Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Trouble in paradise

I just got a letter to the editor about an article by yours truly (OK, my editor got it, but he forwarded it to me so I could read and reply).

In my "happy" feature article in CHAFF this week, I mentioned women's education as a good thing we have going for us in New Zealand, compared to "some fundamentalist Muslim countries" where they've only recently "started to let women attend tertiary study"; and where women have to obtain higher marks than men to get into college. This was based on knowledge from my dad teaching in Oman this year; however, one Muslim woman who read CHAFF was not impressed, and wrote to say as much.

I was quite shocked — mostly shocked that someone had actually read the article, even if it's someone that usually avoids CHAFF "due to its general swearing and unsavoury topics". CHAFF usually has very little swearing in it, by the way; having said that, this comment intrigued my editor and he's now planning to write a feature article next week on the F word. Good-oh.

But it's never nice to receive a letter attacking the two lines in my 1300-word article which were not positive, and I was a little shell-shocked.

I checked my facts tonight, rang up my dad and confirmed some details; he pointed me in the direction of a few official websites I could look at, and I found some articles on various Islamic websites which backed up everything this woman had criticised in my article.

So now I'm left feeling quite happy — sure, my article offended someone, but sooner or later you're bound to offend, and I don't think the article in question was offensively phrased; it just touched a sore spot. My article was attacked, and stood up to examination; that makes me feel good.

At least until next week, if the woman decides to reply to my reply....

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