There Was Nothing Wrong with Richard Dawkins’ Tweet That “Islam Needs a Feminist Revolution”

[Excerpts from my post at The Friendly Atheist]

By Bo Gardiner

I’ve disagreed with Richard Dawkins before on his insensitivity to women, feminism, and majority privilege. Some of it he’s apologized for, so I’d like to think we’re starting to be heard. I know all too well from environmental campaigns the importance of acknowledging our successes.

And thus, I part with my fellow Friendly Atheist contributor Lauren Nelson in her recent post, which struck out scathingly at Dawkins for the following single tweet:

There is nothing wrong with those words.  The question deserves answers, not attacks.

Lauren wrote:

It’s not unusual for renowned atheist Richard Dawkins to rub people of faith the wrong way. It’s not unheard of for him to get on the bad side of feminists. But it’s not every day that he pisses off the intersection of the two groups. But this week, with a series of tweets, that’s exactly what Dawkins did.

He started the hullabaloo off with this humdinger:  “Islam needs a feminist revolution. It will be hard. What can we do to help?”

When I first saw her headline — “Richard Dawkins Fails Spectacularly on Feminism and Islam” — I sighed and thought “Oh dear, what has he said now?” But when I arrived at his tweet, I kept scanning, looking for the bad part. I couldn’t believe it when I realized that was it. The entire article was a critique on those 15 words, and, in my opinion, it didn’t advance feminist goals, progressive goals, or Humanist goals.

Let’s work through her tally of problems with it.

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New Age Rape Culture: Astrology Pseudoscientists Blame ‘Rape-Prone’ Women & the Planets That Make Men Rape

After posting about one astrologer’s statements recently on an Indian TV news program (Rape Horoscopes: India TV News’ Latest Ratings Ploy, Dec. 3), I wondered if this was an isolated madman, or if this was a thing.  My sad report: it’s a thing.  I’ll let the astrologic community speak for themselves.  My comments are in italics prefaced with “Note.”

Before we get to the “experts,” let’s look at how this plays out in discussion forums, such as this Vedic Astrology board:

J.S. Sandhu asks: “What causes a child’s sexual abuse?  The close affliction of Rahu or the most malefic planet to Venus or the lord of the seventh house…?  What planetary influences cause a rape?”

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Rape Horoscopes: India TV News’ Latest Ratings Ploy

In Sunday’s Bangalore Mirror, writer, poet and documentary filmmaker Prathibha Nandakumar devoted a column to a passionate appeal:

Guruji Sachidananda

A popular Kannada television channel is telecasting a self proclaimed astrologer Sachidananda Babu Guruji, who gives out predictions like these:

“For Kumbha Rashi [Aquarius] people, three to six months after marriage, there is a danger of being raped, or possibility of being raped by husband’s elder brother or younger brother…

“For Makara Rashi [Capricorn], between the age of 8 and 12, there is a possibility of rape, or a possibility of being raped by parents and colleagues.

For Meena Rashi [Pisces], there may be an attempt of rape by the neighbour woman’s husband.

For Dhanuss Rashi [Sagittarius], there is a possibility of getting raped between the ages of 60 to 64.

For Vrishabha Rashi [Taurus], possibility of being raped between the age of 12 and 16.”

Unbelievably, he then gives this rape “advice” to women and children on national television: Continue reading