When you get sent home from work with a headache, catching up on the Racefail discussion is probably not what you are supposed to do with the time. However, it's really really interesting. I'm starting at the beginning and trying to follow all the links and discussions.This
post by deepad
is so engaging and explains the "privilege" aspect of this discussion so well. My previous thoughts on the whole topic has been that I am not qualified to enter into it (funny since I'll wade in on the feminist aspect) and this post convinces me I was right, I'm not qualified to really understand advantage/disadvantage.
Why I find this so interesting is because it helps me put a finger on what I found really disturbing about last night's Private Practice, aside from what I already mentioned. In last night's episode, Addison is asked to do a hymen rejuvination for a patient to make her a virgin again. The patient is a young girl from Afghanistan, about to go back to marry a man in a prearranged marriage. And she needs to be a virgin in order to be "clean" and to make good on the arrangement, under which her parents will also be cared for. There were icky parts of this story in which we find that the patient was not raped, as she initially claimed, but has been having a relationship with an American man. This worked to raise elements of doubt around her character and allows the viewer to side with Addison who of course thinks this is a horrible example of female oppression and that she should be free to marry who she wants and should be allowed to be open about her sexual past etc etc.
I'm not arguing that women are not oppressed and subjugated under the Taliban. However, I found the treatment of the issues raised in this plotline to come from such a White American perspective. It was made further uncomfortable in light of the current context of occupational forces in Iraq and their presence in Afghanistan - sort of giving a sense of "right versus wrong" and "bringing American ideals to the backward Middle East". Much of the culture that was represented by the Afghani women here I can personally relate to, having been raised in an Orthodox Jewish world, and have personally rejected. I do not think that it's right to treat women as property belonging to their husband and I reject the ideas of purity and virginity and marrying for convenience over (the Hollywood version of) love. However, I was arguing and yelling with Addison throughout this episode ... did she really think that the liberation of women who are oppressed through cultural traditional practices would really happen just like *that*? That all it would take is the girl being honest about her feelings to her mother? And her mother would be all ... yeah cool then.
The whole scenario displayed for me a lack of understanding of other cultures and the ongoing power dynamics and wielding of that power which works to continue the oppression of women. And that liberation and freedom are gifts not currently available to all. And perhaps not to be taken as lightly as sometimes we do.