A Great Graphic.

Design: Joe Scorsone
and Alice Drueding.

Quotation of the Day.

“Take for example, female genital mutilation,” Anderson said. “So, they say ‘that’s a cultural practice.’ I’m sorry, no culture should be able to whack off sex organs, so you can’t have pleasure anymore.”

Karrin Anderson, a professor in the Colorado State University communications department.


Also: Check out the great “Girls Belong in School” poster on the page.

No sacrifice is too great when it comes to assuring your daughters …

… a joyless, mutilated future.

Dr Nagarwala … has supporters – 17 of which have offered to put their own homes and assets on the line to free the doctor from jail until trial …


Number Nine… Number Nine… Number Nine…

Laura Kipnis’s endlessly repeated Title IX investigations at UD‘s befuddled alma mater, Northwestern University, begin to sound like the famous Beatles song. She keeps getting investigated for sex discrimination and found not guilty of it. Her life is heading into Groundhog Day territory, waking up every morning to the same effort to nail her for nastiness.

She wrote about her first investigation in a recent book:

Her prior Title IX investigation, she writes, “has made me a little mad and possibly a little dangerous. . . . I mean, having been hauled up on complaints once, what do I have to lose? ‘Confidentiality’? ‘Conduct befitting a professor’? Kiss my ass.”

Failing to bring her down via Number Nine, Northwestern tried to ruin her for incivility.

The dean ultimately found that Kipnis did not violate the civility policy…

Rats. How about her violations of The Free Woman policy? She’s been flouncing around being a free woman – can we go after her for that?

No. Let’s stick with Title IX. A law professor specifies, in the New Yorker, how it can be used:

Title IX can … be used to discourage disagreement, deter dissent, deflect scrutiny, or register disapproval of people whom colleagues find loathsome. The problem is not with Title IX itself, much less the generic capacity of any rule to be used as a pretext for unrelated ends. Rather, it is the growing tendency to try, in the words of Kipnis’s book, “to bend Title IX into an all-purpose bludgeon.” This warping is made possible by ambiguous and undisciplined understandings — misunderstandings — of sexual harassment and its harms… Title IX is too often conscripted to serve purposes antithetical to the education of citizens in a democracy, in which disagreement, dissent, or disapproval should lead to argument, not to an infinite loop of institutional investigation.

The Flying University at Reed College.

Kudos to Reed College, which has, under repressive conditions, found a way to continue to educate its students.

[Reed College professor] Kambiz GhaneaBassiri, a professor of religion and humanities, declined to lecture alongside [protesting] students who, he said, equated [his humanities] course — and by extension him — with white supremacy. He invited interested students to visit his office, and approximately 150 of them did so … resulting in an impromptu lecture.

Hidden in out of the way places, packed into private offices, the determined students of Reed pursue the life of the mind. It is the Polish Flying University system again. An underground system that has found its way – has had to find it way – to America.



As the burqa bounces its tragicomic way through democratic cultures, on its way to oblivion…

… this blog follows the bounces… For instance, the dumb Australian political establishment, rather than ignore Pauline Hanson’s now-notorious burqa stunt, decided to make a big deal out of it, decided to use it as a way to broadcast to the country their goodness and her evil.

But here’s the deal on the burqa: Don’t go there. If you insist on going there, you’re quickly going to find out that a strong majority of the people you assume are applauding your virtue favor a ban on it, and also on the niqab.


And right after that unpleasant discovery, politicians of all sorts – seeing an opportunity – are going to wage a big ol’ campaign to ban it, as it has been banned in so many other countries.

If the self-regarding moralists in Australia had listened to ol’ UD and just not gone there, the broadly shared but still pretty latent upset many Australians feel at the sight of socially annihilated women would probably have stayed latent. But now that you mention it …


As with the British journalist Allison Pearson, once the burqa is as it were in your face, it’s hard to keep ignoring it.

