Friday, May 23, 2003

Feminists Are Damned If They Do, Damned If They Don't

Bean and Jeanne (Kewl. I rhymed. LOL) raised their eyebrows over these comments within an otherwise excellent editorial by Nicholas Kristof about obstetric fistulas

I don't understand why most feminist organizations in the West have never shown interest in these women either. ... perhaps the issue doesn't galvanize women's groups because fistulas relate to a traditional child-bearing role.

LanguageHat took Bean to task in the Alas, A Blog comments section. LH wrote:

Jesus Christ. Here a columnist takes time out from his busy schedule (he could be blathering about Iraq like everybody else) to write about a horrifying and almost unknown (here) condition afflicting only women, in so powerful a way that I (for one) after reading it went immediately to the website and sent them money -- and he gets bashed for saying feminists haven't been paying enough attention to it! At least bean says "it's admirable that he would take the time to write about it" before going on to slander him ("One has to wonder if the author is deliberately manipulating the facts..."); the commenters just leap right in and start bashing (MDtoMN, are you under the impression that Kristof is a conservative? Or is anyone who doesn't follow the whole party line a "conservative"?).

LH continued: "Sorry, but "working to prevent not only this particular tragedy, but similar tragedies -- not to mention the causes of this and similar tragedies" doesn't cut it; Kristof isn't saying feminists don't talk about root causes, he's saying they don't talk about *this particular condition* -- and not that no feminist has ever mentioned it (you can probably find a reference somewhere in a yellowing issue of MS), but that "most feminist organizations in the West have never shown interest in these women."

To Kristof and LanguageHat, I say.... whaaa...???

The Feminist Majority has brought attention to both obstetric fistulas and Bush's pending cut in funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) -- a cut meant to please right-wing anti-abortion zealots.

Here's part of a response I made to Alas's comment's section:

UNFPA Seeks to Fight Fistula in Africa

Bush Makes UNFPA Funding Cut Official

Urge Bush To Restore UNFPA Funding

To heist LanguageHat's phrasing, it could just as easily be argued that the Feminist Majority "took time out from its busy schedule (rather than blathering about golf like the media pundits who choose golf to define what they think is wrong with feminist activism) ... to write about a horrifying and almost unknown (here) condition afflicting only women."

That portion in Kristof's editorial (which otherwise was excellent) reminds me of the misrepresentations made by the media and the right-wing in claiming that feminists had shown no interest in the plight of women in Afghanistan, when the truth was that the Feminist Majority had done more than any other organization to bring attention to that issue. In the same vein, feminist groups such as Feminist Majority have been criticized for supposedly paying too much attention to female genital mutilation, all the while supposedly ignoring what women need in the U.S.

Geez, we feminists can't please anybody. :)

This post appears on my blog. It is followed by Part II.

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