Show Shamima Some Respect! | David Clark
In August 1892 at Fall River USA, when a young spinster discovered her father had recently changed his will giving the majority of his property to Mr Borden’s newly acquired wife, she promptly hacked the pair of them to pieces. The entire town knew that Lizzie detested her stepmother and had a history of violent attacks. This included one attempted poisoning event and trashing her parent’s bedroom in a fit of rage. Nevertheless, despite the fact she had been alone in a house locked from the inside at the time of the murder, Lizzie got off scott free at her trial. The good people of Fall River were outraged at the horrible things the press were saying about poor Ms Borden and the judge instructed the jury towards a not guilty verdict. This was because, as everyone knew then, young women are simply not capable of acts of pure evil unless bamboozled by men.
Thank goodness we live in more enlightened times these days and we now know that although perhaps not all women are gifted with the robust physicality of young Lizzie, girls these days are no longer oppressed by that sort of sexist judgmentalism and are able to bear the full consequences of their actions as well as any man. But are we as progressive as we like to think we are?
Just for arguments sake, say a teenage girl was to clandestinely slip away from this country and join a terrorist organization in the Middle East? Nobody would seriously suggest she was “just a girlie” and didn’t know what she was doing; they certainly wouldn’t have the cheek to suggest she was led astray by a man on the internet surely?
You see, this is why Shamima Begum has to get back to “her country”. She is literally dying for a chance to take one for the team and show her feminist credentials by doing some serious porridge. In fact, she would probably demand a life sentence; she is that committed to British justice. She knows there is no way a bunch of human rights lawyers, 4th wave feminist academics and Guardian journalists in cahoots with a Liberal Democrat voting judge would claim she was an innocent dupe, groomed and enslaved by online hucksters. No way they would demand she “gets a Lizzie”. The chance of her receiving a suspended sentence, a secret identity, a free house and a book deal are infinitesimally remote. She knows it, we all know it.
But can we be so sure? If Shamima is ever to fulfil her dream of returning to Britain to face justice, she is going to have to overcome centuries of entrenched patriarchy and toxic masculinity. For instance, when Mary Ann Cotton finally swung from the gallows in March 1873 after at least 14 murders to her name, the Newcastle Journal said “Pity cannot be withheld, though it must be mingled with horror”. It went on to say, “Perhaps the most astounding thought of all is that a woman could act thus without becoming horrible and repulsive. Mary Ann Cotton on the contrary seems to have possessed the faculty of getting a new husband whenever she wanted one”. There is enough problematic material there for a whole bevy of militant feminists to unpack over a weekend conference.
You can’t help feeling that Mary Ann and Shamima would have had so much to talk about and been besties, notwithstanding the span of time separating them. What hasn’t changed of course are the sexist attitudes that these days would see them off shopping together at Bluewater after a mild ticking off at a local magistrates court.
The girls would probably take a bit of time out from spending their compensation money for the harassment they received at the hands of the right wing press by retiring to a Starbucks for a coffee. They would then commiserate over the fact that even now English courts don’t admit that young women are free agents, responsible for their own actions and quite capable of being cruel, unfeeling scumbags without the guidance of some young man with a YouTube channel.
You see, I have a theory that despite her goofy snaggle-toothed demeanour and the “in da hood” baseball cap she wears these days, Shamima is a lot cleverer than she looks. All that elopement with ISIS, marrying a terrorist and her job as a religious enforcement officer was just a cover. Right from the start Ms Begum had a plan, and that plan was to expose the West’s pose as upholders of equality and diversity as the sham it is.
So show Shamima some respect and let her come back and do a life stretch at HMP Holloway. It’s what she wants and I say she deserves it.