Sunday, September 30, 2012

"Woman against her sex"

General preliminary ideas on reading/critiquing George Tarabishi’s book “A woman against her sex – A critique of Nawal el-Sadawi”

This text was partially and negatively inspired by my European flatmate. Upon reading a couple of chapters of the book, he posed a redundant, yet crucial, criticism of the book that sounded like "this is stupid, sexist, outmoded and bullshit". However, these words were juxtaposed countless times in what seemed like a failed impersonation of the Duracell rabbit.

First of all, the following text is merely written as an incomplete/immature/improvised attempt to disqualify/ridicule the unintentionally ethnocentric yet orthodox method of reading such a text. It seems that the few pages at hand can easily excite misplaced yet healthy ideas.

It is crucial to point out, that the following comments/points are made with a conscience tendency/attempt to avoid reading this book in relation to other general information/input regarding the author or his countless invaluable texts. Furthermore, this entry is an attempt to defend Tarabishi’s text as it is rather than rewriting it according to an external predetermined standard of political correctness.
  1.  The text offered by Tarabishi does contradict social European "truths" about gender in almost every chapter. Tarabishi seems to handle gender as an oversimplified male-female duality. Plus, the text includes many statements that could be read as sexist and anti-feminist if taken out of context. However, one needs to keep in mind that the critic here was honest to the original novels and stories of Saadawi. The oversimplified gender treatment in Tarabishi's text, stemmed only from a similar prior oversimplification in Saadawi's text. This is crucial, since Tarabishi did not put Saadawi's text on a trial in front of predetermined truths and standards, but rather used her text exclusively. Tarabishi used external references only to further support arguments and propositions inspired by the novels between his hands.
  2. Deliberately misunderstanding/differing the meaning of a text is vital to dismantling its unannounced premises. Tarabishi's critique could be easily read as a conscience deliberate misunderstanding of the original texts, which fully justifies the highlighted psycho-sexual nature of the critique. This justification could be held valid if we consider the critique to be a crucial supplement to the original novels.
  3. Freudian psychoanalysis should not be disregarded as a general literary theory tool, despite its many failures in psychology as a science. Not only does Freudian psychology suffer from the general uneducated accusation of being completely fallen, but many tend to overlook its importance in literary theory as well. Unlike human beings, texts and novels are very short and condensed, enabling psychoanalysis to function as a critique tool of choice. The easily picked term "outmoded" to describe the psychoanalytical approach in literature reflects a repulsive tendency of over-generalization.
  4. All texts are written by the readers. Regardless of the intended meaning put in writing, it is only the reader that fully determines the meaning of the discourse. Thus, Tarabishi's critique being read as a sexist text falls mostly against his benefit. However, at the same time, the reader that fails to see any other aspect of the text might equally be responsible. The European paranoid mind can only read it thus. Due to the history and intrinsic nature of the European logos, paranoia in regard to sexism and racism is unavoidable. The psychology of the European logos (observable in a well documented history of evolving discourse) places great importance on sensitivity to issues such as human rights and racism. This, in my opinion, is a pathetic and a far from complete attempt towards redemption and purification sought to overcome an explainable guilt complex.

Feminism, a flexible term prone to past, current and infinite unavoidable misunderstandings and definitions, should not be locked/trapped in the European ethnocentric logic/terminology/dictionary. The notion of political correctness onto which the western world places extreme attention and sensitivity, could be intuitively read as a phonological joke. The countless short lived “correct” terms forced by a distant academia on language and writers never fails to entertain us with continuously surprising creativity. The constant academically-prescribed change in words/sounds to describe the same phenomenon along the years is in fact proving to be untrustworthy. There seems to be an extremely absurd pace onto which politically correct terms (and definitions) keep changing (such as “retarded”, “handicapped”, “of special needs”, and “handicapped” again). The absurdity of this pace is apparent in relation to the real pace of actual change affecting people or concepts intended. One could safely assume that the first world stationed academia lives as far as ancient Greek philosophers from reality, yet alone from the distant reality of third world countries. To put this point in its rightful place, terms such as feminism along with its “consented upon” definitions, should not be held by any means as a standard to judge distant societies and populations that were "coincidentally" left out of the definition process.  

Worth mentioning is the obvious European tendency to export the "politically correct" world wide. However, notions of "human rights" and "feminism" seem to be completely disregarded once a European regime is behaving outside of the borders of its country, as if unwilling to hurt the feelings of its citizens. Meanwhile, there seems to be nothing wrong with extended and profitable trade with tyrannies and dictatorships all over the world, with regimes that pose unimaginable abuse against women and children, as long as the business is OK. This same mentality, at the very same instant seems to experience an endless outrage explosion when a text or an action has the potential of being misunderstood as sexist or racist. These preached lessons about humanity and correctness have practically fallen as fake and non sincere countless of times all over the rest of the planet.

Despite the complete lack of any recent and tangible post-post modern revolution in philosophy/epistemology, the western mind (expressed in books, essays, reports and consented upon “universal” ethnocentric marketed “truths”) seems to be compulsively and obsessively putting every deviation from its dictionary on a trial governed by the same ethnocentric dying logos.   

It sometimes feels like the world has to be taken responsible for every single disorder that the European conscience suffers from, but on specific hand-picked issues and events of European liking. The European conscience does not seem to realize that these feelings of guilt, hyper-sensitivity, and continuous self-awareness are not universal, but merely local and well justified by European "local" history. What is intended here to be put forth is: despite the apparent "good" that the European logos seems to preach in first world centers, it is absolutely incapable of performing "good" in third world edges. But at the same time, third world edges are held on a moral trial if they seem to cross European-specific locally-held ideals. This could be easily misunderstood as a continuation of the European ethnocentrism that has not ceased to function for a couple of thousand years, recreating its problems, but continuing to morally fall into hypocrisy.

Furthermore, when taking the idealist dedication to purist notions like "human rights" and equality, wouldn't one stand in awe after seeing how European embassies treat their third world country applicants? Even NGOs pouring hundreds of millions of dollars in every third world country cannot help but behave as orientalists, whom when it comes to reporting or managing their "good deeds" cannot trust anyone but the white man to be in charge.

This mind, is the same mind that seems to be taking onto itself the responsibility of classifying right from wrong, evil from good, according to a preference that qualitatively differentiates between the European citizen's conscience and the surprisingly not-so-valuable rest of the world.

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