WE ARE NOT AS EQUAL TO MEN AS MANY MAY THINK: MODERN DAY SOCIAL INEQUALITY PERSISTS

Since the first wave of feminism, women have all the equal rights of men by law, but socially they are still disregarded.  Even today, while women’s rights have drastically changed since the first wave movement, there are inequalities that cannot be disregarded. Sure women can choose to do what they want to; they can be full time workers, stay at home moms, or find a balance in between. They can vote, they are equal to men under the law, and they are free. By the standards of the past, all these things are true, because before women were literally property. While they are now viewed as individual beings, the “equality” aspect is slightly incorrect.

Sure women may work, but studies show that women still make less than men do. Also, they are not taken as seriously, and are rarely able to accomplish the things that men do; not because they can’t, but because our society had decided that it’s not ready for women to be equal in ALL aspects of it. Just looking at the fact that 23 out of the Fortune 500 companies are run by women (4.6%), shows that the workplace equality we assume is there is actually not. An when a woman DOES become a CEO of a major company, it makes headlines & more headlines!

Besides this, intersectionality plays an important role in highlighting that it is wrong to think that women have equality. Sure there are some equalities that were acquired throughout the history of women’s rights, but some women still suffer more than others, even today. Women in the middle east, for example, still face harsh oppression from their male superiors, both politically, and socially. Some of these inequalities include: the right to an education, the right to travel, female infanticide, citizenship, and clothing requirements.

Also, think about how women are still objectified! When we see women on television, and in various forms of advertisement, they look perfect, or what we consider perfect. Sure the women may have gotten these jobs, and are being paid well, but they were chosen because of their looks. Sex sells, so picking, what society believes, are the most beautiful women, to advertise a product is a great idea for companies because it will attract attention.
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Here is an advertisement for Tom Ford Men’s cologne; will men even see the bottle?! Maybe once they realize that it’s an ad…just MAYBE they will see which cologne is being advertised. Either way, the brand was smart in that the ad is aimed at men, and what grabs a man’s attention better that breasts?
While women have long been fighting for their rights, they managed to win some, yet many inequalities still remain. There will always be inequality, and the males will always be dominant.

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GENDER OPPRESSION AND INEQUALITY AGAINST WOMEN IN THE PAST: A VERY BRIEF HISTORY

When people hear the word “feminism,” many usually believe that women just have nothing better to do, and are bringing up problems that have already been solved. Learning about feminism in Junior High School, I was one of those people. After hearing about Elizabeth Cady Stanton and all that she has done, and everything she was fighting her, I thought wow, this lady resolved everything! Her movement made women equal to men! And then my utopia bubble bursted and I realized that while there may be formal equality (although not always), there will never be socially equality between men and women.
The society we live in today has progressed in many ways in just a few decades. Since the women’s rights movement, women can now vote, and have full time jobs, and not be the “Stepford wives” that everyone expected in the past. However, while society has changed since the days of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and the Seneca Falls convention, there is just as much inequality today as ever before.

            At the convention in 1848, Stanton stated various ways in which social inequality was being displayed upon the women in American society. She said that men were the “masters” of women, and made women civilly dead. The women had to become the caretakers of the household, without actually being in charge, since their husbands practically controlled them. She argued that women were not appreciated, and that women must “lessen [their] self respect, and to make[themselves] willing to lead a dependent and abject life.” Stanton and others believed it was time to change everything, since they were so oppressed socially, and politically as well. Stanton stated, “We have worked long enough for man and at a most unjust and unwarrantable sacrifice of self, yet he gives no evidence of gratitude, but has, thus far, treated his benefactors with scorn, ridicule, and neglect.” While these women of the past were experiencing social and formal inequality, they began opposition against the latter. They led the Women’s suffrage movement, which was part of the first wave of feminism, and it focused primarily on the right to vote.  Formal inequality deals with laws, and any type of legal inequality between all people, in this case men and women. Social inequality deals with society, and how women are not treated as the equals of men. While women gained the right to vote,  the social inequality between men and women was still quite extreme, as Emma Goldman pointed out in “Marriage, Love, and Women’s Suffrage.”

            To reform the social inequality between the genders, the second wave of feminism began in the 1960’s. Betty Friedman’s “Femininine Mistique” highlighted the social oppression of women. While they had more rights, and were living comfortably, women were still suffering in that it wasn’t enough. They needed to do something outside their homes, but once they got this, the women still faced oppression because they were not taken seriously within the work force.  The third wave of feminism of the 1990’s  introduced the idea  of intersectionality; this idea states that women should be grouped into many cohorts that are defined by race, class, and sexuality, and that oppressions that women faced were not additive, meaning that each form of oppression should be divided and taken into account. Introduced by Becky Thompson  in “Multi Racial Feminism,” modern day women understood that while there was still oppression amongst women, there were various forms of it.        
           These ideas regarding feminism and women’s rights may be brief, but they are all additive in that they constructed our society today.

Intersectionality, Islam, and FEMEN

Hi everyone, It is Jinanne again!

