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Generalizations About Islam and Women

There is a stubborn tendency to make generalizations – nay, crude generalizations – about Islam. One of those generalizations holds that women in Islam are all subdued.

But I say to these people – some actuated by malice words by ignorance: Do not write about the Islamic world as if it were all one monolithic bloc. The world is diverse and it is not true that women do not have rights ”over there.”

In some countries, women do lack rights. But those are the exceptions and, unfortunately, in racist Western discourse exceptions for Muslims are often falsely presented as the norm. Citing the Taliban is akin to me citing the survey to malign all Western men.

Such a practice is simply unfounded, based, at best, on ignorance and, at worst, on prejudice.

Most Muslim women have rights to a court if their husband is abusive or any man is abusive toward her. And some Muslim women have secured their rights even both Western women.

islam   muslim women RgWmd 19672

Tunisian women, for instance, had the right to an abortion 17 years before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized the surgery nationwide.

Turkey, the fifth most populous Muslim nation, elected a female prime minister. Pakistan, the second most populous, elected a female prime minister twice. Bangladesh, the third most populous, elected two female prime ministers.

And, finally, Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation with nearly 300 million Muslim, has elected a female president.

miss indonesia universe 2006 miss universe 2006 na
[No, this chic is not Indonesia's president]

How many women presidents has, say, the United States, France, Australia, Italy, and Spain elected? The list goes on. And Switzerland only gave women the vote in 1970.

“You people have such restrictive dress for women,”
she said, hobbling away in three-inch heels and panty hose
to finish out another pink-collar temp pool day.

Hijab Scene #2
E-mails From Scheherazad – Poems by Mohja Kahf

Further, Islam is full with powerful and commanding women like, for instance, Aisha.

So, cease with the cruel and unfounded generalizations. One cannot properly speak about a monolithic ”Islam” or a monolithic ”West.” To seek to present Islam as backward and misogynistic in contrast to the Enlightened West is simply a gross distortion of reality.

No, I’m not bald under the scarf
No, I’m not from that country
where women can’t drive cars
No, I would not like to defect
I’m already American
But thank you for offering
What else do you need to know
relevant to my buying insurance,
opening a bank account,
reserving a seat on a flight?
Yes, I speak English
Yes, I carry explosives
They’re called explosives
They’re called words
And if you don’t get up
Off your assumptions,
They’re going to blow you away

Hijab Scene #7
E-mails From Scheherazad – Poems by Mohja Kahf

Author’s Note: the bulk of this post was previously posted as a comment by the author.

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