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Author Topic: Islamic feminism
April Follies
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posted 02 November 2003 01:53 AM      Profile for April Follies   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Veiled Feminism

quote:
Post-apartheid, a new form of Islam has emerged to meet this need. The injustice all non-white people felt under apartheid led many Muslims to examine inequalities within their own culture. This led to the creation of a liberal form of Islam where gender equality became a corner stone of their beliefs. As recently as 1998, South Africa's High Court ruled that Radio Islam had to allow female Muslims to present radio programmes.

From: Help, I'm stuck in the USA | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
BarnOwl
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posted 02 November 2003 09:18 PM      Profile for BarnOwl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I was wondering about the topic heading...
"Islamic Feminism". ??? Aren't these terms mutually exclusive - like a full-blown oxymoron?

That's on par with a "Military for Peace" or "RCMP for Cannabis" or "Catholicism for Women".

The dominant institutions weren't designed to accomodate other interloping ideas.

This is not to disrespect the women in the article, it's just a sad indictment of how lost and without options they really are.


From: Frozen Middle of Nowhere | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged
April Follies
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posted 02 November 2003 10:05 PM      Profile for April Follies   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
And... d'you think you could possibly be any more patronizing? Just askin'.

Look, I know that's a very hostile response, but it's very hard for me to accept that women who choose to believe in a particular religion - like Islam or Catholicism - can't possibly be feminists, which is how I read that post. Anyone who thinks "Catholic feminist" is an oxymoron has never met a New York nun! And there are some very remarkable women, doing very remarkable work, in the area of Islamic feminism, not just in South Africa but also all throughout the world. To have their work and contributions thus blithely dismissed seems to be adding monumental insult to existing injury - and to imply an inherent prejudice toward persons of other cultures, who "can't possibly" be seeking equality within their own cultural contexts.

[ 02 November 2003: Message edited by: April Follies ]


From: Help, I'm stuck in the USA | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
BarnOwl
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posted 02 November 2003 10:39 PM      Profile for BarnOwl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Whoa, didn't know I was being patronizing.

But then again, I'm not "stuck in the USA" either.

Sorry, that bit might be patronizing.

My point was that women can't join an institution that was created without their input, without them being considered, holds them as sub-humans and is completely antagonistic to their well-being. And then by some "miracle" this misogynistic philosophy is going to make substantial changes in their lives for the better.

And if anyone is "adding monumental insult to existing injury" I would think that patriarchal religion has perpetrated enough nastiness against the female gender to last until the end of our species' history ... and for women to turn to it in the hopes of redemption is, well, sad.

Other than that, have a good day.


From: Frozen Middle of Nowhere | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged
April Follies
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posted 02 November 2003 10:46 PM      Profile for April Follies   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
What's funny here is that I'm an atheist, and moderately militant about it. And yes, I agree that many of these religions are, in origin, patriarchal. However, it seems to me that telling women they've got to dump their religion in order to achieve equality, or even make progress toward it, is a recipie for failure.

Religion can and does change to reflect modern mores - these days, religion is used to utterly condemn slavery, while two hundred years ago religious apologia for slavery were rife. These women are trying to effect just such a change, and not only do I respect them for it, I also think that it's quite possibly the most likely approach to improve women's lives throughout the Islamic world.

Edited to add: the original article (which I cited just because it was currently in the news) really doesn't represent the spectrum of Islamic feminism. I thought a few links to other Islamic-feminist viewpoints might be interesting.

Exploring Islamic Feminism

quote:
The revelation of Islam established women's equal status and equal rights. The Prophet treated women as equals and was very responsive to their thoughts and needs. There was a tendency toward "ignorance" in the society where Islam was revealed, and it crept back in after the Prophet's death and brought back some of the negative things that Islam had reformed, including misogyny. Eventually the misogynist attitude left over from "ignorance" gained a foothold in Islamic law and took away some of women's rights and lowered their status. Islamic feminism is just an effort to restore the equal status of women as is their God-given right in Islam from the beginning. ...

One of Western feministsí biggest failings is overlooking the way Muslim feminists are handling the issues themselves without any extraneous help.


