Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Some Folks Just Don't Know How to Stop Themselves

So, a couple of days ago, I wrote about this Brooke Eikmeier person who was peddling a new television series that recycled the old "Not Without My Daughter" stereotypes about Muslims and Arabs. Today, I found out that she's decided to double down on her claims even though numerous people have pointed out the problematic elements in her story. The TMI Hijabi wrote this:
Remember when Brooke Eikmeier wanted to give Muslims and Arabs a “positive presence” on TV?
Remember how most Muslims and people even remotely familiar with Arabic were all, “uhhh, Radha isn’t even a Muslim name?”
Well, Eikmeier clarified with a new cover photo on her Facebook page, explaining that Radha is indeed an Arabic name and it is spelled غادة in Arabic.
I wish I were kidding.
Sources:
Buzzfeed’s analysis of the copy of the script for Alice in Arabia (where they state the script itself refers to the aunt as Radha).
Brooke Eikmeier’s Facebook post with her “proof” that Radha is how you spell غادة in Arabic, and it is indeed a Muslim name (according to her vast expertise on Muslims and Arabs, well, everywhere). [Unknown how long this link will last.]
Okay, I've had several years of Arabic language training. I can read it with ease and I can even understand a lot of dialects of it. However, I would NEVER take it upon myself to tell ACTUAL Arabs that I know more about their culture than they do. It truly takes a white woman to feel like that's something a-okay to do. And seriously? "Ghrein"? Uh, no, boo. I've read through more than my share of both crappy and helpful Arabic language learning texts and every level between the two. Not even ONCE did I ever see "ghrein". The letter is "ghein". Not even close. Look, you don't even have to speak Arabic to verify this. Just google it and see what you get:

Ghein

Ghrein

Also, please notice how Eikmeier is trying to subtly change the subject. "Radha" is the name of the Muslim Saudi character she created. As the internetz tried to explain to her, "Radha" isn't a Muslim name. There's a very simple reason for this. Do you think Pat Robertson would name his child "Krishna"? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that people generally don't give their kids the name of gods/goddesses from religions they explicitly reject.
"Radha" is a goddess in several branches of Hinduism. Do you think I'm making this up? Again, it's not difficult to find this stuff out, people. Just google it.

"Radha"
Now, Eikmeier's characters are supposedly these devout Muslim Saudi folks. They're such strict Muslims that they supposedly force all of the women to walk around completely covered up in a burqa. Never mind the fact that the burqa is from an entirely different part of the world and makes about as much sense as a Chinese person going about their day wearing a Navajo headdress. In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, women generally walk around outside in an abaya. But to get back to the point, Eikmeier's characters are supposedly religious fanatics (compared to us 'Merikans, of course), but she'd have us believe that one of the was named after a Hindu goddess.
Even if we ignored all of the dangerous racist, colonialist, Islamophobic American propaganda in her story, Eikmeier is still a hack. She isn't even able to pull together a story that would be believable to anyone but the most ignorant, gun-toting, flag-waving American who has never bothered to question anything they heard on Fox News. But maybe that's the audience she was going for. There's certainly a lot of money to be made in providing white people with the lies they need to justify killing thousands upon thousands of Muslims around the world.

Well, sadly, her little story has been cancelled. ABC decided that this series was more trouble than it was worth and wouldn't be the money-generator they were looking for. So, Eikmeier is going to have to find another way to profit off of the killing of brown people. It's no surprise that she's unhappy and indignant about this. After all, she was allowed to do it as a hack of a linguist for the US military. Maybe she shouldn't have quit her day job doing that, because her 15 minutes of fame have come to a close.

Friday, March 21, 2014

"Alice in Arabia" is "Not Without My Daughter" Part Deux

So, apparently ABC has decided to produce a series about an American girl kidnapped by Saudi relatives and held against her will. Rega Jha does a good job of explaining some of the problems with the plot's racist stereotyping of Arab Muslims. The pilot for the show was created by Brooke Eikmeier who is an ex American soldier who worked throughout the "Middle East" for the NSA. However, she would have critics believe that even though she is a lily white non-Muslim woman from the USA, she created this series to give "Arabs and Muslims a voice on American TV". It should be rather clear why so many people of color don't buy that nonsense. Those who support the show have tried to claim that these racist depictions are justified because of the injustices that are supposedly endemic to the Arab world and Muslims, in general. That's the part that really disturbs me. I mean let's compare the things that propagandists have to say about Muslims and about Saudi Arabia with the actions of those throughout the world who call themselves Christians and the conditions in the predominantly Christian nation of the USA.

 The USA features indentured servitude (on par with slavery) with its forced labor programs for those convicted of crimes. Oh, and it just so happens that those convicted of crimes happen to be a race that has been dominated by white Christian Westerners for hundreds of years. We also feature corporal punishment all the way and including capital punishment a.k.a. state-sponsored killing of its own citizens. This is also a fate that minorities must fear more than white people who live the same kind of life. It also prohibits the religious freedoms of Indigenous Americans who just so happen to be another minority with hundreds of years of continuous persecution at the hands of white Christians. Homosexuality is still illegal in many states and heaven forbid a trans* person dares to try to simply live their life! The USA still refuses to grant them the same protections that cisgender people can readily access. Freedom of speech in the USA is a joke and a half. Have folks forgotten the "free speech zones" that are set up in order to justify the arrest of citizens who dare to openly confront their own Presidents and Vice-Presidents?

