jdeena

Never settle for what is…come tomorrow it will be what was

Tag: standards

Feminism and Islam: Does it Mix?

The other day I posted the blog of the Christian woman who wrote about her decision to stop wearing yoga pants in order to respect her husband and the sanctity of their relationship. If she would have left her sentiments at that, I could have accepted it. After all, a woman has the right to save for husband what she wishes. However, she included in her post that before coming to this decision, she asked her female friends and her husband about what they thought of women who wear yoga pants, and her husband admitted that it would be hard for him “not to look” if a woman walked by in them.

Um, what? So your husband openly admits he might sneak a look now and then, and instead of telling him to avert his gaze, you make the decision to stop wearing them so other guys don’t look at you- because it’s disrespectful for your husband? What about all those other women still walking around in yoga pants? And now you will only wear yoga pants at home for your husband, but he is still out there looking at other woman in them. Seems like a useless decision.

This is what I have a problem with. Women who choose to stop wearing something “because men” something: can’t help themselves, might be tempted, might get the wrong idea about you. How about, men control their mouths, their hands, their thoughts? Don’t tell me men are animalistic by nature. Don’t tell me they are primal beings that have the gene of provider and pro-creator. We’ve come a long way from the Dark Ages.

As much as this topic is interesting, what I really wanted to get into was the debate that ensued after I posted this article. My point in posting it was obviously from a societal standpoint- that as women, we continue to be blamed for men’s reactions to what we wear. And that in order to get them to stop, WE have to change. As a feminist, that doesn’t sit well with me.

A few people came on to the post and told me that from an Islamic point of view, this is why we women cover- to avert mens’ gaze. However, I don’t believe that should be reason enough. And really, it is not meant to avert a man’s gaze, but more so to keep hidden the things you should only want to show your husband (which is subjective in my eyes, since I have many friends and family who have lived their life uncovered and are by no means bad people). Ok, so back to the comments. I was told that is a woman PROPERLY covers (meaning that I do not), she will not have men harassing her or looking at her in a lewd way. So basically, if I don’t want to be harassed, cover up.

BIG ISSUE HERE. Because I have had friends overseas who will cover completely, and men will still harass them. Men will cat-call a plastic bag if it has the right curves, okay? Regardless of what you wear, you will get harassed. I was wearing no makeup one morning, barely awake, and filling up gas. It was sunny so I had sunglasses on, and the guy at the pump next to me said “Hey ma, why don’t you take off those sunglasses so I can see your pretty face?” I’ve had guys hit on me at the gym (insert lame “let’s workout together” comment here) as I was red-faced, sweaty and panting for air. Some guys will just harass because they can. And yes…it IS harassment. It is unwanted attention, it is not a compliment. See previous post for rant on that.

Once I got everything out of my system on why men should not harass a woman regardless of what she wears, and once I advocated why women should be allowed to dress any way they choose without harassment, I was told that as a Muslim covered woman, I cannot support that ideal. Because my religion encourages women to cover, I cannot advocate on behalf of women who want to dress provocatively.

Wait, what?

So because I am a Muslim woman, I cannot fight for women to be able to wear what they want without fear of retaliation? I was told yes, because fighting for that goes against the very ideals that Islam instills in us. Which is that women should be covered and therefore will be protected. Of course, this did not sit well with me, as I feel a woman should be able to do whatever the hell she wants to do. I have many friends and family who are not covered, and so I will fight for their right to be uncovered and not harassed. It has nothing to do with religion, it has to do with the fact that women are HUMAN beings, not animals, and they deserve to walk out of their homes without worrying if a skirt above the knee will warrant unnecessary comments. Or that a pair of heels will not invite men to make disgusting comments about where else they can wear them.

So can I, as a Muslim woman, be a feminist? Well, I say yes, because here I am! I am fighting for women’s rights all over the world and I wear hijab and identify as a Muslim. Now, many people seem to have a problem with that, but guess what? I don’t care! Regardless of whether or not you think my ideals coincide with Islam, I am content with still upholding my traditional Islamic values while also fighting for female equality and proper treatment. I recently read an article about a woman who identified as a feminist while being Christian, and she spoke of many of the same issues I have discussed here as well (although she went a bit further). Here is a link to her post: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/worldview/christian-cleavage-probably-isnt-problem#o97qZSH5dpz14m3H.01.

It does stem a bit further than just Muslim women, so really, can we say organized religion and feminism cannot mix? As far as I can tell, yes, it can….it is those who doubt the power of the feminist movement and have yet to believe in its cause that seem to think it cannot. If you want to seemingly hide behind your scarf and use that as your shield against the “harassment” you go right ahead. But I will have no problem continuing to prove you wrong.

