Tags: members of the family

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.