It is absolutely a mockery for someone, who voluntarily agreed to kill Muslims who have never done a single thing to her, to try to judge the atrocities supposedly existing in cultures she's never been a part of. I speak Arabic and I've taken time to learn about the cultures of the Arab world. However, could I ever claim to know more about it than the people who were born and raised in it? Could a Muslim ever know more about what it's like to BE a Christian than actual Christians know?

Christian nations with the highest living standards in the world often claim that their policies of home-side genocide and the wanton killing of innocent people abroad are derived straight from the Bible. Time and time again, USA politicians assert this and insist that future laws also conform to policies that they believe are derived straight from the Bible (e.g. the denial of reproductive justice and freedoms to women, the marginalization of gender non-conforming/third gender/genderqueer people, the discrimination against those non-hetero couples wishing to access the same benefits available to hetero couples, the banning of sexual practices that are viewed as "unscriptural" and unnatural, the disenfranchisement of people of color).

Of course, this white woman who was paid to be a willing killing machine for the USA isn't going to write about that. Instead, she's going to try to justify the stereotype that these things are just something that Muslims do and that nice sweet girls in the USA don't have to endure such "persecution" and "gender apartheid". I'm not even Muslim--I'm an Eastern Orthodox Christian--and I can see the hypocrisy and racism involved in this project. It is nothing more than propaganda for white Protestants to justify their slaughter of non-Christians around the world. If Muslims killed as many Americans as the citizens of the USA kill, then this white woman might have something to complain about. If Muslims in other countries killed as many Americans as Americans kill in these other countries, then this white woman killing machine might have something to complain and write about. As it stands, this is just a diversion from the atrocities SHE HELPED PERPETRATE across the world.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Non-Conforming Cisgender Girls or Something Else Entirely

Today, someone asked me how can one tell whether their child is simply a cisgender girl who doesn't want to conform to gender expectations or if that child who is assumed to be a girl (because of their genitalia) is actually not a girl. This is what I had to say about that:

First of all, no child's sex is the same as their gender. Gender and sex are entirely separate things. Secondly, there's no such thing as a "cis-gendered girl". It's the equivalent of saying someone is a Mexicaned girl or a Blacked girl or a Indianed girl. The term is "cis-gender/cisgender". To answer your question, you know the difference between a cisgender girl rejecting gender expectations and a child who is not a girl (even though some people may assume that they/he/ze is one) by actually talking to your child.

Being Creoles from the American South, there's a real bourgeoisie streak that dictates that women and girls should wear their hair long (and preferably straight). The girls certainly don't engage in sports that might result in scratches or scars on their skin. And make-up is de rigeur no matter where you're going. And, in my family and the religion that most of us practiced back then, women and girls ALWAYS wore skirts or dresses to church.

Despite that, I come from a family where there are many women with careers in the sciences. We tend to be very good at math, too. My aunt and my cousin (who is a girl) happen to be the best football players in our family. I've seen both of them tackle and plow through men like a knife through butter. We strongly believe in finding out and nurturing each child's gift or particular talent. So, regardless of their genitalia, we expose our kids to lots of activities from very young. I'm disabled, so I couldn't do it with hir, but my child went camping and hiking with friends. Ze was a member of a mixed gender scouting troop. Ze got sewing lessons from one grandmother and agricultural experience with one of hir grandfathers. Another of her grandmothers introduced hir to the magic of cosmetics (which my child promptly used as face paint and made hirself look like different animals). Ze got art lessons from hir bio-dad and math enrichment from her step-dad. Ze spent a lot of time with hir friend's mom who is an entomologist.

In other words, we never taught or allowed hir to believe that certain genders aren't allowed to pursue certain paths. By the time ze was 5 years old, we no longer even practiced a religion that had clothing expectations for certain genders. As an aside, I personally believe that children should be taught ethics, not religion, so it wasn't a problem for us dealing with what some faith tradition expected "girls or boys" to do and be.

In an environment where children are free to pursue their interests and not shamed into rejecting something they love, they can feel fairly comfortable making their identities clear. My child didn't have to worry that not being a girl would ruin some grand scheme that I had planned for hir future. Ze still loves marine biology, is good in math, majors in Fine Arts, wears make-up, shops in the boy's section of the department stores (ze says that's where ze finds the best shirts), has a hairstyle that is considered masculine in this culture, dates people of all genders, and still sits on my lap every chance ze gets! Ze is completely comfortable with the body ze has. Some trans* or gender variant people do experience dysphoria, but others are just fine with their bodies. They don't need certain parts in order to be the gender they claim. My child knows ze's bigender in the same way that you know you're cisgender.