… I was uneasy at the sight of a five-year-old girl in Tower Hamlets given into the [foster] care of a woman who wears a burqa, which covers her whole body and face. …I consider the burqa to be an extremist garment, which makes the wearer unable to interact with wider society. Therefore, I would not want a child of any religion or ethnicity fostered by someone who wears one. Plenty of people agree.

Foster carers of all kinds do a wonderful job, but social workers are bidden to place children in environments that are sensitive to their needs… A carer in a burqa is hardly a tolerant role model for a British child in the 21st century. Courageous Muslim women in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere are fighting to cast off the life-limiting garment which a misogynist belief system imposes on them.

“Women are no longer chattels who can be taken and any part of their body be cut to curb their sexuality.”

The brave and tragic Bohra women who fight at least to protect the next generation.

Consider signing the petition.

Bravo Birmingham

A public protest – now in its second day – outside a mosque with an FGM-friendly leader.

This is the only way you’ll end it – a combination of public protest, and punishment in the courts.

An Update to Mom-in-a-Burqa

She’s come tearing through her daughter’s new school, threatening lawsuits because the school won’t let her run free and fully veiled on its property. (Background here.)

It’s been a pleasure for UD to watch how attitudes toward the burqa/niqab have changed all over Europe. The Guardian, a left-leaning paper, publishes two letters in response to the lawsuit threat, neither the slightest bit sympathetic:

As a Muslim woman, the case of Rachida Serroukh (Mother sues daughter’s school over face veil ban, 21 July) fills me with dismay. It has been widely documented that there is no religious obligation, in the Qur’an, for a woman to wear a face veil, burqa or niqab, but simply to dress modestly.

I wonder if she thought the staff at the school (or the children) would look at her suggestively. I very much doubt they would. The face veil can be intimidating and frightening for children. Ironically, the countries that encourage women to wear a burqa or niqab are those where women’s education is thought to be unnecessary and dangerous.

We all need to respect the culture in which we live; although Rachida Serroukh wants her children to have a good education in a top school in Holland Park, she seems to neither like nor respect the culture in which she lives…


The school should not have to deal with this issue – this is a provocative action and the local authority should be supporting the school. Rachida Serroukh is importing a 12th-century custom which discriminates against women into 21st-century Britain. This country has to adhere to its commitment of equality, as France does, and the law should not be used to undermine our way of life.


The face veil can be intimidating and frightening for children.

Hadn’t thought of that. It’s a simple and persuasive point: An adult entirely covered in black (this includes, for most wearers, not just the face, but, for instance, the fingers), speaking through black mesh, would be for most children pretty grotesque. Traditional nuns might have been somewhat scary, but at least they let you see their face.

Many of us find something deeply unsettling in the self-annihilation of the burqa, and the fact that it is fully and exclusively associated with women tells us all we need to know. It’s even ickier to contemplate the messages little children (especially girls) get, seeing women done up like that.

The Restoration Era

A small group of Kenyan girls will soon go to Google’s California headquarters, where “they hope to win $15,000 for I-cut, an app to end Female Genital Mutilation. The five teenagers, aged 15 to 17, are the only Africans selected to take part in this year’s international Technovation competition.”

[They] call themselves the ‘Restorers’ because they want to “restore hope to hopeless girls”, said Synthia Otieno, one of the team.


I-cut connects girls at risk of FGM with rescue centres and gives legal and medical help to those who have been cut.

Its simple interface has five buttons – help, rescue, report, information on FGM, donate and feedback – offering users different services.

UD will be rooting for them.


A similar app for England, where at least 20,000 girls are at risk.

A strong woman stands up to a propagandist. Brava.

The practice of female genital mutilation is part of the story. Onyesonwu undergoes FGM and her powers are severely impaired. Steven Barnes, an African-American science fiction writer, criticized this element in the book. In a review for American Book Review, he said Okorafor made traditional African culture look bad and should have used her book to celebrate the good aspects of the culture. Okorafor responded:

“Culture is alive and it is fluid. It is not made of stone nor is it absolute. Just because I believe that aspects of my culture are problematic does not mean I am ‘betraying’ my people by pointing out those problems.”

