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The Dallas Morning News’ Alessandra L. González writes about Islamic feminism. But she gets some facts wrong, which really worries me because she is director and principal investigator of the Islamic Social Attitudes Survey Project at the Institute for the Studies of Religion at Baylor University. Hmmmmm. For someone who is the director and principle investigator for such a fancy-sounding project, she doesn’t seem to know what she’s talking about.
Now, Ms. González seems like a nice woman. I can identify with what (I think) she’s trying to do. And I’m a graduate student myself. However, although it seems like she’s trying to present Muslim women in a better light, I take serious issue with this poorly-researched article.
She writes, “News of the recent Saudi ruling of 200 lashes as punishment for a victim of a gang rape reminds us that honor killings, female genital mutilation, polygamy and wife-beatings continue to be popularly justified by Islamic culture, and must continue to be fought against.” Apparently, Ms. González thinks that lashings are inherently tied to honor killings and other horrific behavior that is billed as “Islamic.”
How many times do we need to go over this?! Just because a Muslim does something doesn’t make it Islamic. Is self-immolation considered Buddhist because some Buddhist monks have done this as a protest? Come on.
And…uhhhh…popularly justified? What? While I agree that these things are atrocious, I don’t agree that they’re popularly justified by Muslims or Islamic behavior.
She also states that in Iran, “one of the dreaded corners in the ‘axis of evil,’ women serve as deputy cabinet ministers and even judges.” Hey, thanks for reiterating the idea that Iran is horrible, dreadful place! However, my real beef with this statement is the fact that it’s not correct. Women cannot become judges in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Unless Shirin Ebadi, the Nobel-prize-winning human right lawyer, was incorrect when she told the world that she could no longer serve as a judge after the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
Then Ms. González uses Christina Hoff Summers as a source for what Islamic feminism really entails. Seriously, Alessandra? You don’t want to ask any Islamic feminists what being an Islamic feminism means? You don’t even want to ask any Muslim women what Islamic feminism is about?
If you don’t know who Ms. Hoff Summers is, she’s the author of a book entitled The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men and articles such as “A Feminist Threat on Campus”. Sounds like an expert on all types of feminism to me!
Ms. Hoff Summers seems to think that Islamic feminists’ motto is: “If you can’t beat patriarchy, join it.” WHAT?! While I could potentially agree that Islamic feminists in Muslim-majority countries “pick their battles,” I don’t agree that they seek to ally themselves with patriarchy. They simply work within patriarchy to achieve their ends—it’s not unrealistic to work within a structure to bring about its eventual dismantling.
Finally, Ms. González takes the cake when she says, “Islamic and American feminism are not entirely comparable because Muslim women currently live within societies where rigid gender roles and traditions are still enforced…” This implies the following:
Assumption #1: Islamic feminism and American feminism are incompatible and mutually exclusive.
Assumption #2: Rigid gender roles are not enforced in the U.S. Bwaaaaaaaaaahahahahahhahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
Assumption #3: American feminism is a monolithic entity that has no different views or sects within it. Same goes for Islamic feminism. If you’ve seen one feminist, you’ve seen ’em all!
Assumption #4: All Muslim women live “other there” in the Middle East. I guess Ms. González isn’t aware that there are over three million Muslims in the U.S. alone.
Wow. With friends like these, who needs enemies? If you’d like to give Ms. González a piece of your mind, you can email her at Alessandra_Gonzalez@baylor.edu.