Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A Foot in Both Worlds: How it feels to see the Suffering of Muslim women used to Undermine Feminism in the West

If you're on atheist Twitter, you've probably heard the terrifying and heartbreaking tale of Dina Ali, a young Saudi woman, trying to escape an abusive family...on her way to Australia to seek asylum, but stopped in the Philippines and hauled back to danger by male relatives.

I have seen many good people rally behind this worthy cause. I hope creating all this noise will be of some use and we can help her find freedom somehow. At least her family knows there are people looking out for her and want accountability.

I can only hope, that one day women in the place I grew up, Saudi Arabia, will have the freedom to move and travel as they please.

Please use the hashtag #SaveDinaAli to continue making noise about this, and to keep the pressure up.


What else can we do besides making noise? I know it feels like you're helpless and oceans away. But sometimes campaigning and distributing information to those who simply don't know about the situation, is invaluable...

The topic of anything relating to Islam is fraught with baggage in the current global climate. People who were reluctant to touch this subject before, will be even more reluctant now. If we, as liberals, actually want valid critiques to be heard on a wider scale, this is the time to build bridges with the mainstream left - who control most mainstream, credible media.

If you care for the rights of Muslim women, this is the time to vocally oppose anti-Muslim sentiment, anti-immigrant/anti-migrant sentiment, so that when and if such women get a chance to leave...they don't continue to suffer. Honestly, in the Islam-critical scene, I don't see enough of that.

One thing that makes this situation even worse is people using this instance to dump on, discredit and minimize the struggles of Western feminists as a whole. It's wrong on many levels, but its also just strategically flawed and counterproductive.

Granted, many Western feminists may not be aware of the struggles of women in Islamic theocracies - and may indeed view the subject through a Western lens.

I myself have been a critic of this time and time again....on specific topics like hijab for example.

From a previous post, you can see the full thing here

There are definitely some *specific* instances where the response of Western feminists can be criticized. And I'm perfectly happy to do that when its relevant - but what I'm seeing a lot of now is a blanket condemnation of Western feminism as a whole.

Sure yeah, no other issues here in the west for women. 

(click to enlarge)
Not to mention there are western feminists supporting, reporting and creating awareness on this very topic.

Well no, you don't have to dump on Western feminists to highlight the suffering of Saudi women.
It would be far more effective if you raised awareness about it on it's it's a very
worthy cause. Should not be used as a tool to score cheap points.
"To create controversy" ? so there's a desire to purposefully create controversy by dragging others down?
Am I misunderstanding something?
(click to enlarge)

Here's just one example of a Western feminist drawing national attention
to a problem like FGM. Of course much more can be done, but this will be achieved
through bridging the gaps in understanding, not through alienating Western feminists.

Why are Western feminists viewed as privileged? Well, because Western feminists do not live under Sharia, and aren't being held captive by a male guardianship system. What a privilege!

They aren't being stoned to their struggles aren't real. Trivial non-issues. 

right, because being liked by everyone is the biggest problem Western feminists have

Who's saying they are comparable? I know I'm not...yet this is a response to me.
(click to enlarge)

Now of course, theres no comparison between the types of struggles faced in the West and those under Islamic theocracy. But who, other than anti-feminist types are equating the two? Women saying "we should be heard too" isn't equating or saying they are comparable. This is another manifestation of the "But what about Islam" nonsense - nothing else can ever be criticized, thanks Islam. :/

What a divisive way to look at things. Identity politics being used by anti-sjw type critics of such things.

1) Western feminist? don't have problems.
2) Also, (white) privilege isn't real, and oppression olympics are stupid. < Same people, probably.

Who was equating here? Not me...
'disrespect first-world feminists' :(

Ok maybe not all these types deny the existence of 'privilege', especially when it suits them:

Truly a disgusting and unhelpful way to look at things.
Not a single Saudi woman is helped with this attitude. 


Sure Sharia is THE worst for women...but this is not to say that Western feminism as a whole is frivolous and silly. Don't give me the tired crap about manspreading as if that's what the whole movement is based on. I've heard more anti-feminists obsess over manspreading than feminists. Yes there have been some silly instances, which I have no issue with criticizing....but that is not representative of the whole of Western feminism.

By this standard every woman who escapes life in a theocracy and moves to the West...and wants to continue fighting for her rights even in the West, against Western now just engaging in trivial BS. So basically: 'we'll have your back till you leave sharia...after that, you're a joke, your concerns are non-issues.'  

Free speech is a major topic of concern in our circles, but this 'anti-Western-feminist' argument can be used there too. If it's not sharia-level bad, it's not worth worrying about I non-issue:


I can't describe how awful it is to see this as someone with one foot in both worlds. To see women's suffering being used against women in other contexts.

I've been forced to veil in the past, but this doesn't mean I won't care about workplace sexual harassment in a Toronto office.

Stop using the pain of women abused under Islamic regimes to undermine feminists in the West. Women's rights and the fight for those rights extends across the globe. Women are not pawns to pit against each other in some stupid imagined rivalry.

I have spent roughly half my life in the West and half of it in the a theocracy. I can tell you that even though there isn't morality police here, women's problems are not magically erased. Women are still struggling for equality all over the world, to different degrees obviously (yes, calm down, not equating). If you care for women's rights, and aren't just interested in weaponizing the *idea* of women's rights to express your hatred for Islam...then you should care about those rights everywhere. Islam can be criticized without throwing Western feminists under the bus. Some may seem reluctant to criticize Islam now, and boy...minimizing their struggles will definitely change their minds!

Most importantly, this approach is a disservice to people like Dina Ali, if Muslim women's rights are continued to be seen as a cause hijacked by anti-feminists, right-wingers, etc. to undermine progress and women's rights in their own parts of the world...these critiques and calls to action will never fully resonate with the mainstream...they will always be a taboo topic to touch, they will always be tainted by associations with those seen as having illiberal views in a Western context.

And this is why ex-muslims in the West like me...and women who continue to exist under sharia, often feel like we are shouting into the wind. How can any of us be heard like this? do we help women like Dina? We talk about these issues...without using her heartbreaking situation to undermine others.


Here are some examples of the battles Western feminism is facing today...for those who think it's just non-issues:

Full story here

Full story here

Full story here
Full story here

Full story here

Full story here
Full story here

Full story here 

Full story here

And all this continues in a climate where alt-right sexism/misogyny is becoming hip, trendy and acceptable in a way it hasn't been in decades...In a climate where a self-professed sexual predator is sitting in the most powerful position in the world. Accusations of sexual assault certainly didn't damage his 'career'.

Full story here

We are in a time, where it's acceptable to say women should be taken out of positions of political power, "we need to establish a fierce and strong patriarchy". This is not some obscure alt-right woman btw, this is someone praised as an ally by our very own leading atheist figure, Dave Rubin.

Video clips from @ViniKako

Somewhere along the way, many crossed over from rightfully criticizing the left for dealing with Islam-related topics poorly, to opposing every liberal left value...feminism, diversity, standing up for minorities, trans rights, etc.

How did we get here? :(

Tell someone you were raped in the West and their response is "But I'm glad you
weren't forced to marry your rapist, or stoned to death".
I have no words. 


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1 comment:

  1. Here's another headline that fits with your list... :(