Monday, 28 May 2007

the "f" word

i have been studying Henrik Ibsen's a Doll's House with my students and someone commented "oh no not another feminist text". seriously they hate it. i'm going to have to change the text next year (to shakespeare i think. i'm just really lazy, i spent ages doing the resources for this play!) because bringing the "f" word ie feminism into a discussion always meets with sceptism and groans from most classes, girls and boys alike.

i think the image they have is the streotypical image of raving men-haters wanting to disclaim their femininity.

but it's got me thinking about the whole issue of womens' rights and what it means.

i see a lot of women doing blaming their own emotions on the fact that they are women "i'm feeling emotional, its that time" and this is perfectly acceptable and normal,
but when men do it, it's seen as wrong.

iv not been following the latest craze that is The Apprentice, but someone was really laying into Tray? (what a name) accusing him of being a mysoginist. again i don't watch it and don't know the guy so can't comment, but all he seems to be saying is women are more emotional or "it must be that time of the month" right? so why is it different if a man says it?

i'm asking- i know it is different and i can feel the difference. i got annoyed when someone said to me recently " you're not one of those modern types who hates to live with inlaws are you" (erm depends!)

i know and can accept women are more emotional then men (i mean most women. i'm not, in fact sometime i just pretend to be so i don't feel left out!)
that's one of the reasons why women aren't allowed to divorce men as easily, and one of the reasons why two women witnesses are needed for every male in certain imporant cirumstances.

so, for the people who think feminism is a dirty word and separate from Islam, i don't think it is. we are, after all, talking about a religion which gave women crucial rights at a time when women were seen as evil.

kher.. i guess it depends on your definition of feminism and what you deem to be womens' rights?


Lucyp said...

To me, feminism is about gaining the same rights and privleges as our male counterparts. I have been called one of those nutty feminist's many times when i have commented on how women are treated worse then men.
Then the canteen woman sighed and gave me more chips and i went away happy.

hema said...

hiiii luuuucccccyyyyyy
i was just lurking on your blog, is that how you found me!
lol have some cyber chips on me for visiting :)
would you say it's ever possible for women to have equal rights and privilages as men? from my own experiences, i have found that for all of the talk of equal opportunities, women are still paid lower wages for doing the same job, and indirect discrimination happens every day.

'liya said...

I say make em read it and say "tough" :D

Saudi Stepford Wife-Daisy said...

tsk tsk my've been brainwashed by misogynistic interpretations of our beautiful religion. Our 'emotional' tendencies has nothing to do with the number of women to witness.

If you ask me, and several of my friends, we'll attest to surpassing our husbands in maturity and emotional control. I frequently ask my husband if it's HIS time of the month when he's in one of his frequent 'sensitive/bitchy' moods.

I think you bring up an interesting notion; how 'feminists' are portrayed has changed since the sixties.

Sumera said...

Well, if I swear I definitely dont blame it on my hormones. I take full responsibility for my bad language :D

Feminists get a lot of stick - probably because they see men as the norm and ideal and in order to be equal they've managed to drum the notion that we have to be like men to have that equality. Which places man on a pedestal higher than the one he's already on--and lets not mention the ego.

But if we are talking about granting us our rights, then I dont see why a bit of aggression and get go is looked upon negatively. We live in an era where a bit of force is required to get what is rightly yours.

So theres still a long way to go.

hema said...

liya- they are reading it don't worry, like i said i spent ages on resources for this play from scratch, as the college was relying on dire looking textbooks when i came. but i do like to try to listen to what the kids want, and i have reservations about the play myself (if she had stood up to her husband in the first place, she wouldn't have had to leave her children!) the colleges reasoning for doing the play was that the students get better marks for it then shakespeare, but i think there should be a balance between what's right for the college and what's right for the students. what do you think?
one of the reasons i'm so reluctant to teach shakespeare is because i never studies it at college or Uni, so i don't want my students to lose out in the same way.
don't ask how an English graduate got away with not studying shakespeare, Daisy and i just really wanted to the jane austen course! (i think that;s the only course i read all the books for)

daisy- noo--o, i'm not that easy to brainwash. despite my "naivity" i'm actually quite stubborn when it comes to what i believe. i've just learnt from experience that it's easier to pretend to agree with people sometimes, or avoid some topics..

but as for the witnesses, if you read carefully i said it's ONE of the reasons, i didn't say it was the main one. but i've not read around on whether that comes into it or not, maybe i just read it on some dodgy internet site! but if you or someone else can provide clarification, i'll change it. and what about the divorce issue?

sumera- i agree with everything you just said. if feminsim is about trying to "become men" we are never going to win anyway. at the end of the day, women are told they can have it all, but in Muslim and non Muslim houses alike, i see women doing most of the houeswork and tiring themselves out trying to look after the kids and work at the same time.
i think the problems arise when women aren't aware of their rights or men try to deny women basic Islamic rights.

Anonymous said...

A'salamu alayum :)

Femenism is the gender oppisite of chauvenism.

Many women might claim that it's a fight for their rights, but feminism, what the term actually means, is merely the gender oppisite of chauvenism.

