This may get a little … vulgar? uncomfortable? immodest? etc. And very long. But here’s the idea: 1) there’s a popular myth going around that male sexuality is uncontrollable, and that’s why they get to do the things they wanna do (i.e., “nature” is exploited just to validate male irresponsibility), 2) this myth has powerful and destructive consequences for women and society at large, 3) this myth is linked to the way we study science, humans, nature, etc., and – and this is very important – 4) if a woman doesn’t wanna have sex with you, it’s most likely because you’re not doing it right (because discomfort doesn’t just come out of nowhere) – but, yes, yes it might also be because she isn’t ready to or interested in having sex with anyone right now. Or ever.
Tag Archives: death to patriarchy
Why are women so picky when it comes to marriage/relationships?
This is disturbing, so don’t read further if you will be triggered.
Menstruation, Ramadhan, and the Muslim Woman: beyond the whole “it’s a break from prayer/fasting!”
This post was inspired in part by a vibrant discussion on Facebook at this FITNA group. (FITNA = Feminist Islamic Troublemakers of North America). Both the discussion and the group are public intentionally, and we invite readers and participants in the group from all over the world.
If it were mere exemption, if it were a mercy, if it were a break, you would still have that option to OPT OUT of the exemption if you wanted; you’d have the option to say, “Aww, I really appreciate this! But, hey, since it’s Ramadhan, and Ramadhan comes only once a year, I’m going to go ahead and continue praying and fasting and everything. But I’ll take you up on the exemption thingie when it’s not Ramadhan, especially during the first couple of days of my period. Those days are the worst, ugh. I’m totally willing to just chill in my bed, wrapping my body around myself while I’m suffering from pain, thanking God that I don’t have to get up and do wudhu and pray. Although, come to think of it, the more merciful thing to do here would be to NOT declare my prayer invalid while I’m menstruating.”
How Not to Talk about Haruka Weiser
EDIT: Since this piece has received an unexpected level of attention, perhaps a disclaimer is appropriate. (Note that this is a personal blog run by one individual absolutely not okay with any sort of bigotry, especially against minorities.) With the emails, messages, comments, and tweets I’ve received, a lot of white people are offended by my use of what are apparently “absolutes.” The irony! (Because you know, orientalism, colonialism, and other such realities POC still have to live with – and orientalist and empty representations of especially Muslims and Middle Easterners and Africans in western understandings of the peoples of these regions.) I’m obviously not claiming that all white people are evil to all people of color (I mean, what?). This blog turns the tables and privileges people of color, their voices, their concerns, their experiences. So if you’re a white individual offended by anything I’ve written below, I’m actually not sorry at all because the only reason you’d be offended is that you expected I’m talking about all white people, and since you’re not a bigot, I should take that into consideration. Well, except, no. You don’t get a pat on the back for not being a bigot.
Understand that it is your white privilege speaking when you expect me to reiterate my point so that it doesn’t “generalize” all white people (?). It is your privilege speaking when you expect me to explain myself (or any person of color) over and over and over so you can understand it. When you expect people of color to serve your ego. This blog is not the place for apologies to white people. If you take issues with that, there are plenty of other spaces where white people’s egos are served.
So if you’re a white person offended by what I’ve written below, here are some suggestions: 1) Look up the hashtag #StopWhitePeople2016, and 2) go be friends with at least 30 people of color. 30 might not be enough, either, but it’s a good start. This way, you won’t be able to say, “But my one black friend is okay with my use of the N word!” Or “My Asian friend says Asian people are like X.”
Why can’t white people just, just shut up for once and listen? (Again, #notallwhitepeople! We know!)
But nonetheless, just to clarify: The whole point of the piece below is to discuss white hypocrisy and limit it specifically to the demonization of all black people when the suspected criminal is a black man (and this holds true for the race/religion/etc. of other POC criminals, too – like attacking Islam or Muslims for the crimes of individual Muslims, or highlighting the individual’s religion and race in the discussion of the crime when the person is not white. And for literally jusifying the crimes when the person is white because he had mental health issues at the time of the crime. And I point out the status of the mental health of the black suspect in custody for Haruka’s crime, and you are not okay with that? And you act like I care that you’re not okay with that?)
And to say that the murder of Haruka Weiser (may she rest in peace) is not permission for you to be racist or say, “See, see, this is why black people shouldn’t be living” or “this is why Black Lives Matter has no purpose.”
If you read any of what’s below to mean that I don’t care about Haruka Weiser or that her murder was justified in any way at all (God forgive me for saying this – as we say in Arabic, astaghfirullah for this suggestion alone), you didn’t read the thing at all; and if that’s what you choose to believe, you’ll believe it even if there’s evidence to the contrary. Fine, you stay that way.
