I'm a dedicated black one piece fan

…But that’s my business really.

Women are either hussies or oppressed. Either way, we’re objects for a lot of folks. Go read all about the incredible tale of a Muslim woman who was reduced to a symbol of teh Islamic oppression in an Oxford swimming pool at Pandagon. And no matter what she said, no one would listen to her. It’s not a horrendous incident, but just a very compelling example of how everyday prejudice does harm in everyday lives.

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Posted in culture, feminism, religion
35 comments on “I'm a dedicated black one piece fan
  1. Shelina Zahara Janmohammed’s blog Spirit 21 often touches on these issues – Janmohammed is a moderate Muslim woman who chooses body modesty but recognises that not all Muslim women are free to choose their forms of dress.

    Her article The War Over Muslim Women would be a good place to start reading what she has to say.

  2. SimonC says:

    I wasn’t going to comment on this, but this is such a beat up.

    The story is this:

    1) Woman wears something funny looking
    2) Intolerant guy says something rude

    Consider this happened once in 6 months. If she swam with 99 other people, 3 times a week for 6 months, then this DIDN’T happen 7128 times. Or at a ‘rate of intolerance’ of around 0.01%.

    This story is only interesting because it indicates one of the smallest rates of intolerance in the history of the entire world.

  3. wpd says:

    SimonC, if you apply that methodology to terrorism then …

  4. Kim says:

    Indeed. And it ignores the other people who weren’t so rude to actually say something.

    The more important point, I thought, is the fact that she couldn’t make herself heard in response in any forum.

  5. Darlene says:

    Oh yes, but of course Muslim women need Western feminists to speak for them.

  6. Mr Creighton says:

    I dunno whether she couldn’t “make herself heard in response in any forum”. I’d say a 2000 word article in the Guardian a few weeks later is doing pretty well – although not commensurate with the coverage accorded the fake story, which I seem to recall getting some play here also.

  7. Pavlov's Cat says:

    Well, that didn’t take long, did it.

  8. Kim says:

    Oh yes, but of course Muslim women need Western feminists to speak for them.

    I’m not trying to, Darlene. Wherever did you get that idea from?

  9. Darlene says:

    Arrgghh, irony, irony, irony. Showing less than your average talentless RWDB there, Kim.

    I’m sure this blog has addressed issues to do with conservative commentators deriding Western feminists (whoever they are) for not sticking up for Muslim women. I was just linking the two issues.

  10. Darlene says:

    Showing less ability to get irony that is.

  11. Kim says:

    Oops, sorry, late night, Darlene!

  12. Mick Strummer says:

    Was it you Kim who published a picture of what I thought was a pretty hot looking black one-piece of yours some time last year? Anyway, I remember thinking that it – the black one-piece – should have been classed as both discrete and sexy enough to delight the heart of anyone who doesn’t think that wmoen should appear wearing a tent…

  13. Kim says:

    Yep, that was me!

    Perhaps I should amend this to read:

    …But that’s my business really. Unless I choose otherwise.

    Which adds to the point, I think.

  14. SimonC says:

    And it ignores the other people who weren’t so rude to actually say something.

    Well, isn’t that the point of ‘tolerance’?

    I think emo-kids are more prejudiced against than this woman was, based on current opinion.

  15. Kim says:

    It’s one instance of a broader social prejudice against Muslims, and it’s indicative of the way Muslim women are viewed (word chosen advisedly), and the point is precisely that she was a “modern” Islamic woman.

  16. SimonC says:

    It’s one instance of a broader social prejudice against Muslims

    That was the reason I commented. You can’t take one instance, and extrapolate it to a ‘broader social prejudice’.

  17. Kim says:

    If the broader social prejudice is well known to exist, one instance can serve as an example. I’m not generalising on the basis of this incident, I’m suggesting it exemplifies a broad phenomenon.

  18. SimonC says:

    Or perhaps it highlights how ‘broad social phenomenons’ can be constructed by chinese whispers and faulty examples.

    This current ’emo crisis’ is a good example. Would you say the events of the last week demonstrate a ‘broad social phenomenon’ of emo kids committing suicide?

  19. Kim says:

    This is what I say:


    If you don’t believe that there are certain ingrained cultural attitudes about women, Islam and Islamic women, I imagine there’s nothing I can say to convince you. But I find it incredible that you don’t believe that there is wideranging prejudice against Muslims.

  20. SimonC says:

    If you don’t believe that there are certain ingrained cultural attitudes about women, Islam and Islamic women

    Sure I believe that. I also believe there are cultural attitudes about kids with black make-up, men with eye-patches, and women who snore on the bus.

    But what if I was to blog about a single incident where 1 person with an eyepatch got told by another customer that he wasn’t welcome in the squash courts (or something) after being a member for 6 months without incident.

    ‘Go read all about the incredible tale of a one-eyed man who was reduced to a symbol of teh Pirate oppression in an Oxford squash court’ I would write, to exemplify a broad social phenomenon of the wideranging prejudice against eye-patches, and men who wore them.

    You would call me a loon.

    Wherever you go, whoever you are, and whatever you do, someone is going to dislike you. Some of them might even say so. This differs from a broad social phenomenon, and the example you give does not convince me that Oxford swimming pools are a hotbed of Islamic hate.

  21. Kim says:

    There are some cultural attitudes with a lot more valence than others – women and Islamic people are different from presumed norms in ways that are much more consequential than men with eye-patches.

    the example you give does not convince me that Oxford swimming pools are a hotbed of Islamic hate.

