Thursday, April 06, 2006

Feminism and Islam

There's a new book out by Phyllis Chesler called "The Death of Feminism", interview in the Guardian. It's not really about feminism being "dead", although good work Phyllis in giving it the kind of title that the media love and thus getting some well-deserved attention.

It's about the way that feminism has failed in the middle east. And I agree, it has. The government is busy making it illegal for me to complain about people's belief in whatever all-powerful, cloud-riding fairies they choose. Meanwhile major religions - notably Islam - are claiming religious justification for treating women like slaves across a whole slice of the world.

I don't blame feminists for the situation. Every feminist I know thinks oppression of women's rights is a travesty so the suggestion (the Guardian's, not Ms Chesler's) that the issue "has divided feminists" is just another media-friendly soundbite. Trouble is we have no support from government or other powers whatsoever. Trade agreements and diplomatic relations are routinely conducted as though women's rights were a non-issue.

Respect for diverse religions and cultures is a worthy thing. Unfortunately it's often incompatible with adherence to a basic code of human rights. We sometimes have to choose one or the other. The church in the UK has a similar problem on a smaller scale with it's repeated discrimination against women and homosexuals. To my mind it is obvious that the right of a human being to choose their own path in life is more important than the right of another human being to keep slaves because their "god" wants them to.

If the human race survives the next hundred years in any recognisable form our grandchildren will look back on the 21st century and ask with incredulity whether anyone could seriously have lived in such times and turned a blind eye to the situation, much as we now look back on slavery and consider the whole concept to be obviously repellent.


Ruby in Bury said...

Great post Cruella and I agree with every word.

Cruella said...

Cheers Ruby

Unitari said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unitari said...

I agree. I think almost any religion will clash with feminism as it would with any other movement for equality. It's simply because these religions were born thousands of years ago and humans have just recently learned about social equality.
I'm an Iranian who lives in the US right now, and you know what the weirdest thing to me is? That women in Iran are more feminist than women here. Although they are getting pushed around by the government, they are aware of it, and they don't like it. But here, everyone just thinks everything is great although 80% of plastic surgeries are done on women, and girls are supposed to be stupid and wear pink... everyone thinks it's "NATURAL!"