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.