women of colour or any of them for that matter, who like to cite the treatment of middle eastern / african women by their families to score some kind of point. They’re the same ones who pretended that that was the reason for the invasion of Iraq, after the WMD and Saddam/AQ links had been revealed as the will o’ the wisps that they were. How the hell this translates into a licence to publish hate material about muslims is beyond me, as the women themselves constitute about 50% of the muslim population, as they do in ours. And how a PPS purporting to show you a glimpse of “Mu$lim pu$$y” is supportive of Muslim women, well, the logic involved would have to be more convoluted than Tigtog’s Klein bottle.

    Do we have a full bingo card yet?

  • Lee says:

    Helen,I think it`s a case of “different strokes”.People find things funny that you don`t,no biggie.Your blog states that you are “opinionated”well so are a lot of people and we all differ ,sums up life really.

  • Saha says:

    well you opened a can of worms with this one! I can’t be bothered reading all the comments. I find this more offensive as a woman than as a Muslim. It’s sad that derogatory jokes about women’s genitalia are so common that people are now blind to the implicit sexism. It does seem that your friend’s husband was not however…but sent it on anyway.

    As a Muslim, I’m so used to this stuff, not to condone it, but I find it easier to understand why people use it as humour, than why female sexuality has to be debased…bad sentence..anyway, I’m tired, goodnight!

    [Hope this didn’t make you feel too bad, Saha – I’ve taken the liberty of munging your email and URL a little as there are some nasty trolls here and I don’t want them over at your place. Cheers! CIBalcony]

  • Helen says:

    Um, Mr “Club Wah”, I have no desire to publish or read your doubtless witty riposte. I know it’s dressed as a male sheik, maroon; the misogynist part was in the way the whole PPS was set up, including the text, not just the image. I stepped through it in the post, but evidently you did not understand. Therefore,

    *Plonk*

    goodbye!

  • Jack Robertson says:

    ‘James B’, I…

    *runs out of further interest in anonymous Blairmuppets*

    ‘Caroline’, how long ago?

  • Tyga says:

    Saha, it’s only your dirty mind that makes you think it had anything to do with female genitalia. It’s about a cat, a male cat, possibly an albino with high sensitivity to sunlight and perhaps a digestive problem as it’s carrying so much bog roll.
    All in the interpretation I guess.

  • wronwright says:

    “Now for the less fun part: having a little talk with my friend’s husband next time we get together.”

    If I were the husband, I’d give you a good spanking and send you on your way.

  • mugwump says:

    Again, for all the rabid feminazis and neutered softcocks who don’t seem to geddit: don’t confuse sexism with horniness. Whether I respect you in the morning has everything to do with what’s between your ears. But tonight I am more interested in what’s between your legs.

    It’s biological.

  • Helen says:

    “Tyga”, please see reply to “Club Wah”; I’m not sure how long I can put up with trying to explain something that people wilfuly refuse to understand.

  • Helen says:

    Jack / Caroline, that is so cool. Quelle coincidence. I am prone to weird coincidences like that, so as a committed anti-superstition person I really have to be vigilant!

  • Caroline says:

    Hmmm now that I think about it, it was the same number, different a street, in the ‘Loo.

    I did live ‘on the street where you live’ Jack, it was a terrace numbering in the one seventies sometime in the mid-eighties.

  • Jack Robertson says:

    The area was still a bit of a libertarian/bohemian locale back in those days I’m told, Caroline, sprinkled with sundry biker, wharfie and ALP hardcase cliques. It’s a lovely part of the world still.

    Ta re: deleting the address, H. Too much information from me anyway, as usual. S’just that internet anonymity = extreme boredom for me these days. Mildly amusing that some muppets apparently still think it’s ‘anti-PC’ intellectual subversion to spout boorish sub-Hitchenisms online from behind a pseudonym, but. It was already lame enough on September 12 2001, but…seven fricking years later, some wannabe Burchills are only just discovering the dubious joys of poo-ing behind the altar at midnight?

    Please. No doubt the illiterate nobbers think it’s ironic or something.

  • Troll says:

    Nt vrthng n lf s dsgnd t hv scl mpct.

    ts fnny pctre f ct.

    Gt lffmbts.

  • Helen says:

    Bored now.

  • Club Wah says:

    Fair enough for not publishing my blog address, it was a bit pretentious of me to do that. I just thought it fair you knew what I wrote about you that’s all, as it was too long to put here.

    The fact you realised the car wasn’t dressed as a female makes your message all the more puzzling – it’s not clear in your post. The only link with women was the word pussy, and that was purely a play on words to make the recipient think they had received porn. I’ve seen several variations of the theme including “hairy pussy” which had a ridiculously furry cat.
    If anything it was offensive to all Muslims, not just women.
    That said I reckon this post is getting emailed around more than the original Mu$lim Pu$$Y email.

