Bid to boost feminism among Muslim women

Discussion in 'Religion' started by Sorcerer, Mar 15, 2014.

  1. Sorcerer Put a Spell on you Registered Senior Member

    Interesting article from the Guardian:

    For many feminists the hijab is a glaring symbol of male oppression and the patriarchal power of religion. But now there is a small but growing number of Muslim women looking to take their places in Britain's rapidly expanding women's movement.

    A new project to connect Islam to feminism has been launched to tackle long-standing concerns that religious Muslim women are excluded from the women's rights debate.

    In what is a deeply controversial area for many in Islamic communities and for many mainstream feminists, the linkup between a Muslim charity and the project is seen as a pioneering step to bring women from different cultural backgrounds together in the battle for sexual equality.

    The social enterprise Maslaha, established by the Young Foundation to work on improving social conditions in Muslim and minority communities, said the programme had attracted a huge response in the past few days.

    "An awful lot of Muslim women have felt excluded from the debate about women's rights and this project really focuses on bringing ordinary women into a debate about Islamic feminism that has so far only really been heard in academic circles," said Latifa Akay of Maslaha.
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  3. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    Any comment other than "interesting article"? In what way?

    Generally, quoting large portions of an article does not, itself, warrant a new thread. Since you do not seem to have any significant comments on this one, perhaps you would rather start a single, more general thread on women's rights that you can add article links to over time. I can even edit the title of this one if you like.
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  5. Sorcerer Put a Spell on you Registered Senior Member

    You don't think it's interesting that muslim women are finally taking a stand against Islam, which has persecuted them for 1400 years? You don't think that's a step foward for half the population of the earth? What world do you live in?

    I quoted a very small part of the article in fact, as I always do, in order to give people a flavour for it so that they don't have to click on the link if they're not interested. A common courtesy.

    I often don't give my own opinion so that people can make up their own mind.

    This is the second time you've pinged me tonight so I'd like to know your agenda.
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  7. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    No agenda, and I did not opine on the article, just as you did not. Frankly, I do not know what kind of discussion you expect this to provoke, aside from maybe a string of facebook "likes". You know, "first", "good on them", "yay", etc..

    1/3 of an article is a significant portion, and even then, it/you did not bother to define "hijab", requiring the reader unfamiliar with that Arabic word to look it up (defeating your "common courtesy" a bit).

    A discussion forum is not a news feed. Opinions are largely what make for discussions. If you want to make a single thread into a news feed on the general subject of women's right (and whatever comments those accumulate), you are welcome to.
  8. Sorcerer Put a Spell on you Registered Senior Member

    I wanted to provoke a discussion of the way that religion oppresses women and what some of them are doing about it. That seems a reasonable thing to do, right?

    There are no educated people in the world who don't know what a hijab is. You're being ridiculous now.

    I don't want to make a single thread on the subject of women's rights or I would have done so.

    There, I didn't say enough so you can ban me, right?
  9. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    Nonsense, not everyone is aware of what a "hijab" is. If they were, then articles such as this one (on the same subject) would not need to specify "headscarf": Women’s Rights: The Headscarf (Hijab)

    It is generally not a good idea to just assume someone knows words specific to another culture and language. Most Westerners are only familiar with the word "burka", and have no idea the variety of coverings worn by Muslim women: Not all headscarves are burkas

    That article is largely about the prejudices of women's rights advocates (toward garments they see as a symbol of male oppression), how it ostracizes women who choose to wear them (from the global women's rights movement), and how to remedy the situation.

    Very far from religious oppression, that article actually discusses how Muslim women feel excluded from the women's rights movement because those advocates generally seem to assume religion is patriarchal. Muslim women can be both devote Muslims and still want more rights.

    See what happens when you do more than post a news feed?
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2014
  10. Bells Staff Member

    Are they taking a stand against the religion or against the oppressors in their lives? Or most importantly, if we are discussing that article, are they taking a stand against the Western Feminists who sought to dismiss them over the last few decades because of their religious beliefs?