Funny that People of Color have shared this piece many, many times, and I’ve received a lot of support from them for it. My own white friends also appreciate it. (See?) But many other white people are coming to tell me this is an inappropriate piece. If only I cared about your ego.
This is really painful to write and talk about. But, given the response to the murder, I feel compelled to write it in criticism of the racism and other bigotry that so many people are displaying while attempting to express their anger and grief over the murder of an innocent young white (actually mixed) woman killed allegedly by a young black homeless teen diagnosed with autism, depression, and schizophrenia.
Islamic feminism and the fear of inciting Islamophobia
This conversation needs to take place more widely, especially in feminist Muslim circles as well as in those fighting racism, Islamophobia, and other bigotry in the West: We need a way–a platform–to discuss problems internal to Muslims and Muslim/Islamic history that are rooted in patriarchy and that support and maintain patriarchy in way that would not be interpreted as perpetuating and/or endorsing Islamophobia. I, as a Muslim woman very critical of many practices and beliefs endemic to the Muslim communities I’m a part of, should have the freedom and the space to constructively criticize some of our traditions, even those espoused by the past scholars of Islam who are a part of the “canon” that forms Islamic scholarship and the Islamic tradition. And I should have this freedom and space to do so without worrying that Islamophobes will usurp my experiences, my ideas, my criticism and misuse them for their frightening agenda to hurt and malign Muslims and Islam. The Muslim community (in the West) needs to stop attempting to stifle internal criticism just because “what will the Islamophobes say? Let’s keep the bigger picture in mind here. For the sake of Islam and to avoid the further mistreatment of Muslims, let’s not focus on the negatives of our community and tradition and instead just embrace the goal of fighting Islamophobia.” Why? Because the problems I as a Muslim woman, as a Muslim feminist, face in my community because of patriarchal ideas attributed to “the Islamic tradition” are not important enough? Because women’s problems aren’t important enough to be tackled? This sort of spiritual shaming is an excuse to stifle critical thought–or just to stifle women’s criticism of their communities for not treating them with respect.
a response to both Nomani/Arafa and their detractors
I’m writing the following while waiting for my flight, so expect typos, incoherence, etc. I’m happy to clarify things later on if necessary.
In what follows, I want to discuss some of the problems with Asra Nomani and Hala Arafa’s recent article as well as some problematic reactions and responses to it. Most basically, both Nomani/Arafa and their detractors are displaying and perpetuating a whole bunch of patriarchy in their attitudes towards Muslim women’s bodies and choices. One side says the hijab isn’t required so why wear it, being totally dismissive of the nuance in some women’s choice to wear it; another side says, “you don’t cover your head, you ‘so-called Muslim,’ and so you don’t get to have an opinion on the hijab! We wear it because this is our choice, because we want to respect our bodies, because we want to obey God’s command that we cover.” I think this response to Nomani/Arafa is deeply flawed (arrogant and patriarchal and righteous), as is this other response, coming mostly from men: “Uh… actually, the hijab is mandatory, and it is so per the consensus of the ulama for over 1400 years.” What happens here is that, while some hijabi women have told Nomani that she doesn’t get to opine on the hijab since she doesn’t cover her head herself, they totally ignore the fact that men are constantly talking about the hijab, in support of it, and those men do not wear a head-covering. Why do men get an opinion, then? (I know, I know – a lot of women have spoken critically of this, but I’m speaking of the men who have been talking about it in response to Nomani’s article and not a flinch from the hijabi women who don’t want non-hijabi women to speak.) Or is it that you can have an opinion so long as you say women are required to wear the hijab, because apparently, that’s the only legitimate face of solidarity?
So, I fully support problematizing popular claims–in general but especially when they pertain to women or have some sort of an impact on women’s lives, including the claim that the hijab is required or that its purpose is modesty and all (because early Muslim scholars’ opinions actually don’t see it this way – and remember that the hijab was not allowed to slave women while required of free women. That should make us pause for a second and wonder about modesty and piety, unless we decide that slave women don’t get to have access to the same level of piety and modesty that free women do); I also think that the claim that “we” wear the hijab to resist patriarchy, Islamophobia, capitalism, etc. is totally fair (so long as it’s not “we” but “I” or “some of us”), but then I’m tempted to ask … how do Muslim men show resistance to those same things? Note, then, the gendering of resistance. My point isn’t that resistance can look only certain ways; my point, instead, is that we need space to critique the different displays of resistance, of piety, of any and all things, really, when they carry serious implications—and one person’s telling us that “we wear the hijab to be modest” does have implications, as does the argument that “we wear the hijab to oppose imperialism.” But at the same time, I think that there’s an appropriate time and place for raising these discussions or probelmatizing popular ideas and practices.
