Joyce Carol Oates, Twitter, misogyny, and atheism

In today’s New York Times Sunday Review, Frank Bruni interviews author Joyce Carol Oates in a piece called “Tweeting toward sacrilege.”

I hadn’t realized that the literarily prolific Oates had a Twitter feed—nor that she was an atheist—and it seems uncharacteristic, but she does use Twitter (here) and is quite prolific. As Bruni reports, her recent tw–ts dealt with the problem of sexual harassment and rape in Egypt:

On her Twitter feed she saw a statistic that chilled her. And she tweeted, “Where 99.3% of women report having been sexually harassed & rape is epidemic — Egypt — natural to inquire: what’s the predominant religion?” [Bruni, by the way, notes that the 99.3% figure is questionable.]

. . . She also wrote, “ ‘Rape culture’ has no relationship to any ‘religious culture’ — how can this be? Religion has no effect on behavior at all?”

Fellow writers and intellectuals freaked. On various byways of the Internet, she was blasted for anti-Muslim bigotry. A “furor,” The Wall Street Journal called it, and in a headline no less.

Oh, for crying out loud? The Islamophobia canard again. If people claim that misogyny in Muslim cultures has nothing to do with religion, they’re blind, and I won’t engage them.  Oates is eminently sensible in her interview:

Oates calls herself a humanist, rejects the conventional notion of divinity and told me, “I don’t have a sense that there are sacred institutions. To me, all religions and all churches are created by human beings.” In that regard, she added, “They’re not that different from, say, the whole legal culture or the medical culture or the scientific culture.” About which you can say or ask almost anything at all.

SHE finds certain barriers and etiquette curious. “If you thought that women were being mistreated 50 miles from where you are, you might want to go help them,” she said. “But if you were told it was a religious commune or something, you’d think, ‘Uh-oh, that’s their religion, maybe I shouldn’t help them.’ It’s like religion is under a dome. It gives an imprimatur to behavior that shouldn’t be tolerated.”

Is she saying that Islam oppresses women?

Although she expressed concern about Shariah law, she didn’t go that far, and she noted that most religions were patriarchies.

Islam stands out for her in terms of the extra-special sensitivity surrounding discussion of it. . . “We can have cartoons about the pope,” she said. “Making fun of the pope just seems to be something that a Catholic might do.” She added, “But if you have a cartoon, or make a film, about radical Islam, then you’re in danger of your life.”

Oates is surprised at the media kerfuffle her tw–ts engendered, but if she’d been following the Islamophobia crowd like Glenn Greenwald, it was entirely predictable.

She shook her head, looked toward her llama-less yard [she's buying a her of llamas] and said, “It’s a little surprising to me that social media have turned out to be kind of prissy and prim and politically correct.”

And racist towards Muslims, who aren’t expected to behave as well as everyone else. Really, whose fault is it that you risk death by publishing a cartoon about Mohamed? The West’s?

h/t: Greg Mayuer

95 Comments

  1. Posted July 14, 2013 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    I have lived in several Muslim countries in which there are hardly any rapes at all, so indeed, rape in countries like Egypt are not linked to religion. Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted – by your logic, that is due to the Christian religion.

    • gbjames
      Posted July 14, 2013 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      Which Muslim countries are those?

      • Posted July 14, 2013 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

        Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Pattani (Thailand), Crimea, among others.

        • gbjames
          Posted July 14, 2013 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

          Almost no rape? Please document.

            • gbjames
              Posted July 14, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

              I would recommend that you take a look at the first paragraph of the page that you provide as documentation for the claim.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted July 14, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

                Ah gbjames you beat me to it!

                Statistics on rape and sexual assault are commonly available in advanced countries and are becoming more common throughout the world.

                I didn’t see any stats on the countries you mentioned at all. I strongly suspect they are not available. Furthermore, this paragraph is telling as well:

                According to the American Medical Association (1995), sexual violence, and rape in particular, is considered the most under-reported violent crime.

                In many Muslim countries women are punished if they are raped. How often would these women come forward.

                Based on you initial sentence that you lived in Muslim countries and women were not raped there and then your follow up accusation to gbjames about not traveled the world, I suspect your remarks are anecdotal at best.

