After a number of misguided (Obama winning the Peace Prize?) or clearly publicity seeking (Dylan winning Literature?) Nobel awards, the Nobel Peace Prize this year was unusually well-deserved. The prize was awarded jointly to Nadia Murad and Dennis Mukwege, both of whom work in different ways, against sexual violence in the context of war.
What was very unusual was an almost total lack of coverage of Murad’s story by US (and more generally western?) feminists. I checked a few supposedly prominent sites and most made a perfunctory mention of it once or twice but there was nothing in depth. Nothing remotely comparing to the slavish and whimpering coverage given #metoo “it girl” Christine Blasey Ford who was maybe groped at a drunken party as a teen.
And that’s one reason for the disparity in coverage.
Murad’s family was killed, she was literally enslaved and sold as property and raped multiple times and forced to renounce her religion (since reclaimed) and wasn’t broken. Blasey… was groped at a drunken party as a teen and to hear he tell it the experience all but ruined her life. It ruined it so much that she could not speak of it without sounding like a frightened infant…
Another reason is, of course, cultural. Murad was brutalized by Muslim religious fanatics following their religious text to the letter (and was helped in her escape by Muslims who were not following their religious text to the letter). Like many western progressives, modern feminists are not prone to view non-westerners as moral agents and can only see Muslims in the west as victims of colonialism or other such nonsense and are all too happy to embraces powerful symbols of sexual coercion such as the hijab and niqab as liberating…. somehow.
The secondary fact that the mass sexual trauma endured by young Yazidi women led to a major change in Yazidi culture with survivors welcomed back as ‘holy women’ rather than expelled from the group as would have happened in the past. No modern Muslim culture displays anything like this type of dynamism, locked as it is, into dead end literal interpretations of the Koran and hadith.
In other words, Murad’s award makes highlights and makes obvious many things that modern feminists and progressives wish to not know; The real rape culture is not in the west but in places like the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa; People in those countries are not helpless victims of colonialism but moral agents who at times choose unspeakable evil; Modern Islam is drenched in sexual coercion and violence; Western women have been led to be weak and wilting and dependent on others rather than strong and independent by third wave feminism and it’s micro-analysis of petty slights and discontents. I don’t blame them for trying to ignore her, the cognitive dissonance, should they allow themselves to perceive it would be far too great.
It’s so much easier to hashtag #metoo and keep the bad thoughts at bay.