I was raised in a Muslim family in a somewhat Muslim community in Brooklyn. I am a woman. I have seen Islam constantly criticized in the media for being oppressive toward women (among other things). I always felt very sensitive when that came up. I am Muslim. I am a woman. I never felt the way the television is saying that I should feel or saying that I DO feel. One of the main controversies that surrounds women and Islam is the idea of the hijab and this idea of modesty that surrounds the wearing of it.

I never wore the hijab and my parents never forced me to wear it. This was a view that was pretty common in a lot of the Muslim families I grew up around. I was always told and I’m sure other Muslim girls were told as well something along the lines of:

“you wear the hijab when you are ready, you wear it for God and no one else. If you wear the hijab because someone else told you to, it’s as if you never wore it all”

Now I am very aware that women in Islam do get forced to wear the hijab but many also choose to wear it. I think something important to acknowledge is that it is not Islam nor is it God that oppresses women but it is institutions and regimes that do not represent any single religion that do the oppressing.

FEMEN started out a self described, radically feminist organization that was founded in Ukraine and originally fought against sex-trafficking of Ukrainian women and for pro-choice legislation in Ukraine. However, FEMEN has developed into something very very racist. Which is alienating to many women of Muslim faith around the world.

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Just in case you missed this photo in the Bitchtopia article. REALLY?????? No….really?

How can you claim to support Muslim women and any women of faith if you are attacking a lifestyle choice many women CHOOSE to live by. Believe it or not, many Muslim women have chosen to wear the hijab, have chosen to dress modestly, have chosen to practice a faith in which they love! FEMEN’s goal is to patronize women of Islam and tell them that they don’t know any better. It is not feminism if you are demeaning a group of women who do not believe in the same things as you. FEMEN is taking European/American standards and ideals and telling women that these ideals are the right ideals and that whatever they believe in is wrong, they are just too “sheltered” or to find this out for themselves

This belief is incredibly problematic and incredibly NOT OKAY. Amina Sboui, a Tunisian activist who posted topless photos of herself on Facebook and was detained for nearly three months and was supported by FEMEN constantly throughout that announced she left FEMEN for its lack of financial transparency but for its Islamophobia as well.

This type of activism and ignorant and leads to the misrepresentation of the people in which they ARE TRYING TO REPRESENT IN THE FIRST PLACE. Which means its acts are completely ineffective. Trying to “help” people without at first taking interest in the lives of the people you are attempting to help, assuming you know what is good for them when you have no idea what their life is like at all is ineffective, offensive, and just stupid.

This Euro/US-centric type of feminism leads to dangerous acts that end up oppressing the women in which it thinks it is helping. One huge instance of this happening to women in Islam is the banning of “conspicuous signs of religious affiliation, including Islamic headscarves” in state schools and the banning of full-face veils (burkas and niqabs) are prohibited from being worn in public places in France, a country with the highest population of Muslims in Western Europe. This was all done in an attempt of France to be more “secular.” *MAJOR EYEROLL*

Many people celebrated this act by France that legally FORCES Muslim women to not wear the hijab in a way they may see fit because they believed Muslim women were forced to wear the hijab? How….is….that….any…different????

It is instances like these that prove that intersectionality, is NECESSARY if you really want feminism and if you really want equality. We cannot view Muslim women as oppressed and non-Muslim women as not oppressed. That simplifies an incredibly complicated situation. It is sloppy and hurts far more people than it helps. There are instances in which women in “secular” and so called “progressive” societies are oppressed but people tend to discount this type of power struggle because “women have it worse in other parts of the world.” Or whatever assholes say these days in regards to that. It is important that all feminists work together and acknowledge each other’s struggles and weakness and powers and strengths so that support will come off as helpful and not demeaning.

Feminism, Intersectionality, and Islam

Hi everyone,

It’s Jinanne again and I want to give a tiny bit of background as to what my portion of this blog will cover:

I was raised and consider myself Muslim and I want to examine the relationship between feminism and Islam. I think Islam has a bad name when it comes to western feminism and I would like my part of this blog to focus on how Islam and religion in general is often a positive and empowering force for women. I will mention organizations such as FEMEN which misrepresent Islam (as well as other religions) and its relationship with women in the name of feminism. I would use FEMEN as an example of why intersectionality is not only important in regards to race but in regards to religion as well. Many people see a woman in a hijab as a sign of a woman being oppressed but many women voluntarily wear the hijab, and many Muslim women (such as myself) do not wear the hijab and have not felt pressured to do so. Of course in some parts of the world women are not given the choice to wear or not wear the hijab but we should keep in mind that this is not the practice of Islam but of a government or institution.

Welcome!

Hello everyone!

This is just an introductory post to a blog my friend Alina and I are starting up about certain topics of feminism. I’m Jinanne and I will be focusing intersectionality in feminism and religion, particularly in the religion and practice of Islam. Stay tuned for some really great posts coming from us!

Thanks a lot!

Jinanne and Alina