Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Cosmopolitanism, rape, and family honor

So you might conclude that cross-cultural conversations about values are bound to end in disagreement; indeed, you might fear that they would inflame conflict rather than creating understanding. There are three problems with this conclusion. First, we can agree about what to do even when we don’t agree why. Second, we exaggerate the role of reasoned argument in reaching or failing to reach agreements about values. And, third, most conflicts don’t arise from warring values in the first place. - Appiah, Cosmopolitanism (KL 1174-1182)

Since we’re talking about absurd notions of “honor,” I was reminded of a book I read several months ago - Kwame Anthony Appiah’s Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers.

My chin popped up reading some passages about “honor.” As these, from men to men, tried to distinguish “our culture,” they gave away the game (maybe as a woman I shouldn’t have been reading…):

In the Arab world, and in much of Central and South Asia, there are societies in which men believe that their honor is tied up with the chastity of their sisters, their daughters, and their wives. Now, men here, too, feel shamed, dishonored, when their wives or daughters are raped.

Oh, they do, do they, now? Why? It’s fascinating that the emotions noted are shame and dishonor. Men “here” don’t sympathize with women who’ve been horribly attacked. Their response is something different, something about themselves. An attack on a woman wounds their pride.

But, unless they [men] come from one of those honor-based societies,

But,…wait. What was the previous paragraph about? You, Appiah, come from one of those societies. If you aren’t defending these idiotic notions of honor, then present your own and defend them.

they [men] aren’t likely to think that the solution is to punish these women.


We [men] understand the reflected glory

The reflected glory. Note that.

of the achievements of our relatives, and we know that with the possibility of pride comes the option of shame.

What “achievements”? Not being raped? Are women and your "brothers" to glory in the pride of not having been raped while being ashamed of…I don’t even want to know what?

Yet family honor is not as important to us [!] now as it clearly is, and was, to others….

I think this shows just how deep the problem runs. “Family honor” should die a quick, painful death.

No comments:

Post a Comment