Michelle Barrow is an American who studied at Yale in the same years as Hillary Rodham and Bill Clinton. Barrow’s peer group – Rodham, for example, wanted to be scientists, lawyers, public officials, or at least, in the turbulent Vietnam era, change the world for better.
Barrow became a magazine writer and her most recent notable contribution to American journalism was an article titled ‘My gynaecologist found a cat hair ball in my vagina.’
Yes, really. She wrote the article, the finding of the cat hair ball is a slightly more dubious claim, though the respected US magazine, The Atlantic appeared to find it totally credible.
Barrow’s claim to magazine article fame became her ‘let-it-all-hang-out’ writing, strongly tilt to the kind of whining, angry feminism that has become the trademark of some Australian feminists at home or abroad and this is which is where the similarity of Barrow to Yassmin Abdel-Magied, yes, she of the elaborate turbans and adulation from the ABC for statements such as “Islam is the most feminist religion”.
Barrow wrote about feminism and her body. Abdel-Magied, in her article for Teen Vogue writes about – you guessed right- Australian racism, the racism that forced her to leave Australia for foreign shores:
You should understand something about Australia. Although Australia is commonly associated with kangaroos and great beaches, it actually has a deeply racist history … The government was so obsessed with whiteness that up until the 1970s, there was the so-called White Australia Policy, which was a collection of policies banning non-Europeans from migrating to the country. In other words, you had to be white to move to Australia.
No doubts thinking of a time when she may wish to return to the country she has such contempt for, she goes on:
There is no doubt that Australia has come a really long way since then. I am truly grateful for all the opportunities I was provided as an Australian immigrant, and for the love and support of many Australians. But this isn’t about individual Australians. History matters, because it informs the attitudes of the present society. As people of color have systematically been treated as second-class citizens, they are considered “conditionally Australian.” The moment they step out of line, the country explodes with outrage.
Yassmin outraged Australians of every community; including her own, through her arrogant flouting of the norms of civil society, her Anzac Day tweet, the announcement that Islam was the most feminist of religions and so on. This, from a woman who had done well, gone further because of her background, than most young women of her age and attainments. There are sayings about ingratitude. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Don’t spit in the soup:
I had to move houses, change my phone number, shut off my social media. When I later announced that I was moving to London, a national TV station ran a poll on whether I should leave or “stay and face her critics’ Thousands of words were written about me in hundreds of articles. Petitions were set up going after my job… I was being made an example of. All that mattered was that I was a young Muslim woman of colour who had stepped out of line…
This was more than aggrieved anger; this was deeply hurt pride and arrogance on Abdel-Magied’s part. I’ll teach you to decry me, is her vengeance on Australia. Nowhere does she seem to comprehend that she owes something, loyalty, perhaps, to the country that took her in and gave her so much.
Doubtless in the future Yassmin Abdel-Magied will look for new avenues to express her outrage and anger with Australian and Australians. Like Michelle Barrow, she will probably look for even more ways to convince a magazine readership (one not distinguished by intellectual discernment) that she was the victim of a campaign of vicious Australian racism.
Perhaps Yassmin’s next article will be along the lines of ‘My gynaecologist found a ball of cat hair in my vagina – and an Australian put it there.’
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