In which I try to explain my feminism in plain English

I think this was the longest time I’ve ever been in front of a camera, too! Eek.

Full transcript here after the jump—

Please note that the train of thought is not a script, because my recording was unscripted. I just typed back out what I said for the closed captions like so:  

Think of all the problems we have right now in this world. The history of it says they were mostly led and participated and designed, top to bottom, almost entirely by men. By that I mean women were largely excluded from the process most of the time, especially in terms of decision-making. Meaningful participation for women was just NOT a thing.

Life in this male-dominated structure kind of feels like a hamster wheel. Generation after generation of women being shut out from coming up with solutions. And when you think of the women at home and the sort of solutions and work they do at home and kenduris and events and how great your aunts can be at mobilising and making stuff happen and taking charge of family discussions and family issues—

Imagine that sort of energy and potential harnessed on a larger scale, in all the industries of our world, and in major decisions, from economy to policy, environment to education. Half of the world are women and girls… Half of them! Alhamdulillah more women in history educated now than ever before. Why are they not being included? Why are structures still shutting them out from accessing power? Why are we still limiting women and policing them at every turn

This kind of stuff is exactly why I’m feminist. It’s not because I hate men, it’s just that I really believe the world will get better when more educated girls and more educated women are given the training and space and power to be capable, to brainstorm ideas and solutions to a variety of world issues, to be taken as seriously as boys and men are, work side by side even.

The world cannot get better if we keep pressuring girls to repeat the same social patterns as women of the past. I am not my grandmother today and I’m not my mother either. At this age my mother was married with a kid. Although I know many people my age married with a kid, at this exact age i just finished learning a Qur’an Intensive course with Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan. There were a lot of women in that room! I now have one less middle man in between my relationship with God. I can now read the Qur’an for myself. I am taking power away from someone who I would usually need to listen to about the Qur’an, and I have more on me, and I get to read the Qur’an with my perspective. Women were excluded from Islamic scholarship for centuries. During the “Golden Age of Islam” there wasn’t a single woman in the room, contrary to what the Prophet (pbuh) did at the time with women— He encouraged them to participate meaningfully in public, instead of seeing women as a target or something that needs to be controlled and commented on and criticised and feedbacked.

I want to uplift everybody that a male-dominated structure has disappointed. This includes men, and it includes sexual minorities, it includes refugees— A lot of things are feminist issues! Migrants and refugees are feminist issues. Sexual minorities are feminist issues. The financially oppressed are feminist issues. People who are milked for profit and domesticated on this cocktail of consumerism, entertainment, and monthly salaries— salaries which they don’t even spend to support and uplift people who don’t have these opportunities that they have— That’s a feminist issue!

I think it’s easy for feminists to sort of just focus on defending and explaining and policing— importing Western feminism into our own spaces— that it becomes the equivalent of women who just stay at home all the time, instead of taking their true potential out of the house into the world.

I really do believe women have so much potential to fix problems. We already see them very differently than men do. Now’s the best time for women to stand up and participate meaningfully and demand that this thing happens. This is the change I want to see in the world! To stop wars from happening, because srsly wars are the kind of stuff people decide on when it’s just a room full of men, we all know this.

We could be spending our budgets differently. The priorities that we have right now could change entirely when there are an equal amount of women in the room making those decisions with men, and not being made fun of based on dinosaur stereotypes of what women should be doing with their time.

We shouldn’t be focusing so much on defending feminism anyway! We live in a patriarchy right, so people are not going to be able to understand feminism, because feminism resists and wants to dismantle the patriarchy. And when someone wants to resist and dismantle everything you stand for, you’re going to spend all your energy and money insulting and belittling and painting the worst image of these women.

I frankly see nothing wrong with feminists. All they want is as much opportunity and space as their male counterparts, any man in history would have. Let’s not even talk about race yet, because there’s a whole layer, another form of supremacy that we still need to unpack together. Whatever change it is definitely needs to start with equal decision-making with women.

Women who identify as feminists can get distracted by people who are too lazy to Google (yet are dedicated enough to obsess with policing and controlling them). There will always be people who are trying to limit women’s potential when you live in a male-dominated society. Don’t be one of those people!

The patriarchy has failed many many people. We can talk about these failures without ever mentioning the word feminism. Just like how Mad Max was an amazing movie with lots of feminist values and it never said the word feminist (and MRAs were pissed off with it anyway!). There are feminists out there in the Global South who are doing work to help these people that patriarchies have failed.

All these people who are not given spaces and opportunities to at the moment because we’re too busy discriminating them; these are people who could someday fix a problem that we all badly need fixing. The only thing that’s in their way is power. Power that is not in their hands and power they’re told can never be in their hands. The potential, and what they want to do, and their ideas are not as important as the bad habits they’re doomed to repeat over and over again, that we’re all just cycling through like a hamster wheel.

This can trickle down from large topics like the ones I’ve mentioned but also to little everyday things like: Stop pressuring me to get married! What is the big deal about wanting to attach me to somebody and create more people to put through this mess?! Maybe that’s not how I want to use my body. And maybe it’s none of your business. Stop telling me how I should look.

Stop telling me that you know what is inside my heart better than God ever does (and that feminists are enemies!). Stop telling me that there’s a way for you to help me get closer to God but it involves you controlling my life. This isn’t what justice looks like and resisting that not only makes me feminist, it makes me a Muslim feminist.

Looking at feminism, it’s not a monolith. There’s not one big thing, there isn’t the Qur’an of feminism. Feminism is just a response to how male-dominated societies have failed you. And since there are so many ways that male-dominated societies fails us all around the world, there are lots and lots of feminisms (yay!).

We should just be focused on working on our feminist values. Feminist values are things that will dismantle these structures instead of just keep them going, instead of repeating our mistakes and doing the same old stuff. Anything that encourages change of habits is a feminist thing. It’s a feminist value, it’s a feminist principle, and should absolutely be supported. That kind of resistance is not just punk, it’s feminist, it’s also very Qur’anic. And as a result of processing all these things through my own lens, I am a feminist.

I think everyone should just stop, ask themselves: Are they distracting and limiting women and girls in their lives from achieving something the world could badly need someday? 

Together we can turn around and focus on the bigger picture.

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