The Subjugation of Women in Religion (part two)

I realized this morning that there was more I could have said yesterday, but didn’t think to.

Like, for example, that the American’s people anger over the “subjugation” of women in Islam really all hinges on the idea that the women themselves feel that they are being abused. While things like a girl being charged for her own rape are obviously wrong, other things that we so often harp on- like the veil, the fact that women do not go out alone, etc, are not obviously evil. In fact, I was talking with a Muslim woman on a bus one day and I asked her if she didn’t feel restricted by her beliefs. It was an older woman, probably in her sixties, and she laughed and said, “don’t you feel thrown out into the world? Unprotected?”

I replied, “what do you mean?”

To which she said, “My beliefs are for my own good. American women dress in a way that harms their spirit. You have to go out and work, and leave your family behind. You are alone on the streets where people could want to hurt you. My beliefs cover me, they keep me with my family, they keep me safe.”

This was not a woman who had lived her long life in quiet desperation, it was a woman whose beliefs had enhanced the life that she’d wanted to live. I feel I ought to reiterate that it was the life that she wanted to live.

The same is true of most Amish women. They do not question that they are living the right life, and the truth is that most of those who do question their faith end up transitioning to the Conservative Mennonite tradition or another tradition that allows them the comforts that they wish for. In fact, while there’s only a few that come to mind I do know of “English” (non-Amish) women who chose to marry into the Amish faith and learn their ways, because they wanted to live peaceably.

I’m a stay at home mom. Because I am a stay at home mom who plans on homeschooling her kids and also a Christian, there are a lot of people who assume that I must be one and two because I am three. They assume that my faith must be one that dictates a woman needs to be at home and that schools are “unsafe.” The truth is that those assumptions block them from truly learning who I am, because while my Christianity informs my life choices it does not force them.

I find it easy to believe that beyond the things that all people will agree are truly cruel, like honor killings and women being held responsible for their own rapes, we can’t believe that Muslim women feel the same about their lives- that their faith did not force them, that this is the life they would want to have. Let’s not assume that these women are mindless, that they are automatons, that they don’t realize there is another way to live. That woman on the bus certainly did- and she rejected it.


11 thoughts on “The Subjugation of Women in Religion (part two)

  1. Great post! I can speak for myself – it is definately my choice to be a practising Muslim woman, not something that was forced on me.

  2. Great Post….Maybe we will teach just 1 person tollerance and understanding with these Shush. If we do, then I will be happy!

  3. Home schooling?! That just won’t do! I’m going to need you available to work in the Mines of my Evil Empire! I can’t have you homeschooling kids! Oh wait, are you comfortable doing BOTH?! If it’s okay with you then it’s okay with me I guess… 😛

  4. Great posts…I hope you don’t mind I forwarded the links to an awesome blog: Muslimah Media Watch. I’m a Presbyterian minister’s daughter (originally from northern new york, where, coincidentally, there is a substantial amish community) currently studying abroad in Egypt, so it is really nice to hear someone else engaging in this particular type of conversation. One note: Islamic is used to describe things, not people (i.e., architecture, art, empires, countries). Muslim is the correct term for people (and if you want to really pile things on, ‘Islamist’ describes those who believe in political Islam). 😀

  5. My best friend’s grandparents were old order Amish and she really enjoyed reading your blog. Her grandmother was abused and had a lot of depression and stuff. Her dad left the order during his teen years and most of his siblings did as well. I think she only has two aunts in it and they live with a group of new order Amish. Most of her relatives have become Anabaptist, but her dad has completely left. She seemed to really connect with this and the previous writing on the subjugation of women.

    I am like you. Because I am a stay at home, homeschool mom, people think it is because of my faith, but it was a choice I made. I was not brought up as conservative as I am, but I have chosen to become this way and I totally love it.

  6. Jessamy: Feel free to share. And thank you for the grammatical correction- for some reason that clarification never made it to my brain. I’ll correct the discrepancy immediately.

    I’ve met Muslim people who were paragons of faithfulness and kindness, the two tenets of faith that Christianity is meant to prize above all else. I think it is truly pitiable that the last five years have tainted American opinion of Islam so poisonously. We and they share roots- we should be able to treat each other as brothers, not enemies.

  7. Pixiemom: Because of the Amish people’s necessarily cloistered lifestyle, people who don’t have family or close ties to the community often go unaware of the problems there are. I know my grandmother used to fume about the inequity when men were allowed gas powered or electric motors for their boats to fish and hunt- but women were not allowed automated mowers and had to use push clippers. There were a lot of other discrepancies as well (generators allowed in barns but not houses, etc.) that made my grandmother feel singled out as a woman.

    I do have a TREMENDOUS amount of respect for the people who hold to the doctrine out of true devotion, but I feel it’s unfair for people to make the assumption that one faith (Islam) is forced on women and the other (Amish) is somehow nobler. They are both noble, they are both flawed.

  8. Women who choose to wear the hijab are of three kinds:
    1) Cultural hijabis- they know no better
    2) Political hijabis- loudmouth repressors of other women who scream Muslim girls should stay at home with the chador and the four walls of the house while they have a rocking good time at university-putting their faces on every anti feminist tv show they can find.
    3)Women who are forced to wear it by various methods of intimidation, threats of sexual violence (which Islam-my former religion used to stifle dissent), gossiping, peer pressure and community intimidation.
    The only people who are really coming across in the blogosphere are the Gropu 2 political hijabis- women who delight in oppressing other women, these women wear the hijab the wayt a Nazi wears an armband, they support patriarchy cos they feel they can get a few crumbs off its table- from an education- to a husband, sad, very sad, but also dangerous, because they lend idealogoical legitimacy in the eyes of westerners to Islam’s rape gangs prowling the streets looking for girls, to the isolation and subjugation of women- and the political hijabis- have in fact written out a ‘Perverts Charter’, for any Muslim man who feels he might want to touch, pinch or just get his cock out in front of a non Hijabi woman. There choice to wear the hijab means I have no choice- even if they agreed with my right not to wear it, political hijabis don’t, though cultural hijabis do- and dream of not wearing it themselves in many cases, though their genuine piety and fear of losing whatever respect they have prevents this. And here’s the best bit, political hijabs should recognize that the hijab- or even the niqab- why even the state of ihram on Hajj can not prevent the sexual abuse and intimidation of Muslim women, cos I know, I was routinely abused by drivers of cars and passing people in the streets of Saudi Arabia-even though I was a niqabi. Whatever you wear, Islam is and always will be a male supremacist, sexually abusive and sexually dysfunctional religion. For me, I am just happy it’s all behind me.

  9. Shush, indeed you do share the same roots, that’s why America supports Islamist groups all over the world from Kosovo to Pakistan, both American and Muslims are patriarchal. You will feel more comfortable when Islam subsumes America, that’s ok for you, it’s your fate as a degenerate culture, however, for women like me and other Pakistani apostates, it’s not ok, for you to live being molested and abused by Muslims- go ahead, it’s great, BUT DON’T FORCE IT ON PASKISTANI WOMEN, cos we have good morals and we deserve better.

  10. apostatepakistanigirl: thanks for voicing your experiences- the average American has a truly pitiful lack of knowledge about other cultural experiences. I’m glad you’ve found freedom.

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