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Sunday, October 10, 2004

Women, Islam, and Feminism (Part II)

"The world will never have lasting peace so long as men reserve for war the finest human qualities. Peace, no less than war, requires idealism and self-sacrifice and a righteous and dynamic faith." - John Foster Dulles

Lauren Weiner (quoted in Part I) comes to grips with the conflict within those who are conditioned to oppose so-called conservatives or Christians, by pointing out the obvious hypocrisy in continuing to do so where the fight against Islamism is concerned. Islam and Women, again, is worth a read. If the dynamics of the basic faith (anti-Christian and anti-American beliefs) within so-called liberals do not change, they will continue to find themselves fighting for ancient and primitive bigotry against women. Weiner concludes:

Yet for all that, American women would do well to negotiate the tensions now being felt between the Judeo-Christian West and the Muslim East with a moral compass aligned more closely with Fallaci and Friedan than with the multiculturalist or the grievance specialist. September 11 has clarified matters for many. Left-liberal intellectuals are — or at least some of them are — groping their way toward a defense of the West that puts them alongside, if not fervently with, the Bush administration. This is happening even as conservatives make the case that the fight against terrorism is a fight against people who would mistreat women and stone homosexuals. The women writing in the American Prospect, Polakow-Suransky and Chamedes, registered the conservatives’ arguments and were not amused. It bothered them when “male politicians . . . suddenly began invoking women’s emancipation” as if they cared about it. The warning they issued to feminists and homosexual activists was that “their causes have been effectively adopted and appropriated by those who have claimed the mantle of defending [European] tolerance in the face of intolerant Islam.”

It’s a rather petty warning to issue. Why not let anyone who is willing — Westerners and those struggling in the Muslim world to emulate the pluralism and democracy we enjoy — converge on the need to bring about a decent life for women (and men), who deserve to have their fundamental rights respected? This is, in fact, what the woman question brings out especially well: the rights of human beings that are manifest not in any penumbra of any constitution but in the full light of day. As one of the supporters of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, a woman from Denmark, put it: “Once in a while you can have your doubts about whether you are a feminist or not. But you cannot, even for a second, doubt that you are an Afghan feminist.”


When considering the Islamic world, even the most fundamentalist Christian might be considered a feminist. When a feminist thought is suggesting a "Woman wants to be beaten only once a week" (Ali Sina, the dichotomy between the West and Islam comes into sharp focus. Ali Sina condenses Islamic thought about women in the following paragraphs.

In this comic/tragic drama lie two very sad realities that affect all Muslim women irrespective of their nationalities. The first is that Muslim women are raised to accept abuse as normal. Since childhood they are treated differently. In Islamic countries boys are preferred to girls. Girls are the source of disappointment to their fathers and an embarrassment to their mothers. If a woman gives birth to a boy she is lauded but if the child is a girl, she is snubbed. Little girls learn from infancy on that they are unwanted. At the table their brothers eat first and take the lion’s share. In poorer families, the female members cook and serve the males, then wait until these have had their fill. Thereafter the women scavenge the leftovers.

Boys get the first opportunity to go to school and get ahead in life. Girls are often denied this chance for there seems to be no need for them to become educated, since here are few work opportunities for women in Islamic societies. All to which a girl can aspire is to get married to a man who will take care of her. She inherits half of what her brothers inherit and has fewer rights. The rationale is that she would not need it because it is up to her husband to maintain her.

Daughters are liabilities to their families and they are “given away” in marriage as soon as possible. That could be as young as 9 years of age. All this conditioning happens with the blessing of “the best and the most perfect religion” of Islam. After all it was Muhammad who said women are “deficient in intelligence”. It was he who said men have a “degree of advantage over women”. It was he who said women who disobey their husband “should be beaten”. If Islam is the most perfect religion, then how can one dispute its teachings?

Thus Muslim women grow up knowing only one reality and that is they are inferior to men and must please them if they want to survive. The brainwashing is so complete that many Muslim women actually fight to preserve their lower status. Many of them insist on wearing veil and pride themselves in their servitude and lesser status.


I will conclude this entry with an example of what I've discussed. A 16 year old Iranian girl was hung for "Activities Against Public Morality."

"Peykeiran: After the public execution of a 16 year old girl by the name of Atefeh, in the city of Nekah in Mazandaran province, who was charged with ‘Activities Against Public Morality’, many other truths have been revealed about this cruel act that further enrage one.

Since Atefeh's family was very poor and she suffered from mental illness, she was very susceptible to sexual exploitation, although in the Islamic Republic this type of sexual exploitation is commonplace and routine. With prior knowledge of her vulnerable circumstances, several of the regime's militia were regularly taking advantage of her through friendly and immoral physical contacts.


As I discussed in Part I, the Islamic courts place all the blame on the mentally ill minor, not the men in power.

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