In which Sadie Smith complains about being told to check her privilege

Fascinating and legitimate criticism!

“When you tell women to stop saying “check your privilege”; when you bemoan “call out culture” and complain that calling people out for their failings is just about showing off or being a troll, then you’re silencing women. You’re telling them to shut up about racism in the feminist movement; shut up about how the movement excludes them; shut up and sit down and stop talking about things that affect them as women. And when you do that you’re implicitly asking women to throw their weight behind a movement that is repeatedly failing to represent them – and is sometimes overtly harming them. When you parse “raising legitimate concerns about feminism’s failings” or “calling out troublesome behaviour because it’s hurtful” as “attacking other women, boo hoo”, then that’s a move calculated to shut down debate and dissent.”

Here’s what’s wrong with hijab tourism and your cutesy “modesty experiments”

“That it is deemed necessary to have a non-Muslim woman experience the veil and make a judgement on it is also problematic. It’s not just that this approach silences Muslim women and relegates our narratives about our own experience to a back seat. The entire premise of having a non-Muslim woman go on a ‘tour’ of the veil relies on a fundamental difference in the way Muslim women are perceived compared to their non-Muslim counterparts. Muslim women are viewed as inherently passive, submissive and obedient – nameless, faceless, voiceless ciphers to be endlessly discussed, dissected and judged but never actually listened to.“–OP

This blogger reminds us all that merely “putting on the face” of the other does not qualify a primary source knowledge. She also explains that conclusions drawn from this experience are extremely superficial and have a money-making agenda in the West (which often enjoys the idea that Muslim women need saving from their own culture). I would also add that the various approaches to “modesty” in public among Muslim women all over the world can reveal a varied culture and its powerful impact on Islam). It is important to expose the plurality of Islam, rather than fit it into a box that can then be put with all the “other” cultures.

Ms. Muslamic

Hijab: sometimes, it feels like everyone’s giving it a try. Lauren Shields is just the latest feminist to embark on a ‘modesty experiment’ based on the veiling traditions of Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Last year, a teenager on Tumblr wore hijab to the mall and ended up with 200,000 reblogs. In 2010, a young journalist went ‘undercover’ in hijab for a month to find out what it was like. Liz Jones wore the burka in 2009; Danielle Crittenden over at HuffPo wore it all the way back in 2007, like some kind of Cultural Appropriation Hipster. Over at Vice, Annette Lamothe-Ramos wandered around New York in a burka and then wrote a really insensitive article about the experience. Apparently if you’re stuck for ideas for content, a reliable fall-back is to dress like a Muslim woman for a day or so and then bang out…

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All-Day Planning Meeting

I finally met my boss on Monday! It was a fantastic meeting that set a new agenda to create materials for the upcoming film festival Bought and Sold: Voices United Against the Violence. We had to plan outreach for judges, submissions, sponsors, and partners for our Festival.

Working in California is pretty great

Working in California is pretty great

Woman’s work: The twisted reality of an Italian freelancer in Syria

An interesting article, Woman’s work: The twisted reality of an Italian freelancer in Syria offers nuggets of reflection on the job of a journalist. Author Francesca Borri writes: “With new communication technologies there is this temptation to believe that speed is information. But it is based on a self-destructive logic: The content is now standardized, and your newspaper, your magazine, no longer has any distinctiveness, and so there is no reason to pay for the reporter. I mean, for the news, I have the Internet—and for free. The crisis today is of the media, not of the readership. Readers are still there, and contrary to what many editors believe, they are bright readers who ask for simplicity without simplification. They want to understand, not simply to know.”

Diary of a Mad Arabian Woman|Tamadher al Fahal, Bahrain

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Tamadher explains, “I was motivated to write this zine because I believe Muslim women are facing many issues in their everyday lives, from many parties. We experience the pressure of being an independent individual with a successful career, yet maintaining the principles of Islam and respecting the religion we believe in. On the other hand, there is the pressure of other cultures and the world as a whole that cast a generally wrong impression and—sometimes false images—about Muslim women. Trying to prove the opposite in both directions is challenging—but not impossible.” You can see her zine here. It is a heart-felt and passionate collage and sketch-book, a good glimpse into the minds of many frustrated women.

Posted in Art.

Internship Update

Sorry for the long hiatus! I have been working on research for the upcoming festival before WVN begins work on PR, advertising for submissions, and more for Women Bought and Sold: Voices United Against the Violence, which will discuss sex trafficking, slavery, domestic servitude, and child brides while providing an international platform for activists to showcase both the plight and the relentless struggle of exploited women. These human rights violations have become increasingly common, largely because victims lack support, oppressors are not held accountable, and individuals too often turn a blind eye. WVN hopes to display the role of women in Muslim-majority countries, and of Islam itself, in eradicating such injustices and to develop the extending network committed to achieving equality.

My research topics have included: possible film judges based on the kinds of judges we had last year, possible sponsors based on our current sponsors, and recent data on the sexualized violence in Muslim-majority countries (49, if I’m not mistaken). I’ve also been tweeting for WVN (I get excited when I see likes and retweets). So, I’m afraid there are no wonderful pictures thus far, unless you like pretty Excel sheets! My executive director has been promoting WVN with other interns in Morocco, Israel and the West Bank. You can learn more on our Tumblr.

Also, if you haven’t, please take the time to like our Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

I will have more to discuss when I meet with my executive director, who has recently returned. Thus far, I think the most rewarding aspect to the research that I’ve done is 1) finding all who are dedicated to creating awareness about these grave and prevalent issues and 2) the determination and courage of women living in these countries who not only seek to survive but to change their world and tell their story through art, film, and the power of story. It’s these inspiring aspects of my research that keep me going when my eyes glaze over as I read depressing statistics on trafficking and sexual assault. The data alone cannot explain what is happening in Muslim-majority countries. The women film directors, activists, writers, and artists breathe life and hope into the statistics. Even though the status quo is dire and depressing, hope for a better future is kept alive and made possible by so many women, including Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan. She is addressing the United Nations today to advocate widespread education for children. Malala and so many other women remain an inspiration to me. The coexistence of grave human rights abuses and tremendous leaders in my work reminds me of a quote: “I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night” (Sarah Williams, The Old Astronomer to His Pupil, mid-1800s).

 

Tamadher al Fahal a young artist in Bahrain, creates a ‘zine' where she captures her frustrations at the injustices and inequality she sees against women in the Arab world. Explore an excerpt from her zine, “Diary of a Mad Arabian Woman.” - See more at: http://muslima.imow.org/content/diary-mad-arabian-woman#sthash.Jeu6l1FM.dpuf

Tamadher al Fahal a young artist in Bahrain, creates a ‘zine’ where she captures her frustrations at the injustices and inequality she sees against women in the Arab world. Explore an excerpt from her zine, “Diary of a Mad Arabian Woman.” – See more at: http://muslima.imow.org/content/diary-mad-arabian-woman#sthash.Jeu6l1FM.dpuf