    Religion is not capable of doing anything. It is people's interpretation of religious texts, teachings and writings who then will usually apply their own beliefs and morals to said religious ideology. I would say the persecution of women and the denial of their fundamental human rights within the Muslim faith stems more from a cultural perspective than only a religious one.

    Look at Saudi Arabia as a prime example. Do you think denying women the right to drive a car, for example, stems from religious belief? Or a cultural belief that women are secondary in society and should not be allowed to drive and instead, all aspects of their lives must be controlled by men?

    Al-Sharif explained that Saudi clerics believe allowing women to drive will lead to broken marriages, low birth rates and adultery.

    “Nothing pisses off Saudi men or religious people like a woman behind the driving wheel,” she said. “It was very interesting because you can talk about women’s rights all your life, but nothing will bring attention to the issue like this video a woman driving. One religious opinionist said a woman driving will damage her ovaries. So now it’s not just religious -- it’s scientific!”

    The mythology of women in the Saudi culture goes much deeper than the ban on driving. “In Saudi Arabia, they always tell us we are queens. We are pistachios. You know the nut? Like something that is protected. So even if you have a very good education, restraints are put on women. It’s like saying, 'I know you have feet, God gave you feet, but I’m going to cut them off and put you in a wheelchair -- and wherever you want to go, I will take you,'” said al-Sharif.

    Al-Sharif was not fighting against her religion when she took a stand and drove a car past a police car while her brother was sitting beside her. She was fighting oppression and extreme male dominance. Religion is just an excuse.

    Any fight for more rights is a step in the right direction.

    What I find bizarre is the belief that this is caused by the religion. Muslim women in Malaysia are known to wear bikinis, drive cars, serve in the military and do everything that women in the West do. Is that their religion? Or are they recognised as human beings by law and thus, granted the very rights we all take for granted?

    If it is religion, then wouldn't it be the same everywhere?

    The article is more about Muslim women who feel that Western feminism is patronising them because they are Muslim - that that was why they felt excluded. That their voices as Muslim women were not taken seriously by feminists in the West because those feminists had a perception about their religious beliefs and practices, so they excluded them.

    In short, the article was not about Muslim women taking a stand against their religion. The article was actually about Muslim women taking a stand for their religious beliefs and for their voices to be heard by non Muslim feminists.

    A word of advice Sorcerer, I think deliberately seeking something will not always work in your favour.

    Personally speaking, your OP was a misrepresentation because you seem to say it was a bid to boost feminism amongst Muslim women.. The article was actually about Muslim feminists commenting on how feminists and feminism in the West tended to exclude them because of their religious beliefs.
  11. Kittamaru Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Adieu, Sciforums. Valued Senior Member

    Wow... just wow. Syne, you are just incredible... and not in a good way.

    So, you are saying that bringing something like this to the attention of the community doesn't warrant its own thread? Even though, if not for you immediately jumping down Sorcerer's throat, this would likely drum up some discussion?

    Tell me, Syne, what do you, oh great master of all things religion, deign a worthy topic for your golden haired, blue eyed sub forum? Oh wait, let me guess - if someone were to post a link to an article stating that science has unquestionably proven that homosexuality is a direct result of not having a religion and could be cured via exorcism with holy water and the Good Book, you would accept that (disclaimer, I believe no such nonsense - the previous statement was made simply for the sake of example) (since it, you know, meshes with your apparent views)

    To Sorcerer - I would say that you may want to revisit the title a bit - I understand that your intent was simply to provide the title of the article in question, but I must concur with Bells in that it seems the article is less about attempting to boost feminism in muslim communities and more about trying to get muslim communities included in current feminism movements... not the the two are mutually exclusive. However, that said, I don't have any issue with the title as, again, it was the title of the article in question.