              • Posted July 14, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

                And I would recommend that both of you spool down to “Rape at the national level, number of police-recorded offenses”

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted July 14, 2013 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

                Police recorded is telling…..

              • Notagod
                Posted July 15, 2013 at 9:27 am | Permalink

                vierotchka! It’s only rape if the victim is caught and convicted. You see no problem?

        • Kevin Alexander
          Posted July 14, 2013 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

          And not all of those places have that much sand for you to stick your head in. Amazing!

          • Posted July 14, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

            Unlike you, I am not afflicted with the ostrich syndrome.

            • gbjames
              Posted July 14, 2013 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

              My irony alarm is shrieking.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 14, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      What statistics are you referencing? I found these well referenced statistics very telling about rape and other women’s issues in the Muslim world: http://wikiislam.net/wiki/Muslim_Statistics_(Women)

      And good for Joyce Carol Oates! I like her even more now!

      • Posted July 14, 2013 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

        Statistics with regard to what, exactly?

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted July 14, 2013 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

          To your statement where you say: “there are hardly any rapes at all”. It would seem that you would have a statistic to support this statement.

        • gbjames
          Posted July 14, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

          Your claim, frankly, sounds a bit like Mahmoud Ahamadinijad’s claim that there are no homosexuals in Iran.

          • Posted July 14, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_statistics where you will discover that those countries with the highest rate of rapes are NOT Muslim countries.

          • Posted July 14, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

            It strikes me that you have hardly traveled around the world, if at all. Your comparison is ludicrous.

            • gbjames
              Posted July 14, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

              Well, vierotchka, you would be wrong on that count, too.

              • Posted July 14, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

                In that case, you are not, like me, a woman who traveled alone and stayed for long periods of time in many countries and stayed in modest accommodations or with locals, but a man who traveled and stayed for short periods of time in luxury and the isolating comfort of “little America” hotel chains such as Intercontiental Hotels and Holyday Inns. How many languages do yo speak?

              • gbjames
                Posted July 14, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

                You must have quite a crystal ball there, to know so much, and yet so little, about other commenters. Should we start counting the logical fallacies here?

              • Posted July 14, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

                It was you lot who demonstrated total ignorance about me, your hypocrisy notwithstanding. As for logical fallacies, they are yours exclusively, beginning with straw man.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted July 14, 2013 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

                No one said anything about you vierotchka, we just asked for evidence to back up your claims. You’re the one that made judgments about gbjames in an effort to divert us from questioning your statements.

                In these parts, we require proof when making claims. I’m sure you know this.

              • Posted July 14, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

                Oh really? I guess you missed the following addressed to me:

                “Your claim, frankly, sounds a bit like Mahmoud Ahamadinijad’s claim that there are no homosexuals in Iran.”, “And not all of those places have that much sand for you to stick your head in. Amazing!”

                No doubt there will be more in the same vein from people obviously very young and inexperienced.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted July 14, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

                That was about your claim vierotchka! No one attacked you personally or said anything about you at all. Make a claim, back it up with real evidence or you will be questioned.

              • Posted July 14, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

                Both were personal attacks and insults, and you know it.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted July 14, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

                Um no. They were questions. A personal insult is well personal. It would be like someone calling you dumb or fat. And don’t go saying I just did that. Those are examples. Asking for you to prove what you said is not an insult to you.

              • Posted July 14, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

                Where on earth do you find questions, let alone question marks, in these statements?

                “Your claim, frankly, sounds a bit like Mahmoud Ahamadinijad’s claim that there are no homosexuals in Iran.”, “And not all of those places have that much sand for you to stick your head in. Amazing!”,

              • Posted July 14, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

                Furthermore, they both illustrate lack of respect for women, the same kind of lack of respect for, and fear of, women that lead to rape.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted July 14, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

                Nope again. I’m a woman here. I’ve never been treated disrespectfully and don’t try to say that what anyone says here comes close to leading to rape! THAT is disrespectful!

              • Posted July 14, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

                You were not the author of either of those personal attacks and insults against me, posted by men, and yes, they are in the same spirit that leads many men to rape women – rape is about wanting to control a woman, wanting to have power over them, to get a (false) sense of superiority over women, and not really about sexuality (except in those countries where men do not have access to women outside of marriage, of course).

