honor killing redux

May 23, 2007 at 6:22 pm (feminist thoughts)

i realize that this blog is swiftly turning into a proto-feminist take on all things cnn, but hey, whatever moves me (and distracts me from studying for finals).

my most recent find is a post on anderson cooper’s blog discussing honor killings, which i would like to deconstruct in light of the recent posts by twisty and heart on this subject.

first off, let’s consider the title of cooper’s post: “Hard to believe ‘honor killings’ still happen.” um, no, honey. it’s not. as twisty said, it’s vile, abhorrent, and disgusting, but not surprising. anyone who is aware of the continued oppression women face in all cultures around the world knows that such killings happen all the time- even in our own neighborhoods, as heart points out. cooper’s mystified attitude clearly demonstrates his total lack of awareness of this oppression and its implications for women around the globe. he does, however, enlighten his readers by stating that honor killings do not only occur among conservative muslims . . . yadzis do it too! yadzis? try christians, jews, buddhists, atheists, agnostics, wiccans . . . or basically any average joe living in nowheresville, usa. the oppression of women is not the product of backwards, unenlightened nonwhite cultures- it’s universal.

next, a slew of linguistic critiques:

“[Honor killings are] where family members kill relatives, almost always female, because their actions shame a family.” way to blame the victim, buddy! honor killings don’t happen because a woman’s “actions shame her family”- that implies she actually did something shameful. the truth is, a woman did something to assert her independence, and patriarchical society can’t allow that and so has decided to call that “shameful.” the offending woman then has to be put in her place, and made an example for other women: don’t try to be your own person, or the same thing will happen to you.

next cooper describes honor killings as “an ancient tradition that’s still going on today.” as heart discusses in the first carnival of radical feminists, murder should not be elevated to the status of cultural practice. there is a difference between acknowledging the rich culture and traditions of the many populations in the middle east and accepting honor killings as a-okay. and besides, as i mentioned earlier, honor killings are not a “tradition” of arabic culture; they are the result of universal patriarchy and occur in all cultures.

twisty and commenters on her blog have already discussed the problematic description of the most recent victim as “falling in love with the wrong boy,” so i’ll continue with cooper’s next statement: “She was stoned to death while people cheered and took pictures with their cell phone cameras.” “people”? try “men.” same goes for later, when cooper says that “four people are in jail for the stoning and police are looking for at least four more.” as so many other bloggers have pointed out (better than i can), let’s make it clear who the actors are in this scenario: men. and while we’re at it, let’s clarify that those “family members” cooper mentioned earlier who are perpetrating the honor killings are most likely male too.

cooper ends by promoting his television show on honor killings, which i can only assume was comprised of similar rhetoric. a closing observation: cooper’s post comes a full two weeks after twisty’s. surprise, surprise.


  1. womensspace said,

    This is great, La Doctorita. I’m sending it in for the 2nd Carnival of Radical Feminists!


  2. Feminist Law Professors » Blog Archive » Second Carnival of Radical Feminists said,

    […] “honor killings redux” by La Doctorita at Unconventional Beauty. […]

  3. Second Carnival of Radical Feminists « Carnival of Radical Feminists said,

    […] “honor killings redux” by La Doctorita at Unconventional Beauty. […]

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