    To get on topic though - I think this is a good thing. I mean, religion has a time and place... it should not be used as a tool to oppress people, no matter what some human being wrote in a book and claimed that their God told them. My personal belief aside, I find it hard to imagine a "god" that would instruct people to go out and enslave or oppress another for believing something different.

    I do hope that these attempts to feminize can go on without bloodshed or other negative discourse... I know some hard-line muslim folk who are very... hm... neanderthal like in their views on women... I would go so far as to say that some of them see women as "tools" not "people", a viewpoint I can't even begin to wrap my mind around.
  12. Sorcerer Put a Spell on you Registered Senior Member

    You have put that far better than I could.

    I would just say that I used the title of the article for the thread title, as I usually do. If the journalist got it wrong then that's not really my problem.
  13. Sorcerer Put a Spell on you Registered Senior Member

    I quoted nothing but the article, deliberately. If people don't know what a word means they can go look it up.

    If you think that the title is incorrect you should write to the Guardian, not bother me.

    You're fully entitled to your interpretation of the article, that's why I posted it.
  14. Sorcerer Put a Spell on you Registered Senior Member

    If the OP was a misrepresentation then it certainly wasn't mine. The thread title and the quote were taken directly from the article in the Guardian. You're welcome to disgaree with any part of it, that's why I posted it, to promote a discussion, which is what happened.

    Still, it seems that you at least found it interesting.....
  15. Bells Staff Member

    The exclusion of Muslims from human rights discussions (in a lot of places) and the absolute exclusion from non-white and non-Western cultures and religions from the white western feminist movement has been an interest of mine for many years now.

    As such, some feminists argue that Muslim and Asian women see the feminist movement as being a movement of white privilege that refuses to take their cultural and religious beliefs into account. In other words, if you are not a white woman of Christian faith or Atheist, then you will be excluded and at times blamed for your own oppression for being a part of the community, culture or particular religion. The Burka is a prime example. Muslim women who choose to wear the Burka are sometimes accused of giving in to male domination. As such, what we know as 'feminism' is incapable of understanding or respecting the Muslim woman's choice in how she dresses because most of the time, Western feminism is too busy focusing on the portion who are forced and applying to the millions or so others who are not. And it muddies the waters.
  16. Balerion Banned Banned

    No, and this is the point that fringe lefties can't seem to wrap their heads around. Pretending that it has nothing to do with religion leads to, well, absurd questions like the one you've posed here. You can't pretend that religion isn't in and of itself a form of culture. It's most certainly that, and it assimilates to varying degrees when encountered by other cultures, or it doesn't, but there's always competition.

    I think it's fair to say that Islamic women seeking rights are fighting against Islam. The idea that women should have the right to drive, to vote, to dress as they please, are all western ideas, not Islamic ones, so you can't take Islam as their enemy out of the equation. And this is a great thing, because it will eventually lead to Islam more fully assimilating with western culture, much in the way Christianity has. Even most critics of Islam will tell you that this stage it's going through now is hardly different than what Christianity went through in its own teething stage. Eventually, it will mellow.
  17. Bells Staff Member

    Muslim feminists are not just fighting against their religion and the men in their lives and communities and the state they live in for rights. They are having to fight against white female privilege when it comes to feminism and the feminist movement (which is what the article in the OP is about) because they do not fit into the little square that Western feminists expect them to be in.

    Your point makes the very argument that the Muslim feminists in the article in the OP have said they are fighting against to have their voices heard. They have, to date, been excluded from the discussion because of their religion, which is the whole point of the article in the OP.

    One of my biggest gripes about the "feminist movement" is its often times refusal to accept or acknowledge the cultural and religious differences of women and feminists around the world. That it has been dominated from a white Western women's perspective and as a result, it has left a greater majority of women sidelined and their voices are ignored because they do not fit into what white western feminism demands.

    As such, it's not so much a fight against religion but a cultural fight, and its a fight that non-white and non-western women have to fight against all sides.. The very cultures they live in, their homes and from pressure from white western feminists to conform to their ideals of what free women are.

