Feminism | Posted by Alec A on 03/9/2011

From the Paris of the Middle East to Bacha Posh

Afghanistan has had a rough time in recent history. The sudden transformation from fashionable escape for the West to war-torn warlord-ruled landscape to complete Taliban control (and now it seems that the whole place is more or less up for grabs as the current government’s complicity with the Taliban has been revealed) has been something shocking to look at independently of any time period before or after a given moment, or in a historical panorama of the past century.

Kabul was once named the “Paris of the Middle East.” The high society women were very well integrated into European society and many took on French as a second language in an aristocratic gesture to their high-brow city’s namesake.

But the times have changed considerably since then. Anyone who kept up …

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Feminism | Posted by Julie Z on 08/4/2009

Ms. Magazine’s Summer Issue

In the past month, the feminist blogosphere has been buzzing about the Summer issue of Ms. Magazine. For the content? No, the concern is about the imagery of the cover, and it’s depiction of a white woman juggling her white middle class problems in a Hindu deity’s pose.  

As Mandy Van Deven over at Bitch Magazine online put it: 

“It’s completely inappropriate to utilize Hindu iconography in this context, mocks the religion, and diffuses the imagery of its ‘true’ meaning. When a cultural or religious symbol is used for marketing purposes by cultural or religious outsiders that fail to convey respect for and understanding of the intricacies of that culture or religion, it is offensive. Westerners have a history of seeking to eradicate ‘Other’ cultures and religions in favor of

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Awareness | Posted by Julie Z on 07/20/2009

Schools for Girls in Afghanistan

Thomas L. Friedman reports in the New York Times about a new school for girls opened by Greg Mortenson, the author of “Three Cups of Tea.” He writes: 

Indeed, Mortenson’s efforts remind us what the essence of the “war on terrorism” is about. It’s about the war of ideas within Islam — a war between religious zealots who glorify martyrdom and want to keep Islam untouched by modernity and isolated from other faiths, with its women disempowered, and those who want to embrace modernity, open Islam to new ideas and empower Muslim women as much as men. America’s invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were, in part, an effort to create the space for the Muslim progressives to fight and win so that the real engine of change, something that takes

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