              • Posted July 14, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

                I must add that you appear to have led an extremely sheltered life and have never experienced sexual abuse, rape, or disrespect from men the way so many women have experienced.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted July 14, 2013 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

                Sorry but the men on this site are not disrespectful to women nor are the trying to dominate women. They are only asking questions. You are insulting them and myself. I will not engage you further and I recommend they do not either (see, I can do that, they won’t mind if I make a recommendation to them because they aren’t trying to dominate me). They’re free to not heed my recommendation of course.

              • Posted July 14, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

                So in your books, these statements “Your claim, frankly, sounds a bit like Mahmoud Ahamadinijad’s claim that there are no homosexuals in Iran.”, “And not all of those places have that much sand for you to stick your head in. Amazing!” were questions and not disrespectful? You seem to have very low standards.

              • gbjames
                Posted July 14, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

                Good one, vierotchka! Well, not really. Please show where I or someone else made claims about you, other than that you had not supported your rather remarkable assertion (“almost no rape in muslim countries”) with any real evidence.

                But you managed to divine that 1) I have never traveled the world, 2) I stay in luxury hotels, and 3) I’m a man. Well, one out of three ain’t bad. But you had a 50/50 chance of getting my sex right. So I’n not really that impressed.

              • Posted July 14, 2013 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

                Uh, even you authored one of the following:

                “Your claim, frankly, sounds a bit like Mahmoud Ahamadinijad’s claim that there are no homosexuals in Iran.”, “And not all of those places have that much sand for you to stick your head in. Amazing!”

                As for your stating “But you managed to divine that 1) I have never traveled the world, 2) I stay in luxury hotels, and 3) I’m a man. Well, one out of three ain’t bad. But you had a 50/50 chance of getting my sex right. So I’n not really that impressed.”, that is the typical lame rebuttal of someone who was caught with his pants down!

              • gbjames
                Posted July 14, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

                Oh, lordy, lordy. We do have a live one here.

                If you can’t recognize the parallel between claiming that ‘muslim countries have “almost” no rape’ and ‘Iran has no homosexuals’… well what can one even say.

              • Posted July 14, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

                I basically stated that not all Muslim countries have high rates of rape when I said that in some of the Muslim countries in which I have lived had hardly any rapes at all. You continue to be obtuse or to manifest a very poor level of reading comprehension.

              • gbjames
                Posted July 14, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

                Come on, viertchka!

                You made the claim that you have lived in “several Muslim countries in which there are hardly any rapes at all. That is a remarkable claim, as remarkable as Mahmoud’s about homosexuality in Iran. And remarkable claims should be supported by some good evidence.

                The claim is implausible because rape is a problem everywhere. Instead of supporting your implausible claim with some solid evidence you provided a wiki page with pretty unreliable data, AS STATED ON THE PAGE.

                Instead of either providing better evidence, or (more reasonably) saying… “well maybe I was overstating things”, you’ve gone into personal attack mode while simultaneously pretending to be under personal assault.

                It is not a convincing act. The personal ans sexist insults you detect are in your own head.

              • Posted July 14, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

                Both what you wrote and what Kevin Alexander wrote were personal insults and attacks. If you are not aware of it, you are beyond redemption.

              • Posted July 14, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

                Furthermore, I never said that these insults were sexist, per se, but they both stemmed from a deep-seated and usually hidden disdain for women, especially those who disagree with you and prove you wrong.

              • gbjames
                Posted July 14, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

                *and (not “ans”)

              • Posted July 14, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

                The “personal attacks” consisted only of saying that your head is in the sand, which is not a personal attack. Furthermore, to equate this with rape, as you do explicitly, is completely ridiculous. Stop the invective now, vierotchka, and stick with the issues and the statistics, which you’ve avoided completely.

                If you don’t do that, you’ll never comment here again.

              • gbjames
                Posted July 14, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

                As for me, I’m going to take the sage advice of Diana MacPherson.

            • Kevin Alexander
              Posted July 14, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

              …what Kevin Alexander wrote were personal insults and attacks.

