I have been meaning to blog about this since I read this post in Azadah Pourzand’s blog last August.
The above, from the post I am referring to, depicts stonings. The circled portion is of a woman, dressed in pink, in all likelihood veiled, stoned to death in a pit.
Azadah Pourzand’s mother, Mehrangiz Kar, who blogs in Farsi, had written about stonings and, in response, received a letter from a man who is now 40 whose mother was stoned to death before his eyes when he was 14. She had been forced into prostitution to support her family– it had been her only option. For this “crime” she was stoned to death. Her male customers, of course, walked. Maybe some participated in stoning her.
From this man’s e-mail:
Have you ever held a bloody tool in your hands with which they have murdered your mother?
Have you ever touched the bloody skin and hair of your mother who has just been killed in a deep hole?
Have you ever followed the line of your mother’s blood in order to find her corpse thrown at the back of a truck?
Have you ever seen the fresh grave of that dearest being with a small piece of paper on which they have written her name wrapped around a small branch of tree?
Has anyone ever said a word about the children of the people who have been stoned to death?
Do you even understand what it means to be the child of a person who has been shamefully stoned to death?
Seriously who would want to sell her body, to sell her sex to anonymous men except for those women who have no other way of feeding their children?…
Women like my mother who was eventually stoned to death need your help. They need the world’s help and support. Their forgotten families, too, need the world’s help. Help them!
Tell me how many people have been executed and stoned to death since the beginning of the Islamic Revolution in Iran…What is the result of all of this violence other than the fact that the evil is now truly dominating our society?
I never forget the last words of my mother’s Islamic judge:
“I issued a verdict for stoning this woman to death so that other individuals learn a lesson from her doomed fate and to avoid sins of such nature. To execute by shooting would not have made her suffer enough!”
Alas. Twenty six years ago my mother was stoned to death before my eyes. Has these women’s tragic fate helped our society improve? Statistics show that the rates of prostitution and corruption have increased exponentially.
When Western feminists, the fun kind*, write, talk about prostitution as a “choice” for women — whether for themselves, women they know, feminists in general — do they think about all the ways that their “choice” participates in, and shores up, all of the systems, mechanisms and structures which ensure that women like this man’s mother have no meaningful choice? Do they think about how useful their arguments are to male supremacists? Do they ever really consider that everything is connected. It’s all connected. They cannot advocate for what they advocate for, do what they do, without ultimately participating in all of the mechanisms which allow for women like this mother in the pink dress to be stoned.
I know what some of them do, say, because I’ve heard them. They say we shouldn’t discuss this, lest we be accused of cultural imperalism. They say, “There are cultural issues…” (this in a discussion of prostituted 10 year old girls.) They say that the fact that these women have no meaningful choice should not mean that they, as Western feminists, limit their own “choices.”
They say a lot of things that are so many empty, meaningless words, in view of that photo up there, and those words up there.
Well, there is one thread in the fabric of that soiled and tattered rag of an argument which I intend to pull, which sorely needs to be pulled, and I am the one to pull it.
One problem with focusing on stonings in Islamic countries is it provides so much grist for the Western, and increasingly Eastern, (to wit: China), colonialist, imperialist propaganda mill. Islamic cultures, the Muslim religion, are cultures, religious beliefs which many fear and live to hate. Islamic people, themselves, are hence people who are targeted for racism, found guilty by association, by proxy, easy to scapegoat. In all of that focus, which is so very necessary to the propping up of the Bush war machine, something is very much lost: Bush, himself, panders to certain Christian men who, if they are successful in accomplishing their goals of creating a theonomy in the United States, would and will also stone women. Just as that woman in the photo was stoned. Bush not only panders to them, he has been in their pocket, responsible for the enacting of legislation and the instigation of movement in the direction of a society which would look very much like what Islamic fundamentalist societies look like.
The men Bush has pandered too, more indirectly than directly — they are at the edges of the group of men, always men, he’s pandered to directly — are all white. They are all Americans. Many are highly-respected professionals, writers, educators with advanced degrees. There is no need to demonize or villainize Islamic men and Islamic cultures for the way women are forced into prostitution, then stoned for it. We can find this kind of man, this kind of belief, this kind of politics and agenda, right here, in the United States. As Melissa sings:
We all gasp this can’t happen here
We’re all much too civilized
Where can these monsters hide
But they are knocking on our front door
They’re rocking in our cradles
They’re preaching in our churches
And eating at our tables*
I will be posting about this now. Pray for me, or light a candle for me, or just think warm thoughts in my direction. These are scary men. They are capable of much, much harm, and will feel no pangs of consciousness in the carrying out of the harm of which they are capable. I’m going to name them and call them out and let them know via trackbacks that I’m engaged in the important work of outing them, not only for my people, the people of women, but for all people of conscience, all people who love, who care and who work for a better world.
*For my purposes, the “fun” kind of feminists are feminists who endorse pornography and prostitution as matters of “choice” for women
*From Scarecrow, by Melissa Etheridge