Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The battle rages on

One of perhaps the most contentious issues between feminist groups has to do with issues of dress, especially women wearing a veil in Muslim communities. For many, the veil is almost the ultimate symbol of female oppression, but others argue that many women gladly wear that veil, and do not feel oppressed by it.

Within this debate are issues and accusations of cultural imperialism that only add more fuel to a fire that has raged for decades about global feminism and the role that Western, especially white, feminists play.

There's a pretty interesting piece on the Broadsheet about a battle between Noami Wolf and Phyllis Chesler that I think does a pretty good job of explaining the debate. To be honest, I'm going to have to say that I side with Wolf who argues that we, as Westerners, cannot immediately claim that a woman wearing a veil is suffering from oppression because of the veil, because, as she points out, there are women who choose to wear the veil.

As feminists, we should not assume that we understand everything. Just because I have taken classes on feminism and I am a woman doesn't mean that I can claim to understand the situation and lives of every single woman in the world. The debates about pornography, sex work, and other more "controversial" issues also reflect, I think, the necessity of realizing our own biases before passing judgment on anything.

Choice is not something that only applies to reproductive rights, and just as I can't condemn someone who would choose to not have an abortion, I can't condemn a women who chooses to dress differently from me.
Photo courtesy of www.flickr/localsurfer

1 comment:

Laura said...

blogging from sweden?! Alright! You are right though, there are many women to CHOOSE to wear the veil!