The Price of Feminism

I’ve had quite a few conversations lately about the status of women in society- ranging from street harassment to body image. It seems that the internet has helped launch a campaign to showcase all the terrible things women face daily. From death threats for refusing advances to hateful comments being posted under Instagram pictures, women are facing the biggest battle of the century.

It comes as no surprise to my friends and social circles that I am an advocate for women’s rights. I abhor anything that resembles objectification of women. Women are not commodities, so for men to feel that they have the right to harass them verbally or physically builds a rage in me so strong that any objection to my view can result in a very severe tongue-lashing, no matter who you are. I actually have been in many heated debates with my best friend, who has the view that women should be objectified if they so desire. She thinks that if women have the assets and men find them attractive, that we should feel pride and accept it. Which obviously doesn’t sit well with me. She also claims that women who push for feminism shouldn’t be hypocritical and allow women who want to pose nude to do so, as it is ultimately their choice. I can understand that part, but from MY perspective, WHY does a woman feel she should be nude at all?

So the purpose of today’s post- while it can go many ways- is going to focus on the much talked-about picture of Kim K and what it means for feminism.

I, of course, am disgusted by her display of her body in such a classless way. Forget that she is a mother. Forget that she is clearly photoshopped and covered in oil (gag). The first emotion that rose in my chest was shame. I was embarrassed for her.

How desperate must a female feel to be accepted by society to stoop so low as to bare it all in a magazine. And before everyone jumps down my throat to claim “it’s her choice, her body,” let’s discuss that. Is it REALLY her choice? Did she dream of growing up and posing naked for magazines, or was it just a product of her fame? And while we are on that subject, what is she famous for exactly? Being naked and engaging in sexual acts on camera. I’m not saying she can’t have sex, but to have a video released for all to see? Classless.

So, back to the objectification of women. Yes, Kim K is an adult. Yes, it was “her choice.” But why is this even a choice for women? Why is it that we view nudity as empowering? Is it because society has taught us that as women we should embrace our bodies and not be ashamed? I can contend to that idea, however, I feel that most women who flaunt their bodies (and IG is FULL of them) are really just seeking for approval from society, and from men specifically. I’ve read the comments under some of these pictures, and they are so degrading they make me cringe. What woman with any self-respect would allow a man to say those things to her? And on top of that, claim she ENJOYS it?

The women who are standing up defending Kim K and these other women are contributing to the larger issue at hand, which is allowing men to continue to see women as objects. Although many women object to it, there are some who approve of it. So men are not seeing this as being a real issue since some women are accepting it.

This doesn’t only stop at the nudity issue, although it is a big part of it. The other part of objectification includes women who are fully clothed as well, yet are still seen as an object. Take the street harassment video that was recently released. I don’t know how many guys I personally know who saw nothing wrong with the video. According to them, women should take those comments as a compliment as it means they are beautiful enough to be noticed. Which is a load of crap.

It doesn’t matter if I am beautiful; that does not give anyone the right to harass me. And YES, it IS harassment. Because most often, it is unwanted attention. I don’t leave my house every day wishing for men to notice and compliment me. Yet I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had comments directed at me that are unwanted and uncomfortably inappropriate. Don’t tell me God gave me these looks so I should embrace it. Don’t tell me to feel flattered. Don’t presume that I want the attention- THAT I SHOULD EXPECT IT- because I’m wearing heels, makeup, skinny jeans, etc. What I wear and how I look give you NO RIGHT to comment. NONE.

So to all the guys who think it’s funny or cute, let me just say this: the more you continue to act this way, the more women as a whole will continue to be guarded. Guys wonder why women act so defensive when they first meet; well, how am I supposed to let my guard down when there are guys out there making a living on teaching men to emotionally and mentally manipulate women to sleep with them, degrade them, harass them? You want us women to stop being so “bitchy” and “prudish?” Teach your fellow brothers to respect women, and to give us the space we deserve while out walking the streets.

I know many think feminism means women being treated better than men. It’s not. It means women receiving the rights that are due to them. But feminism is not just for women. Men who also want to fight for the respectful treatment of women are also feminists. That doesn’t make you less of a man. In fact, I feel it’d make you MORE of a man, to help stop the mistreatment of women. I know there are plenty of guys out there who have started this campaign, but in truth, we need so many more.

So before you argue that women need to stop acting or dressing a certain way to receive respect, know that this mentally is what is ultimately holding back feminism. We aren’t looking for special treatment; in fact, it’s quite the opposite.