  • mugwump says:

    then find us another funny picture

  • Tyga says:

    Helen, it may be because what offends you is completely invented by your own mind. The email relies on people having a “dirty mind” with regards to the pussy reference, perhaps it is that it caught you out that upsets you most? I don’t see where it is sexist or racist. It doesn’t mention or depict women at all. It’s a cat wearing a male arabian headdress and a mock bomb belt. How is that sexist? Some Muslims might not like it much but Muslims are not a race so its not racist either. Then again they might be best served being offended by those who are strapping on bomb belts in the name of their religion rather than crappy email pictures and newspaper cartoons.
    Methinks you went to a special effort to be offended by this one, but whatever floats your boat I suppose. Some people are not happy unless they have something to whinge about.
    Good luck telling off your friend’s husband about the email, I hope he laughs in your face and forwards you the “shaved pussy” email from the same genre!

  • Darlene says:

    Ohh, the cat thread goes on (meow meow).

    I had a bit of a titter (titter – tee hee – tit – tee hee and all that) at the fundamentalist zealot pussy cat. Wasn’t offended by it. Mind you, as the owner of a cat, I don’t know how the owners got it to stay still long enough. Perhaps a Christian fundamentalist cat could have a fat arse, be wearing a bad suit and sport an expression that says: “I must not think about sex; oh my gawd, I thought about sex, I’m going to hell”. Perhaps a cat posing as the kind of boy blogger who likes to use terms like “feminazi” and says “feminists have got no sense of humour” (wow, I’ve never heard that one before) could have a fat arse, be wearing a bad suit etc etc A couple of the boys on this thread were obviously having a bit of wank while posting their comments. Others one can just feel sad about, but I’m sure their mums will give them a cup of tea and a Bex. mugwump is just trying way too hard. I’ve tried to get my cat’s picture on LOLcats, but she just doesn’t do anything funny enough (grrr, she’s TEH FEMINIST).

  • lauredhel says:

    Is the fat hate an essential component of the fundy/misogynist-baiting?

  • Darlene says:

    Sorry, I am not sure if lauredhel’s comment is in response to mine.

    “Hate” is a rather strong word to use (the overuse of certain words – e.g. Nazi – can make such words meaningless). It’s a satirical dig (you know, at the idea that all fundies from America’s South are obese). Fundamentalists of all faiths and beliefs can be anything from murderous to annoying. This people are in dire need of being satirised.

    However, the idea that all Muslims are the same or that all evangelical Christians are the same is, of course, a nonsense.

    At any rate, I’ve got plenty of junk in my trunk.

  • peacay says:

    I’m the first to admit that I’m not always able to identify sexist themes and am still learning as I go. That just means that I do often need to hear a female perspective (often more than one) to try to understand how specific instances of jokes or attitudes or comments are possibly offensive. That’s because I accept that in some ways socialisation has caused some level of tone deafness in me at times as a bloke.

    I clicked through to this blog (not this post) because I like to visit here from time to time (so I haven’t seen this reported elsewhere, nor have I gone elsewhere to see other takes on it).

    First I saw the picture and laughed. Mostly I think it was the madness of the thing: who would go to such trouble and also the contrast of a suicide bomber with the epitome of benign: a cat. Insane juxtaposition.

    Then I read the posted entry and it made me think and wonder.

    Then I read all the comments and admit that I have not come to any definite conclusions as to how to take the email.

    Then I read the email subject line again….and the first slide.

    And now it occurs to me that in Australia, this sort of forwarded email will be more offensive to women because we don’t generally have the same double meaning of pussy as they do in the States. Here it is always (well, in most forwarded email and adult commentary on the interweb situations anyway) a reference to a vagina [when it’s not, you know, in ref. to a feline perambulator].

    In the States, pussy is often used interchangeably with wimp. So we have most of the puns revolving around a very very very small section of the Muslim world – suicide bombers; and the fact that they are, by any other descriptor, gutless and not complete human beings and the polysuch (that’s the implication, not my position).

    I just thought I’d point that out. I’m still not sure how I feel about the level and type of response to the (admittedly distasteful and childish) email. With such a huge amount of porn and spam porn around, coopting of the ‘muslim pussy’ title for a fairly lame joke is less objectionable than in cases where that title is used when actual porn is shown or when it is at the end of a click wouldn’t you say?

    I disagree with the conclusion that this jokey email is a commentary at all about Muslim women and I’m unable, finally, to see how it amounts to any serious manifestation of sexism beyond it punning on the pornography branch of the internet.

    Again, I’m not certain I’m right. I have on occasions in the past been edumacated by women who are able to elaborate how they feel about certain words &c; but I wouldn’t have sent this email to anyone anyways. It’s not benign but I think the emphasis of the joke creator — criticising suicide bombers — is not where those who are offended by this lame-o stunt believe the emphasis to be.

    2c

  • Aphie says:

    Peacay, I’m firstly confused about your reference to this not being a “serious manifestation of sexism” – there are degrees of sexism now, and people aren’t entitled to feel upset at something that is not “a serious manifestation” of such?

