anjum has been writing about agency with respect to Muslim women in particular, but also in respect of all women in minority ethnic groups: We’re quite capable of speaking for ourselves, imperial feminism, dodging bullets. Apropos of that, here is a challenge I’ve given my students, something which seems to have rattled some of them a little, especially those of them who felt that we (whoever “we” is) ought to be very worried about the various forms of veiling that many Muslim women wear, and should be doing something about it.
Turn it around, I say to them. Imagine what a newcomer to Australia or New Zealand, or indeed any other Western nation, might say about the practices we force on women here. Women have to get the hair waxed off their legs, they must wear make-up and straighten their hair, when they’re at work they have to wear shoes that make their feet ache and can result in long term damage to their legs and hips, and there are some foods they’re not supposed to eat, so that they can keep their weight down. Sure, they can “choose” not to do these things, but if they don’t, then they will be criticised, sometimes quite severely. There are no formal rules about these practices, but all the women understand that this is what they must do, and if they don’t, they will pay the price.
Then I say to them, how would you feel if the newcomer decides that she will do her best to rescue Western women, to work hard to liberate Western women from these practices, because it’s clear that they need rescuing.
I’ve had a few stunned silences in my tutorials when I’ve put it that way. And in other places. Including in myself.
The 26th Down Under Feminists Carnival is up at A Shiny New Coin. A Shiny New Coin has done a fabulous job putting it together. It’s an epic, crammed full of feminist posts written by down under bloggers. Pour yourself a glass of wine, or make yourself a nice cup of tea, or coffee, and head on over there to while the evening away with feminist goodness.
Remember to keep on submitting posts to the carnival. I’m going to be hosting the August edition here, so I need your posts! You can send them in via the carnival submission form, or send them direct to me at my hotmail address, where I use dfr141 as my handle.
While you are thinking blog carnival thoughts, think about whether you would be able to host the carnival at your blog. Lauredhel has hosts for the next two carnivals (that would be me, and then Caitlinate at The Dawn Chorus), but after that there’s no one listed to host it. It takes a bit of work, but it’s not onerous, particularly if you keep on top of it during the month. I’ve hosted a few carnivals, and I find that the easiest thing to do is to look at the submissions as they come in, then file the ones I’m going to include (virtually everything bar the spam) in a special folder in my hotmail account. Towards the end of the month, I start writing the carnival, grouping the posts and putting a few words around each link. It’s fun, and with a bit of organisation, it doesn’t even take all that much time. Plus it’s a great contribution to feminist blogging down under. There are other carnivals about the place, but many seem to fold after a year or so, or even less. DUFC is well into its third year now, and it would be good to keep it going strong. If you think you could host it, send Lauredhel a message at her gmail account, where she uses lauredhelhoyden as her handle. And check out the carnival home page, to see the list of all the fabulous women who have hosted the carnival already, some two or three times.