    I think blaming religion is simplistic and in fact, further silences and alienates Muslim women even more.
  18. Balerion Banned Banned

    How are they fighting feminists, exactly? I see complaints that they are left out of the discussion, but is that because they're Muslim, or because they're trying to say the headscarf isn't a tool or symbol of oppression? I mean, nobody should take a claim like that seriously, and we aren't wrong in feeling that choosing to wear that item sends a poor message. If they want to argue otherwise, feel free, but let's not pretend "white feminists" are the problem here. Save your white guilt for some other thread; it doesn't belong here.

    Not by other feminists, Bells--by other Muslim women.

    When abuse and oppression is chalked up to "cultural and religious differences," of course it won't be accepted or acknowledged by right-minded individuals.

    You can drop the "white people are evil" routine now, thanks. It's beyond obscene, and has no place on this forum--and the act is ironic, but I digress.

    Anyway, your argument is a classic fringe liberal cop-out: We ignore oppression and abuse when it would force us to criticize something we go so far out of our way to protect and paint as an injured party, which in this case is Islam.

    There's really no point in continuing, since your purpose here is to preach, not engage in an actual conversation.

    I'm not saying religion alone is the cause. But even if I were, it would be closer to the truth than pretending Islam has nothing to do with it, which is what you're doing. And what movement should be founded on a lie? If Muslim women need to be coddled with lies about the nature of their religion, then they aren't ready for change, and they certainly won't affect any.
  19. Bells Staff Member

    You could only ask such a question if you think Muslim women are too stupid to know what is right for them as individuals. Should they be ignored and their voices not heard because they choose to wear the headscarf?

    What gives the white privileged women in the West the right to dictate what constitutes free and unoppressed fashion in Islamic, Asian and African nations? I mean have white feminists even looked at the Amish for oppressiveness? What about Jewish women who are spat on if they walk on the wrong side of the street or sit on a bus in Israel?

    And once again, you made the point for me. In other words, if they choose to adhere to their religious teachings of dressing modestly by wearing the hijab, then they cannot be taken seriously... The very thing that Muslim feminists have said for decades when it comes to the feminist movement.
    Then you obviously did not read the article in the OP.

    For an item of clothing that a Muslim woman may choose to wear?

    Would you say the same applies to the fashion world and the media who expect women to put on a show and wear spectacular dresses or dress a certain way for work, home life, parties, award shows? What about the expectation of thinness? Would you think a woman is oppressed if she is expected to dress a certain way to appeal to the man in her life or to attract a man?

    For example, there is a thread on this site titled "What do women wear that turns you off"..

    Probably one of the most sexist and stupid threads started on this site in recent history.

    The thread is basically about men discussing what women wear or how they present themselves and what turns them off. Quite a few women also posted in it.

    In short, it's a thread where men get to compare what women should wear, etc, to attract them as a potential mate. When James asks if there is a reciprocal thread for men and what about what women find attractive and commented about whether this thread was just to ogle at women, no one commented on it.. Instead, they gave a list of what women should and should not wear and what does and does not attract them.. If that thread had had just one Muslim man say 'a woman who wears a hijab or dresses modestly' I'd bet many would protest and say it was oppressing the woman.

    That thread and what was said in that thread can be deemed just as oppressive as Muslim men who may expect their wives to dress a certain way or be turned off.

    It's not religion. It's culture. Religion is just the scapegoat used by oppressive communities, families and governments. And I think silencing a woman because of how she dresses or what religion she belongs to because she does not fit into the ideal of "feminism" as interpreted by privileged white women in the west is one of the biggest problems and you are pretty much doing just that by declaring your privileged white status as the "right minded individuals".

