Emma Watson the latest target of ultra-PC, US feminism……..

Yesterday, a friend drew my attention to this piece by Mia McKenzie (from Black Girl Dangerous) about Emma Watson’s recent UN speech on gender equality.


I have written before about a common tendency among a small, privileged group of US academics and bloggers demonising and hounding any white woman who dares to speak on the subject of gender equality or women’s rights. Predictably it was belittled, ridiculed and demonised by many who had not even read the piece, judging by the exaggerated and inaccurate comments.

SO what are we supposed to make of Mc Kenzie’s thoughts here? On the one hand, I agree with McKenzie in terms of some of the problematic aspects of Watson’s speech such as:

Telling men that they should care about gender inequality because of how much it hurts them, centralizes men and their well-being in a movement built by women for our survival in a world that degrades and dehumanizes us daily. This is problematic for the same reason telling white people that they should end racism because racism “holds us all back as a society, so eradicating it will help you, too,” is problematic….

The underlying message here is that women deserve equity and equality because of our relationships to men. Continuing to re-enforce the idea that men should respect women and fight for women’s equality because mother/sister/daughter/whatever perpetuates the idea that women don’t already deserve those things based solely on our status as human beings. It encourages men to think of women always and only in relation to themselves, as if our pseudo-humanity is only an after-thought of men’s real humanity. The truth is that women are whole, complete people, regardless of our status in the lives of men. This is what men should hear, over and over again. This is what everyone should hear, every day.


However, McKenzie then goes on:

“I hope that as Emma Watson continues to grow into her feminism she’ll chuck these unfortunate approaches. But, frankly, it’ll take a lot more than that for me to see her as the “game-changing” feminist she’s being called. Where’s her analysis of racial justice and its necessity in ending gender inequality? What does she know about misogynoir? Does she understand that wealthy white women like her are often oppressors of women of color and/or poor women in the world? Where’s her understanding of transfeminism? Can she explain to the UN, or anyone else, why violence against trans women needs to be centered in our work against misogyny? Does she know and can she articulate that ableism is woven into not only gender inequality, but every form of oppression that exists? And, importantly, does she understand that as a white woman she is granted access and taken seriously by mainstream feminism in ways that a woman of color wouldn’t be and why, then, it’s necessary for her to step aside and make room for women of color to be heard if gender inequality is ever to be eradicated? Because any real “game-changing” feminist needs to.”

This for me is ‘problematic’, particularly in terms of its self-righteous, patronising, US-centric approach. Let’s first look at McKenzie’s claim that women of colour are not ‘taken seriously by mainstream feminism’. Is she talking about the US here or other parts of the world? She then also cites some statistics which are either problematic and biased about women and rape or which apply only to women in the USA. Considering that Watson is British, and Europe in general has some of the highest levels of gender equality on the planet, it is surprising that McKenzie fails to acknowledge or learn from that aspect in her analysis.

In addition, her claim trivialises and demeans the efforts and mainstream impact of women of colour such as  Malala and Beyonce. McKenzie’s issue here appears to be that Watson (being white, rich, hetero and able-bodied) is not sufficiently qualified to speak on behalf of other women. However, I could equally argue that Beyonce cannot adequately represent me or millions of women either. How can she represent women who are very poor, lower class, physically unattractive, old, not American etc.? Yes, Watson has more privileges than the majority of us, but are people seriously suggesting that a woman must be old, fat, ugly, uneducated, poor, disabled etc. before they can authentically speak about sexism and misogyny? Isn’t it asking a bit too much of Watson or any other woman to be able to do that?

It is a valid point about white feminist privilege and women of colour being historically excluded from dialogue, representation and inclusion in discussions about women’s rights and experiences. However, to then use that point to mean that white women should be cowed into PC obeisance or silence whenever they speak on the subject, and that women of colour (no matter what their economic class, education, cultural and linguistic background) are naturally entitled to speak on behalf of women, is taking it way too far.

There is room for a variety of women’s voices in feminism, Watson’s included. I congratulate Watson for taking the brave stance of speaking out about gender inequality and for using her fame and status to encourage men to get involved in the feminist movement. While I agree with McKenzie that Watson’s comments about men are problematic, overall I still think we should be thanking her. How many mainstream A-list actresses (white or of colour) are prepared to discuss gender equality and feminism in a public context? And despite Watson’s lack of thorough, ‘game-changing’ analysis of the topic, I am confident that Watson’s speech will provide comfort, change, solace and awareness to millions more women and men than McKenzie et al. ever will. That might not be fair but that’s the reality, folks.

For those who want to see Watson’s whole speech (click below):


The prison of worldly ambition……

The last couple of years, when people ask me what my ambition is, I say to be a happy, decent human being, to be useful to other sentient beings, a good mother to my son and to be able to die well. It is not that I have given up ambition, but I have no interest any more in worldly ambition e.g. being a ‘name’, having power, status, money, acclaim etc. A friend suggested to me recently that everyone wants to leave an imprint, to make it into the history books. I said ‘whose history books?’  The impact anyone leaves remains, whether or not anyone acknowledges it. If our motivation is to have a good impact, and it does, then it does not matter whether or not people recognise it as such. History books are full of people who had little to zero beneficial impact, and absent are millions who had a very positive impact. This is why we cannot judge a person’s life or actions from worldly acknowledgement alone. The impact of a person’s actions and ideas sometimes cannot even be seen for many lives to come. If our actions are motivated by worldly ambitions they automatically become a cause of suffering for ourselves and others. If that looks like being a ‘failure’ in your eyes, those are your eyes, not mine.

