Thursday, February 23, 2006
  On Agency
Nzingha has an excellent post on questioning and legitimacy that reflects many of my feelings about apologetics and the unintentional empowerment of repulsive ideologies that we nearly all fall into from time to time. I highly recommend it:

http://nzinghas.blogspot.com/2006/02/right-to-question-and-issue-of.html

I suppose it is to be expected that calling a spade a spade is sometimes so complicated by other considerations -- countering islamophobia, practicing tolerance for multiple religious opinions, respecting other women's right to agency, etc, etc, etc. -- but there are times when I just feel like shouting -- this is despicable, stop it NOW!!

I find myself in quandries like this all the time -- I hate niqab (the covering of the face), and view it as a dangerous and extreme interpretation, which has severe negative repercussions for women as individuals and as a group, and for society as a whole. Yet, feel like I should tolerate women who believe it is their duty and choose to wear a face veil; indeed since it is their choice, I should support them in making their own decisions -- I wouldn't want others imposing their interpretations on me, so why should I impose my interpretations on them. And then, yet again, I worry that by tolerating them, it appears as though I'm accepting the notion that this interpretation has a validity in Islam that I do not believe it has. And worse, my silence on the matter, or even support of women who want to wear it, may result in a society where people feel coerced or pressured to adopt it!! I suppose the balance to achieve is a clear rejection and condemnation of the practice while not condemning or rejecting the women who choose to observe niqab. Easier said than done.

This meshes with another one of the Carnival of Feminist posts which questions whether we should hold women responsible for their actions which support patriarchy -- are they victims or accomplices. For myself, one way to answer this question is that we must hold them responsible when they are in positions of authority -- thus, the wife who does not stand up to her abuser, I absolve, even if her actions perpetuate patriarchical notions among her children -- she is clearly the victim in this case. But the mother who perpetuates fgm because she wants her daughters to be able to find a good marriage partner... she I would hold responsible.

Worst of the lot... all too often, we see well-educated (often white, middle class convert) women voicing interpretations of Islam that 1) would result in untold sufferring and oppression for women and that 2) they do not live themselves. A prime example of this is the female scholar who teaches at a university and travels from conference to conference, leaving behind hubby and children while lecturing on the delights of being a stay at home mom, devoting one's life to house, husband and offspring. The sheer hypocricy of it stuns me; and the irresponsible perpetuation of patriarchy on other women's backs has got to be called out and repudiated.
 
Comments:
Liked this post! There's a newspaper columnist - Katherine Parker, who got her start by writing letters slamming working moms. Yet she talked frequently about her young sons, so she is apparently a working mom. When someone asked about that, she responded that she started working when she got divorced and needed the money. I guess that separates her from all the other working moms she slams, who are clearly out there in the factories or offices or stores or professions strictly for self-fulfillment...
 
As if there were anything wrong with working "just" for self-fulfillment!

I absolutely believe in being an involved, committed parent, but there are many ways to do so, and I just as absolutely believe that a woman who is not self-fulfilled will be a far less effective parent than one who is.
 
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Progressive Muslim, feminist, mom, writer, mystic, lover of the universe and Doug Schmidt, cellist, theologian and imam.


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Cane River
An interesting exploration of the gradual whiting of a family through slavery to modern days.

To see an archive of all the books I've read (well the ones I've read and review since I started the blog) with comments, please click here

Causes Worth Supporting

This is just a short list -- a few of my favorites.

English Language Islamic Fiction. We need more of it. Lots more.
Pay a Teacher's Salary in Afghanistan. The Hunger site actually has a lot of worthwhile programs. You can find them all here .
Muslims for Progressive Values. My organization. We can always use donations, of time or money!
Human Rights Campaign for the glbt community
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
The ACLU I'm a card carrying member. Hope you'll become one too.
MoveOn.org. The organization that has done the most, as far as I can tell, to pull the countries progressive side together.
Network of Spiritual Progressives. Working to reclaim religion and morality for the religious left.

Blogs Worth Reading

Wanda Campbell also known as Nochipa A very gifted poet and a gentle, compassionate soul. Nochipa and I are on the same page on sooooo many things
Writeous Sister Aminah Hernandez, she's got some excellent latino pieces and always has good writing info on her blog.
Sister Scorpion aka Leila Montour - Leila is a fount of energy, quirky humor, and bad attitude. She's also a talented poet.
Muhajabah Very interesting commentary here. I don't always agree with her, but her pieces are always thought-provoking.
Georgie Dowdell Georgie is a great writer and a good friend.
Louise Marley Another great writer. I think Louise is one of the best sf writers exploring faith themes.
Ink in My Coffee Devon Ellington (who has numerous aliases) who is also the editor of Circadian Poems. A truly inspiring woman with a seemingly endless supply of energy.
Ethnically Incorrect With a name like that, isn't a given I'm going to enjoy this writer?
Freedom from the Mundane Colin Galbraith, another excellent writer, from Scotland.
The Scruffy Dog Review This is a new e-zine with an ecclectic mix of fiction, poetry, and non-fic, some really enjoyable pieces here.
Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom Lara, another gentle soul, very thoughtful.
Circadian Poems A journal of poetry, new stuff up all the time.
Ye Olde Inkwell Michelle writes romance and is one of my writing buddies.
Muhammad Michael Knight The original punk Muslim writer. Like him or love him, Mike is always coming up with the unexpected.

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