Islamic Feminism vs. Western Feminism

quote:
Normally public opinion about the Islamic religion is often negative. The Muslim people are seen as violent oppressors of women. Although it may be true in some countries, the fact is Muslim people represent a variety of societies and communities where there are different interpretations of the Koran in regards to the female role and status in Islamic societies. This thesis argues that feminism is a global phenomenon and is unique to every culture of the world and also examines some of the myths and facts surrounding the Islamic religion and their treatment of women.

[ 02 November 2003: Message edited by: April Follies ]


From: Help, I'm stuck in the USA | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
BarnOwl
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posted 02 November 2003 11:13 PM      Profile for BarnOwl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, you're a whole lot more optimistic than I am regarding humanity's SkyGod, invisible-friend-in-the-sky (Male). Nothing good will come from a patently childish belief.

I've studied religious history, and the most mind-boggling aspect of this idiocy is that women are always the foot soldiers. Why would they want to champion an ideology that would just as happily crush them?

I figure that if patriarchal organized religions -and that's any of them in the west Judeo/Christian/Muslim - if they were capable of creating a world of peace and justice ... afterall, they've only had a few thousand years to work on this ... if they were capable of creating a world worth living in --- they would have already done so. It would have already happened.

So, to that I say ... sorry boys, taking too long.

I would not recommend any woman seeking self-respect, to hitch their wagon to the men's train.


From: Frozen Middle of Nowhere | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged
April Follies
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posted 02 November 2003 11:31 PM      Profile for April Follies   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by BarnOwl:
Well, you're a whole lot more optimistic than I am regarding humanity's SkyGod...

I would not recommend any woman seeking self-respect, to hitch their wagon to the men's train.


Well, I find that religious belief is not helpful to my own life, and possibly I cherish a secret belief that more people would be happy if they at least took religion less seriously. BUT. I recognize that it's of great importance to quite a lot of people, and has been for a long time. (OK, so now I'm the one being patronizing. I apologize to the religious among us.)

I'm a big proponent of "feminism is about choice for women", and I recognize that many women are very religious, and would like to stay that way, thanks. So I feel it's important to respect that choice of theirs. I especially think it's needful to let women make the choice of how they're going to pursue their own choices, not to insist they have to do things my way. (Yeah, I also fall down on this one a lot, s'truth.)

So I think if I were to go up to a group of women and say, "You'll never be truly free unless you ditch your religion," well. I might actually believe that, at least to an extent. But I think they'd spit in my face, and frankly, I think they might well have a right to. After all, aren't I thuswise trying to limit their options, by disallowing "freedom and religion together" as an option? Maybe I think the two are contradictory at some level, but evidently they don't think so, and what makes my viewpoint superior to theirs - especially when it's their struggle, not mine, under discussion?

That said, I wouldn't tend to urge women who don't follow a patriarchal religion to adopt it as a route toward feminism. (If they want to, of course, I wouldn't stop 'em. ) But when people are already embedded in it, well, I don't want to tell 'em they have to tear down the whole house before they can do any home improvement, yanno?

Edited to add: And I apologize for the "patronizing" comment above, on sober reconsideration. I'm a little short-tempered on these subjects at the moment.

[ 02 November 2003: Message edited by: April Follies ]


From: Help, I'm stuck in the USA | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
BarnOwl
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posted 03 November 2003 12:49 AM      Profile for BarnOwl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I'm a big proponent of "feminism is about choice for women"


Hey, this sounds real good in theory. The key word here is CHOICE. In order to have a choice, you have to be fully informed. You have to all the available facts, be aware of all options and have a sense of personal strength.

What you attribute to "choice" here, is just a matter of people going along with the dominant paradigm in order to get by. Suggesting that women, as you say, "ditch their religion" will somehow limit their options, is madness.

When we stop buying into this divisiveness, and knock it off on all this religious bullying ... my god is bigger than your god ... we (men and women) will be better off and a lot wiser.

Orthodox Male Religions (all of them), and respect for Women are mutually exclusive.

Sexism is not something that's "out there". It's right here in our heads, we've all been conditioned to accept it - by our religion, culture and education. To say that, well, some people just choose to believe that - is disingenuous, at best.

