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She can do no wrong – but it is all her fault

Arts & Letters Daily links to two articles, both protesting against the absurdities and cruelties of political correctness.

David Mamet writes in the Guardian in connection with the forthcoming London production of his play Oleanna, the central character of which is a young woman who falsely accuses a man of raping her:

The play’s first audience was a group of undergraduates from Brown University. They came to a dress rehearsal. The play ended and I asked the folks what they thought. “Don’t you think it’s politically questionable,” one said, “to have the girl make a false accusation of rape?”

I, in my ignorance, was stunned. I didn’t realise it was my job to be politically acceptable. I’d always thought society employed me to be dramatic; further, I wondered what force had so perverted the young that they would think that increasing political enfranchisement of a group rendered a member of that group incapable of error – in effect, rendered her other-than-human. For if the subject of art is not our maculate, fragile and often pathetic humanity, what is the point of the exercise? And if the writer is capable, why enquire, let alone obsess about his sex? No one ever said of a comedy, “I laughed myself sick until I discovered the sex of the writer.”

But as Theodore Dalrymple makes clear, there are limits to the notion that a woman can do no wrong. If the wrong is done to her by her own ethnic minority, and even in particular by a male member of it (her father), then it is all her fault.

… One father prevented his daughter, highly intelligent and ambitious to be a journalist, from attending school, precisely to ensure her lack of Westernization and economic independence. He then took her, aged 16, to Pakistan for the traditional forced marriage (silence, or a lack of open objection, amounts to consent in these circumstances, according to Islamic law) to a first cousin whom she disliked from the first and who forced his attentions on her. Granted a visa to come to Britain, as if the marriage were a bona fide one – the British authorities having turned a cowardly blind eye to the real nature of such marriages in order to avoid the charge of racial discrimination – he was violent toward her.

She had two children in quick succession, both of whom were so severely handicapped that they would be bedridden for the rest of their short lives and would require nursing 24 hours a day. (For fear of giving offense, the press almost never alludes to the extremely high rate of genetic illnesses among the offspring of consanguineous marriages.) Her husband, deciding that the blame for the illnesses was entirely hers, and not wishing to devote himself to looking after such useless creatures, left her, divorcing her after Islamic custom. Her family ostracized her, having concluded that a woman whose husband had left her must have been to blame and was the next thing to a whore. She threw herself off a cliff, but was saved by a ledge.

I’ve heard a hundred variations of her emblematic story. Here, for once, are instances of unadulterated female victimhood, yet the silence of the feminists is deafening. Where two pieties – feminism and multiculturalism – come into conflict, the only way of preserving both is an indecent silence.

The silence cannot be preserved. Something has to give. And it is giving.

13 comments to She can do no wrong – but it is all her fault

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    One wonders what that Brown University student would think of Leave Her to Heaven

    Ted closes his eyes and visualizes the gorgeous Gene Tierney…. :-)

  • Amelia

    I wish that the feminist movement (if it even is one any longer) would just grow up. Men and women are different in several fundamental ways. Would an honest recognition of this hurt us, demean us? Look at some of the most successful women in the U.S., Goldie Hawn, Oprah, Dolly Parton (don’t laugh she is a really smart business women), even poor jailed Martha Stewart, they are all really feminine.

    Would an honest look at women that recognized that just like men some are good and some are bad really be heretical? Are women really oppressed in the Western world? I have rarely felt that way. Most of the unfortunate things that I have dealt with were due to poor judgment on my part. Shouldn’t women be free to make some mistakes?

    We had a Muslim preacher/mullah come and talk to our church after 9-11. He was pretty decent overall, but hemmed and hawed some about his culture’s treatment of women. Basically saying that women are weak and need protection. I told him that this may indeed be a fundamental fact, however that in a truly civilized society with law and order women do not much need protection. I asked him why he didn’t see to it that his society was such that women could walk and drive alone without fear. Jail the bandits, improve the society as a whole, demand that Muslim men behave rationally. He didn’t really have an answer. I didn’t tell him to arm the women because I was in church after all, but thanks to western technology I believe the score has been fairly evened out. To sum up an overly long post, western civilization deserves some kudos for its treatment of women not the whining of college girls at Brown. We need more self confidence in our society. I think true feminists should be leading the way not tilting at windmills like Martha Burk.

  • Zevilyn

    Jessica Lynch has shown the dishonesty of American feminists; they made much of the “Rambette” myth, yet treated JL like a pariah when she went public about the rape. Many of them insinuated that it was “racist” of JL to speak out.

    Feminists are only concerned with rape when it is commited by white men. If an ethnic minority male rapes a white woman, it’s politically incorrect and is dismissed in a manner reminiscent of the worst mysogynists.

    In most feminist circles, racial political correctness trumps women’s rights.

  • claire tyler

    Hey right-wingers,

    Try this if you think you’re tolerant:

    http://www.tolerance.org/hidden_bias/

  • S.A. Smith

    In his “ignorance” is right. Brown University has the most thuggish pc brigades in the US. I could almost have guaranteed Mamet what the reaction of the students would be. Brainwashed little robots; angry too.