    The whole basis of this thread is Western feminist ideology locking out non-Western feminists from the discussion. Lets face it Balerion, whether you are comfortable with the subject or not, Western and white feminism has dominated the discussion and feminist ideology in general. Women who do not fit into that 'ideal' have been left out in the cold. It's not about white people being evil. It's about white and Western feminist ideology dominating all discourse up until now, where women from other cultures are now able to have a say and discuss as per their own cultural beliefs and their experiences.

    My purpose here is to discuss the feminist voices in other cultures. Your purpose appears to disregard them if they don't dress like you expect them to or if they belong to a religion you don't happen to like. Which further illustrates what non-white feminists have been facing from Western feminists for decades.

    Once again, you just made their point. They either convert and be forced to believe in Western ways or be disregarded and treated as though they are stupid. Apparently this is not another form of oppression. Which is pretty much what non-white and non-western feminists have been saying for decades. African American feminists also argued the same thing..
  20. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member


    I guess you would have rather this thread go without reply and slide into obscurity? [rhetorical sarcasm]

    Until I finally got some opinion on the article out of Sorcerer...
    ...most people were likely to have the response I did. Which was "good for them" but did not warrant any reply, since that article seemed to speak for itself just fine.

    Only after seeing that someone did not seem to get the gist of the article (as Bells and I have pointed out), did any real discussion begin. Hence the "not a news feed" comment.

    I also feel that this guideline may be applicable:
    F. Copyright
    4. Under the laws of many countries, limited quotation of material is permissible in the context of comment, review and/or criticism. This does not in general permit the reproduction in full of complete works (e.g. song lyrics or news articles).​

    Without comment, review and/or criticism of the quoted excerpt, it may be flirting with violating "fair use" copyright laws.

    I only ask that such news stories be accompanied by some comment or opinion, especially as new threads. If someone really thinks a news story warrants posting, certainly they have some opinion on it.
  21. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member


    For once I am with you on this one. Some people are obviously missing the entire point of that article. I think we can agree that women have the right to be religious AND work for equal rights.
  22. Balerion Banned Banned

    To the first point, that's ridiculous. My question most certainly does not require that. To the second, obviously not. Again, I never implied any such thing.

    Do you understand what "white privilege" means? I'm guessing not, given your rote adherence to the phraseology.

    For that matter, do you understand what "dictate" means? Are social mores in Iran being influenced by feminists in New Jersey?

    What you're probably trying to ask, but are incapable because it isn't inflammatory enough, is "What gives them the right to judge?" which of course begs the question of what gives you the right to judge them. The answer is simple: We make value judgments all the time. People are only right or wrong relative to the values of the observer. And what you're doing in judging feminists is no different than what the feminists themselves are doing in judging others.

    Wait, you're upset at western feminists for having a negative opinion of oppressive Islamic culture, and for not having a negative opinion of other oppressive cultures? Is this really just about perceived hypocrisy? Because I can assure you, feminist ire is not exclusively directed at Islam.

    See, this is why I get pissed at you. I never said any such thing. I said the specific claim that the hijab is not a tool and symbol of oppression would not be taken seriously. I never said that women who wear the hijab cannot be taken seriously.

    Please don't twist my words to fit your agenda.

    I certainly did. Its thrust was the effort of Muslim feminists to spread feminism among Muslim women. They're providing a place for those women specifically to discuss their concerns.

    Are we really going to pretend it's just a piece of cloth? That it has no connotations beyond that? That is has no uses besides fashion?

    Of course I would. Who wouldn't abhor the narrow definition of beauty propagated by the media? Women have died because of it.

    Is this really just about consistency with you? You seem on one hand to make a principled argument, then retreat to one solely based on what you perceive as hypocrisy.

    I think it's probably not appropriate for this site, but sexist? Are you kidding me? It's a thread with a bunch of guys and some girls discussing what they find attractive--and unattractive--in women's fashion. Are we to believe that you've never had a similar conversation with your own friends? You have no opinion about men's clothing? You want us to believe that having a preference in clothing is somehow wrong? Come on, get serious.

