Wednesday, June 2, 2010

On The Western Feminist Task of Saving Muslim Women

Those of you who've been reading Fannie's Room for awhile probably know that it's my favorite when people who ignore feminism and who aren't feminist allies criticize Western Feminists for not doing enough to Save Muslim Women.

Although helping Muslim women was apparently a later-added objective of the Iraq War, it was an objective which the most powerful military in the world did not successfully accomplish.

And that's why, apparently, ignorers of feminism are calling on the Western Feminists (tm) to get the job done. Perhaps this is due to our mad matriarchy-making skills, our power to feminize society, and our creation of the Boy Crisis, all of which prove that Western Feminists are incredibly powerful and totally taken seriously by everyone.

But seriously, why this argument is not, actually, my favorite is because it is a case of those having no feminist consciousness, oftentimes conservative men but sometimes liberals and progressives as well, telling feminists what we should care and write about. It is an anti-feminist attempt to set the feminist agenda, which is much like letting the foxes guard the henhouse, so to speak.

See, from their privilege perches in Western society, the experience of gender-based oppression is often invisible to men or internalized. Yet, as outsiders to Muslim culture, they see gender-based oppression of women quite well, allowing them to build up a sense of righteous indignation over what Muslim men are doing to Muslim women, without recognizing or taking responsibility for the ways that Western men are privileged and sometimes oppress Western women.

By demonizing the Other, Muslims, and publicly criticizing Western Feminists for not joining in on the fun, he tries to convince himself and others that Western Feminists are basically complaining about nothing and shouldn't be taken seriously.

Sadly, the anti-feminist tirade against Western Feminists does nothing to actually Save Muslim Women. And Saving Muslim Women isn't really the point, is it? The critique seems to mostly serve the inter-twined purposes of demonizing Muslims, bashing feminists, and bolstering the Western man's privileged position in society as the ultimate arbiter of what is and is not a real issue.

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