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1 jvic  Thu, Feb 27, 2014 6:24:44am

Hi, CL. A couple of reactions:

1. The public agendas of the various activist constituencies may or may not coincide with their private agendas (it’s a matter of degree). The outcomes of these agendas may or may not be the intended outcomes.

2. There is not necessarily a conflict between the views of foreign Muslim feminists and Western feminists: their different life experiences may well produce different perspectives. I give priority to the fMf’s of course, but that doesn’t obviate the potential value of outside opinions. If Islamic countries become open societies with rising living standards, today’s Western concerns may become more relevant than they currently are. (I hope but am not fully convinced that open societies are the future.)

2 CuriousLurker  Thu, Feb 27, 2014 11:40:35am

re: #1 jvic

Hi, jvic.

Regarding #1, agreed.

Regarding #2, also agreed, but there needs to be some degree of mutual respect as well as a willingness to listen & understand, which I think isn’t happening in many cases (FEMEN’s condescension being a prime example). Saying, “This is how we did it, and if you don’t do it the same way then you’re doing it wrong,” isn’t helpful or even necessarily viable when you’re talking about vastly different societies—some of them torn by years or even decades of war—each having a different set of problems, laws, etc.

I’m Muslim, but I was born & raised by non-Muslim parents and grew up in Texas, where I converted to Islam in my late 20’s. Then, around 15 years ago, I migrated to the East Coast. I’ve hit a few bumps along the road and had some hard times, but what do I know of war, or oppression, or hunger, or lack of education, or a legal system that puts me at a distinct disadvantage based on my gender, etc.? Thankfully, nothing.

So while I can easily pass for a foreigner with my olive complexion & hijab, my Islam is a 100% American, a totally voluntary Islam protected from day one by all the freedoms our constitution affords us, the Islam of a woman who lives and was raised in an open Western society and has no direct personal experience of many of the things Muslim women in other parts of the world have to contend with daily.

That’s the gist of what Ms. Lalami is saying—not “We don’t need/want your help,” but rather: “If you want to help, then listen to us, don’t pity us; respect the fact that we understand our societies in a way you never can; that each and every one of us is a unique individual; that there are good Muslim men assisting us; that we love our families & countries as much as you love yours and, like you, we take pride on our cultural heritage & accomplishments. Approach us as equals, as friends, as sisters who want to help—don’t treat us as cowering, pathetic creatures you’re going to ‘rescue’. We’re not stupid; it’s obvious when someone regards us that way. We have no choice but to deal with certain abuses & inequalities in our own systems, but we’re not going to accept more of it heaped on us from outsiders who claim they want to help.”

3 jvic  Thu, Feb 27, 2014 3:57:54pm

re: #2 CuriousLurker

With apologies to Rudyard Kipling:

But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong women stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!

4 CuriousLurker  Thu, Feb 27, 2014 4:00:07pm

re: #3 jvic

*smiles, clapping*

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