              I went back and read what I wrote and it does look insulting. I apologize.
              What I was attempting to say in a light hearted kind of way was that your claim that there is little rape in the places you’ve been is patently absurd. You can’t see it because you’re trying not to. Go over to Avicenna’s blog at FTB and hear what he has to say about rape culture in India where of course they deny it exists.

              • Posted July 14, 2013 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

                Apology accepted. Note that I didn’t mention India at all, and in India, the overwhelming majority of rapes are committed by Hindus, not Muslims.

              • Alan G Nixon
                Posted July 15, 2013 at 1:58 am | Permalink

                @vierotchka

                Your statements about there being low levels of rape in Muslim countries is most likely incorrect. Even those countries that have good record keeping and recognize rape as a significant crime still under report sex crimes. I think crime reporting is the most significant issue with your analysis. Countries with higher levels of reported rape most likely have more efficient criminal systems that recognize rape as a significant crime. A lack of records does not mean a lack of crime. It often means the crime is under recognized or under reported. I suspect incidence of rape is fairly universal and higher in countries with lower levels of policing and less efficient criminal justice systems. Thus I suspect what we are actually seeing here is a record keeping issue, reinforced by lack of support for victims.

              • teacupoftheapocalypse
                Posted July 15, 2013 at 7:10 am | Permalink

                vieroychka stated “in India, the overwhelming majority of rapes are committed by Hindus, not Muslims.”

                Given that over 80% of the population of India are Hindu, that is always going to be a statistical certainty.

    • Posted July 14, 2013 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

      Saw this report on CNN about the soaring number of rapes in Egypt. The story provides links to related stories, including one about a Salafist cleric who claims women in Tahir Square “have no shame and want to be raped.”

      http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/03/opinion/burleigh-rapes-tahrir-square/index.html

    • Posted July 14, 2013 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

      There are other factors at work. The important point is that the culture in a country has a large sway on how much rape will happen, and religion IS part of that culture.

      The christian faith does influence the amount of sexual assault in the US.

    • teacupoftheapocalypse
      Posted July 15, 2013 at 5:43 am | Permalink

      Under Sharia Law, if a woman claims to have been raped, then she will have to produce four male, Muslim witnesses to prove her claim. If she is unable to produce the witnesses and if the man does not confess to rape himself, the man will not be punished, but the woman will be punished for ‘slander’ because she could not prove her accusation. Moreover, if the woman is married, she is also very likely that she will be prosecuted for adultery. If the rape victim is accused of adultery, she may find it very difficult to prove her innocence, as the Qur’an (2.282) establishes that a woman’s testimony is worth only half that of a man’s in court.

      Even if rape is proven, the woman can still be forced to marry the man who raped her: http://thediplomat.com/asean-beat/2013/05/23/outrage-after-sharia-court-allows-rapist-to-marry-his-13-year-old-victim/

      Given the above, is it possible that incidences of rape in Islamic countries are vastly under-reported?

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted July 15, 2013 at 6:17 am | Permalink

        Yes. Yes, it is.

    • teacupoftheapocalypse
      Posted July 20, 2013 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      And, of course, any woman who is raped in a Muslim country can report the matter to the police, safe in the knowledge that justice will be seen to be done: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-23381448

  2. Taylor M. Brown
    Posted July 14, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Not sure how to go about emailing you (if that’s even a possibility), but I came across a tweet from Steven Pinker that may interest some of your readers.

    His tweet refers you to a paper reevaluating the evolution of language in humans, suggesting that instead of evolving fairly recently (50-100kya) it was quite probably found in H. heidelbergensis (500kya), the common ancestor of Neadertals and Modern Humans.

    http://www.frontiersin.org/Language_Sciences/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00397/full

    I thought it was fairly interesting.

    • Marella
      Posted July 14, 2013 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

      About time they figured this out. There’s no way something as deeply ingrained as language could have arisen in the last 100K years.

      • Taylor M. Brown
        Posted July 14, 2013 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

        That’s partly what they say. They also make a brief comparison to the evolution of sonar in bats and the evolution of song in birds.
        Apparently, it took ~50my for birds to evolve the ability to sing. So, 500ky for humans is a drop in the bucket compared to other animals.

