Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Smile, honey!

This fine photo was e-mailed to me by my friend M.U., who though there could be something for my blog. And there certainly is.

It just took me quite a while to figure out what to think about it, and I am still in the middle of the process of figuring this out.


We don't have a big Islamic, or African, community in Finland. Yet, and unfortunately, there are quite a bunch of stupid Finns who treat the few refugees with acts of racism and xenophobia, causing more and more problems. (Most unfortunately, some of these idiots seem to be working as politicians. Voted by whom? I wonder.)

Anyhow, I think the ones who are most scared of foreign cultures in Finland are equally scared of just ANY foreigners, no matter if the threatening ones have Islamic or Buddhist or Greek orthodox, or Swedish, or whatever, strange cultural background.

Unlike the Pope, who seems to have a major problem with accepting - especially - Islam.

Please bear in mind that we don't have a big catholic community here, either. Most of us Finns are (quite boring, not active in any sense) Lutheran protestants.


But I do find that photo so sad.

Do you remember an American film called Moonstruck (1980's or 1990's?): The mother of the house, played by Olympia Dukakis, used to ask repeatedly, "why do men chase women"?. And the answer she found in the end was that everything in weird male behavior has to do with men getting older and closer to death.

At times I sigh like Dukakis in the movie, and ask "why do men hate women?"

Women covering their faces and bodies, not going out alone, not going to school, not driving... Not allowed to do the former things. Women facing severe punishments in cases of (even suspected) adultery... Amnesty Reports are pretty harsh.

But naive as I may be, I still think that if the conditions of (poor, uneducated) women are to be made better, women must be able to participate in the process. And furthermore, I think the conditions of men get equally better at the same time -- even if equality was still far ahead. There is evidence already: in Africa and Asia, for example, the number of HIV positive people dying of AIDS is getting smaller when women are educated. Please find interesting reading here: www.globalpolicy.org/socecon/unequal/indexgen.htm.

Ok, so what can we do about it? I am not sure. Give money? Encourage women to fight back? Yeah, right. The more I try to come up with sensible answers, the more naive and stupid I feel. Who am I to tell other people, or even nations, how they should live and what they should be happy about?

But we all can be clever enough to ask the ones who suffer what they think should be done, and try to listen. And if they already are here in Finland, in Europe, near us, as refugees, perhaps, they have already made a statement by leaving. Or they have been forced to leave.


Please understand that I don't want to make gender inequality a problem caused by any religion. Cultural hatred sits deeply in traditions, and people are blindfolded by ancient viewpoints, in Finland, too. As well as in "free" and "liberal" North American culture. I see examples of that every evening. The American police tv crap we Finns are happy to watch every evening is full of cultural hatred and prejudices. And, in the popular culture of the Western world, women are posing half naked. All in the name of freedom. That's not so clever, either.

Whoa. Have to find the remote now and turn off the TV (and C.S.I).


Ps. M.U. is thinking about this stuff in his excellent novel "Amina" -- about which I want to blog later on! But I want to discuss that with M.U. first, and we will meet in three weeks.

Ps2, K.K., I would love to hear your opinion on this. You have a lot of experience of Kurdish and Turkish cultures.

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