Public Debate: Do Women Need Feminism? Natalie Bennett vs Zara Faris

Watch Sister Zara Faris and Head of the Green Party, and Feminist campaigner Natalie Bennett debate in the exciting, thought provoking and contentious MDI debate on Feminism – which is now up online! The debate features a strong intellectual discussion on Feminism and a discussion on Islam as a distinct and viable alternative.

The audience (who were mostly female) made many highly intelligent and insightful points, contributing to a great debate.

Please share with everyone, Muslim and non-Muslim alike.

11 replies »

  1. In Islam women gain financial independence through investments—either investing in their own business, shares in others business or owning income earning assets/properties etc. Women’s financial independence is provided for in two ways—inheritance and mahr. Thus “working for a salary” is a choice not a necessity. An example is Saudi Arabia–where women may not be able to drive but a large portion of the assets are held by women.

    In Islam, for men to provide financial and physical protection for their family is not a choice but a responsibility. It is a man’s nature to feel pride in providing for their family. The responsibility of physical protection also resolves domestic violence problems as men who are mandated to protect their families cannot then harm them himself.

    Modesty is a means for both men and women to feel pride and self-respect in their humanity. It prevents human beings from objectifying each other—and once we become accosstomed to viewing our humanity—it prevents the us from labelling another human as the “other”/”enemy” because we can recognize the humanity in our fellow brothers and sisters.

    Islam is not a simplistic “band-aid” solution but a sophisticated, wholistic approach to human problems……..

    • Yes, there is some economic protection mandated for women in Islam. You can also see it the other way. Islam sets somewhat of a limit for what a woman can acheive economically. Because her inheritance is usually lower than that of a male, and because she is to be cared for and thus more often placed inside a home rather than fulfilling her potential outside of a home, her basic economic security might be guaranteed but her potential for further economic advances are hindered to a larger degree than in for instance the US or Europe.

      And your claim that it resolves domestic violence is just so wrong. Domestic violence certainly has more reasons behind it than whether or not a man is to care for his family or not.

      • I would like to pick up on two things you wrote:

        (i) “and because she is to be cared for and thus more often placed inside a home rather than fulfilling her potential outside of a home”

        …can you explain why a woman cannot ‘fulfill her potential’ if she stays at home, and also how going out to work enables her to do so?

        (ii) “but her potential for further economic advances are hindered to a larger degree than in for instance the US or Europe.”

        ….do you think that true contentment in life is based on how much wealth you own?

  2. Mareya,

    I believe in the freedom of the individual. As a muslim, if you are one, you would more often set the collective ahead of the individual. That, I would think, is the basic difference between you and I.

    As to your questions. The answer to your first question is already provided in my comment(s). If a woman chooses to be at home, that’s her choice. But, again, in Islam there is pressure for women to stay at home to a larger degree than her being able to work outside of home. Same for catholic societies. Family comes first. Of course, religion is taught and interpreted by men in the catholic and muslim communities, leading to women drawing the shorter straw. Their freedom of choice is diminished by your religious teachings.

    As for your second question…of course not! True contentment is for oneself to decide what it is, what you need. That’s the basis of individualism. Religion limits the possibility for exploring life, making your own decisions. Religion boxes you in. For the record, I am quite much against consumerism. My life is with my family, but I’ll be darned if any religious teaching or society would frown upon my wife’s choice to have a career, to let me, as a father, stay home and care for our kids. If we choose that, that’s our choice. This option is possible for muslims and catholics, but not very frequent due to the expectations that come from your religious sermons. That is what I am against.

  3. What an impressive intro by Sara! A wonderful job by both speakers.From Natalie’s comments about desiring to create a sort of co-ed/androgynous toy section for boys and girls rather than separate sections for each gender, it really came across to me that feminism is not only a vie for gender privilege, but an experiment in social engineering. She ascribes the likes and dislikes of boys and girls ( with regards to toys, for instance) to socialization rather than biology. In effect, what she is proposing is establishing feminists as master socializers. Who are feminists (who is any human being) to assume this role, to try and impel me to behave and think in a certain way using mind games, psychological tricks, manipulation of the environment that I develop in? I didn’t sign up to be a guinea pig for their social experiment. And as Sara points out, what kind of solution is this social engineering experiment anyway? The nature vs nurture debate has been raging for only God knows how long. Now I see an effort to end this debate by pretending like nature doesn’t exist at all. If we do that we are just lying to ourselves though and won’t go anywhere but down.

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