May 10, 2017

Dear America, first take out the plank in your own eye

This weekend I watched Under the Shadow - an awesome horror film set in the backdrop of the Iran-Iraq war. Throughout the film it was clear that it was set in a transitional time not just for our main character, but for Iran. You see Iran had dabbled greatly in secularism from the 1920s until the current theocratic government was established in 1980. The main character was female and coping with a more restrictive society for her gender than she had previously known. Women were forced to wear a hijab or chador in public and our main character was denied re-entry into a university to continue her studies to become a doctor. While the marginalization of women wasn't the focal point of this film, it had enough significance to inspire further thought on the subject after the film concluded.

You'll often find a criticism of Islam is that it is incompatible with Western civilization. Though there are many ways to interpret that comment, it basically implies that Muslims and Judeo-Christian practitioners can't reside together in the same nation. This statement is fundamentally false as Muslims have made significant contributions to modern (i.e., Western) society regarding philosophy, science, agriculture, engineering, etc. (1)(2) Furthermore, Western civilizations can be much more arcane in their interpretation and implementation of "Christian" values than they care to admit.

Critics of Islam often cite the mandate that women wear a hijab, chador, or burka in public as a primary example of Muslims devaluing women. While I myself hope for a more egalitarian society where people are given equal opportunity and respect regardless of race, gender, creed or sexual orientation, I cannot partake in the denouncement of Islam in this manner as my own country has similar issues. What the predominantly Christian United States must come to realize is that its treatment of women differs solely in degree and not kind when compared to Muslim nations.

To this day women are devalued by American society by not receiving equal pay for equal work. Any effort to curtail this problem by our previous President was undone when the current administration revoked the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplace order. The order (among many things) promoted paycheck transparency so women had leverage for garnering equal pay.

According to U.S. Census data, women comprise 50.8% of the total US population but only constitute 20% of Congress, 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs and 30% of the Silicon Valley workforce. Furthermore, 1 in 4 women will have experienced domestic violence (1 in 7 for men), 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted (1 in 71 for men). Women also have a greater risk of living in poverty (1)(2),  pay a higher cost for virtually every category of healthcare, and are bombarded with a litany of negative gender stereotypes.

So there you have it America. Sure we don't force women to wear burkas (one could argue that our hypersexualized culture does passively dictate the female wardrobe) but don't be so naive as to believe that our country is somehow a bastion of female empowerment. To reiterate, our treatment of women differs only in severity and not essence from the conservative Muslim nations that are often vilified in our country.

(Credit:Business Insider/Andy Kiersz)

P.S. - Does anyone else notice the irony behind the GOP badmouthing Iran? Christian conservatives calling out Muslim conservatives is the theological pot calling the theological kettle black. Don't think that using Christian doctrine to dictate the legislating process to be any different that abiding by Sharia law...but I digress. (Also a fun quiz).

"It is by standing up for the rights of girls and women that we truly measure up as men."
-Desmond Tutu

1 comment :

  1. There isn't a single post you write that I am not obsessed with. You took everything I've been thinking & feeling (& more) and summed it up so eloquently.

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