    Which is a misreading of what I’m saying.

  22. SimonC says:

    There are some cultural attitudes with a lot more valence

    Which is again, a part of the point. What is the valence of the cultural attitudes to midgets? To fat people? To body builders? To old people?

    You are taking an assumption (cultural attitudes towards islamic women are more negative than most) and ‘proving’ it with an isolated incident. You could probably come up with hundreds of similar ‘proofs’.

    And then you end up with a broad social phenomenon.

    I am not disproving your assumption. I just don’t believe you have made a satisfactory case.

  23. Kim says:

    You’ve completely mistaken what I’m trying to do with this post, despite my explaining it several times so further discussion is becoming pointless very quickly. If you don’t think there is gender inequality and prejudice against Muslims and if you don’t think those are more important in structuring people’s lives than opinions about eyepatches, I’d invite you to consider reading some survey and other data on the question. I’m not seeking in this post to “prove” anything from first principles.

  24. SimonC says:

    Ok, I’m sorry. I think I have confused things with the eye-patch argument.

    Consider this hypothetical:

    I am a racist. I hate muslims, and I believe they are all wife-beaters. I find an article that says a particular muslim beat his wife once. This confirms my prejudice, and so I write a blog article saying so.

    Are you saying you would not refute this line of argument?

  25. Kim says:

    Yes, I would, but the difference here is that this person is extrapolating from one instance, and what I am doing is giving an example of social cleavages and beliefs which are well supported by survey evidence and statistics for instance on the incidence of assaults and unequal social outcomes. That’s what I don’t think you’re getting, but I don’t think I can explain myself any more clearly.

  26. I’m rather surprised this happened in Oxford, where people tend to take ‘proper British manners’ to fairly ridiculous extremes. I’ve long been of the view that no amount of training will magically remove prejudice. It is possible, however, to improve social interaction, and ensure that individuals don’t spread their prejudices around in public, at work etc. I’m half tempted to offer an ‘Oxford Report’ to y’all once I’ve spent some time there (starting this coming August).

    Then of course there is the ongoing ‘town and gown’ divide, of which I suspect this may be a part. (The ‘town’ is rather high Tory; the ‘gown’ is often an odd mix of trendy left and libertarian).

  27. Kim says:

    I’m half tempted to offer an ‘Oxford Report’ to y’all once I’ve spent some time there (starting this coming August).

    That’d be really interesting, SL, hope you do!

  28. Okay then. I’ve bookmarked this thread and will email you something once I’ve been in residence for a month; I’ll also give you my (new) Oxford Uni email address once I have it. This whole business has piqued my curiousity and I’d like to chase it down. At the moment I’m looking at what Cherwell and The Oxford Student – the two university-run papers, both staffed by students – had to say.

  29. Kim says:

    Thanks, SL, much appreciated~!

  30. Totally off-topic, I know, but I’m wonderin’ – what is your black one-piece dedicated to Ms Kimberella?

  31. Nothing in either paper on Ms Omar, although this may explain why the Oxford community is on tenterhooks.

    It may also help to point out that the Oxfordshire region remains ambivalent about its famous university, and has been for nigh on 900 years. It appreciates the tax revenue from the colleges and the gracious faculty homes, along with the culture, but dislilkes many other things about the University. In days gone by this often exploded into violence; a good account is available here. That the article is still contested speaks volumes.

  32. mister z says:

    Welcome skepticlawyer. You may find an interesting reorientation of your expectations of lefty-luvvie academia, if you observe how it relates with OU’s place in the capital-e-Establishment. And brush up on your painstaking obsequiousness for dealing effectively with college administrators.

    Part of me says this is an idiotic beat up by the Oxford mail – Oxford’s local rag known to pander to the chav contingent. The Oxford that I live in – both inside and outside the walled colleges, and beyond just the streets that tourists come to see – is a fairly diverse place. 10 minutes walk down the Cowley road from the sandstone scholar theme-park in the centre of town, you’ll pass two mosques, two p*rn shops and a pawn shop, and a well-loved Jamaican eating house run by the same first-generation quarrelling Caribbean couple since forever.

    What folks here may not know is that Oxford has always been an industrial as well as an academic hub – hence the ‘town’ and ‘gown’. I can see from my office window the BMW (formerly British Leyland) plant that rolls out 700 Minis a day, but I’ve been told by cabbies the plant itself is physically a third the size it was 20 years ago. So while there’s substantial privilege and power here, there are real pockets of poverty, low skills and under-education too. Unfortunately what seems to go hand in hand with that in England is a certain percentage of votes for the BNP. I’ve had female east asian colleages shouted at in the street and feel threatened by local d.ckhead teenagers, who no doubt grow up to be just like the complainant loser in the David Lloyd gym. In that sense, despite it’s fairly unique place in the British consciousness, Oxford is not immune from the rest of the country’s daily travails and setbacks on the road to an ever more inclusive society.

  33. I’ll be expecting an introduction to that Jamaican restaurant, Mr Z (when the time comes). Despite the name, jerk chicken is just about the nicest variety of seasoned poultry on the planet, and I haven’t been able to find any since I’ve been back in Australia.

  34. mister z says:

    heh heh. ‘restaurant’ may be doing it favours, but its ever the place to be for a rum ‘n’ ting in the wee hours…

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