Public Debate: Do Muslim Women Need Feminism?

I debated against the motion that Muslim women need feminism on 6th April 2016 at the International Islamic University Malaysia, during the event “Mars vs. Venus”. Both men and women attended the debate and the audience was overwhelmingly in favour of the arguments I made against my opponent.

That said, after the debate, a small group of radical feminists attempted to disrupt the Q&A session, trying to shout me down. I allowed them to speak and countered them accordingly. Unfortunately, that part of the talk was not recorded.

10 replies »

  1. Feminism is an unnatural, artificial and abnormal product of contemporary social disintegration, which in turn is the inevitable result of the rejection of all trans­cendental, absolute moral and spiritual values. The student of anthropology and history can be certain of the abnormality of the Feminist movement because all human cultures that we know of throughout prehistorically and historic times make a definite clear-cut distinction between “masculinity” and “femininity” and pattern the social roles of men and women accordingly. The disintegration of the home and family, the loss of the authoritarian role of the father and sexual promiscuity have been directly responsible for the decline and fall of every nation which these evils become prevalent.The adoption of feminist ideals degrades humans lower than the animals.There is no such thing as modesty, chastity, marriage or filial ties among. beasts. These concepts are unique with human beings. They are found in every culture at every stage of civilization and history. The feminists wish to abolish the very characteristics, which make man human and undermine the foundation of all his relationships and social ties. The result will be suicide, not only of a single nation as in the past, but of the entire human race.A uni-sexual society is proposed by the feminists – that is, a society which makes no cultural or social distinction between the sexes, a society without mar­riage, home and family, where modesty, chastity and motherhood are scorned, does not represent “progress” or “liberation” but degradation at its worst. The result is pure and unadulterated anarchy, confusion and chaos.The commercial exploitation of women is ever on the rise. The world has as high a number of female “sex workers”, the euphemism for prostitutes, as it had never had in the past. The number is in hundreds of millions. The female pornographic actresses are in high demand. The actresses are becoming increasingly confident about performing the “bold” scenes, another euphemism for “shameless”. Thanks to the freedom of choice in sex, more and more teenage girls are becoming pregnant and “helped” in aborting their own children.It is high time women realized the dangers of this feminism.Moreover in the past 100 years Feminism has failed miserably. The problem of women has not decreased but increased by. So Women in general must understand that the true freedom lies in realizing the natural rights, duties and prohibitions and planning their strategies within the parameters of this trio. If they don’t realize it now, they will not only spell doom for womankind but the whole mankind.So Yes Muslim Women don’t need Feminism.

    • On the contrary Shaaz — I’d argue that traditional gender roles (which while most forcefully and convincingly advocated today by Muslims, are by no means unique to Islam) are both obsolete and dangerous, much like our evolved craving for high-calorie food which causes more and more nations to struggle with obesity. Or like 1914-style jingoistic patriotism which humanity cannot afford to tolerate in an age of nuclear weapons.

      Almost all pre-20th century societies suffered terrible childhood mortality, mainly from infectious diseases. One fictional example of this is in Agatha Christie’s “The ABC Murders”, where one of the characters (a lower-class woman born circa 1870) had had 7 out of her 9 siblings die in childhood, and none of the other characters considered this to be unusual. Life expectancy at birth in 1840 London (which was of course the capital of the greatest superpower of its day) was was 45 years for gentry, 26 for skilled workers and a mere 16 for the poor). This is actually lower on average than life expectancy in the Caliphate (which averaged just over 35) many centuries earlier!

      Given such high infant mortality, it was essential for these pre-modern societies to encourage women to have as many children as possible. This was partly promoted by the moral teachings of religions — for example the Catholic prohibition of contraception, or the Islamic view that women who die in childbirth are martyrs — but mainly by a gendered division of labour where men are required to do the economically productive work in order to leave the women free for reproduction. Women’s clothing itself was also designed primarily to facilitate pregnancy, as famous feminist Germaine Greer pointed out in her book “Sex and Destiny: The Politics of Human Fertility”:

      “Women who wear cortes or huipiles or saris or jellabas or salwar kameez or any other ample garments can swell and diminish inside them without embarrassment or discomfort. Women with shawls and veils can breastfeed anywhere without calling attention to themselves, while baby is protected from dust and flies. In most non-Western societies, the dress and ornaments of women celebrate the mothering function. Ours deny it.”

      However, over the course of the early 20th century, the rules of civilization were turned on their head by advances in medical technology (such as antibiotics and modern vaccination) that largely banished the scourge of infant mortality from reasonably prosperous countries, and created a society where it is considered normal for people to live into their 70s or 80s. Under these changed conditions, maintaining the old pro-natalist values would eventually lead the deaths of billions in the largest famine of all time, or to a world of unending genocidal wars fought over the means of sustenance. While Adolf Hitler might have considered such a world to be a good thing (he wasn’t so much a German nationalist as a Social Darwinist fundamentalist, as shown by the Nero Order of 1945), I find it inconceivable that a Christian or Muslim would believe that God would want us to live this way.

      While traditional gender roles were already being undermined in the mid-20th century by a variety of factors (such as rising car ownership and mass university attendance which made traditional chastity unenforceable, and fast food outlets and laundromats which allowed bachelors to get hot food and clean clothes) the rise of anti-feminine feminism really took off in the early ’70s — just about the same time that fears about overpopulation really hit the mainstream (for example with Paul Ehrlich’s “Population Bomb”). This time was also when more and more countries began to constrain urban expansion with green belts (although Britain was an early pioneer with its Town and Country Planning Act 1947). This policy had the effect of driving up house prices and thus forcing wives out of the home and into the workplace. It wouldn’t surprise me if the modern feminist movement was a population control movement masquerading as a women’s liberation movement, but isn’t such a movement sorely needed when global population is 7 billion and rising?

  2. “Both men and women attended the debate and the audience was overwhelmingly in favor of the arguments I made against my opponent.”

    can i see some evidence for this

      • Echo chamber of misandry ? Echo chamber of Muslim male insecurity more like. Although guess the nice little demure woman who introduced the two male heroes was some type of gesture. Tokenism probably.

        • Thanks for proving my point.

          Any instance where a man speaks up for gender justice (but opposes feminism) its because of “male insecurity”.

          Interesting how such “insecure males” never opted to do the debate — they were asked to give the debate by other women.

          And anytime a woman asks a man to speak about feminism, there is apparently something “wrong with them”.

          So yes, the very fact that you find it problematic that two men are discussing feminism is typical misandry.

          Carry on amusing me with irony.

  3. …Perhaps the title should have been—Do Muslim Men need Feminism?—after all, why should a man not have an opinion on this issue?….

    In the West,—Equality is about rights. Feminism is about gender sameness—as in same rights….the overall paradigm of Western Feminism is a gender binary mode of thought. This is un-Tawhidic….therefore un-Islamic.

    The Tawhidic framework begins with the claim/presupposition that all humanity is inherently Equal and here “Equal” does not mean sameness or rights—it means all humanity is of equivalent value. Therefore, when thinking of oppression and justice, one should not think of it in terms of gender binaries—but rather that all oppression is wrong and all human beings—regardless of gender, must work towards justice. This entails not just rights but responsibilities. That is, the distribution of BOTH rights and responsibilities must be just and fair. When thinking of justice in wholistic terms (for all peoples—not just women)—we make for better systems.

    Black Feminists are talking about how Western Feminism does not properly address the problems of oppression—and it is called intersectionality:-

    This video explains what it is

    this shows how western assumptions/definitions of ‘equality” are inadequate—even unjust…

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