Personally, the only thing I find more repugnant than women propping up the institution of the church .. is native indians doing it.

[ 03 November 2003: Message edited by: BarnOwl ]


From: Frozen Middle of Nowhere | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged
windymustang
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posted 03 November 2003 02:30 AM      Profile for windymustang     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
BarnOwl, as a student of religious history, why have you not noticed the women throughout said history who helped form, change and promote it?

How can you totally disregard the Islamic women who are changing the world now. I can't remember the name of the Nobel Peace prize winner this year, but she is from Iraq and has been changing the world. What about Pakistan's p.m.? I don't have a list of folks in front of me, but there are all types of feminists from all the major religions as well as agnostics and atheists who are making a difference.

IMO if you don't like something and it's possible, change it. I believe all feminist are trying to change their situations, or those of the people they care about. Why must Muslims abandon their religion instead of improve upon it? Religion is not set in stone. The word of God and the Prophets are (set in stone) according to those that follow the texts, but doctrine can and has and will change. That is the nature of religion and the nature of people.


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athena_dreaming
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posted 03 November 2003 11:35 AM      Profile for athena_dreaming   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Hmm....

Let me try rewriting some of BarnOwl's points on something different than, but comparable to, religion (changes in * *):

quote:
Well, you're a whole lot more optimistic than I am regarding *the west's idol*, *the "invisible hand"* (Male). Nothing good will come from a patently childish belief.

I've studied *economic* history, and the most mind-boggling aspect of this idiocy is that women are always the foot soldiers. Why would they want to champion an ideology that would just as happily crush them?

I figure that if *capitalism and free-market economies* -and that's any of them in the west - if they were capable of creating a world of peace and justice ... afterall, they've only had a few *hundred* years to work on this ... if they were capable of creating a world worth living in --- they would have already done so. It would have already happened.

So, to that I say ... sorry boys, taking too long.

I would not recommend any woman seeking self-respect, to hitch their wagon to the men's train.


Let's try another one:

quote:
My point was that women can't join an institution that was created without their input, without them being considered, holds them as sub-humans and is completely antagonistic to their well-being. And then by some "miracle" this misogynistic philosophy is going to make substantial changes in their lives for the better.

And if anyone is "adding monumental insult to existing injury" I would think that *medicine (or psychology)* has perpetrated enough nastiness against the female gender to last until the end of our species' history ... and for women to turn to it in the hopes of *health* is, well, sad.


In fact BarnOwl's arguments could be used to dismiss anything and everything that has been done over hte past 10,000 years or so. Every institution, belief, science, and ideology we have was initially created by men for men, and has been used as a weapon against women countless times. We don't have the luxury of starting over by going back to hunter-gatherer socieites. We can only start from where we are.

Furthermore, hiding anti-religious and anti-Islamic sentiment behind a screen of feminism does not make it a feminist perspective. It remains bigotry.

All that is gained by cries of "women must abandon religion in order to emancipate themselves!" are hordes of angry women who decide, once again, that feminism has nothing to add to their lives.


From: Toronto | Registered: Oct 2003  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 03 November 2003 12:19 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by athena_dreaming:
Furthermore, hiding anti-religious and anti-Islamic sentiment behind a screen of feminism does not make it a feminist perspective. It remains bigotry.

All that is gained by cries of "women must abandon religion in order to emancipate themselves!" are hordes of angry women who decide, once again, that feminism has nothing to add to their lives.


I disagree. There are lots of feminists who are very critical of religion and call for women to abandon the more patriarchal ones (heck, I'd be thrilled to death if feminist Baptists would leave Baptist churches in droves and refuse to donate one more red cent to any church until they change their anti-woman stands on issues), just as there are lots of feminists who are very critical of the current economic system of capitalism who call on women to fight it.

Religion should not be a sacred cow. It is quite legitimate for people to reject religion altogether, and to believe that women are better off not following any religion, and to state that opinion. Just as it is quite legitimate for you to believe that religion is not useless and that it can serve women well in some respects.