        I think we can still presume that the picture is incomplete. Moreover, one of the main points of the article was to dispel some theories proposed by Noam Chomsky and others that it had to of evolved in the past 50,000 years. We can now safely say that it probably took a slow, and gradual process.

  3. Pliny the in Between
    Posted July 14, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    For what it’s worth I think it’s interesting for men to imagine what Islam would be like if the shoe were on the other foot.

    Imagine if men were morally responsible for their behavior toward women – oh wait, we already are.

    http://pictoraltheology.blogspot.com/2013/05/if-prophet-had-been-woman.html

  4. Patrick
    Posted July 14, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    What does tw-ts mean? Google is giving me links about heat transfer which doesn’t fit the context.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 14, 2013 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

      Ha ha! Fill in the dash with two e’s. :) Jerry doesn’t like that word. :)

  5. Posted July 14, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    **

  6. jesperbothpedersen1
    Posted July 14, 2013 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    “Oh, for crying out loud? The Islamophobia canard again. If people claim that misogyny in Muslim cultures has nothing to do with religion, they’re blind, and I won’t engage them.”

    Criticising Islam can be a tricky affair sometimes.

    The irony is that the history of misogony is ripe with religious male chauvinism, and yet a lot of people are convinced that religion aren’t to blame.

    Hypothetically speaking would misogony be less of a problem if the worlds religion were abolished?

    Or would it just reveal that male chauvinism is is a fact of life because of our animal nature?

    • gbjames
      Posted July 14, 2013 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      Less of a problem? Clearly. Some of the major justifications for misogyny would be absent.

      Still a problem? Yes, clearly. There is still misogyny in the atheist community.

      • jesperbothpedersen1
        Posted July 14, 2013 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

        “Less of a problem? Clearly. Some of the major justifications for misogyny would be absent.”

        I’d hope so , but I’m honestly not sure. Of course the justification would be gone and you’d be forced to call a spade a spade, which is a good thing.

        “Still a problem? Yes, clearly. There is still misogyny in the atheist community.”

        Which to me begs the question, why?

        Hopefully as atheism grows and evolves, we’ll see some proper research in these areas of social science.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted July 14, 2013 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

          I think there is some research at least trending anyway. If you read Steven Pinker’s book (Better Angels of Our Nature) rape is on the decline and women’s rights on the up tick.

          Anecdotally just looking at attitudes toward women, even in my own lifetime, I remember my mother going into stores like Radio Shack and being horribly condescended. I experienced this myself as a young girl but now no one treats me that way and I usually don’t get that type of condescending attitude.

          An amusing (but irritating) exception: a few years ago I went to get my car looked at because it had symptoms of a messed up oxygen sensor and the check engine light was on. I had already taken out the oxygen sensor and cleaned it so I told them not to do that as that wasn’t the issue. Foolishly, I was wearing a skirt with flowers on it and a sweater with a bow – a satin bow!!! The guy at the desk looked at me and said, his voice dripping with paternalism, “how did you know to do that?” Duh! I told him it wasn’t hard, I just got out my book and found where it was, took it out and sprayed it so as not to touch the delicate wire. Of course he ignored me and I ended up bringing the car back the next day!

          We all had a laugh about that when I went back to work (although it was very annoying). On my last day at that job I was actually wearing that same girly outfit and my boss got me flowers. We all joked that I should walk into that repair shop dressed in my girly outfit carrying the flowers and see if I get the same condescension! :D

          • jesperbothpedersen1
            Posted July 14, 2013 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

            “I think there is some research at least trending anyway. If you read Steven Pinker’s book (Better Angels of Our Nature) rape is on the decline and women’s rights on the up tick.”

            Cool, thanks. I’ve been watching a few Steven Pinker videos on youtube. It might be time to read up on his works.

            “Anecdotally just looking at attitudes toward women, even in my own lifetime, I remember my mother going into stores like Radio Shack and being horribly condescended. I experienced this myself as a young girl but now no one treats me that way and I usually don’t get that type of condescending attitude.”

            I absolutely think you’re right, the trend is moving in a positive direction. I was just wondering about the core of the problem ( if there is such a thing ).