Muslim women scholars of Islam, the question of qualifications, and romanticized images of the “Islamic tradition”
The following was inspired by the #NoAllMalePanels conversation that took place on Twitter. Speaking of which, if you’re a Muslim man and agree that there should be no more all-male panels, your support is useless without your signature on the pledge. Sign here. But understand that the #NoAllMalePanels wasn’t limited to acknowledging the authority of women scholars of Islam: it was about acknowledging and appreciating women’s knowledge in all fields. Many people made the discussion about academics versus traditionalist scholars, but that was just one part of the campaign.
One of the major and more recurring points in the discussion, coming from the opponents of the conversation, was that “This isn’t about gender! Stop making this about gender! No one ever / we don’t invite women to talk about Islam because there aren’t any qualified women to speak on Islam. The women you’re talking about who you claim are ‘scholars of Islam’ are actually not scholars. They are academics! Know the difference, okay, you feminists?” To deny that gender has anything to do with this is to deny that there are serious structural obstacles to women’s religious authority (I’ll talk about this below), but for now, let’s acknowledge that we rarely/never hear anyone questioning the men’s qualifications. We simply assume they must be scholars if they have a beard of an acceptable length, wear a head-gear of some sort, preferably wear Arab clothing. When it comes to the qualification of the men “scholars,” we remember to focus on their knowledge, not the details of where/how/by whom they were educated about Islam. Zakir Naik anyone? Or some 95% of the other men “scholars” of our time. It helps them immensely that they merely say what the community wants to hear, that they only satisfy the community’s patriarchal expectations of what Islam is like. But when it comes to a woman who speaks about Islam, her knowledge becomes completely irrelevant, and we have a whole bunch of other important questions to ask. Like is her hair covered, did she study at a secular institution, is she a feminist, etc. You can read more about this problem here. And here’s something on the gendering of knowledge and authority (so when you say something like, “no, no, she’s just not knowledgeable. It’s not about her gender at all. Stop making this about women, you feminists!” maybe you can look a little more closely and see that gender is actually a huge factor in the denial and dismissal of women’s religious/interpretive authority in our communities). Also, “not enough qualified women scholars of Islam” my foot. Check out this positively overwhelming list of scholarship on Islam, most of which is by Muslim women – and it’s not even comprehensive! And, while I’m at it with this whole self-promotion thing, I might as well also share a link to something I wrote once on female authority, the role of justice and ethics in Islamic feminist hermeneutics, and my response to the idea that “Muslim women/feminists would be able to exercise some authority in the Muslim community if only they’d just …” (insert appropriate patriarchal statement).
On Al-Jazeera’s “Muslim women breaking stereotypes”: the obsession with the Muslim woman’s body as a site of resistance
Can we end these discussions that claim to “prove” that “Muslim women” are challenging “stereotypes”? (Apologies to reader for the constant quotation use – I clearly have a lot of problems with this sort of discussion.) It’s the same reason I find the idea of viewing the Muslim woman’s body as a constant site of resistance unaccrptable. That is, this profound idea goes, Muslim women constantly seem to be resisting something or another, and the Al-Jazeera discussion on their breaking stereotypes is a part of that resistance conversation I find so troubling and frustrating. And old. (See the comments under the Al-Jazeera linked post. I like what Amina Wadud says there in a comment: “Fabulous…as long as you don’t start ANOTHER false stereotype, that only young Muslim women are breaking barriers. Or maybe it’s just because these ladies are so attractive as well. Good on them.” Someone named Danya Shakfeh also writes some thoughts worth reflecting on.) Instead of challenging the underlying reasons because of which these assumptions about Muslim women exist, we’re actually and ironically reinforcing the stereotypes when we give the Muslim-women-haters examples here and there of why they’re wrong.
The Islamic Reform Symposium in Exeter: authority, Muslim feminists, and woman-led prayers
In June, I attended an Islamic reform conference in Exeter, UK. It was a beautiful experience, and I’m saddened that the symposium at which I spoke was the last of the 3-year project – because it would’ve been great to try at it again, hah!
Two ways NOT to talk about the recently-exposed child sexual abuse case in Pakistan
Background: Last week, police in Pakistan discovered some 400 video recordings of over 280 children being forced to have sex in Punjab – by 25 men. According to HuffPost, “Villagers in the central Punjabi village of Husain Khan Wala told Reuters that a prominent family there has for years forced children to perform sex acts on video. The footage was sold or used to blackmail their impoverished families.” Some of the families who went to the police to report the crimes say that instead of getting the perpetrator, the police took their children in custody and/or the families were told to get lost.
The media everywhere is addressing the case as “the largest sex abuse scandal in Pakistan,” and I’m troubled by the claims that 1) it’s a scandal, and 2) it’s the largest ever (wherever).