‘Rape Culture’ vs. ‘Islamophobia’

Photo Credit: Hiro Komae/APThe weathermen at Twitchy.com report that novelist Joyce Carol Oates set off a twit-storm Friday with a pair of tweets about sexual violence in Egypt: The first coyly referred to recently deposed president Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood: “Something dispiriting about ‘Brotherhood’ political parties–wonder what it is.” The second was explicit: “Where 99.3% of women report having been sexually harassed & rape is epidemic–Egypt–natural to inquire: what’s the predominant religion?”

“Don’t miss @JoyceCarolOates coming out publicly as a serious bigot,” tweeted Umair Haque, an economist who writes for the Harvard Business Review. “Check out her tweets today, they’re awesomely gross!” Salon.com’s Prachi Gupta described Oates’s tweets as “Islamophobic.” Lauren Rankin–whose Twitter bio describes her as “feminist. writer. activist. graduate student. reproductive justice. sour jelly bean enthusiast”–insisted: “this is islamophobia embodied. islam doesn’t encourage rape or sexual assault. you know what does? PATRIARCHY.”

“Another day, another white woman #islamophobe,” mused Lucy Homan, another white woman “trouble-making, invisibly disabled, non-binary gender, queer, sexqueer, trans femme” whose passions include “kink, parenting, disability, polyamory, feminism, and sex talk.”

Oates defended her line of inquiry: ” ‘Rape culture’; has no relationship to any ‘religious culture’–how can this be? Religion has no effect on behavior at all? How possible?” To which Anita Felicelli responded with a tu quoque: “Do you also think that mass gun violence in schools bears a relationship to Christianity?” That turned out to be an illi quoque, for Oates answered: “Yes. There is a Christian Crusade culture. All religions are ‘militant.’ Secular law needed to restrain them.”

Here Oates goes off the rails. While the Crusades were an example of militant Christianity, there is no factual basis for asserting a connection between Christianity and “mass gun violence in schools,” whether of the psycho-killer or the street-thug kind, in 21st-century America.

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