Well here’s a horrible piece of crap posted at Jezebel. Callie Beusman looks down on the protests in support of Amina because Islamophobia and white and European and blah.
While it is unquestionably necessary, brave, and noble to stand with Amina (who is reportedly not free to move or speak safely), the protests were distressingly and distractingly Islamophobic. A photo from one of shows a white woman with crescent moons covering her nipples, wearing a fake beard, a unibrow penciled in with eyeliner, and a bath towel on her head. Another photo, highlighted on FEMEN’s Facebook page is of a topless woman protesting at a mosque in San Francisco (because, when you’re fighting the good fight of “TITS AGAINST ISLAMISM,” standing topless in front of any mosque anywhere will do) with the following caption:
TODAY IS AMINA TOPLESS JIHAD DAY. I was at the Islamic Mosque in San Francisco. Some Arab guy tried to grab my sign and pushed me in a violent way. My friend stopped him. MY BODY IS MY TEMPLE.
Callie Beusman is missing the point. Yes “some Arab guy” is not a helpful thing to say but then neither is “a white woman.”
Further down is a cartoon of a woman crawling out from under her burqa to light on fire the beard of a caricature of a Muslim man (or should I say “some Arab guy”?). In the comments, a woman posted a link to an Al Jazeera article about Muslim women counter-protesting the protest, as they rightfully feel that it was condescending and imperialistic in both tone and intent.
Well I “rightfully feel” that Carrie Beusman is being condescending herself, and that “imperialistic” is just stupid rhetoric.
The counter-protest, Muslimah Pride Day, calls for women to speak out for themselves on social media:
[P]lease post pictures of your beautiful selves, whether you wear hijaab, nikaab or not. This is an opportunity for Muslim women to get a say and show people that we have a voice too, that we come in many different shapes and sizes that we object to the way we are depicted in the west, we object to the way we are lumped in to one homogenous group without a voice of agency of our own.
FEMEN needs to recognize that Muslim women do in fact have agency, and the idea that Muslim women are helpless, passively indoctrinated by the alleged evils of Islam, and desperately need of Western feminist help is oppressive and orientalist. Patriarchy is not specific to Islam — although there are inarguably extreme and truly saddening examples of misogyny in the Muslim community, patriarchy is a global issue. Furthermore, feminism is not only a Western institution — to assume that Muslim women need someone to “speak for” them is insulting to all the grassroots political organizing and activism that Muslim feminists have done. It’s disturbing how a the rhetoric of “women’s liberation” has been co-opted to justify aggression, violence, and prejudice against Muslim communities. In what way is it appropriate to “rescue” women by indulging in and re-circulating essentializing, stereotyped, and offensive depictions of their culture?
How incredibly patronizing it is to assume that that is “their culture.” How patronizing and ignorant to assume that “Muslim women” are a monolith and all identify with the most harshly repressive and punitive elements in their “culture.” How ignorant to assume that all “Muslim women” adore the hijab and the niqab and rejoice to be urged to post pictures of themselves wearing them. How blinkered and parochial to disappear all liberal secular universalist rebellious Muslim women from the picture and side only with the most traditionalist and reactionary ones.
It’s what Maryam calls the racism of low expectations.