    Wait. Are you saying that some women here are actually acting against their own best interests, and against the best interests of other women?! SAY IT AIN'T SO, BELLS!!!

    Again, are we to believe you've never had a similar conversation? That you don't hold opinions of your own on the subject? That you have absolutely no preference whatsoever for what a man wears?

    I don't know, maybe you just don't understand sexism, or what the problem with the media's portrayal of women actually is. I mean, women aren't developing eating disorders because guys like heels better than flats. They're developing eating disorders because the media has defined beauty as this one exceptionally narrow and impossible to achieve ideal. Personal preference doesn't shape society, and for every guy who says he likes huge breasts and narrow hips, you'll find just as many who like women with meat on their bones, and everything in between and on both extremes. You're trying to argue that having an opinion about clothing and makeup is destructive, and it just isn't. You're dead wrong about this.

    I honestly don't know what this has to do with anything, and I'm not convinced it's true. Given the subject of the thread, I doubt you would have moved any political needles with such a statement.

    No. Absolutely no, and I'm disturbed to see you write this. Do you really think that oppression manifests as personal preference? Jesus Christ. No. A thousand times, no. Preference isn't oppression.

    Boy, you keep harping on this "white privileged women," but how sheltered does your existence have to be to conflate having a preference in women's fashion to the oppression of women? I mean, what the hell?

    You're wrong. Religion informs culture, just like culture informs religion--at least insofar as how strictly one adheres to their religion's dogma. It's not a scapegoat, it's a cause.

    There are many, many problems here, so let's address them one at a time.

    First, I'm going to need you to explain your obsession with white people, because it has the appearance of racism. Do you really think all western feminists are white--because that would be grossly inaccurate--or is it specifically the white ones you have a problem with? If it's the latter, what, exactly is your problem with white women? What about their whiteness offends you? Why is their skin color even relevant?

    You then need to define also what you mean by "privilege," because you're either using that term too broadly to be of any use, or specifically to the individual, in which case you would be making irresponsible assumptions about me because you don't know me or my situation. In either case, you probably shouldn't be saying it.

    Also, get your facts straight. I never said anything about my "status" being "right-minded individuals," though I suppose complaining about such an incoherent sentence is pointless.

    No, it isn't. The basis of this thread is to discuss the linked article, which is about Muslim feminists attempting to provide platforms for other Muslim women to voice their concerns.

    Again, I don't know where you get the idea that western feminists are all white, or that they're shutting out people who don't fit their "ideal," which apparently to you means being white. You're really trying to distract from the key issue--which is that being Muslim and a feminist is viewed by many as a dichotomy--and make this one of race, and taking that opportunity to practice some anti-white hate speech. The hate speech is disturbing in its own right, but the subject of the thread you're derailing makes it particularly shameful. And considering you're the first one to accuse others of bigotry, racism, sexism, (concepts which, by the way, I'm now learning you have no understanding of whatsoever) I'm stunned that you're so doing this so blatantly.

    I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I'm actually disappointed in you. Wow. You win, universe.

    Then why haven't you done so? Instead, your posts are overly concerned with the whiteness of the people you're demonizing.

    Please show me where I do that. Go on, take your time.

    No, seriously. I want you to support this fucking absurd accusation with a citation.

    Serious question: You do realize that not all western feminists are white, right? I mean, in your zeal to demonize white people, you're completely dismissing every non-white feminist in the west.

    I can't believe I need to say this, but that's not their point. No one--certainly not Muslim feminists (Who happen to be Westerners, for the record; this movement is taking place in the UK. But, you know, can't let facts get in the way of blind hate!--is suggesting that the options are convert or be treated as though you are stupid. The feminist movement simply needs to get used to the idea that being Muslim and being a feminist is not a contradiction. And it will. Movements like the one discussed in the OP's article will help that.
  23. Balerion Banned Banned

    Hah! I love it.

    Who said they didn't?

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