There are a lot of really awful things that happen under the umbrella of Islam, people getting raped, stoned, having their hands chopped off, etc. There is a lot of oppression that can occur in the Muslim world and in the west, a lot of feminists have seized on the idea of wearing traditional Muslim garb, be it burkas or hajibs or whatever, is a symbol of the inherent oppression of women by men within the Muslim religion.
However, I saw a bunch of pictures of Muslim women go by on Tumblr where they were holding signs saying they are not oppressed, they are wearing these things by choice and I think that’s something that a lot of western feminists really miss when they claim it’s all oppressive. It’s that these women choose, of their own free will, to go by the standards and beliefs of Islam. They choose to do the things they do. A link to the Tumblr posting that I saw, where this and many other similar pictures reside, is here.
And isn’t it their right to make their own decisions about how they dress and how they act? Isn’t freedom supposed to be one of the things that western culture values above all else? After all, we have no evidence that Muslim men are holding women at gun point and forcing them to put on these clothes against their will. The women believe in Islam just as strongly as the men.
In fact, what a lot of western feminists are doing is demanding the “right” for Muslim women to behave like western women. Well guess what? they’re not western women! What western feminists want is for non-western women to reject their own culture and beliefs out of hand so that the western feminists feel better about western culture. It isn’t so much that they dislike how these women are treated, it’s that these women haven’t jumped on the western culture bandwagon and started acting like western feminists.
Now I have no love for Islam, I think it’s as idiotic as every other religion, but the people who practice it have the same right to do so as people in the west have not to. If they want to dress in a burka, so be it. It’s not my place to tell them they cannot. You are not being inherently oppressed by a religion that you choose to practice, just because it goes against what other people believe. According to a lot of Muslim women that I’ve seen, what happens to women in the western world is oppression too. It’s all a matter of opinion. And that’s the thing, opinions are like assholes, everyone has them and, at least according to the people who disagree, they all stink. Maybe instead of criticizing someone’s choices because they’re not what you might have chosen, maybe you should worry about people who are actually being forced to do things against their will. That’s oppression. Not wearing a particular piece of clothing.