On Nude Protests: Open Letter to MuslimahPride and Friends

Dear Muslimahs,

You deny that you’re oppressed. That may very well be true, but consider the following:

In the early 1900’s, an organization known as the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage (NAOW) was operating unflaggingly to prevent women, such as your yourselves, from being able to vote. Interestingly, this anti-suffrage movement was being spearheaded by prominent women like Mrs. Arthur Dodge and Mrs. Crannell. These women too did not believe that they were being oppressed by being denied their voting rights.

Femen, or feminists in general, are not opposed to your right to wear hijab, or cover yourself up however you please. We do have concerns about this kind of self-imposed clothing restrictions that men don’t have to put up with, but forcing you not to wear such clothing would defeat the purpose of feminism. Your right to wear these garments has never been in question.

But know this..

Pardah (conservative clothing) is never really your ‘choice’ unless you have the right to refuse pardah also. Claiming that it is your choice is like standing outside a closed mall saying that you “choose” not to shop there. What other option do you have?

If a community where relieving yourself of pardah would be perceived as a green signal for harassment, or even get you in trouble with the law, you are not choosing pardah. You are submitting to it. The only question here is, are you submitting willingly or unwillingly?

Please repudiate the notion that the Western idea of gender equality is different from yours; that is is acceptable for Western women to be able to wear what they wish, but you’d rather not have that freedom because you’re Muslims. Besides, the movement is not just about you. It is about countless women out there who are forced to follow Islamic values against their will.

There’s a growing paranoia among the Muslim world that the Western feminists are marching in to rip the hijabs off your heads. That is not how this is going to be. Nobody is promoting nudity! That is simply an art of protest that screams: “My body, my choice”.

Lastly, you may be concerned about FEMEN’s alleged disrespect towards your religion. You need to understand that your religion is consistently used for moral dictatorship and causing tremendous suffering to the cultural and religious minorities in Islamic countries. It is impossible to condemn what happened to women like Aliaa Elmahdy and Amina Tyler, without addressing the ideology that inspires such problems again and again.

I acknowledge that Islam is not a monolithic faith, and that your interpretation of it may not be the same as that of the Islamists who threatened to stone Tyler to death for her nude protest. But you’re missing the point FEMEN is trying to make with provocative statements like “Fuck your morals”; it is that we should not have to debate over the interpretations of religion to reach a conclusion that enforcing our values on others is just plain unacceptable.

We, as civilized and tolerant human beings, should be able to decide upon that using our conscience alone, regardless of what your religion has to say about it.

To each, her own. And yes, this freedom is for you too.

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    • Christina
    • April 11th, 2013

    typo that can be fixed:
    …that Western ideas of gender equality DIFFER from yours …

    • I don’t think “is different from” is an incorrect way of saying “differs from”.

      But, yes, I think yours sounds better! 🙂

        • Christina
        • April 12th, 2013

        Originally it didn’t say IS different from. It just said different from. But I see you have edited it so the sentence now has the word “is’ put in, so that seems just fine.
        Now: “Please repudiate the notion that the Western idea of gender equality is different from yours”
        Originally: “Please repudiate the notion that the Western idea of gender equality different from yours”

        Well written. The omission of ‘is’ was a minor typo.

      • Ah, yes! I did make that change.

        Thanks for pointing out though!

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