In Islam, men and women do not have to join movements to be and live what they are created like. It is in fact part of a man's deen to respect, value and compliment the female half. And visa versa :)

Ps: how can one get to read the secret sphere?

Lucyp said...

I think hema, (that's not the best start i know) that women will not gain parity with men until some of the old duffers who sit on the boards are replaced with a younger generation.
Slowly, some of the top jobs in male dominated fields are opening up to women and the glass ceiling is certainly still there, but it is being nudged in the right direction.

hema said...

i think lucy:) that although it is being nudged in the right direction, women are never going to dominate in the top jobs unless they forgo their right to children and families, because employers know that will always come first. call me a cynic but that's how i feel. personally, i would be one of those people that wouldn't even try, because i think you have to make too many sacrifices with your family to reach the top. when it comes to it, if i have to choose between my career and my family, i will always choose my family (and i will be able to give up teaching, i will i will!)all due respect to people like you for trying though, i love the description about making a difference in your blog profile!

taqdeer- wa alaikum asalaam. it's an interesting point you make about chauvinism. i think when most muslim women use the temr femnism they don't mean it in that sense. yes, in Islam men should respect value and compliment women, but unfortunately too many Muslim men don't adhere to that.
i know of too manay examples of men screaming "talaq" at the first opportunity, and of expecting their wives to be glorified slaves.

access to secretsphere is by invitation only, and is most difintely a girls only zone. i don't think there would be much there to interest you anyway, this blog is much more interesting.

'liya said...

:O How DID you get away with not studying Shakespeare! lol

In answer to your question, I agree there should be a balance. Shakespeare is incredibly hard for students first of all to read (I suppose you being in the UK doesn't make the connection to him better though you do get the better accent lol), and then after reading they have to UNDERSTAND it, and that takes a very very long time - as I'm finding out right now (we're just finishing The Tempest). If you put a lot of effort into research for the book you chose, it's good that you made the best of that, I know how hard and tiresome all that research can be! Now that you have it done, you can always use it again and adapt it to work better the second time round. First time with any book, you never know what to expect!

P.S. By "college" you mean high school right? Or am I just totally confused?!

hema said...

high school is 11-16, after that there is a transistion phase (16-18)before univerity/work (marrriage!), which is where i teach. that's probably why i like my job better than most teachers! it's not compulsory, so the atmosphere is more laid back. eg the students get to call me by my first name, don't have to wear uniform etc (you don't have to wear uniform in canada anyway right.
anyway, liya you've inspired me to do a post on Islamic schools- remeber that's how i found your blog in the first place!! should hopefully get it done today. xx

AnonyMouse said...

Ooooooh, that ball of knotted tangled thread that is feminism! :P

My thoughts about feminism are a bit tangled and weird... so please bear with me while I try to make myself (somewhat) clear! :)

1. I don't believe in the whole "women have to become just like men to be equal to them" rubbish.

2. I don't quite believe in the women "women are emotional wimps incapable of doing anything important and therefore are inferior" rubbish either.

3. I believe that men and women are like puzzle pieces: designed to fit together. We each have our own special skills that Allah has blessed us with, and we may as well do what we can.
BUT... I also believe that women can reach out of 'traditional' roles and do things like, oh, I dunno - say mechanics, or carpentry, or one of the kazillion things out there that people usually associate with guys.

For the last few years I've been going through a "tomboy" stage wherein I competed with my (younger!) brothers to show people (mostly my dad, actually :S) that I WASN'T some pathetic useless girly-girl... unfortunately, I'm not sure how well I succeeded! :P If I'm given a choice, I'll usually dump the 'hard work' onto my brothers and do the 'softer' easier work myself... although this may well be a sign of laziness rather than my delicate feminine nature! :P

Sometimes I'll overhear someone make a comment about women/feminism that makes me really angry because they seem to take the stance that feminism/feminists are a load of **** and that all women should be confined at home, when in fact I think that feminism (or at least, feminism in its early days) actually did some good because it proved that we could DO things without neccessarily sacrificing our family or going against our nature/denying our femininity.

.... Hmmmm, did I make ANY sense at all?

hema said...

you made perfect sense, i agreed with everything you said Mousey (can i call you Mousey? oh did you win the cutest name competition at MuslimMatters or it still going on?)
femisism does seem to a ball of tangled thread (i really liked that!)

i think perhaps what i've learnt from this is that it's important to define what is meant when you talk about feminism, and if there is such a stigma attached to it, it may be better to avoid the term when talking about the rights owed to women in Islam

AnonyMouse said...

Hehe, yes you can call me Mousey... and no, I didn't win the coolest nickname competition! I'm being beaten by 2 others who got one more vote than I did... :P

hema said...

mousey, i would have voted for your name, but i rather liked nuqtah (it's very assertive, and Mcpagal has aring to it, so i thought it would be better not to vote at all rather then reveal my disloyalty!!
can you send me your email address, i just want to send you something. you can leave it on meeb, as only i can access that, or in iMuslim's password protected post.