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Dozy bint of the year contest

I have drawn up a shortlist of two, and it will take the wisdom of Solomon to choose between them.

In the Red Corner, we have Yvonne Ridley. She's a veteran dozy bint, having won Dozy Bint of the Year ever since 2001 when, following her capture by the Taliban, she converted to Islam.

This interview (hat tip Esmerelda) could mean she retains her title. Note the blue headscarf, matching her eyes. Note also the vacuity in those eyes:

When initially reading the Quran, Yvonne recalls, she intended to find out "how it teaches men to beat their wives". But she emerged entranced. "The Quran makes it crystal clear that women are equal to men in spirituality, worth and education," she realized.

That has to be the non sequitur of the year. The Koran does indeed teach men to beat their wives. Does Ridley even deny it? And if it does, how can her second statement be true?


Gradually, she began adopting Islamic practices and cutting out un-Islamic customs like alcohol and cigarettes. "I had a battle with cigarettes which I finally won - at last," she jokes.

Yvonne also began covering her head, finding it "liberating not to be judged by the size of her legs".

A strange turn of phrase. If, as I assume, she means that Western women are under pressure to have thin legs, then Islam gets round this by allowing marriage with nine-year-old girls, whose legs are generally on the thin side compared with an adult's. (I am put in mind of Lolita's Humbolt Humbolt calling Charlotte Hayes' legs "fat", which, compared with those of twelve-year-old Lolita, they may have been.) 

But then it was her own society that she felt oppressed by. "I've always been outspoken," she says, referring, for instance, to her critical views against the way detainees in the war on terror are held captive without charge, and often tortured.

And what exactly has our society done to Yvonne Ridley? Tortured her? Forced her into marriage? Stoned her for her less than chaste past?

Yes, Yvonne Ridley looks set to win. But there is a challenger. In the Blue Corner we have Salam Al-Mahadin, writing - where else? - in The Guardian. Ms Al Mahadin:

teaches at the English Department at Petra University in Jordan. Her research has focused on media discourse, identity formation and women's issues in both Jordan and the Arab world. She holds a PhD degree from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh in Translation and Discourse Analysis Studies.

The D-word, "discourse", rings alarm bells. Can it be coincidence that the word "dozy" also begins with a D? Let's hear some of Ms Al-Mahadin's discourse on Western hegemony:

Feminist agencies of western origin are, in the eyes of many Muslims, a post-colonial legacy. In the present climate of distrust between the west and the so-called east, there is hardly room for debates surrounding women if the sources of these emancipatory attempts are western feminist agencies. Human rights are hardly universal and, honour killings and stoning aside, there is a plethora of "rights" of profound cultural nuance rendering it almost impossible to decontextualise them; what one western culture deems a gross violation is not so in another culture.

And back to problematic term "Muslim woman", it is essential not to lose sight of the political context that breeds forms of oppression. In Jordan for example, Jordanian women cannot pass on their nationality to their husband or children. The delicate demographic balance between Palestinian-Jordanians and Tranjordanians underlies this gross violation. It is not a question of misogyny nor oppression but rather a matter of political expediency. Indeed, even crimes of honour in Jordan are part and parcel of such a political balance.

The western left may be able to catapult some of these issues into mainstream politics from the confines of academic discourse but I agree with Ghannoushi that the politics of resistance can only be formulated by those "who wish to be otherwise than they are", as the French thinker Michel Foucault once argued.

First the D-word and now the F-word. It's a close call. Photo-finish?

She's prettier than Yvonne Ridley, and doesn't look quite so dopey, but that stuff about "discourse" and "catapulting"? Still, I suppose "catapulting issues into the mainstream" is not as bad as catapulting stones at rape victims.