Do Muslim women need saving or do developed countries just need to be super heroes?

Posted by Anonymous on Friday, July 18, 2014 with No comments
A moral crusade to rescue oppressed Muslim women from their cultures and their religion has swept the public sphere, dissolving distinctions between conservatives and liberals, sexists and feminists. The crusade has justified all manner of intervention from the legal to the military, the humanitarian to the sartorial. But it has also reduced Muslim women to a stereotyped singularity, plastering a handy cultural icon over much more complicated historical and political dynamics.

Developed Counties under the pretext of supporting Islamic women who are so ‘under privileged’, so ‘unsupported by their community’ have overrun Islamic and African countries with organizations and soldiers. But the question is do they need saving? Do we need to judge everything about them from their education to their clothes?

Take the veil, for example. We were surprised when many women in Afghanistan didn’t take them off after being “liberated,” seeing as they had become such symbols of oppression in the West. But we were confusing veiling with a lack of agency. What most of us didn’t know is that 30 years ago the anthropologist Hanna Papanek described the burqa as “portable seclusion” and noted that many women saw it as a liberating invention because it enabled them to move out of segregated living spaces while still observing the requirements of separating and protecting women from unrelated men. People all over the globe, including Americans, wear the appropriate form of dress for their socially shared standards, religious beliefs and moral ideals. If we think that U.S. women live in a world of choice regarding clothing, we need to look no further than our own codes of dress and the often-constricting tyrannies of fashion.

Then we come to education. We talk about the serious lack in the education of girls caused by the religious intolerance of Muslims. Across the Muslim world girls have even been going to state schools for generations. In Pakistan, poverty and political instability undermine girls’ schooling, but also that of boys. Yet in urban areas, girls finish high school at rates close to those of young men, and they are only fractionally less likely to pursue higher education. In many Arab countries, and in Iran, more women are in university than men. In Egypt, women make up a bigger percentage of engineering and medical faculties than women do in the U.S.

Facts are facts. Beliefs and rumors aren’t. If tomorrow the world changes and women being dressed normally and honorably like the Muslims are accepted won’t the scanty, revealing dressing methods and fashions of Western countries be the socially unacceptable dressing sense? Will Muslim countries send organizations to America attempting to teach them honorable dressing? I seriously do not think so. Of course this won’t happen because when U.S does it its called civil assistance but if Muslims tried it, it would be Muslim maniacs attempting to convert Americans.

There is no doubt that Western notions of human rights can be credited for the hope for a better world for all women. But I suspect that the deep moral conviction people feel about the rightness of saving the women of that timeless homogeneous mythical place called Islamland is fed by something else that cannot be separated from our current geopolitical relations. Maybe the world would really be a better place if we minded our own business and left people who want to be left alone, alone. These will however always be if’s and maybes unless we truly attempt to provide the respect that we would want. Maybe and most definitely to make the world a better place we should be the change we want to see.

Press- Iran