It's not "bigotry" to criticize a philosophy or religious belief or a political belief with coherent arguments. It is bigotry to hate someone because they belong to a religious or ethnic group.

[ 03 November 2003: Message edited by: Michelle ]


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
athena_dreaming
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posted 03 November 2003 12:40 PM      Profile for athena_dreaming   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yes, but I don't see that in BarnOwl's posts. There are lots of ways to criticise religions, either in the abstract or in the particular, and even from a feminist perspective, without claiming that all women in such traditions are dupes of the patriarchy and will never achieve freedom. Or that women in such movements "can't be feminists".

The fact is that women are in such religions for a variety of reasons. Heck, some of them are even in it because they think their immortal souls depend on it. How far do you think you are going to get with such an audience by saying "this religion is incompatible with respect for women and if you were *really* a feminist you would leave it"?

They will say, "Well then, screw feminism." And why shouldn't they? When I've run into women who tried to convince me that if I were really a feminist, I would drop out of society and live "off hte grid" with nature, I dismissed everything they said. Now when I ran into women who criticized capitalism and our current system in general, I learned a lot from them and there was a much more productive dialogue.

quote:
Personally, the only thing I find more repugnant than women propping up the institution of the church .. is native indians doing it.

This doesn't strike you as a bigoted statement? Really? I can't think of any way to interpret it besides "women have no business being in the church; any woman who thinks she's getting something out of it has been brainwashed." And how insulting is that to the vast majority of women on this planet who do belong to traditional, organized, religions?

IMO, religion is totally open for criticism. The behaviour of people belonging to religions is open for criticism. The people who belong to those religions, on the basis of their belonging to that religion or any religion in general, are not; and hte practice of maligning people because they think 'x' or believe 'y' is bigotry, albeit a more subtle form than "I hate christians." Bigotry these days very rarely comes openly waving a hate flag.


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ronb
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posted 03 November 2003 05:15 PM      Profile for ronb     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The vast majority of the world's population - the ones I am assuming you want to release from the yoke of patriarchal oppression - is actually devout in some religion or another. If it is your goal to never ever have your criticism listened to, by all means, mock their spiritual beliefs. As long as YOU feel superior. That's the important thing.
From: gone | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 03 November 2003 05:18 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by ronb:
The vast majority of the world's population - the ones I am assuming you want to release from the yoke of patriarchal oppression - is actually devout in some religion or another.

And the vast majority of the world's female population is still oppressed by patriarchal societies. Coincidence?


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Trinitty
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posted 04 November 2003 12:40 PM      Profile for Trinitty     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
DING!


That's for Michelle.

My childish way of saying I agree.


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athena_dreaming
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posted 04 November 2003 01:19 PM      Profile for athena_dreaming   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Are we really going down the road of "correlation equals causation" here?

Really?

Look.

I grew up in a fundamentalist Baptist church, and the sexism of it is one of the reasons I left. I will criticize, endlessly, those portions of Scripture adn those teachings that I feel contribute to the oppression of women.

I have and will continue to criticize other religions in the same way.

I *will not* criticize women who belong to them, nor will I say they can't be feminists. I know too many women who belong to those faiths and are strong, competent, feisty, independent, self-sufficient women who proudly wear the feminist label.

Feminism and feminist thought is not currently so strong in our society that we can afford to alienate and insult the >80% of women in our country and around the world who follow a religious tradition by calling them brainwashed dupes. Or by saying that they must choose between their freedom and their spiritual faith. **Feminism will lose.** Christianity will not lose. Islam will not lose. Judaism will not lose.

I don't see how a conversation or debate could possibly be constrained by focusing criticism on practices and faiths instead of the people who follow them. And I don't see how feminism gains any allies when religious faith and the people who follow it are dismissed out of hand.


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ronb
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posted 04 November 2003 01:45 PM      Profile for ronb     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
And the vast majority of the world's female population is still oppressed by patriarchal societies. Coincidence?

Is religion the instrument of oppression, or is it a reflection of it? Does patriarchy only oppress women? Does ridiculing women who are attempting to shift the power imbalances within their own cultures really accomplish anything other than ego gratification?


From: gone | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged

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