Friday, 11 June 2010

Friday Feminist - Mohja Kahf (3)

Cross posted

These real problems [of sexism among Muslims] include, for example, the poverty of economic and health resources for many third world Muslim women, the sex trade against women in southeast Asia and elsewhere, the double burden of brutal foreign occupation and homegrown patriarchy for Palestinian women, marital laws in the Gulf states that are biased against women marrying foreign nationals causing a high rate of older single women who want an honorable alternative to their single state, obscenely perverted rape laws in Pakistan, and the "glass dome" and misogynistic attitudes keeping women from leadership positions in American Muslim mosques and organizations.

These problems are not inherently more unyielding than problems related to sexism in any other group of people. Our own American misogyny (date rape, weak laws against domestic violence, glass ceilings, 79 cents for every man's dollar) just look more familiar to us, less harsh somehow, more workable. We think we can fix our own sexism with homegrown ingenuity, but we often assume that Muslim women's problems must be solved for them from abroad, all their veils replaced with blue jeans for them to be truly liberated, all different marriage practices brought into conformity with our own. Muslim women and men have a wealth of their own cultural resources to use in the struggle for women's human rights. Feminism is alive and well among Muslims and has been for some time, even when U.S. foreign policy interests don't bring a spotlight on it. It is the continued struggle of Muslim feminists (both men and women), aided by friends of any background who are willing to educate themselves beyond stereotypes, which will liberate them. Not the condescending attitude that they must be "rescued" from their heritage by cheerfully ignorant proponents of American cultural imperialism or militaristic U.S. policymakers sprouting overnight feminist principles.

Mohja Kahf, "Muslim Women Rule and Other Little-Known Facts" in Fawzia Afzal-Khan (ed), Shattering the Stereotypes: Muslim Women Speak Out, Moreton-in-Marsh: Arris Books, 2005

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