  • Sean

    Hey Claire Tyler any clue what your own hidden biases are?

  • Eoin

    A good example – this test that idiot Claire mentioned – of the non-scientific thought that plagues the pesudo-science of social engineers ( if you get everything right – and the test does has right and wrong answers – then you are still marked as “biased”)

    The test is, of course, unfalsifable:

    “People who argue that prejudice is not a big problem today are, ironically, demonstrating the problem of unconscious prejudice. Because these prejudices are outside our awareness….”

    It gives examples of steroetypes on a previous page. There is this egregious stereotype:

    “The elderly, for example, are routinely portrayed as being frail and forgetful, while younger people are often shown as vibrant and able.”

    The scales have dropped from my eyes. Now I realize that it was society’s prejudices that lead me to believe this horrendous stereotype. What appals me is the waste of money this entails: Can you imagine the money that the evil pharmacutical companies have made by articulating the view that old people are “forgetful”, or “less able”, or “less virile”, or ( most ridiculous of all, I know realize) FRAIL!! How did I ever believe this!!

    We should abandon all medicare programs, as well. The sick steroetype that all “old”‘ people are not vibrant and able is based on this LIE! Let the old compete in the Olympics!! STOP THE DESCRIMINATION!!

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    Eoin:

    I remember a few years back one of the US TV networks did a feature on the tests that Claire links to — specifically a black/white version of the test. What I found interesting was how the test administrator treated blacks who had a bias toward black as being proud of their race, but white who had a bias toward white were treated as having something wrong.

  • Guy Herbert

    The ideas behind the hidden bias test are interesting, and are testable. But there are two problems.

    First, the interpretation is difficult. Which is really Eoin’s point. We don’t know whether the “bias” purportedly detected has any significance outside the laboratory. All the leaping to moral conclusions is premature, and a lot of it seems to be not-necessarily-relevant assumption.

    Second, this particular test has its own hidden bias, in that it uses American names (whose social context is obscure to Britons, BTW, so it won’t work on us in the same way) which may also be loaded with a social message.

    A black man, Mr X, could as easily be called George as Jamal. Jamal is the distinctively “black” name, so would be used in the test. But the name is also a message about social status and aspiration. It is one popularised in the 60s and 70s specifically as a distinctively black rejection of European “slave names”. Just like everywhere else vogue names are fashion-driven and a bit less popular among the middle class than the poor. So Jamal doesn’t just suggest Mr X is black, it sugests he’s on the young side and bolshie, and probably from a rough area. The other names in the test are open to the same objections. Thus the use of names as a proxy for race is pretty hopelessly compromised.

    A lot of problems in racist and anti-racist rhetoric stem from this hidden overlap of race and class/culture concerns. We’d know we are biassed against Mr X because of his colour if the reaction is to an unnamed picture of him without distinctive clothing or other caste-marks, in comparison with an equally handsome white man of similar age (or among a sample with balance in those qualities) also without caste-marks. If we use a name or other social context then we need to know how George tests in comparison to Jamal.

    [For the record, the test when I took it a couple of years back showed me as having no racial bias either way, and a slight (surprising to me) bias against women.]

  • claire tyler

    Oh chill out, I took it as a bit of fun, if [people feel guilty about their results I think that says more about them than the test – it seems to be more a test of memory and skill than anything else. On a more serious note, I tend to think a person full of hatred and prejudice would have a hard time also being selfless and sweet natured. I think one does indeed judge people on their views and not some amorphous ‘character’. If someone came out with a load of vicious hatred toward a certain group I would certainly judge them on that!

  • Zevilyn

    Bigots are quite often idealists, who despise those groups who stand in the way of their “utopian” vision.

    Some people are very selfless, but only towards those who they find “acceptable” and “agreeable”.

    There are many on the Left whose definition of “racist” is anyone who disagrees with them.

    You cannot make people tolerant; the very act of imposing tolerance is itself intolerant.

  • Michael Farris

    I took the disability test and scored “little to no automatic bias”, which was my predicted outcome (no one is free of bias).

    I suspect that the test measures your reaction time, comparing how long it takes you correctly identify ‘joy’ as ‘good’ when it’s associated with ‘abled people’ vs. how long when it’s associated with ‘disabled people’. There’s probably also a measur of incorrect answers, how many ‘wrong’ answers you get when the categories ‘good’ and ‘abled’ are together vs. how many wrong answers you get when ‘good’ and ‘disabled’ are together.

    Anyway, it seems like a pretty easy test to fool (unless my understanding of it is wrong).

  • Susan

    In my long-gone mild tranzi days, I used to subscribe to that organization’s newsletter. I stopped subscribing when they published an article by a self-hating white person who argued that racism directed at whites by non-whites wasn’t nearly as terrible as the other way around.

    That article was one of my wake-up calls as to the true nature of tranziness.