A few days ago a 17 year-old Muslim girl by the name of Lamyaa- residing in Pennsylvania tweeted a screenshot of an iMessage conversation she had with her father.
The conversation she tweeted was one that involved Lamyaa asking her father a direct question regarding his reaction and/or opinion should she decide to remove her hijab. Her father, as indicated by the screenshot below, clearly states that Lamyaa is free to do as she pleases.
Lamyaa posted this screenshot in order to shut down the Islamophobic slurs she had received earlier in an iMessage group chat that she shared with friends, and a few strangers.
Lamyaa had attacked Donald Trump’s policies and stances towards Muslims on this iMessage group, and a member of that group proceeded to send the Islamophobic iMessage shown below:
In a concerted effort to prove that this view of Islam and Muslim men is not inherently nor always true, Lamyaa tweeted the aforementioned screenshot containing the iMessage conversation she deliberately had with her father, appearing side-by-side the Islamophobic slur she had received.
After receiving replies that claimed that Lamyaa’s father reflected a mere exception to a mainstream Muslim society that was generally sexist and oppressive of women, Lamyaa (fiercely and savagely) tweeted: “When I show my dad being lenient and progressive you guys say ‘well that’s one person’ but yet when comes to terrorism it’s all of us? ”.
Even if we were to say that mainstream Muslim society is sexist, this is not something to be uniquely branded as a problem of mainstream Muslim property. Sexism is, unfortunately enough, a universal fact of most societies, regardless of geographic location.
This is not to say that cultural relativism should be used to condone sexism. Rather, it is to say that sexism, culture, and interpretations of Islamic religious scripture that are falsely used to justify sexist cultural practices should are things to be discussed separately, and carefully.
What is context specific, however, is the ways in which this sexism articulates itself, according to varying cultural contexts.
If it is really about giving women the right to choice, then hierarchizing one woman’s choice to wear a short skirt, over another woman’s choice to wear a hijab reflects serious racism and sexism in its own right.
Just to make things more clear, historically speaking Western nations and colonists have been especially and disproportionately guilty of placing confining gender norms in cultural contexts that were free of sexism -if not entirely matriarchal in their own right-before the arrival of Western hegemonic influence.
The notion of the oppressed people and women that reside in non-Western and Muslim countries, waiting for representation by the West, is not only culturally and politically paternalistic, it is frankly offensive and racist.