Feminism | Posted by Helen H on 12/30/2009
Right. Islam and feminism. What’s the deal? I really don’t know. I do appreciate the religion, though, as a lapsed Muslim, I’m probably not the best person to talk about this.
Still, I think I’m qualified enough to say Islam is a patriarchal religion, especially in the way it’s practiced. It’s not the only patriarchal religion, and I’m sure that, like other religions, Islam is open to more feminist interpretations. But there will be some parts of it that will tick off most feminists.
One example would be the hijab. Being brought up by a rather religious family, I used to consider it a predestined (but unacknowledged) fact that I would grow up to wear one, just like most of my female relatives. But I’ve never been one to swallow things without questioning. And this, of all issues, is something to wonder about. The idea, if any of you don’t know, is that in front of males who are not their relatives, women are required to cover up all but their face and hands. The opposite applies to men, except they’re only required to cover from their belly-button down to their knees.
That in and of itself annoys me. There’s blatant objectification in it, the idea that the female body is a walking invitation to sin, the idea that the female body needs protection. And hey, there’s quite a bit of male-bashing in that, don’t you think? Do men have so little control over their sex drives that women around them need to be completely covered up?
Still, though, I don’t think it’s fair to leave it at that. There are tons of intelligent, educated women who choose to wear a headscarf by themselves. There are Muslim feminists who wear head-scarfs proudly. Calling every woman who wears a hijab a docile creature who accepts oppression without a word is unfair. Stereotypes are bad.
I think in the end, it’s a matter of choice. I hope I’m not using that like as a tack-on label, but I appreciate and respect every woman who seriously has a think over something and then takes her own initiative, no matter what it is.
There’s a lot to be said about this, and I can only say so much. I was really looking forward to seeing what all of you think. What can you add? What are your impressions of a woman wearing a headscarf, and how do you think it measures up against feminism?
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