Modi stands up to China on Tibet…….but for the wrong reasons.

When will we ever learn that a planet run by greedy, patriarchal men in suits spells disaster for everyone?

Great to hear Modi standing up to the Chinese leader on Tibet but for the wrong reasons. Not because he’s concerned about human rights or the illegal colonisation of TIbet but because China is trying to claim territorial rights over Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.

“India, earlier, routinely recognised Tibet Autonomous Region as an integral part of China in all the joint declarations and bilateral documents. It also remained committed to “One-China policy”, thus consistently denying recognition to the existence of Republic of China or Taiwan. New Delhi, however, has been keeping both the references out of all bilateral diplomatic texts since 2010, in response to China’s policy of issuing “stapled visas”.

Modi also turned down Xi’s request to restrict the activities of the Dalai Lama, whose advice to China to learn from India’s democracy was aired by TV channels.”


Trying to get back to nature……

wage slaveAs my son ran outside this morning to play in the nearby fields with the Indian children next door and fresh organic milk delivered to my door, I knew it would be difficult to get such a life for a child living in a town or city. The ‘modern’ emphasis on material growth, education for knowledge and career only, the obsessive consumerism made me feel nauseous and claustrophobic when I was in Europe. Never have I felt so disconnected. On the other hand, many people feel trapped by it too. With wages going down and prices going up, many are literally living hand to mouth to pay the rent and survive. I love Europe especially the gender equality there and the high standards of living and education. And there is no denying that law and order, human rights, health facilities and economic opportunities are much better there too, but the economic system of neo liberal capitalism is making wage slaves of us all. I realised although money and education are important for freedom and opportunity, there is a balance to be had and simplicity is the key. Eating local food, consuming only what one needs, having few possessions, a happy and loving heart, play, joy, closeness to nature and creativity, learning for inner development, to be able to gaze at the clear night sky, these are things that cannot be bought but are priceless. They keep us in touch with our fundamental Buddha nature.

Where are all the women? What my bookshelf says about the continuing effects of patriarchy

Ben Irwin


The other day, I did one of those “10 books that stayed with me” status updates on Facebook. It’s a thing that’s been going around for a while now. (After more than 130,000 such lists were tallied, Harry Potter came out on top, in case you were wondering.)

For my list, I chose to highlight 10 books that had a lasting theological impact. Later that day, one of my friends gently pointed out what, in hindsight, seems like a glaring omission:

There were no women on my list.

I have to be honest. I was a little embarrassed when I realized this. And alarmed. What bothered me even more than the fact that there were no women was the fact that I hadn’t even noticed my failure to include any.

I’m committed to gender equality. I’ve written about my theological journey from complementarianism to egalitarianism, and how…

View original post 735 more words

A referendum to end the crisis in Tibet

Agree. Campaigning for self-determination is the way forward. Not bickering and fighting over Middle Way or Rangzen. Tibetans should be demanding a referendum on the issue from the Chinese and international governments.

Tsamtruk Network

By Tsering Passang (First published on 30 August 2012 by openDemocracy.net)

Allowing Tibetans in Tibet to choose their own destiny may be the only way to end the current crisis and political deadlock.

In November 2008, the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile convened the First Special General Meeting on Tibet in Dharamsala, northern India, attracting 560 Tibetan delegates from nineteen countries. After six days of intense deliberations on ways to find a resolution to the urgent crisis in Tibet, the summit released final recommendations, which included urging the continued leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and pursuing his ‘Middle-Way’ Approach. I attended this important meeting from London.

Four years on, many changes have taken place worldwide, including the Arab Spring that brought the downfall of repressive regimes in some North African countries, and the creation of a new state – South Sudan. On the Sino-Tibetan conflict, despite unprecedented events of over 50…

View original post 838 more words

Does bowing down to people have a place in liberal, secular democracies?

Today, I saw the Tibetan exile Leader Lobsang Sangay walking near the Tibetan Parliament building in Dharamsala. Wearing his trademark sunglasses and chuba, I noticed how Tibetans near me leapt to their feet and bowed in a show of respect. Whereas the non-Tibetans remained seated. Not out of any disrespect, more out of a) not knowing who he was or b) coming from a culture where politicians are not bowed down to. I joked to a Tibetan next to me, if that had been David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, I doubt any British person would have got to their feet and bowed like that. That in most secular democracies, the general view is that as we have voted this person into this position of power and influence, we are their ‘boss’ and therefore, they should be bowing and scraping to us, the general public, on whom their very job and position relies!

As for the tradition of bowing to the British Queen……an archaic relic of feudalism, privilege and oligarchy. We are all born equal after all, or is it as Orwell said: ‘Some are more equal than others’?


Perhaps more politicians and businessmen should follow the example of these Korean politicians, including their Leader Park Gi-chun, who gathered in Seoul last year to apologize to voters by bowing three times. Whether or not it was genuine, it certainly brings a temporary smile (or ass) to the face…..