            “An amusing (but irritating) exception: a few years ago…”

            Haha, autoshops are like locker rooms sometimes. I applaud your stoic disposition towards him, I wouldn’t have been able to hold my tongue. :-)

            • Old Rasputin
              Posted July 14, 2013 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

              Well, yeah, getting to the “core” of any problem can be a tricky business when the system in question is something as messy as a human being, let alone a whole society of them.

              Personally, I suspect that much of our moral behaviour is guided by outside approval of one’s family, peers, community, society, etc, and when you have an institution as large and important as the major religions that says pretty explicitly, “women are second-class citizens”, it really contributes to our society’s acceptance of chauvinist attitudes as the norm. It makes it that much easier for people to think, “well, that’s just how it is”, or “everybody knows it’s true, that… [insert cultural assumption]“.

              I’m not saying there’s no genetic element – there probably is – but I think marginalizing/changing religion will go a long way toward “un-mainstreaming” misogyny.

              • Old Rasputin
                Posted July 14, 2013 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

                Although, to argue with myself, I think we’ve seen something of a corner turned in the United States recently with regard to gay rights, and AFAIK that has happened without the consent or participation of any religious powers that be.

                Maybe things will continue to improve with the church being dragged along behind, kicking and screaming the whole way? A part of me perversely hopes so, but in reality it would probably speed up the process if religious institutions would begin actively endorsing homosexuality (and no, raping children does not count as endorsement).

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted July 14, 2013 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

                Yes, what was awesome about the relatively quick turn around wrt gay rights is the churches were really paying catch up as everyone else left them in the dust!

        • West87
          Posted July 15, 2013 at 12:44 am | Permalink

          “Which to me begs the question, why?

          Hopefully as atheism grows and evolves, we’ll see some proper research in these areas of social science.”

          Why not? For most parts throughout the history women have been second calss citizens. Even in countries like Japan have women’s right struggles, and religion is non-issue in Japan.

          Atheism isn’t some kind of cure for today’s social issues. Even if you don’t believe in deities you can be person filled with hate and xenophobia.

      • Posted July 14, 2013 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

        I think (read: hope) it is a cultural issue and that aboriginal cultures lacking misogyny prove so. I read something, somewhere, to that effect, and I’ve also read that Islam copied Christianity in some things, Judaism in others; e.g. turning religious centers of conquered lands into mosques, for the former, and, of course, the single god and written book for the latter through the former.

    • stephen
      Posted July 14, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

      Hang on a moment-what is all this knee-hating stuff about,please?

  7. Graham Martin-Royle
    Posted July 14, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    vierotchka
    Posted July 14, 2013 at 1:44 pm | Permalink
    Apology accepted. Note that I didn’t mention India at all, and in India, the overwhelming majority of rapes are committed by Hindus, not Muslims.

    I think a statement like that really needs something to back it up.

    • Posted July 14, 2013 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

      It wouldn’t surprise me, as 4/5 of India’s religious would be Hindu. (13.5% Muslim).

      Of course this says nothing about RATES, which would be a more enlightening statistic to base that statement around. And if 75-95% of rapes are estimated to be unreported in England (Crown Prosecution Service, 2007), who the hell knows what is going on in India. (let alone what numbers of the unreported in England are due to “family honor” issues (i.e. religio-cultural).

      Such a big shitbag of unknowns, I’d be surprised if anyone has a decent handle on what is happening.

  8. Posted July 14, 2013 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Wow. Four dozen comments in a flame war about which culture has the worst rapists, and nothing else. I’m thinking this is one thread where I’m better off not checking the “subscribe” box….

    b&

    • Taylor M. Brown
      Posted July 14, 2013 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      It’s too late for me…

    • Diane G.
      Posted July 14, 2013 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

      + 1

      Applause for Diana & gb, though.

      • Taylor M. Brown
        Posted July 14, 2013 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

        (Clap, clap, clap.)

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted July 15, 2013 at 11:02 am | Permalink

        Thanks Diane! Maybe everyone was too excited about Bastille Day between this thread and the Heffernan one.:)

  9. ladyatheist
    Posted July 14, 2013 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Egypt certainly has a problem:

    http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2013/07/03/ngos-101-sexual-assault-cases-in-tahrir-square-since-friday/</a.

