I am a feminist.
There I said it. This word has become muddled and twisted, said by many but understood by few. I have so much to say and obviously a 500 or so word blog won’t be enough to cover this huge topic but here are a few of my initial thoughts.
Feminism is simply the movement to get equality for the sexes. It is that simple but yet, I think mainly due to the toxicity around the word, people are ashamed or reluctant to call themselves a feminist. At the end of the day, I don’t think it really matters so long as you believe in the values. But to me the word brings solidarity and strength. And so I own it.
Islam = Feminist
I have been told my hijab is oppressive by people of other faiths and none. In truth, it is they who oppress me – speaking for me rather than letting me speak, and ordering me rather than accepting me. My hijab is my own conscious and rebellious decision – a sign of my obedience to Allah against all the odds. When will women stop telling other women how to dress?
I have been told Islam is patriarchal. No. Islam is perfect to me. Muslims, however, are not. And yes there are issues in the way some communities practice Islam and these problems differ from community to community. The world we live in is patriarchal and it’s poison has seeped into the way we practice the faith. But the same can be said for everything in society from schools to medication. But I continue to be and I hope my being will change somethings, small steps at a time.
I have been told feminism goes against the teachings of Islam. The likes of Fatima Muhammad Al-Fihri Al-Quraysh, Ansariyyah and Zubaidah bint Ja’far teach me otherwise. Islam came to a time when women had no social standings and raised them to being equal human beings. Islam is where by feminist views are rooted. For those interested, check out Shayk Akram Nadwi’s work on this.
But what about the mens
I have been told feminism is sexist to men and we need to work together to change the world. People who use this line of argument completely misunderstand liberation and sexism.
[I will like to note here that not all men (#notallmen lol) have the same privileges. For example, some black and brown men are more oppressed than some white women. So when feminists say things like #killallmen – I totally accept your autonomy to show your frustration however you want – it annoys me that these same women are often not open to discuss how this may exclude women of colour from the conversation (who literally have to deal with their brothers, father etc. dying in the hands of the state).]
White, middle-class feminists
I have been told that feminism is a middle-class, white women’s movement. This can be said for many social movements where people with more privilege have the time and funds to work on the issues they care about. The movement feels like that to me too. An example is the Beyonce bashing for being too simple but the Emma Watson or Taylor Swift loving for basically saying the same thing. But my sisters, we need feminism just as much as they do, if not more. Our struggle is intersectional (covers race, class and other things – not just gender) and this aggregates our daily struggle. There are safe spaces for you, online and offline. And then, once and if you have the energy, you can start to infiltrate the wider movement. It is hard (refer to Dear White People post) but we own the right to that space too.
Feminist: the person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie