I do feel a twinge of guilt at the hipster irony of being the white girl here (there’s a joke somewhere I am sure) but can we talk about this article from The Telegraph? With the title “The Unique Advantage of Female War Reporters in Muslim Countries,” we are treated to the special version of the weak sauce “third gender” argument, because, you know, all Muslim men only respect white women professionals, the third gender; and we (white women) have special access to Mozrab field reporting. The article starts out with an anecdote about how a Telegraph reporter, Phoebe Greenwood, noticed while reporting in Gaza that she was surrounded by female reporters in the lobby of a hotel and that this occurrence — an almost exclusively female pool of war correspondents — has become common to the point of almost banality. It is a cute anecdote, but more worrisome is the superficial analysis that comes after it: she explains away female war correspondents as being part of a “third gender,” not male, female enough to be protected, but not female in a bad way like the ladies back home, whose place is in the kitchen, or something.
In other words, the “third gender” goes something like this: Big Bad Arabo-Muslim-or-Otherwise-Brown Men give White Women access to Information that Non-White Women don’t have. I was hoping that I was reading it wrong and that she meant all women reporters, but no, she meant us. Ms. Greenwood goes on to state (my emphasis),
“The Muslim men treat with us a kind of deference and actually talk to us about the war, their strategy and their weapons – which they wouldn’t do with the women of their country. At the same time they would very rarely harm a female journalist as most Islamic militants don’t want to behead a woman or kidnap them.”
Yeah, just like that. So in other words, we have some sort of special bent on stories because we’re Western? Because Muslim Man living in Back Homeland = Islamic Militant?
The premise of this third gender biznazz bothers me on many levels. [Read more...]