“[I]t is up to individual schools to decide about whether staff and pupils can wear face veils…”

But guidance from England’s Department for Education doesn’t include language about parents and visitors.

A face-veiled parent was asked to remove her veil during a visit to her daughter’s school, and she has now sued on grounds of discrimination and you know what? UD doesn’t think her prospects are very good.

Her action will certainly prompt additional language in the rules, covering not just students and staff, but also parents and visitors. So of course in that sense what’s she doing is liable to be decidedly self-defeating.

Clearly the intent of the language is to cover people who enter the school grounds, so this looks like a quibble on her part. Then too, judging by recent European Court of Human Rights decisions, and recent polls showing close to sixty percent support for a burqa/niqab ban in England, few are in a face-veil-positive mood, especially, as Maajid Nawaz notes, in connection with ‘identity-sensitive’ environments. All of this may play a role in a judge’s thinking.

However this case works out, UD feels for this woman’s daughter. She has just been admitted to the school, and the first thing that happens is that her mother sues the school in a case that attracts national publicity. Nice going, Mum.

Some are called to the priesthood; some are called to the clitoral hood.

“For 12 years, the defendant … cut the genitals of countless 7-year-old girls.”

And, as the Assistant US Attorney might have added, cutting the genitals of countless 7-year-old girls is for the defendant a religious commitment, so she’ll start right up again if you release her from custody. God calls her to do it. God wills it. She would be sinning not to do it. She’s a saint for doing it. She’s the Sainted Clit Slayer.

Good on Jumana Nagarwala’s judge for denying this fanatic’s request to be released from custody. Let Nagarwala – who took a place at what is arguably America’s best medical school in order to learn how to forcibly slash, infect, humiliate, and neuter little girls – let Nagarwala remain in her prison bed, visions of a clitless universe dancing in her head. Her victims face a life in prison. Now so does she, lucky girl. She gets to be a martyr for her holy cause.

“We have no assurance that Muslim women put on the burqa or don the veil as a matter of their own choice. A huge amount of evidence goes the other way. Mothers, wives, and daughters have been threatened with acid in the face, or honor-killing, or vicious beating, if they do not adopt the humiliating outer clothing that is mandated by their menfolk.”

It is important to remember these words of Christopher Hitchens’ as we encounter what little resistance to full-body veil bans is left in Europe.

As when a Human Rights Watch writer stages the burqa/niqab as a “choice,” and, quite perversely, an expression of female “autonomy.”

Look at the image that accompanies her article. This woman is not wearing a full face veil; she is wearing a full body veil. The writer asks us to respect the rights of women who will under the ban never be able to leave their house. They are now “forc[ed] …to remain housebound.”


By whom? By what twisted understanding of religious texts? They are never to feel the sunlight again; never to take a walk. Because unless they look like the woman pictured in the article, unless totally wrapped to the point where they have no peripheral vision, their mouths pulled shut by tight material, they simply cannot leave their prison.

It was inevitable that democratic societies would eventually read the burqa/niqab, and the self-imprisoning (or husband/father/brother-imprisoning) of some of its wearers (most of its wearers, of course, will quietly accommodate themselves to the law, as they have in France), as a toxic refusal to engage in even the most basic forms of civic life. It is positively Orwellian for people like the HRW writer to champion the burqa as an icon of autonomy.


Or think of it this way:

This goes to the foundational issue of whether anyone can want the wrong things… Some concatenation of causes has trimmed down [some womens’] world view in such a way that doors to human flourishing are closed to them. So for instance literacy for women: I think that it is an intrinsic good, and it really doesn’t matter how many women you can get to tell you from behind their burqa that they don’t want to read…

Being born a woman in Afghanistan any time in last thirty years was to be unlucky… These lives have been imposed on them. When you listen to the expressions of relief and humility and clarity that you get around this notion of wearing the veil… you are hearing that as a response to the thuggish misogyny of the men in those cultures. Women are treated like whores and considered to be whores if they are not appropriately veiled. They are groped and … beaten for not being appropriately veiled… No doubt many women feel relieved to be appropriately veiled in those cultures.

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