Opinion: Feminism not criminalized in Saudi Arabia, but are its radicals ‘dangerous’?

J. Howard Miller’s “We Can Do It!” poster from 1943

RIYADH (Rahnuma) Following nearly a full day of Social Media chaos over a fake anti-Saudi propaganda video circulated online claiming to represent the official view of the kingdom’s authority, the Presidency of State Security issued a clarification. The promotional video on “extremism concepts” was mistranslated and broadcast without authorization on the platform of the General Department for Counter-Extremism.

In a statement, the presidency clarified that the video’s content was inaccurate and contained many mistakes in defining extremism.

It was noted that the person who prepared and published the video acted wrongly and on his own behalf.

According to the official statement, the person was brought in for investigation and steps were taken to deal with social media in order to ensure that such mistakes were not made again.

The presidency also pointed out the erroneous article published on Nov. 11 in the Al-Watan newspaper which said: “heavy punishment will be imposed on feminists, including jail time and flogging.”

The presidency clarified that the story was untrue, pointing out that it was not a regulatory or judicial body as stipulated by the Statute of Governance and other statutes. The presidency has taken the necessary legal action with the relevant authorities against the Al-Watan newspaper regarding the incorrect report it published.

In a tweet on Tuesday, the Saudi Human Rights Commission confirmed that feminism was not criminalized in Saudi Arabia and that the Kingdom accorded the greatest importance to women’s rights.

With that clarified, we still wanted to explore a topic seldom discussed. Can radical forms of feminism be dangerous? What is political lesbianism? Have radical feminists ever committed acts of terrorism, for which they were prosecuted in Western countries?

What is ‘radical feminism’?

Believe it or not, but radical feminism is recognized by Western governments as a real political idea, even if it is a dangerous taboo too inflammatory to officially talk about. It is a political ideology emphasizing what it identifies as the patriarchal roots of inequality between men and women, or, more specifically, the social domination of women by men. As a political ideology, radical feminism views patriarchy as dividing societal rights, privileges, and power primarily along the lines of sex, and as a result, oppressing women and privileging men.

Radical feminism opposes almost all existing political and social organization in general because it is inherently tied to what it identifies as patriarchy. Thus, radical feminists tend to be skeptical of political action within the current system and instead tend to focus on culture change that undermines patriarchy and associated hierarchical structures.

What makes it ‘radical’?

Misandry is defined as the dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against men (i.e. the male gender).

Radical feminists tend to be more militant in their approach (radical as “getting to the root”) than other feminists.

Ideologically, the radical feminist aims to dismantle patriarchy rather than making adjustments to the system through legal changes. Radical feminists also resist reducing oppression to an economic or class issue, as socialist or Marxist feminism sometimes did or does.

Radical feminism, in general, is a political idea that opposes patriarchy, not men. Radical feminists claim equating radical feminism to full-blown misandry (man-hating) is to assume that patriarchy and men are inseparable, philosophically and politically. However, others have defended misandry (“man-hating”) as the right of the oppressed class to hate the class that is oppressing them.

Roots of radical feminism

Radical feminism was rooted in the wider radical contemporary movement. Women who participated in the anti-war and New Left political movements of the 1960s found themselves excluded from equal power by the men within the movement, despite the movements’ supposed underlying values of empowerment. Many of these women split off into specifically feminist groups, while still retaining much of their original political radical ideas and methods. “Radical feminism” became the term used for the more radical edge of feminism.

Radical feminism is credited with the use of consciousness-raising groups to raise awareness of women’s oppression. Later radical feminists sometimes added a focus on sexuality, including some moving to extreme forms of radical political lesbianism.

“Political lesbianism”??

Political lesbianism is also an ideological phenomenon, and within feminism, it is seen primarily as second-wave feminism and radical feminism. It includes, but is not limited to, extremist ideas like lesbian separatism. Political lesbianism embraces the theory that sexual orientation is a political and feminist choice, and advocates lesbianism as a positive alternative to heterosexuality for women as part of the struggle against sexism.

In a broad sense, political lesbianism entails the political identification of women with women, it encompasses a role beyond sexuality but supports eschewing forming relationships with men. It is partly based on the idea that women sharing and promoting a common interest create a positive and needed energy which is necessary to enhance and elevate the role of women in the society, a development which will be curtailed by the institutions of heterosexuality and sexism if women choose the traditional norms.

Though there was some discrimination against lesbians within the feminist movement, it ended up providing a needed political platform for them. In its wake, it also expanded and introduced divergent views of sexuality.

Red Zora – dangerous feminist group

Rote Zora, also known as Red Zora, began in 1977 as the autonomous feminist arm of the Revolutionary Cells, a major far-left terrorist organisation in West Germany, which saw itself as a rival to the more prominent Red Army Faction. It eventually evolved into a dangerous terrorist organization, responsible for the killing of innocent civilians.

Red Zora’s first terrorist attack as an independent organization was an arson attack against the Institute of Human Genetics at Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität in Münster, where sensitive documents were also stolen from the institute and published.

The same year Red Zora terrorists committed a bombing attack on the Society for Biotechnological Research in Braunschweig.

In 1987, Rote Zora committed ten terrorist arson attacks against the clothing chain Alder, including their headquarters in Haibach, and at branches in Halstenbeck, Bremen, Oldenburg, Isernhagen, Kassel, Holzwickede, Neuss, Frankfurt, and Aachen.

In 1988, they committed a terrorist bombing attack at the Biological Institute of the Technical University of Berlin. In 1994, they committed an arson terrorist attack on a company supplying food to refugee shelters in Nuremberg and Gera.

Red Zora carried out its last known terrorist attack on July 24, 1995, when it bombed the shipyard of Lürssen GmbH in the Vegesack district of Bremen, in support of the Kurds in the Turkish-Kurdish conflict.

Militant feminists who were tried, and jailed in Berlin

In the early 70s, Rote Zora unleashed a wave of terrorist bomb attacks across Germany, focusing on shops, embassies and clothing factories which the group considered responsible for female oppression.

Members built bombs, buying the alarm clocks for detonators in two cases, neither of which were successful.

Among the evidence against the extremist group were police surveillance photographs in Dortmund buying materials to build a terrorist detonation device.

The group and its members have been connected with kidnappings, shootings and hijackings, and the bomb attack on Bologna station in August 1980 in which 85 people were killed.

Feminist terrorists in Germany were believed to have been behind 45 bombings and arson attacks.


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