Saturday, September 23, 2023

Willingly submit?

 '...Muslim women are able to define what feminism is for themselves. They are free political agents who can set the terms of emancipation for themselves...'

Yeah, right!   There is nothing in this essay about freedom from religion.   The freedom to doubt everything (Marx's favourite motto) goes unconsidered.

UK-based journalist and commentator Khadija Khan:
'The reality is that the hijab is not a benign item of clothing in Muslim societies. It symbolizes a social structure where any demand that women be treated equally to men, in any respect, is seen as a rebellion against divine law—and such demands are often met with harsh repercussions. Wearing the hijab has always been presented as a religious imperative, a symbol of modesty, and one of the indications of a woman’s pious character, along with unconditional submissiveness to men, and complete compliance with cultural norms that treat women as second-class citizens. Women who refuse to comply are stigmatized, ostracised and tortured' (Areo magazine, 29/11//21)

The humanist and feminist author, 61-year-old Taslima Nasrin, who was born in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh, from where she is banished, her books banned and bounty placed on her head) would likely disagree about too having once stated: 'The Quran can no longer serve as the basis of our law. A thousand years ago it may have been useful for fending off barbarism. But we live in modern times, the era of science and technology. The Quran has become superfluous. It stands in the way of progress and the way of women’s emancipation' (Index, September/October 1994).

Marx wrote ‘the tradition of all past generations weighs like an incubus upon the brain of the living.’ Yet there are many who wish to keep us chained to the past, including cultural relativists, feminists such as Germaine Greer and of course religious apologists. The author wants us to see that Islam is innocent of charges made against culture, but are they correct? Consider Felicity Party Women's Branch Chairwoman Ebru Asiltürk  who opined recently that ‘…the treaty [Istanbul Convention to tackle violence again women and domestic abuse, as well as promoting gender equality – which Turkey was, ironically, the first country to ratify!] would be like a “bomb” destroying Turkey’s traditional family structure.’

Honour killings, female genital mutilation, misogyny, virginity tests, being taught that menstruation is unclean, circumcision for non-medical reasons, caste/class, homophobia, marriage to children, as well as blasphemy as a crime, non-evidence based medicine & cock and dog fighting - all of them should be thrown in the dustbin of history! We need to establish a new society '... in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all’ (Communist Manifesto, 1848).

This from Dworkin writing 45 years ago remains valid (more so if Afghanistan and Iran are included), alas, and shows she could on occasion be spot on:

'Seductive mirages of progress notwithstanding, nowhere in the world is apartheid practiced with more cruelty and finality than in Saudi Arabia. Of course, it is women who are locked in and kept out, exiled to invisibility and object powerlessness within their own country. It is women who are degraded systematically from birth to early death, utterly and total and without exception deprived of freedom. It is women who are sold into marriage or concubinage, often before puberty; killed if their hymens are not intact on the wedding night; kept confined, ignorant, pregnant, poor, without choice or recourse. It is women who are raped and beaten with full sanction of the law. It is women who cannot own property or work for a living or determine in any way the circumstances of their own lives. It is women who are subject to a despotism that knows no restraint. Women, locked out and locked in. Mr Carter, enchanted with his good friends, the Saudis. Mr Carter, a sincere advocate of human rights. Sometimes even a feminist with a realistic knowledge of male hypocrisy and a strong stomach cannot believe the world she lives in' (A Feminist Looks at Saudi Arabia, 1978).

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