    Otherwise, allow me to try and elucidate you as to why the email could be read as sexist:
    You’ve hit the nail on the head with the way that “pussy” is configured in Australia society (only, it’s slang for VULVAS, not vaginas – I seriously doubt that references to ‘pussy’ in a sexual context are only talking of a single hole).
    However;
    how can a piece of disembodied genitalia possibly profess a religion?
    It can’t; it’s the human being the genitalia is attached to that claims a religion. So the line “Muslim Pussy” can be read as referring to a Muslim woman.
    And in this instance, that woman has been reduced to her genitalia. And that’s it. THAT is sexist. Women are human beings, half the human race. Not just “pussy”, a slang term for part of a woman’s body that is often framed as being solely for the use of men. And that form of sexism has a history in Western culture, that can be most easily traced back to the porn industry (as you again realised, without quite connecting all the dots, I think?).

  • Helen says:

    Thanks for that Aphie. Sorry Peacay I was too busy to reply (I know you’re commenting in good faith unlike some of the above.) Just one point

    It’s not benign but I think the emphasis of the joke creator — criticising suicide bombers — is not where those who are offended by this lame-o stunt believe the emphasis to be.

    See, the lame-o stunt has several offensive subtexts, not just one, and this one is the equation of muslims = suicide bombers, which is inciting at worst hatred and at best obdurate incomprehension. I think if you live in a place where there are lots of Muslim families peacefully going about their business as I do, it’s easier to see the offence whereas the author of the lame-o stunt maybe lives in a little town in the Midwest and has never met one. Or something. It does appear to be the work of someone who doesn’t consider that the members of an unpopular group may be human beings with lives and feelings, just like him/her.

  • peacay says:

    ..as you again realised, without quite connecting all the dots

    I guess I take it as given that referring to another human being by their genitals is offensive and sexist. If I appeared to gloss over that it’s simply because I find the nature of this medium to be outrageously overarching in any conversation such as this. By that I mean that this is a drop in the ocean – 25% (or whatever stake the porn industry constitutes) of the internet references women by their genitals – so although I would never say it is fruitless making a good fight over principles, trying to frame that email as being anything other than a tiny crumb of an enormous problem approaches futility in the beating-one’s-head-against-the-wall stakes.

    The context of an email sent by someone known to Helen is a different thing entirely and I trust and hope they are beaten on the kidneys with a large stone tablet printout of the email for demonstrating their penchant for the stupid.

    I have been fairly involved in huge multi-thread/multi-week discussions about sexism on Metafilter in the last half year** which were about attempting to shape the behaviour of people commenting in a large community setting. It was frustrating, exhilarating, amazing and ultimately, quite positive in the outcome (which will never be permanently perfect but far exceeded the expectations of those of us who cared enough to want to engage). I mention this only because I think it’s instructive in terms of how the debate about sexism gets promulgated online. When the discussion is about the language/behaviour used by regular visitor/commenters on a large website, there is a real hope in my mind that attitudes can be changed for the better. I think a lot of that has/had to do with people getting to understand how (real!) people they ‘know’ express how they feel about others’ behaviour and word choices.

    But when an otherwise random email becomes the object of a sexism discussion such as this, I see little opportunity for advancing the debate because, as we see above, it’s all about one’s attitude to words and less about the effect that those words have. I am not suggesting for a second that it’s not a debate worth having nor that Helen ought not to have presented it here; I just suggest that anything other than the expectation of frustration as an end-result is optimistic.

    By the way Aphie, I think you have it ass about. The porn industry didn’t create the sexist language: “muslim pussy” “brunette pussy” etc etc. They’ve just exploited the lowest common denominator language used by males throughout history. That’s why I – tainted, obviously, by my blokeiness – see the subject line of the email as a pun on the porn industry in the first instant rather than a more serious manifestation of sexism. And yeah, sorry, but I do see grey in most contentious areas of life. The offensiveness to some women of overeager door-opening males is just not in the same league as that male talking to his mates about how many blonde pussies he’s carved notches for.

    I’m not even saying I’m agreeing to disagree; as I went to pains to communicate, I admit my comprehension is lacking at times and I regard the subject as an ongoing dialogue rather than positions set in stone.

    Helen, I concede that people of Muslim faith would likely find the whole email offensive yes. I don’t agree that it’s saying that Muslim = suicide bomber. It’s saying that a suicide bomber who is Muslim is a wimp Muslim, in my reading of it. But again, I’m surely not arguing that this email is a good thing or that it ought to be forwarded to anyone. I’m merely trying to state how it affects me. I was wrong to note that the intended effect and the actual effect are important distinctions (they can be at times) because any half-wit would know that marrying up pornesque language with negative cultural stereotypes is going to offend a lot of people.

    **If you really want to know where my head is at, I use the same nickname at Metafilter where any reasonable searching will turn up my history quite easily. But ask if you want the URLs of the major sexism threads that occurred over there (more than a 1000 comments each though so not for the faint of …. time)

  • […] So I discovered last week that I’m clearly starting to make it in the Australian blogosphere: I’d earned my first hatchet job from a real, live Right Wing Death Beast. I was going to just let this one slide, but after he made a complete arse of himself at Ryan’s, I realised just who it was: none other than saint, from the Missing Link collective. I then recalled his racist droppings over at Helen’s place a couple weeks back, and figured that I really couldn’t resist biting. […]

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