Everyone has an opinion about Muslim women, even those — especially those — who have never met one.
As Muslim women born and raised in America, we are tired of hearing everyone — politicians, pundits, men and women of other faiths (or those not adhering to any faith) — talk about Muslim women without ever stopping to listen to what we have to say about our lives.
The narrative about Muslim women spun by others — and propagated in the media and popular culture — as silent, submissive and oppressed, is one that neither of us recognize in ourselves, the women in our families, or the women we have met over the years through our work within the Muslim community both in the United States and abroad. (Ayesha as a development consultant and Nura as an attorney.)
When we raise our voices to tell our own stories, we are silenced. We are either dismissed as outliers — educated and upper class Western-raised Muslim women with no grasp of the reality of “real” Muslim women — or brainwashed, because how could any intelligent woman defend Islam or call herself Muslim? In many cases, our experiences are negated or dismissed as inauthentic by virtue of comparison to the circumstances of some women in other countries, e.g., burqa-clad women in Afghanistan or child brides in Yemen.
What about child brides in Yemen? [Read more...]