  10. Ken Kukec
    Posted July 14, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Where were the cries of outrage over her blatant upper-middle-class-suburban-WASP-o-phobia back when Ms. Oates published that anti-rape screed We Were the Mulvaneys?

  11. gg
    Posted July 14, 2013 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    A commenter to the Frank Bruni column on Oates gave a sharp insight into the Islamaphobia canard:

    “Where Muslims are in a majority, there are blasphemy laws; where Muslims are a minority, there is the shield of so-called Islamophobia.”

  12. Romuald.
    Posted July 15, 2013 at 1:59 am | Permalink

    IMHO, the role of religion is not direct here. Let me begin from the beginning.

    In the beginning, culture was violent and misogynistic. Then came the religion. Being based on trends of it time, religion was, itself, violent and misogynistic.

    And, as religion still influences culture a lot in many areas, it pushes violence – and misogyny – towards a culturally more accepted position. It is not a direct effect. Religion does not create rapes. Yet, it creates an atmoshpere where people have different views upon what is moral, and what is not. Hence the indirect effect.

  13. George Rumens
    Posted July 15, 2013 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    A little observation, having travelled and often lived in about 70 countries. There seem to be some areas of some Muslim countries (away from the cities) where the sexes are separated and women are strong, so rape is not tolerated; places such as Southern Algeria.
    But the missing point today is the extraordinary and rather shocking effect rape has upon some younger victims, sending them into a spiral of permanent depression. Many governments of developing countries do not appreciate the serious consequences of rape on most of its victims. Rape may seem a quick act, but it leaves permanent trauma. It would seem that rape victims often lose self-confidence and self-regard and are never able to regain it. The phrase ‘psychic murder’ comes to mind, whatever that means.

    • Diane G.
      Posted July 15, 2013 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      It can also be brutal and violent and result in tissue damage or worse. It can occur repeatedly over time or involve more than one, sometimes several attackers. In other words–not just a quick act, and not just a matter of “losing self-confidence.”

  14. George Rumens
    Posted July 16, 2013 at 1:35 am | Permalink

    Dear Diana G,
    Thanx for that. I would hate to have understated it. It’s just that men have to go a long way to understand why rape is so very dangerous for its victims. I used to film in the war-zones and came to understand it. In one of my (yet unpublished!) novels, The Goose of Sarajevo, based upon my experiences in the Bosnian War, I felt compelled to describe the ‘rape-camps’ where women, mosly Muslim women, were raped repeatedly, then murdered by wrapping them in plastic! The publishers said ‘Too much reality!’. But it is what happened. Incidently, I had to be careful in writing about it so not to arouse the odd pervert.

    • Diane G.
      Posted July 16, 2013 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

      I’m certainly impressed by your experiences and your writing and moved by your empathy. Your last point has been a concern of mine as well whenever sexual violence is portrayed.

      I’ve not been able to continue reading authors who conflate violence and arousal; Jerzy Kosinski, for instance.

  15. George Rumens
    Posted July 17, 2013 at 1:33 am | Permalink

    Dear D.G.
    But sadly, tragically, there is more. When I first began to film in Africa, I was immediately disturbed to realise that for the most part, African women formed a slave class. The seemed to do all the work; – growing crops for the family with a child on their backs, walking many miles to the market to sell a few of their produce, then having the money taken by their menfolk; walking miles to gather water and wood, and cooking well into the evening. The lived in a quiet resignation, looked exhausted all the time, and died young. And here’s the thing. My cameraman, younger than I, saw nothing of this! He seemed strangely blind to it all.
    And I made some small progress. A large West African technical school (which I had help set-up) released the girls from the huts where they bent over sewing machines, and gave them access to training in building, motor-engineering, and even welding! It was all so daring. After several trips, I returned and made films for charities in the UK, stressing that ‘Development’ should be about women, school, and contraception. My greatest and most private hope was to get African women into their simple Law-Schools as a step towards local and national governments. Alas, time, and my need to start my own family took me away from all that. But once stricken with an awareness of women’s rights, it never goes away.


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