Letters to the Editor

Column Misunderstands Underlying Gender Issues

Dear Editor:

I agree with Natasha Naraghi’s assertion that “blaming men for gender inequalities” is a poor and ineffective use of feminists’ energy. I do not, however, agree with her statement that gender disparity is “less problematic than the constant tug between family and work.” To say that this is the only gender problem society faces today is a gross simplification. Her article implicitly reveals several problematic assumptions.

Regarding the 23 percent gap between men’s and women’s wages, she claims that “time will likely resolve these discrepancies as it has with education differences.” This statement ignores the struggle of women who petitioned and fought to be accepted into all-male universities and male-dominated fields, first as students, and later as educators. This change was not the result of the passage of time but rather of a concerted effort to combat gender inequality. Furthermore, to speak of this problem as a thing of the past is to obscure the ways in which it continues today. Yes, women are admitted to universities, and yes, they’re graduating, but how many of them are going into engineering? How many of them are professors in the computer science department?

The other thing Naraghi assumes is that the tension between family and work is somehow a strictly female problem. She suggests that women may have difficulty planning their graduate careers “knowing they may only work for roughly five years before settling down to have children.” Presumably there are men helping to produce these children, yet their careers are mysteriously not threatened by the need to “settle down.” She says that “children in daycare with working mothers are likely to suffer most.” This statement presumes the child is in daycare because the father is also working, yet specifically places the blame upon working “mothers.” She does not acknowledge the possibility of mothers working while “dads” stay home with their kids. (For the purpose of this argument I am assuming there are two heterosexual parents in this family.) Of course, the truth of the matter is, most of the time mom stays home while dad goes to work. Why? Because of the wage gap between men and women.

Clearly these problems are both more related and more complex than Naraghi admits. It is not men who oppress women, but rather the assumptions and expectations we all have concerning what a man or a woman is and what they do. While blaming men is not the solution to these overarching societal problems, the best way to make sure they go unsolved is to ignore them.

— Katie Brown

John Muir College Senior

Muslim Misunderstands the First Amendment

Dear Editor:

I suggest Farhad look at the recent cover of Rolling Stone, with Kanye West portrayed as Jesus. Shocking? Yes. Offensive? Sure. I don’t recall there being any riots and deaths worldwide over it, though. The truth is, the whole point of freedom of speech is that it can clash with anyone’s values. Jews have to put up with neo-Nazis and Christians have to put up with Piss Christ. It’s finally time for the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims to grow up and deal with a dozen drawings of Mohammed.

— Travis Weinger

Revelle College Sophomore

Dear Editor:

The piece “Muslims Respond to Cartoons” in the March 2 edition of the Guardian invoked the concept of freedom of speech nearly 10 times without understanding it once.

Farhad Noorzay, a member of the Muslim Student Association at UCSD, requests that freedom of speech be “modified” and in doing so shows his restrictive and distorted view of what freedom is. Conditional freedom is not freedom at all.

Noorzay’s commentary asks that freedom of speech be “altered” so it does not clash with the Muslim value of honoring Prophet Mohammed. He focuses on an alleged Western double standard to protect the values of other religions but not those of Islam, arguing, “Islamic values are just as important as any other religion’s values; therefore, they should be dealt with in the same manner.” I argue that they already are.

How many times have there been controversial or caricatured depictions of Christian or Jewish religious symbols in both Western and Muslim countries? Freedom of speech protects the right to express views that are unpopular and controversial. Modifying its applications so feelings don’t get hurt is absurd and puts freedom of speech on a slippery slope to censorship. Noorzay asks for action, not apologies. I don’t think either is appropriate.

There is considerable hypocrisy in demanding that the West refrain from any criticism of Islam while in Muslim countries there is regular ridicule and parody of Jews and Christians and their religious values. Additionally, Noorzay does not understand how it is possible to defend the existence of a cartoon while at the same time disagree with its content. The provocative Danish cartoons are not representative of my views on Islam. They are, however, representative of what needs to be protected under the true concept of freedom of speech.

— Chris Fredrich

Revelle College Senior